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Spurs’ mad minute stuns improving QPR — full match report
Spurs’ mad minute stuns improving QPR — full match report
Monday, 24th Sep 2012 21:01 by Clive Whittingham

QPR were left wondering just how on earth they’d failed to win, never mind draw, after suffering a 2-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon.

This time last year QPR gleefully hammered the first nail into the lid on Andre Villas Boas' coffin, beating his expensively assembled but ill-disciplined Chelsea team at Loftus Road. It was a result from which his reign never recovered. On Sunday at White Hart Lane the Portuguese happily removed that nail and returned it to sender.

Villas Boas is best known in this country for an inability to clear his throat and a bizarre belief that crouching down at the side of the pitch offers him the best view of the action. Successful tactical changes and sound man management skills have been conspicuous by their absence since Chelsea paid the debt of a small African country to drag him away from Porto 18 months ago. How typical of QPR's luck that he suddenly discovered an adeptness at both this weekend.

Rangers were excellent here – making the most of a slick playing surface and a ragged Tottenham midfield that looked wholly uncomfortable in one of those new-fangled fluid formations. A more settled and rigid foursome of Shaun Wright-Phillips, Esteban Granero, Alehjandro Faurlin and Ji-Sung Park excelled in the space afforded to them and dominated the opening 45 minutes.

QPR led 1-0 at half time, but would have been three ahead had Villas Boas bowed to pressure from the other side of the English Channel, and no doubt his own boardroom, to drop 41-year-old American goalkeeper Brad Friedel for new £8m stopper Hugo Lloris. Friedel's mistakes over a run of 308 consecutive Premier League starts prior to Sunday can be counted on the fingers of one hand, but that hasn't stopped Didier Deschamps, Fabian Barthez and others slating the decision to stick with him ahead of Lloris for two league matches since his move from Lyon. With the might of the French Navy (three men in a bath on wheels) massing in the Thames and preparing to fire on White Hart Lane, Villas Boas stuck with his man and was rewarded with two fabulous first half saves to deny Clint Hill and Junior Hoilett goals QPR would have richly deserved.

At half time Villas Boas sprung into action. Gareth Bale was advanced from left back, Spurs' star man on the day Jan Vertonghen was given a wider remit, the midfield was straightened out into a more conventional shape and there was an immediate improvement. QPR were injury riddled in defence with goalkeeper Júlio César and centre half Ryan Nelsen taking to the field with illness; Anton Ferdinand, Fabio Da Silva and Armand Traore all out; and Jose Bosingwa lasting one half-pitch sprint with Aaron Lennon in the opening minute before withdrawing with a hamstring complaint. César and Nelsen were joined by Clint Hill, Kieron Dyer and Nedum Onuoha thereafter but rode an early second half storm and looked comfortable against a side yet to win at home this season.

And then they switched off, and rather than three points and a host of positive headlines all they had to take back with them to Shepherds Bush was a harsh lesson that for all the money spent and players added, QPR are still nowhere near good enough to lose concentration in a Premier League game for even a minute.

QPR shrugged off the early Bosingwa set back, that saw Dyer come in at right back and Onuoha switch to the left, and set about Spurs. After surviving a half hearted early penalty appeal from Sigurdsson, Clint Hill came close to opening the deadlock in the fifth minute. Spurs' scouts had probably reported back that QPR corners needed minimal attention given the Hoops' propensity to strike them hard and true at the defender on the near post so the home side could be forgiven for looking surprised when Granero planted a perfect delivery plum onto Hill's head in the six yard box, but Friedel began the day in flying form and produced a fine one handed save at full stretch. A second corner followed, this time headed wide by Nelsen on his first return to the club QPR bought him from in the summer.

After being cruelly denied a first career Premier League goal by the poor officiating of Bob Pollock at Bolton last season Hill must wonder what he has to do to score, but having been written off as a top flight defender by most in the wake of the opening day massacre by Swansea his performance at the other end of the field will have provided him with plenty of comfort.

The early Sigurdsson appeal in the box came as he attempted to make something of a mishit volley from in form Jermain Defoe, and the diminutive front man caused problems again in the ninth minute by finding space on the edge of the penalty area before dragging a shot wide of the target.

