miércoles, 21 de marzo de 2012

Video Tottenham Hotspur 1 - 1 Stoke City

n the circumstances, it might seem harsh to chastise Tottenham for such a startlingly insipid performance. This, after all, is a club still understandably raw from the emotional trauma of Fabrice Muamba’s collapse at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
Yet the frustration on the face of Harry Redknapp and the simmering anger of the crowd, even after Rafael van Der Vaart’s added -time equaliser, told a wider story.
This was not some one-off blip that could be simply explained by the exceptional circumstances of the past week but was, in fact, a fourth straight Premier League match without victory.
Tottenham have now accumulated just four points from a possible 15 since Fabio Capello resigned as England manager and Redknapp was widely anointed his natural heir.
Coincidence? Certainly not to the many Tottenham fans who have grown used to seasons of great promise petering out in disappointment. Spurs have also now slipped out of the Premier League’s top three for the first time since November and, most worryingly, are suddenly devoid of the swagger that has characterised so much of their season.

While Redknapp had been keen to impress upon Tottenham’s players and supporters the importance of last night’s game, the events of Saturday were initially still uppermost on the minds of most inside White Hart Lane.
A pre-match announcement of the date — next Tuesday — for the replayed FA Cup quarter-final against Muamba’s Bolton Wanderers drew instinctive applause. So too did the warm-up T-shirts, worn by both sets of teams and all the match officials, which displayed the message, 'Get Well Soon Fabrice’.
The general air of goodwill even meant that Jermaine Pennant, a former Arsenal player, was spared the usual booing on his return to this particular part of north London.
Redknapp had said that he would not select any player who was not in the correct frame of mind after the trauma of Saturday’s match but the only explanation for any absentee last night was injury. Emmanuel Adebayor, most notably, was ruled out with a hamstring strain, with Redknapp opting to give Rafael van der Vaart his first Premier League start since January.
Tottenham, though, were clearly subdued in the opening minutes. Peter Crouch, their former striker, was the predictable focal point for Stoke’s attacks and, while the midfield was often tightly packed into a congested bank of five, both Jon Walters and Cameron Jerome were breaking forward in support.
Jerome was a particular threat, twice shooting narrowly wide in the opening 10 minutes. Tottenham responded and gradually found their rhythm. Gareth Bale’s pace and incisive running started to push Stoke into their own half and a flurry of chances followed. Van der Vaart pounced on a loss of concentration from Wilson Palacios, his former team-mate, but had his left-footed shot smothered by Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic. Luka Modric then had two sights of goal, dragging a shot just wide on the first occasion and then having his second effort deflected past Begovic’s post.
Louis Saha was especially struggling to link up the play. Indeed, half-time had not even arrived before the Tottenham fans were advocating the introduction of Jermain Defoe.
Saha did briefly respond, forcing a fabulous save from Begovic with a shot from just outside the penalty area, but his limited general contribution only highlighted the absence of Adebayor. Stoke also deserved credit for their organisation, with Tony Pulis’s team defending deeply and restricting Tottenham throughout the first-half with surprising ease.
The crowd’s demand for Defoe was answered at half-time, with Niko Kranjcar sacrificed as Van der Vaart moved to the right and Tottenham resumed in a more offensive 4-4-2 formation.
The presence of Defoe was also at least providing Tottenham with greater movement in attack. Only a narrow angle stopped him punishing a fumble by Begovic, but clear chances remained scarce. Modric, once again, managed to drift into space but his shot was well blocked by Ryan Shawcross. Bale also went close, looping a shot beyond Begovic that cannoned off the cross-bar. The longer Stoke held out, though, the more adventurous they became. Pennant’s crossing became an increasing threat and, after 75 minutes, his precise free-kick was met by Robert Huth, who cleverly diverted the ball for Jerome to direct his finish past Brad Friedel.
Spurs appeared out of ideas but, with the game into its third minute of added-time, Bale provided a wonderful cross that was headed beyond Begovic by Van der Vaart. It was rapturously received but the mixture of boos and muted applause that greeted the final whistle more accurately reflected the mounting sense of dissatisfaction.

Tottenham (4-4-1-1): Walker; King (Nelsen 83), Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Kranjcar (Defoe h-t), Parker, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart; Saha (Giovani 73). Subs: Cudicini (g), Rose, Livermore, Sandro. Booked: Van der Vaart. Goal: Van der Vaart 90

Stoke (4-4-1-1): Begovic; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Pennant, Palacios (Whitehead 57), Diao (Whelan 26), Jerome (Delap 83); Walters; Crouch. Subs: Sorensen (g), Upson, Shotton, Jones. Booked: Palacios. Goal: Jerome 75

Referee: M Jones (Chester).
Att: 35,172

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