Tottenham Stunt Aston Villa

March 15, 2009

jenas

Instead of jumping back into fourth place, Aston Villa were stunned at home by Tottenham Hotspur, 2-1. Jermaine Jenas scored in the 5th minute and Darren Bent doubled the advantage on 50 minutes. John Alieu Carew did pull one back for Villa in the 85th but it was too little too late. Now Villa stay in fifth on differential to Arsenal, just four points clear of Everton in the final UEFA Cup spot. Spurs meanwhile move up to eleventh, where they finished last season. After the dreadful start they had, if Tottenham can finish in the top ten, it’d be a massive propulsion into next season.

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Keane Saves Spurs

March 7, 2009

keane

Robbie Keane scored in his second straight Premiership match, snatching a victory away from Sunderland and earning Tottenham shared points on a day where they certainly did not deserve it. With his 89th minute strike, compliments of a cross from Darren Bent, Keane saved Spurs from a disastrous loss against a club with whom they are tied in terms of points. Kieran Richardson had given the Black Cats the early lead with his 3rd minute goal for the home side in the league’s only match today.

With the shared points, both clubs jump up one spot on the table. Spurs reach twelfth place and Sunderland reach thirteenth based on goal differentials better than Hull City, who now drop to fourteenth. The point for each side certainly does not guarantee anything in terms of relegation, but it does inch both sides that much further from the bottom.


Tottenham Destroy Boro

March 4, 2009

keane

Tottenham Hotspur routed Middlesbrough at White Hart Lane today, 4-0. Roman Pavlyuchenko and Robbie Keane added to Aaron Lennon’s brace to give Spurs the decisive victory on their home turf. Perhaps motivated by their narrow defeat in penalties at the hands of Manchester United at Wembley in the Carling Cup final on Sunday, Tottenham broke out early with two goals in the first fifteen minutes. The three points earned all but guarantee Spurs will not be relegated this season and in fact move them up to thirteenth place, leapfrogging Sunderland. Boro meanwhile are stuck in nineteenth place, but are just two points from clear. Their fate will be sealed by the end of this month, most likely.

At St. James’ Park, Peter Rosenkrands Løvenkrands (yes, that’s his real name) gave Newcastle a short-lived 1-0 lead over leaders Manchester United. But the champions quickly equalized behind Wayne Rooney and ultimately Dimitar Berbatov put the game out of reach with his 56th minute winner. United push clear by seven points atop the Premiership while Toon can’t quite get away from the relegation discussion, currently sitting in sixteenth.

Aston Villa failed to keep pace with Liverpool and Chelsea in a demoralizing 2-0 loss to Manchester City at Eastlands. Elano’s 24th minute penalty and Shaun Wright-Phillips’s 89th minute sealer gave City a hop, skip and jump up into eighth place. Villa may finally have all those last-minute draws and wins catching up with them as they have struggled over the past month or so. City remain a strong club at home, despite their away woes.

A wild game at the JJB Stadium saw Carlton Cole score in the 34th minute but get sent off in the 37th. But no matter as Lee Cattermole was sent off with a straight red for Wigan in the 50th minute, evening the balance at ten-men per side and allowing West Ham United a 1-0 victory. Through seven yellow cards and two reds, the Hammers did well for themselves in earning three away points against a quality foe. With Everton’s draw, West Ham are just six points behind the Toffees for sixth place and are six points clear of Man City for seventh. Wigan missed a fine opportunity to take the sixth spot that West Ham claimed, and instead hang back in ninth.

Speaking of Everton, their nil-nil draw at Ewood Park denied them a chance to draw close to Arsenal and Aston Villa and gave Blackburn an inkling of hope that they can emerge from relegation before the season is complete. While Rovers would have liked three points instead of one, the knowledge that they can hang with one of the better sides in England should give them confidence to save Blackburn’s top-flight status. The Toffees on the other hand have to rue this day that they probably lost their chance at a spot in Europe.

Hull City finally won a match when substitute Manucho’s extra time strike gave the Tigers a shock win against Fulham at Craven Cottage. The result is a disaster for the Cottagers as they slip back into tenth place and likely miss out on any shot of finishing in the top six or seven. But for Hull, a win away from Kingston has been a rarity and much needed to slow the steady drop toward relegation for a club once sitting in the top five of the league. Hull find themselves back up in twelfth place, just ahead of Spurs.

Finally, James Beattie and Ricardo Fuller doubled up Bolton to send Stoke City shooting out of the relegation zone and into fifteenth place. Wanderers, who had crept up to tenth place, have to be shocked with this result, though it was at the Britannia Stadium where Stoke have been a decent club this season. But still, to miss the chance to reach eighth place with a loss to Stoke will be tough to swallow.

The Premiership will take the weekend off as FA Cup Quarterfinals are played. Matches will resume next weekend with the exception of Blackburn @ Fulham in a make-up game on Wednesday. The Champions League and UEFA Cup will have games mid-week next week.


It’s United

March 1, 2009

united

Manchester United survived a strong effort from Tottenham, prevailing in penalties to win the Carling Cup for the first time since 2006. Andeson’s goal from the spot gave United a 4-1 advantage after Jamie O’Hara’s penalty was saved by Ben Foster and David Bentley missed wide left. Yet Spurs, holders of the Carling Cup, certainly gave United more to think about than many (including this space) thought. In fact, both sides missed several nice opportunities in regulation that would’ve won the League Cup.