QPR were much more assertive and sure of themselves than their hosts though. They had shape and purpose that troubled Spurs and the home team stayed level through a thirteenth minute scare thanks only to their goalkeeper once again. Granero was the architect of the chance once more, picking out Junior Hoilett in the penalty area and having allowed the ball to drift across his body the former Blackburn man executed a dipping volley towards the far corner of the net that Friedel did well to palm away stretching away to his left. Another corner followed – one of seven Rangers forced in the first half an hour of play – and this time the ball flashed right through the goal mouth and away to safety.

Presumably we’ll coach this quality set piece taking out of Granero in time.

A midfield pairing of the Spaniard and Alejandro Faurlin looks a little lightweight on paper – any prize from the middle shelf to the first pundit who questions whether they’ll fancy a Tuesday night in Sunderland which we do actually have on our fixture list this season – but as well as being exceptional ball players, they’re tough nuggety characters as well. Granero displayed a cynical adeptness at repeatedly, deliberately fouling opponents without drawing the referee’s attention in this game and got away with six before Phil Dowd finally booked him in the second half. After the third – a particularly blatant trip on Aaron Lennon as he threatened to streak away – Spurs assistant boss Steffen Freund leapt from the bench, marched to the edge of the technical to demand further action. If ever there was a bigger case of a pot and a kettle becoming embroiled in a racism row this was it and I’m sure in the cold light of Monday morning the German watched the game back with a wry smile on his face knowing that Granero is a canny exponent of an art form Freund was renowned for in his playing days.

When Faurlin fouled Dembele on the edge of the QPR area in the nineteenth minute Spurs finally had a chance to register a first shot on target but the decision by Bale to touch the ball off for Vertonghen merely allowed the wall to advance eight yards closer and block the shot away. Free kicks like that are only marginally less annoying than the new self indulgent craze of standing for an inordinate amount of time with your legs apart doing breathing exercises while staring at the ball before drilling a 45 yard shot low into a wall of defenders ten yards away – Bale had clearly been told to pack that in after spending most of Thursday night’s game with Lazio posing over every set piece but Frank Lampard has been doing it for a decade now and scored twice in three quarters of a million attempts. Yes, we can all see you, very impressive footballer with an enormous pay packet and a tiny dick, just take the bloody free kick would ya?

There had been audible laughter from the Tottenham fans when Kieron Dyer was forced into the action early, and the QPR fans around me were engaging in sweepstakes on how long he would last, but the man who has managed just 16 starts in the last five years (of which only one he saw through the full 90 minutes) was acquitting himself extremely well. At the midway point of the half he put in plenty of leg work down the right flank to win another corner which bizarrely, given Granero’s accuracy to this point, was taken by Shaun Wright-Phillips. He too is much maligned by QPR fans but played well in this game and delivered a fine set piece on this occasion which Nelsen should have done much better with at the back post – sadly he headed high over the bar from close range.

Spurs – supporters and players – were growing frustrated. You could smell it in the rain sodden air and hear it wafting up to the back of the away end. Despite playing against the slowest, deepest lying centre half pairing in Premier League history Jermain Defoe got himself flagged offside three times in the final 15 minutes of the half – all tight but correct decisions.

Crucially though, in the thirty third minute, there was no flag at the far end of the ground as Ale Faurlin returned the latest corner into the penalty area with an intelligent, perfectly weighted pass, and bearing in mind his Spurs connections and current form in front of goal Bobby Zamora was never going to need asking twice. His crisp finish into the far corner of the net was his third in four starts and was no more than QPR deserved.

Within two minutes Zamora had collected the ball and fed Hoilett – fouled in the process but advantage waved on – and the young Canadian drilled a low shot from distance that Friedel needed to get two hands to and turn aside. The big target man crashed to earth under challenge from Gallas a moment later but only half appealed for a penalty when he looked to have a reasonably strong case.

It was crucial for QPR to get to half time without conceding, but the problem was they looked like a team that was all too aware of that. They invited Spurs onto them in the closing moments when there had been no indication that the home team had the initiative to do so of their own accord prior to that and it needed a fine header at the back post from Hill to divert a deep Bale cross away from Sigurdsson before Dembele fired high and wide after collecting the loose ball. Spurs were booed off at half time.

