Tottenham Stunt Aston Villa

March 15, 2009


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.

Keane Saves Spurs

March 7, 2009


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


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


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

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


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

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.

Tottenham and Arsenal Waste North London Derby

February 8, 2009

Still, it's nice to see Keane back in White

Tottenham and Arsenal played to their second draw this season, this time going nil-nil at White Hart Lane. In October a 4-4 draw was an early season highlight but this match was nothing of the sort. Emmanuel Eboue earned his second yellow card in the 37th minute and was sent off by the referee, putting Arsenal a man down for the remaining fifty-three minutes. Yet Spurs could not capitalize, despite the return of Robbie Keane. Carlo Cudicini was in goal for Tottenham while Arsenal’s new boy Andrei Arshavin and Eduardo da Silva did not see action.

This match does nothing for the standings as both clubs remain in exactly the same positions as before. For Arsenal however, earning just one point is much more troubling than it is for Tottenham. First of all, Spurs are used to getting at most one point. Secondly, Arsenal have Everton hot on their trail, now just four points behind for the fifth and final spot in Europe. Also, with Chelsea earning just one point from a home match with Hull City, Arsenal could have made up ground on their fourth place rivals. Spurs stay in fifteenth place though they now hold that distinction alone instead of on differential.

Can Keane Save Spurs?

February 3, 2009

Keane Arrives for the Second Time

Back from his short-lived exile in Liverpool, Robbie Keane has vowed to help keep Tottenham in top flight football. But the question is not if he can do that but rather how depressed should Spurs’ supporters be that Keane’s comments are regarding relegation and not European qualification, or at least a top-half finish? Obviously at the point, Tottenham have no chance whatsoever to catch up with the Chelseas and Arsenals of the world, so let’s ignore that side of it. But there is still a legitimate chance to finish higher than last year’s 11th place finish.

Keane will absolutely help the club in the early matches he plays because of the recent injury to Jermain Defoe (probably out 10 weeks or so). He’s familiar with at least some of the players, though the club looks quite a bit different from the one that won the Carling Cup with Keane last season. But is a familiar face really going to change the fortunes at White Hart Lane? Doubtful, this far into the season.

Spurs Crash Out of FA Cup

January 24, 2009


With their quick-strike capabilities on display, Manchester United slipped past Tottenham in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup today at Old Trafford, 2-1. Roman Pavlyuchenko opened the scoring with a quick goal in the fifth minute for Spurs and gave the underdogs early hope. But in the 35th and 36th minutes, Paul Scholes and Dimitar Berbatov (against his former club) tallied successive goals to give United the lead, 2-1. That score would hold through a tough second half to send United through and send Spurs crashing out of the FA Cup.

Spurs Eke Out Spot in Carling Cup Final

January 21, 2009

romanTottenham did all they could to lose their almost-assured spot in the Carling Cup final for the first 117 minutes against upstart Burnley. Then Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe scored in the 118th and 120th minutes to send Spurs through. Ahead 4-1 after the first leg of the semifinal, Tottenham looked all but guaranteed to advance to their second consecutive final. But Burnley found themselves with a 3-0 lead today at the end of regulation forcing overtime periods due to the 4-4 aggregate tie. Sadly for Burnley (though thankfully for Spurs and my coverage of them) they could not hold their clean sheet through all 120 minutes at the Turf Moor and Tottenham eked out the 6-4 aggregate victory.

So, Spurs will face Manchester United on March 1 at Wembley Stadium for the Carling Cup. Spurs and United will also face off in an FA Cup fourth round match-up on Saturday at Old Trafford.

Spurs Close in On Carling Cup Final

January 6, 2009

o'haraWith a 4-1 victory over Burnley at White Hart Lane today, Tottenham are now quite close to returning to the finals of the Carling Cup. Spurs won the Carling Cup last season and now hold a three goal advantage on the Championship club. Spurs trailed after fifteen minutes 1-0 but after a half-time change of Jamie O’Hara for David Bentley, Spurs got going. Michael Dawson headed in a cross from O’Hara for the first goal and O’Hara himself nutmegged the Burnley keeper for Tottenham’s second goal. Roman Pavlyuchenko scored again for Tottenham, providing a 3-1 lead and an own-goal from Burnley provided the final tally.