But it is United who take the Carling Cup in 2009. As we may yet see more trophies swell the coffers of Sir Alex, it is perhaps not the most important match of the year. But failing more triumph, it is a cup nonetheless. As for Tottenham, this was the last chance to survive in Europe for next season after being knocked from the UEFA Cup by Shaktar Donetsk during the week. With no hopes of reaching much higher than tenth in the Premier League, Spurs will be lucky just to survive in top flight football.


Carling Cup Final Preview

February 27, 2009
berba

Expect a Lot of This on Sunday

So on Sunday Manchester United and Tottenham will kick off from new Wembley (can I call it that? kind of like new Comiskey, even though it was built in the early 90s and is called US Cellular Field?) for the right to call themselves champions of the tournament named for the UK’s highest selling beer. That’s actually true by the way, or at least that’s what everyone always told me.

There shouldn’t be too much to talk about in this match assuming one thing: that Man United actually bring their top squad. It’s true that they just played on Tuesday in Milan, drawing Inter nil-nil in the Champions League. And it’s also true that there will be mid-week Premiership matches as well as matches again next weekend. So there is a very real possibility that United could opt out with their A team and play a bunch of youngsters. Granted, Spurs just played yesterday (at home) in the UEFA Cup and have the same domestic schedule as United.

But as Pratt and I discussed on the phone last weekend, if they’re already in the final, why not win it? United still have the farfetched chance to win four trophies this season, and that includes the Carling Cup. Why not bring out the big guns against a sorry Tottenham side and mop the floor with them for a well-earned trophy? That way, in case the FA Cup or Champions League go down the tubes, at least they’ll have two trophies.

Spurs on the other hand have absolutely no reason not to play their top side. They are the holders of the Carling Cup and if United fail to bring their top players, it’d be possible to pull off the rare back-to-back Carling Cup title. That could bring at least a little light to the darkness that has been this season for Tottenham. Plus it guarantees them at least a qualifying position in the UEFA Cup next year. There is no way Spurs can make it into Europe next year besides winning this tournament so it’d be well-worth trying. That and the fact that their domestic season has been such a disaster and they are now out of the UEFA Cup, there’s not a whole lot left to rest the regulars for.

My prediction is that United will come out blasting and take Spurs out 3-1 for the title.


Tottenham Win Away

February 23, 2009

woodgate

When Jonathan Woodgate of all people scored the match winner in the 85th minute, Tottenham finally earned three away points and jumped from sixteenth to fourteenth in the Premier League standings. Passing Newcastle and Portsmouth and now just a point behind Hull for thirteenth, Spurs are on track to remain in top-flight football in 2009/2010.

Aaron Lennon started the scoring in the 17th minute but Michael Turner equalized for Hull City in the 27th minute. There the score stood until Woodgate headed in his goal just five minutes from full time. Meanwhile Hull, an early season surprise, continue to fall on hard times with just two points from their last nine Premier League matches. Hull look like they will probably finish the season in the bottom quarter of the table.


The Rest of the Round of 32

February 19, 2009
gomes

This is Getting to be a Familiar Sight

English clubs fell on their faces today in the second day of the Round of 32 in the UEFA Cup. Both Tottenham and Manchester City blew chances at fine results with last-minute choking. Here are the results:

Yevhen Seleznyov and Rodrigues Jadson scored in the final twelve minutes of play to give Shakhtar Donetsk, freshly down from the Champions League, a 2-0 victory over Tottenham at the RSK Olimpiyskiy. Spurs, who could’ve earned a valuable away draw, did not even challenge the Hirnyky (or Miners) and now face a terrible uphill battle to advance to the Round of 16. By not playing most of the regular starters due to fatigue concerns, Harry Redknapp appears to have wasted the trip to Ukraine and all but given away Tottenham’s chances at staying alive in Europe.

Similarly, Man City allowed a 90th minute strike from Martin Vingaard Hansen to give FC København a 2-2 draw at the Parken Stadion in Copenhagen. Nedum Onuoha and Stephen Ireland had given City a 2-1 cushion with Ireland’s 61st minute goal but were unable to keep Hansen out of the net in the end. City do take two away goals back home to Manchester for the return match and have a much better chance than Tottenham to advance.

In Poland, Lech Poznań stunned Udinese when Hernan Rengifo and Manuel Arboleda scored in the 81st and 84th minutes to draw even with the Italian club at the Stadion Mijeski. Udinese are in the same boat as Man City with two away goals in their favor when they return to Udine.

Another upset occurred, this time in Marseille as Olympique were defeated 1-0 by Marko Arnautovic and FC Twente. Arnautovic’s 22nd minute strike gave the Dutch visitors an early lead at the Stade Velodrome that stood through the rest of the match. Twente will return to Enschede with an away goal in hand and a one-goal lead.

Finally, Ajax pulled off a nice away win on the strength of Kennedy’s 60th minute goal for the visiting Dutch at the Artemio Franchi in Florence against Fiorentina.