Villas Boas made his changes early: introducing Caulker, withdrawing Sigurdsson, moving Vertonghen left, advancing Bale, straightening the midfield, sending up Dempsey in support of Defoe. Hill was immediately penalised for climbing as QPR surveyed the new situation but Bale’s free kick was cleared behind and the corner was hacked away.

Rangers served notice that there was to be no sitting back and holding on from them when Zamora, who led the line superbly, nodded down for Hoilett to strike and appeal that a hand had been used illegally to deny him.

Júlio César is allowed to handle the ball of course, though you would never have known it six minutes after the break when Dempsey tried to beat the Brazilian international with a speculative strike from range and was only just about denied as QPR’s former Inter Milan goalkeeper bundled the ball off to his right with a nervous save made more with his torso than anything else. Smelling blood, Bale smashed the loose ball back in towards the near post and once more found the goalkeeper in eccentric but effective mood as he executed an unorthodox punch away. From the resulting corner the ball bounced agonisingly around in the six yard box with César patting it away with a gloved paw at one stage but never really looking comfortable. Maybe he is a typical QPR goalkeeper after all.

When he was finally beaten, on the hour, he could do little about it. Caulker’s header back across the face of goal from Bale’s corner looked plum for Defoe on the edge of the six yard box, and Ale Faurlin clearly thought so to as he turned his back and subsequently found the ball bouncing into the net having struck him on the shoulder.

It was rotten luck that QPR, and Faurlin in particular, scarcely deserved, but the important thing having suffered the set back was to recover from it and rebuild. Instead Rangers committed too many men to the first attack from the kick off and paid the ultimate price on the counter. Granero was caught in possession, belatedly diving and looking for a free kick that he might have received had he been less honest initially and hit the deck when he first felt content but was never going to having tried to make the best of a bad situation, and from that point on Rangers were in trouble. The cause wasn’t helped by Onuoha crashing to ground as he chased Vertonghen back – the QPR bench protested furiously that this should have been a free kick – and they were always short as the Dutchman fed Bale in the area. Although his shot was brilliantly saved one on one by Granero he could only divert it up and onto the cross bar from where, as if QPR hadn’t had enough bad luck, it fell perfectly for Defoe to control and slam into an open goal.

Within a minute a game that looked an away win for all money had been turned completely on its head. A tragedy, but there was a degree of naivety on QPR’s part in the way it came about.

Stunned, Rangers survived near post shots from Bale and Dempsey that César saved well but they could and should have equalised with 20 minutes left for play. Junior Hoilett, pugnacious and physical throughout, worried Caulker into a mistake under a long ball. The loose possession was gathered by Zamora who immediately fed it back to Hoilett who appeared to have a clear strike on goal for a good couple of seconds on the left foot he’d troubled Friedel with in the first half but for some reason waited an age for it to roll across onto his right side and lost the opportunity. From that point on the belief just didn’t seem to be there any more, and when Zamora signalled to the bench that he could no longer continue and needed to be replaced by Djibril Cissé he took the cutting edge of the QPR attack with him. Zamora is fast becoming Rangers’ most important player.

Mark Hughes also sent on Jamie Mackie for Shaun Wright-Phillips and Tottenham started to drop back as they had done fatally in games with West Brom and Norwich on this ground already this season. But it was the home side threatening more often now despite that and Hill was required to head off his own line when Dempsey beat César with a header – the goalkeeper once more rooted to his line as a cross came over.

Cissé looked all set to power home at the back post when Park stood up a cross for him but Caulker got a crucial flicked header in at the last moment but every QPR attack brought a more dangerous looking Spurs counter and César was again forced to save from Bale after Lennon had rode a blatant attempt to hack him down from Faurlin. When Dyer did likewise to Bale two minutes from the end he was booked by Dowd.