Spurs will face either Manchester United or Derby in the March 1 final. United and Derby will square off tomorrow for their first leg.

As an aside, Spurs bought Jermain Defoe back from Portsmouth to play with his former manager, Harry Redknapp. Defoe starred at Tottenham from 2004-2008 scoring 43 goals in 139 matches. He should provide quite a nice scoring threat up front along with Darren Bent.

Spurs Through in FA Cup Round 3

January 2, 2009


Roman Pavlyuchenko scored twice for Tottenham to send Spurs through Round 3 of the FA Cup over Wigan, 3-1. Pavlyuchenko’s penalty on 52 minutes opened the scoring before Luka Modric doubled the home advantage with a header on 76 minutes. Henri Camara pulled one back for Wigan in the 88th minute but Pavlyuchenko’s second goal sealed the victory at White Hart Lane in the 90th.

Today’s victory continues the strange run through non-domestic league play for Spurs. With strong showings thus far in the FA Cup, UEFA Cup and Carling Cup especially, Tottenham could yet finish the year with some hardware, just as they did last year in the Carling Cup. Of course domestically, Spurs can’t quite get their acts together, having spent most of the year in dead last and are just now several points above the relegation zone.

Spurs play the first leg of a home-and-home with Burnley in the Carling Cup on Tuesday at The Lane.

Tottenham Miss Top Spot But Do Advance

December 19, 2008


Spurs could not have known that if they only won their match they would have finished the UEFA Cup group stage with top billing in Group D. But that’s how it turned out as Udinese lost to NEC Nijmegen. Instead, Spurs needed two dramatic second half goals from Luka Modric and Tom Huddlestone just to draw 2-2 with Spartak Moscow. The shared points were enough to push Spartak below Nijmegen and keep Tottenham in the second position.

Here are the rest of the advancing clubs:

Group A: Man City, FC Twente, Paris Saint-Germain
Group B: FC Metalist Kharkiv, Galatasaray, Olympiakos
Group C: Standard Liege, VfB Stuttgart, Sampdoria
Group D: Udinese, Tottenham, NEC Nijmegen

So, including clubs dropping down from the Champions League, here are the match-ups for the first knock out round in February (with first home teams listed first). I’ve put interesting match-ups in bold:

Aston Villa v. CKSA Moscow
Zenit St. Petersburg v. VfB Stuttgart
Braga v. Standard Liege
Fiorentina v. Ajax
Marseille v. FC Twente
NEC Nijmegen v. Hamburger SV
FC Copenhagen v. Man City
Sampdoria v. FC Metalist Kharkiv
AaB Aalborg v. Deportivo La Coruña
Paris Saint-Germain v. VfL Wolfsburg
Werder Bremen v. AC Milan
Bordeaux v. Galatasaray
Lech Poznan v. Udinese
Olympiakos v. St. Etienne
Dynamo Kiev v. Valencia
Shaktar Donetsk v. Tottenham

Spurs Face Important Test v. Spartak

December 17, 2008

Tottenham can advance through the group stage of the UEFA Cup if they can earn a win or a draw against visiting Spartak Moscow tomorrow at White Hart Lane. A win pushes Spurs through in second place most likely, assuming Udinese wins or draws at the top. A loss however puts Tottenham in peril of missing the cut as either Spartak, if they win by three goals, or NEC Nijmegen (same differential issues) could slip past.

So, Spurs simply need to take care of business at home as they’ve done very well so far this year in non-domestic league play. Between UEFA Cup and the Carling Cup, Spurs have managed to survive further than many expected, especially considering how terribly the start to the Premier League season was.

Other clubs who have clinched are will clinch, in all likelihood (in other words, the goal differentials are so different, even if they don’t win their last match, will advance anyway) will move on are:

Group A – Manchester City, FC Twente
Group B – Galatasaray, FC Metalist Kharkiv
Group C – Standard Liege
Group D – Udinese
Group E – VfL Wolfsburg, AC Milan, Braga
Group F – Hamburger SV, Aston Villa, Ajax
Group G – St. Etienne, Valencia
Group H – CSKA Moscow

A final post for the group play will come tomorrow showing those moving on and those dropping down from the Champions League.