Team: Kenny, Young, Traore, Hall (Gabbidon), Ferdinand, Derry (Mackie), Faurlin, Barton, Taarabt (Bothroyd), Wright-Phillips, Helguson
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Hill, Buzsaky, Smith
Attendance: 36,147 (including nearly 3,000 R’s fans)
We gave the ball away far too cheaply, with Taarabt the biggest culprit. It put us under immense pressure 1st half, against a good side who know how to punish you and finish in front of goal. Neil Warnock has given him enough opportunities to prove that he can cut it at this level. I’ve always been a fan of his, and still am, but his time is running out. Will he start against Manchester City on Saturday ? Somehow I doubt it. The substitutes were bang on and almost turned the game around. It was a much improved 2nd half and we went down fighting…loud and proud. As for the referee, in a word he was, diabolical. He didn’t cost us the game, but ruined it as a spectacle.
Brilliant 2nd half, we were a different team and chased the ball well in all areas and looked as if we could score more. Now let’s keep that same line-up with Wright-Phillips, Faurlin and Barton looking so much better and at last we had a Helguson and Bothroyd to aim at in the middle. They contributed (along with Mackie) so much more other than just being targets. Taarabt can have no complaints and sadly Derry was lacking in pace. What is wrong with Taarabt ? Even if he has been told to keep it tight there was no excuse for some of his passes being played to non-existent players. He’s a shadow of the player he was from last season and we looked 100% better without him.
Paddy Kenny was brilliant. I have never been a lover of 4-5-1 as you do not occupy the opposing back-four and the loan striker tends to be overwhelmed. In several games this season the loan striker has drifted out to the wing.
After the week Queens Park Rangers have had it might have felt like a relief for them to have 90 minutes of Premier League football to divert them. The saga of Anton Ferdinand’s race row confrontation with Chelsea’s John Terry has been testing and frustrating. Solace, though came only in the 20-minute period after the interval when Neil Warnock ‘s team threatened, rather abruptly, to take something from this derby. If Tottenham Hotspur had been lulled into a sense of security, it was understandable, given how they had dominated. Rangers’ last away fixture had brought the 6-0 thumping at Fulham and at half-time they looked to be heading for a re-run.
Warnock could take pride from the character his players showed in the second half, but the difference in class was all too apparent and it was symbolised by Gareth Bale. The Tottenham winger had opened the scoring, but it was his second goal, which made the points safe, that took the breath away. Tottenham fans will not tire of re-watching the build-up, nor the ruthless finish. “I even found myself clapping at the third goal,” Warnock said.
It is now 19 points from an available 21 for Tottenham and, although Manchester City might argue otherwise, Harry Redknapp’s team can claim to be the division’s form club. Momentum is building and the race for the Champions League places looks set to captivate and Tottenham will have a loud say. “It’s wide open,” Redknapp said. “I said not to write Arsenal off and I wouldn’t write Liverpool off. No disrespect to Newcastle…if they can get into the top six, it will be a fantastic achievement, but I think there are six other good teams up there, There are six teams for four places.”
Warnock has said that the match had been “the main issue this week” at the club, which rather overlooked the scandal involving Ferdinand and the England captain. Warnock’s centre-half was followed to White Hart Lane by a bright spotlight, but Tottenham’s football in the first half quickly took it over. The home team’s movement was slick and dangerous; Rangers struggled to keep pace and Bale’s opening goal came as no surprise.
The all-action Rafael van der Vaart had forced Paddy Kenny into a smart save and Emmanuel Adebayor had missed a glaring headed opportunity before Tottenham pulled Rangers apart to present the opening for Bale. Adebayor headed down for Rafael van der Vaart and his intelligent pass invited Aaron Lennon to play the next one out left to Bale, who had tip-toed into space. His driven finish was underpinned by fine technique.
The first half was a Tottenham exhibition. Scott Parker called the tune in midfield and the players in front of him turned on the style. Luka Modric sparkled and his chested touch and first-time volley from Rafael van der Vaart’s corner whistled only narrowly wide. By then Bale had lifted over the crossbar from close range and Rafael van der Vaart had scored, after Ledley King’s miscued shot had fallen kindly for him. The Rangers defence was at sixes and sevens. It was Rafael van der Vaart’s sixth goal in five league matches.
Warnock’s only consolation was that the half-time deficit could have been heavier. He made an attacking change at the interval, replacing Shaun Derry and the frustratingly peripheral Adel Taarabt and bringing on Jamie Mackie and Jay Bothroyd, and he enjoyed a reaction. His team pressed on to the front foot, there was increased tempo and urgency and Heidar Helguson had a shot deflected over the crossbar by Ledley King.
Tottenham seemed content to contain, and although they had chances, Rangers’ transformation was confirmed when they plundered a goal following Joey Barton’s corner, Helguson heading on and Bothroyd flicking home. It had hardly seemed likely, but there was a game on and Rangers even went close to an equaliser through Alejandro Faurlin. Brad Friedel needed to get down and across to save.
Tottenham, though, re-asserted themselves. Paddy Kenny, who had saved from Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale, demonstrated his reflexes to deny Benoit Assou-Ekotto, but he was fixed to the spot when Bale scored the clinching goal. The build-up was mesmeric, all finesse and first touches. Having received the ball from Lennon, Bale then played a one-two with him and dispatched the finish into the roof of the net. In the blink of an eye the game was over. Adebayor missed another golden chance and Rangers did go close to reducing the arrears, but this was Tottenham’s day. “You have to take your hat off to them, don’t you ?” Warnock said. “Bale’s a great player. It’s just a pity he’s Welsh.”
David Hytner – The Guardian
We improved in the 2nd half because Barton was in the middle and not out-wide. The Spurs midfield had dominated us, but after the interval our midfield got more into the game and gave a good account of themselves. Having two up-front also helped, something I’ve been wanting to see for a long, long time. As well as we played in the 2nd half, I said to my mate: “You watch, they’ll hit us on the break”, and bingo !!! Their third goal was absolute class from start to finish. Taarabt’s performance was woeful, but credit to the Spurs PA announcer who said: “…and a welcome return to White Hart Lane to Adel Taarabt.” It was nice to see a club show some class and gravitas. Also good to see a London derby where there were no cards whatsoever. I’m not sure about the referee’s performance being poor. I thought he did well, but the linesman near us in the 2nd half was a complete idiot.
Well done Paddy Kenny, he was magnificent on Sunday. I though the ref was disappointing and many of his decisions were weighted in favour of the home side, particularly in the 1st half. Fitz Hall broke down after 10 minutes and was replaced by Danny Gabbidon who apparently hadn’t trained for five weeks. Taarabt was giving the ball away far too much and Neil Warnock made the right substitutions at half-time. Harry Redknapp was quoted as saying, “There was arguing and all sorts going on in their dressing room. It was all kicking off. I thought they’re going to have a go in the second half for sure.”Coupled with reverting to a welcome 4-4-2 formation, it was an inspired display after the interval.
During the R’s purple patch, Tottenham scored that stunning goal through the very impressive Gareth Bale. Great support from nearly 3,000 R’s fans throughout and there was even a round of applause from a home section after our loud rendition of, ‘West London is Ours’. Well done to all the walkers and thanks to Jimmy for the lift.
(The above pics were taken by Martin Percival and used with his permission)