The referee added four minutes on at the end and Spurs engaged in clock running – very slowly sending on Tom Huddlestone for Clint Dempsey and Andros Townsend for Aaron Lennon. Granero shot wide and Dowd, who’d been mercifully unfussy up to this point, suddenly decided he wanted to be pernickety about the placing of a late free kick on halfway as the clock continued to run.

Ultimately the R’s were grateful to their new goalkeeper for a world class one handed save from Defoe as he ran through on goal and shot with what turned out to be the last kick of the game.

It was hard to criticise anything QPR did on Sunday, and as the majority in the away end stayed to the end and applauded the team from the field it's clear the majority agree with me there. For 96 minutes this was an excellent away performance, and during the one minute it wasn't Tottenham scored twice.

I felt a little of the belief in what we were doing drained away after Defoe had scored, but Junior Hoilett could and should have equalised. I wondered if we could have responded to Tottenham's half time changes by introducing Samba Diakite to stiffen up the midfield, but who would you have taken off and would it have made any difference? I feel QPR could do better immediately after both scoring and conceding goals – the changed dynamic of the game in both situations seems to unsettle and unnerve them and this will not be the last time we see two goals in a minute either for or against while that is the case. But really, like Mark Hughes, I'm scratching my head a bit today and wondering how on earth we lost the game.

The problem Hughes has now is injuries are mounting, and by and large only affecting one area of the team which makes it increasingly difficult to cope. Chelsea and Spurs are free passes for a QPR manager, who isn't expected to win either, but the same cannot be said of the forthcoming games with Reading, West Ham and West Brom from which positive results are needed to avoid another winter of discontent settling in early.

Plaudits but no points can only continue for so long.

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Spurs: Friedel 8, Walker 6, Gallas 6, Vertonghen 8, Bale 7, Dembele 6, Sandro 6, Sigurdsson 5 (Caulker 46, 6), Dempsey 7 (Huddlestone 88, -), Lennon 7 (Townsend 90, -), Defoe 7

Subs: Lloris, Dawson, Falque, Mason

Goals: Faurlin (OG 60), Defoe (61)

QPR: César 8, Bosingwa – (Dyer 3, 8), Hill 7, Nelsen 7, Onuoha 7, Wright-Phillips 7 (Mackie 77, 6), Granero 7, Faurlin 7, Park 7, Hoilett 7, Zamora 8 (Cissé 73, 6)

Subs: Green, Diakite, Derry , Ehmer

Goals: Zamora 34 (assisted Faurlin)

Booked: Granero 54 (repetitive fouling), Dyer 87 (foul)

QPR Star Man – Kieron Dyer 8 A couple of candidates for the top man award – I thought Hoilett looked really good throughout and a definite threat, but took a mark off and therefore the award because of his dalliance over a late equalising opportunity. Obviously César played very well in goal as well, but he seems unduly rooted to his line at times, possibly not quite up to speed with the English style of play where balls are whizzing through the six yard box all the time, and there were some panicky moments as a result. In the end I went for Dyer, rightly maligned since arriving at QPR but impressive here, especially considering he was thrust into the action unexpectedly after just three minutes and faced a left side that included Gareth Bale.

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire) 7 QPR were very unhappy about two fouls in the lead up to Defoe’s goal and while I think they had a case with both, they’re the sort you rarely seen given. I thought Dowd allowed the game to flow, made allowances for the conditions when handing out cards, and overall handled the game reasonably well. I thought the penalty appeals from both sides were rightly ignored. A shame that in injury time he decided to be picky about the placing of a free kick having shown plenty of common sense before that.

Attendance: 36,052 (2,200 QPR) White Hart Lane is a fantastic stadium, certainly one of my favourites. The away end was in magnificent voice until the sucker punch of two Spurs goals in a minute, and after that the previously silent home crowd sprang into life. Twas ever thus. Good atmosphere in one of the league’s best arenas overall.

