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Spurs Odyssey Reviews the Premiership Season
for 2001-2002 - Match One (18-19.08.01)

With many thanks to Brian Judson, without whom this feature would not be possible

Saturday 18 August 2001

Charlton Athletic v Everton 1-2

The pre-season betting has earmarked Everton as one of the teams tipped for relegation. But Everton ignored the script and dominated this match. Weir was responsible for the mistake that allowed Charlton to snatch the lead after 58 minutes. Charlton had been fortunate to survive the first half without conceding a goal. Weir fatally hesitated too long and Johansson looped a header behind Gerrard. Ferguson equalised from the penalty spot after 64 minutes when Powell tripped Campbell in the penalty area. Weir then snatched the winning goal in the 77th minute when Gravesen took a corner. The unmarked Scot controlled the ball before hooking it into the net.

Derby County v Blackburn Rovers 2-1

Last season Derby got off to a horrible start, losing their first 13 matches. Ravenelli scored Derby's first goal seconds before half-time when he lashed home a 20-yard free-kick. Christie added a second goal in the 65th minute when Kinkladze raced down the wing and crossed the ball to Burley. The former Celtic player laid the ball off for Christie to score. Blake reduced the arrears after 73 minutes with a powerful shot from 18 yards. Blackburn fought hard to equalise and had the ball in the net in the dying seconds but the referee disallowed Jansen's goal because it was offside.

Leeds United v Southampton 2-0

The Yorkshire side began their season with a 2-0 win but it took them a long time to completely subdue the Saints. In fact, Leeds did not take the lead until Bowyer struck in the 67th minute. Nigel Martyn had been a very busy goalkeeper and Southampton were unlucky to meet him in better form than he had shown for England at White Hart Lane. Kevin Davies had two early chances. Harry Kewell made an exciting run after 30 minutes but dragged his shot across a gaping, inviting Saints goalmouth. Martyn continued to be the busier of the two goalkeepers until Bowyer struck. Harte took a corner, Ferdinand back-headed the ball on and Bowyer swept it into the net. Smith added a second eleven minutes from the end with a brilliant run.

Leicester City v Bolton Wanderers 0-5

Bolton travelled to Leicester knowing the bookies were tipping them to be red hot favourites for the drop. Leicester were without Ian Walker, who was suspended as a result of being sent off in a Spurs Reserve game last season so Tim Flowers played in goal. Nolan put the visitors ahead on 16 minutes when he brilliantly headed home a Frandsen cross. After 33 minutes, Leicester fell further behind when Ricketts shrugged off a Rowett challenge to thump a Gardener pass into the Leicester goal. Bolton went further ahead after 41 minutes when Frandsen took a free-kick, Bergsson headed the ball on and Nolan diverted the ball behind Flowers. Nor were Bolton finished! Frandsen blasted home a free-kick from 18 yards just seconds before the break. Leicester replaced Akinbiyi and Sturridge but could still make no impression on the Bolton defence. Frandsen completed the rout with an 83rd minute free-kick thunderbolt from 22 yards out.

Liverpool v West Ham United 2-1

The Reds are one of the favourites to knock Manchester United off their throne this season. Liverpool were without Fowler who was dropped last week over a training ground spat with Phil Thompson but Houllier has since brokered an agreement that persuaded Fowler to apologise to Thompson.

West Ham bravely defended their goal and even scored a surprise equaliser but they seldom showed any likelihood of pulling off a shock win at Anfield. No side can afford to leave Owen unattended and expect to get away with it. It was McAlister who provided the opening for Owen in the 18th minute when an exquisite backheel provided the chance for Owen to escape from the close marking of Song and Dailly. Owen controlled the ball and slipped it beyond Hislop. West Ham equalised in the 30th minute when Di Canio scored a penalty after Todorov was upended as a sandwich between Henchoz and Carragher. It took Liverpool until the 77th minute before they regained the lead. Hamann sent Owen away, eluding Winterburn and Dailly and drilled a shot home off the far upright.

Middlesbrough v Arsenal 0-4

The score-line wasn't a true reflection of the game since two of Arsenal's goals came after Ehiogu had been sent off in the dying moments of the game. Arsenal had to wait until two minutes before the break before snatching the lead when Ehiogu's clearance cannoned off Windass and rebounded to Henry, who had all the time in the world to pick his spot.

In the second half, Parlour was sent off for a second bookable offence. But Arsenal simply raised their game but kept misfiring when it came to the final pass. Middlesbrough replaced Windass with Ricard but it made no difference, although Seaman had to go full length to keep out a vicious shot from Ince in the 58th minute. The game looked like coasting to a 1-0 win for Arsenal when Ehiogu was sent off for tripping Cole in the penalty area. Pires scored from the spot in the 87th minute and Bergkamp added two late goals in the 88th and 90th minutes.

Sunderland v Ipswich Town 1-0

The only goal of the game came from the penalty spot when Kevin Phillips scored in the 38th minute. Bramble appeared to lose possession of the ball and then bumped into McCann. I suspect McCann made a meal of it since I didn't see any deliberate intent on Bramble's part. If there had been, Bramble would surely have been booked or sent off. The Tractor Boys played their full part in the game but an equaliser simply would not come.

Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa 0-0

Full match report available here.

Sunday 19 August

Chelsea v Newcastle United 1-1

The West London side have spent heavily during the close season but were still unconvincing. Newcastle had some excuse as they have a heavy injury list, having already been playing competitively for a month in the InterToto Cup. Both goals came as a result of goalkeeping blunders. Zenden made a long speculative shot in the 8th minute that somehow squirmed out of Given's grasp and trickled into his goal. Newcastle equalised fifteen minutes from the end when he failed to hold a free kick taken by Robert and the rebound was bundled home by Acuna. De Goey was surprisingly picked ahead of Chelsea's expensive import Mark Bosnich in Cudicini's enforced absence through injury. But on the whole neither side deserved to win.

Manchester United v Fulham 3-2

Fulham twice led Manchester United before conceding defeat. They gave the Champions an almighty fright, posing questions about the quality of their defence. Neither Gary Neville nor Jaap Stam looked confident when confronted by Saha. Keane's absence from the side because of suspension also did not help. Davis played a beautiful pass to Saha in the 3rd minute of the match to gut the United defence cleanly. Saha ignored the advancing Barthez, lobbying him with aplomb. Manchester United were fortunate in their equaliser as referee Peter Jones wrongly decided Finnan had fouled Giggs to concede a free-kick. Beckham made no mistake in taking the kick and curled the ball clear over everyone's head into Van Der Sar's net after 35 minutes. But Saha struck again three minutes after the break. Malbranque released Saha to break the United offside trap and Saha calmly stroked the ball behind Barthez. United were not fazed for long. Van Nistleroy struck twice in three minutes soon afterwards to win the match for the Champions. His first goal came after Cole flicked a pass on for the Dutchman to beat Van Der Sar from close range. Two minutes later, in the 53rd minute, Hayles got in the way of a Beckham cross and Van Nistleroy plundered an unexpected goal.

Cheers, Brian

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