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JB007007 added 21:30 - Sep 24
Thanks Clive.
Absolutely spot on with Dyer as MOM. With the injuries mounting I hope he can stay fit though. I've actually become more and more annoyed as the day has gone on after not getting something from the game, but feel we are moving in the right direction. All the changes due to injuries wont help though. Although Hoilett should have shot with his left and maybe scored, we also had another great chance when Mackie (I think) sent in a ball which BZ timed his run too quickly. Four points from our next two league games is a must I would say.

jo_qpr63 added 21:56 - Sep 24
That is the best i have seen us play for a while(on sky match choice).We are definatly building up some momentum and starting to play some good passing football.What a tackle by Clint hill on defoe!. I would play him ahead of Ferdinand all day long, with Nelson. The table is completely irrelevent at the moment and its all about building our style of play and gelling as a team. The wins and points will follow, its still early days. As always, enjoyed report Clive.

QPRCambs added 22:01 - Sep 24
Great report.

I will also be interested in the analytical wisdom from Neil in due course. From my viewpoint we showed fantastic ball retention and recycling in the first two-thirds of the pitch but there was something lacking in the final third - the movement seemed limited and I wonder what percentage of the much-vaunted pass completion came from the need to go back and recycle because of the lack of forward penetration. When we did get forward option selection was often hurried and execution poor - esp the Hoilett chance. Despite the possession and the obvious splendour of parts of the display, 9 shots of which 6 were on target tells something about what went on (or didn't) in the final third.

The outcome left me very frustrated but unlike last season where there seemed to be little hope of serious improvement I see real cause for optimism. We've certainly cured the woeful tendency to give the ball away so easily and an improvement in the final third is surely deliverable through coaching, training and review. One obvious issue to address is the need to have at least one or two players moving away from the man with the ball instead of everyone rushing towards him.

The injuries are a worry and that's two weeks running where we've been forced to change early in the game and a 'settled side' seems a faint hope at the moment.

All in all I remain confident that the breakthrough will come and we will get to see some excellent stuff. I reserve the right, however, to review that confidence after another five games!


VancouverHoop added 00:14 - Sep 25
I'm not sure it is right to malign Dyer for his injuries. As fans I think we do that too often. Most players want to play, it's their job and, at this level, one most have been good at their whole life. These days, more than ever, players spend an inordinate amount of time on the physio's bench, I think there are reasons why this is so, but it's not because they're dogging it. In Dyer's case he suffered a double break to his leg five years ago. Once upon a time his career would have ended right there, perhaps it still should. Now though players can be patched-up and declared physically fit to play. It's what they want, and it's what their clubs are willing to pay them to do. The body is one thing, the mind another however. Regaining confidence in the affected limbs takes time. It affects players emotionally (think Cissés red card last season) and there's a tendency for the body to over-compensate, which may cause further injury. None of this is the player's fault, and as fan's we do them a disservice by treating them as if it is.

MelakaRanger added 00:27 - Sep 25
So close but no cigar!

I am sure that once the team wins and discovers the 'winning habit', winning will become the norm. We just need to get two wins on the trot to kick start this habit. West Ham must surely be the first of these wins?

The injuries must be a concern, so many and they will be away for many weeks. So I guess all resources must now be kept for the Premiership which means the 2nd eleven should be used for this weeks cup game.

Dyer as MOTM? No arguments from me. When he came on my heart sank but he proved that if fit, he can add real value to the team. I just hope he can stay fit for the next few months to cover for the injuries.

But this match. Wow. Other than the 2 minutes of madness, it was a joy to watch our team perform. COYRs

sipower added 02:17 - Sep 25
I'll chip in here. If we had a win in the bank I think we would all be feeling positive because we played really well.... but an OG and a great break away goal stole a result from us. I would like to nag on the negatives but except for the fact that we need to put the ball in the net there werent any. Corners .... my word ... do you remember corners from the R's when the ball continuously fizzed across the 6 yard line with chaos in the defence. Good for you if you can because I cant ....we had loads and almost every Granero delivery was spot on. Dyer played really well, Clint (sorry again mate I always thought you were crap before we bought you) was outstanding and Cesar will continue to exude confidence from behind. There is no doubt - we are a good team - able to compete and take points off the best, but we could do with a few points to prove it.

Kaos_Agent added 02:43 - Sep 25
I was pleased to see MH start Hoilett up front and hope he continues to do so. Despite the missed left foot opportunity, he remains one of the only credible shot-makers in the side, and he needs some time to gel with BZ and others in that role. Midfield play was a revelation after what we saw last season. Joey, I hope you were watching. Have to feel for Cesar who did nothing really wrong but had to see two go past him anyway. I love the confidence that he exudes. Next few matches will be critical for everyone's confidence!

QPRski added 07:39 - Sep 25
Last season Spurs were brilliant in first half of the corresponding fuxture. This season it was QPR. Overall it was a great performance with many contenders for MOM. Desspite the 90 seconds of madness which costs 2 goals, they key issue I believe is that we did not convert our chances in front of goals.

There was naivity with the 2nd goal, but it can alo apply to our shooting, e.g Hoilets's golden opportunity when he waited for too long for the ball to fall on his prefered foot.

A great team performace, but pity about the result. We will play much worse and pick up all three points.

ozranger added 08:41 - Sep 25
Thanks again for another encouraging report. I will play devil's advocate here. I have a number of questions. We have all heard that MH out-managed AVB in the first half, but why did he not take action in the second. Clive, you ask who should have come off for Diakete. Perhaps Hoilett, but that would have been seen as negative. Surely MH would have known that Spurs were going to change things at HT, so should he have done the same? Yes we can blame the two minutes of madness, or can we?
I am going to return to many people's pet hate - seeing Wright-Phillips trying to take players on. Did he get past anyone? I cannot remember so. He works off the ball, and so do a lot of others, but each time he tries to take on an opponent it is time to defend again. Should Dyer or Mackie be playing in this position?
Finally, I know it is early in the season, but why is there not a real concern that we are relying on Zamora to score all of our goals? Remember what happened last season when we lost our only real scorer Helguson. I do not want to put the mockers on Zamora, but we need more players who both can and will score.
Fingers crossed for a win over West Ham, certainly we deserve it.

DesertBoot added 09:01 - Sep 25
"Hoilett shoot!" I screamed at him as he took an age when gifted a sitter for 2-2.
Fantastic team performance and lessons learnt from that crazy 90-odd seconds.
A win on Wednesday night would surely give everyone a massive lift after the dejection.
A London derby against West Ham won't be easy nor WBA who have started the season extremely well.
7 wins from 59 away games in the Premier League as manager is a stat that Hughes really needs to address though.

onlyrinmoray added 12:12 - Sep 25
An excellent performance only just had the chance to watch it on Sky. I agree although Cesar made some excellent stops he doesnt seem to come for crosses and like a lot of foreign keepers has this habit of punching the ball away rather than catching it I agree though about him exuding confidence though.Time will tell whether he is better than Green Adel well down the pecking order nowadays which is ok with me just not consistent enough

AshteadR added 13:15 - Sep 25
The best 45 minutes away from home in the top flight I can remember. How typical though that we didn't get anything from the game.

A worrying trend with the number of hamstring injuries - didn't Hughes have a similar problem back in his days with Man City?

Will be interesting to see what side he puts out tomorrow - a confidence boosting win wouldn't go amiss!

johnhoop added 13:19 - Sep 25
Amazed you overlooked Clint Hill in your discussion of contenders for man of the match Clive.I am old enough to remember the 1970 World Cup and Bobby Moore's "tackle of the century" on Pele and the one Hill made on Defoe in the second half was on a par with that.There were several others too that were nearly as good.My man of the match by some distance.

davecall added 13:56 - Sep 25
Hi, new on, was at the match sunday, had doubts about clint hill but he was awesome, my worries are with swp and playing jsp on the left, I thought both were poor on the day, we need to give cisse a chance up with bz, maybe hoillet on the left, if we have to play park I think he should play on the right, overall we are looking better, when all the players are fit who to play, dyer had a great game hope he can continue to stay fit, my starting 11 if fit would be cesar, bosingwa, nelson, mbia, traore, adel(left) granero, faurlin, hoillet, cisse and bobby, anybody got any other ideas?

RangerKIK added 14:15 - Sep 25
I thought we were excellent!

Best performance since Newcastle at home last season.It was so refreshing to see us believe in ourselves and take the fight to the opposition. I agree that if it was not for the outstanding Friedel we would have been 2 or 3 up by the break. I just hope we continue to play like this away from home for the rest of the season and do not lose confidence from the sucker punch we received.

The three injuries 'forced' Hughes in to picking a better team. Hoillett, Hill and especially Dyer were outstanding. Every time Dyer got the ball he injected speed and focus into our attacks.

All in all it was a brilliant game of football, played in a good spirit, refereed superbly and without a shadow of a doubt.............the best team lost.

e1337prodigy added 19:24 - Sep 25
Not sure that Dyer should be MOM. Yes he was forced into action and against Bale; but on all the counter attacks that Tottenham did I seem to remember Bale running at us and just Hill and Nelson back defending against 3 on 2; or maybe that was just the nightmares I was having. He played well, in fact all of them did. I think if it wasn't for Hill's 2 GREAT blocked shots we would have lost by a lot more; he may have blocked more than 2 but he definitely blocked 2 very important goal scoring opportunities. Also did that great tackle on Sigurdasson which people think was a penalty. Also, if it weren't for Freidal's brilliant save in the first half he would have got a fantastic header that most of the keepers in the premier league wouldn't have saved. Bring on West Ham and if we don't get the 3 points from that we might have to start panicing. C'mon you R's!!

dixiedean added 19:31 - Sep 25
yes a great performance but as Clive said in his Hoops programme column, it is no longer good enough to think we came away with a plucky defeat from games like this. That's the wrong mentality with this squad.we HAD to get a result against a poor team,whose manager looks like he could do to Spurs what he did with the filth from SW6. Let's hope he gets Man U job and does the same there. Hughes was very churlish in criticising the ref,who I thought was excellent. He allowed physical contact and was lenient on us. Granero would have copped 2 or 3 cards with most refs. Much rather that style of ref than the Attwells of this world. We need a win v fake hoops and I think MH is taking lge cup seriously,but can't help thinking there'll be a debut or 2 eg Ehmer, plus fringe players like Hogan starting. I wouldn't risk Dyer as we need him for WHU and he can't play 3 in a week after none for a year !

deckydee added 21:57 - Sep 25
Vertonghen is Belgian not dutch.

My wife wouldnt like to see that :o)

Myke added 00:56 - Sep 26
Hi Clive - great report. I couldn't thinking, as I watched Faurlin turn his back to concede the own goal, about a comment you made a couple of weeks back, with regard to the psychological effect his cruciate ligament injury might have on him. I think it was in relation to him losing out in a heading dual with Toure, that you commented someting along the lines that, while it was no shame to lose out to Ya ya given his height advantage, you questioned whether Faurlin's injury would have a negative impact on his previously impressive heading ability. I'm afaid we got our answer last Sunday. I'm not his biggest fan, but he has played well since he came back and if that his only failing, then keep him away from his own penalty area. In mid-field there is a lot less requirement to be a good header of the ball in the prem than in the championship anyway!

TacticalR added 16:01 - Sep 26
Subjectively, I found this defeat completely deflating. We never get anything from Spurs. What did for us was that run from Vertonghen, which we didn't deal with, the same as we didn't deal with Dyer's run when we played Swansea.

Objectively, there is much to be optimistic about. Our performances against Man City, Chelsea and Spurs have shown consistent improvement.

Dyer as MOM. Wow, things are getting very surreal. He really seems to have an eye for a quick pass to get his teammates moving forward.

Granero. Had a very tough job marking Dembele, as it's almost impossible to get the ball off him. Hopefully Granero will get a chance to shine creatively against weaker opposition.

Faurlin. Great vision from him to see the pass forward for the goal. Completely lost track of the ball for the own goal.

Onuaha. Had a big hand in the goal, because he ran forward as the defence was coming out, and Faurlin could see where to make the pass. Onuaha got out of the way so Zamora could take the shot.

Zamora and Hoilett seemed to have a good understanding. Zamora was taken off because he looked tired, but without him we don't seem to have another pairing that has a good understanding.

César. Did everything he could do and everything he had to do. For the second goal he made a great save from Bale (even though Defoe got the rebound). There was special significance to that save, because when Bale got three goals against César at the San Siro, they were all low hard shots from the left. This time he couldn't get past César.

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