Opposition: Tottenham Hotspur
Competition: Premier League
Venue: St Andrew’s
Stats: Spurs have won 43 games to Blues’ 27 with 19 ending in draws. In the league, Spurs still hold the advantage with 38 wins to 25.
Blues have beaten Spurs just once at home in recent history – a 1-0 win on the opening day of the 03-04 season thanks to a goal from David Dunn.
Last time out: 18/03/2006 – We lost 2-0 thanks to goals from Lennon and Keane.
Current form: Blues are still winless in 2008 and have kept just one clean sheet in 22 games. Our home form is far from impressive with one win at St Andrew’s in over four months. Despite this, people remain confident and many will believe that his is a game that we could get that all too elusive win from. Our points must begin to be fitting of our performances.
Spurs go into the game in good form and good mood having won the Carling Cup against Chelsea last week. They’ve lost just once in their last ten – a 3-1 reverse at Manchester United in the FA Cup) and
Memories: It would be wrong to use this section of the blog to mention any other game than the one at White Hart Lane earlier in the season – Alex McLeish’s first game in charge. After having gone one up through a Gary McSheffrey penalty after 24 minutes, Spurs hit back thanks to a quick fire double from everyone’s favourite striker -Robbie Keane. Spurs pushed for a third when up popped Cameron Jerome out of nowhere to level the game at 2-2 from twenty yards. Keane was controversially red carded just five minutes later and this handed the initiative to Blues. After going close in injury time, Seb Larsson decides to take a pop from 30 yards. It flew spectacularly past Paul Robinson in the Spurs goal to send the Blues fans into raptures… quite a welcome for Big Eck!
Other memorable games against Spurs include the 3-1 League Cup win in 2000 (Adebola 2, Burchill) and the previously mentioned 1-0 home win thanks to David Dunn back in August 2003.
Team news: Martin Taylor is banned for tomorrow and Olivier Kapo is out for a month so expect Radhi Jaidi – who has been the subject of praise from McLeish this week – and Gary McSheffrey to come into the side. Otherwise expect an unchanged line up.
Opposition team news: It looks as though both Woodgate and King will be out so hopefully there’s a back four that we can take advantage of. For more Spurs team news, click here to visit the Spurs site Push & Run.
- Hutton on McLeish
- BCFC Match Preview
- Premier League Preview
- Nafti makes his point to Blues
- Jaidi praised by McLeish
- O’Connor likely to miss out
- Cup winners won’t get an easy ride
- Beeb preview
- Setanta preview
What’s going to happen? I haven’t given the game much thought this week. I always feel that the more I think about a game in the week, the more chance we have of winning it… obviously this doesn’t work since I thought about the Sunderland game for a week solid before it, such was the importance. I’m not confident and the stats above should tell you why. We can’t seem to keep a clean sheet and although I think we’ll score tomorrow, I can’t see us outscoring Spurs.
Blues 1-2 Spurs
I read that headline somewhere once. I remembered it since I knew that at some point, I’d get the opportunity to steal it. I’m too honest about these things and really, I should go ahead and pinch it and pretend like I’m some sort of tabloid hack who sits around thinking up bad puns to grab peoples’ attention. Ah well.
I came to do my catch up of everything Blues tonight and despite our relatively poor points haul in recent weeks, there seems to be a shining light of confidence – or something – coming from the playing staff at St Andrew’s. In fact, it’s been there since Big Eck first came in. At first, I thought that ‘that’ Seb Larsson goal against Tottenham could’ve been the worst thing to happen to him and the club since it massively raised expectation of what could be achieved under his leadership.
But he seems to have taken that on board and although points haven’t flowed as freely as we would’ve liked, people still remain strangely confident that the first game miracle goal from Larsson was just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe that comes from the ways the players and Big Eck himself have been with the media. From reading recent interviews, it seems as though there’s a lot more attention to detail these days and the togetherness and spirit of the squad shines through on the pitch as wel as in interview – you only have to look at the result against Arsenal and the way we responded to going 2-1 down to see that. There was a burning desire to compete and get something.
It’s a fairly slow news day and the handful of interviews floating around the local media confirm perfectly the point that I’m trying to illustrate. The year we went down, there was lots of reassurances of pulling clear of the drop and being ‘okay’ at the season’s end but somehow, it felt hollow reading the words from some of the players in that side. It’s like we were sitting back waiting for something to happen only, unlike the 94th minute goal against Arsenal last weekend and unlike the spectacular 30 yarder from Seb Larsson at White Hart Lane, it never quite came – bar Portsmouth at home, for all the good it did in the end. We never kicked on from there and we never proved that we truly wanted to be a Premiership side. With this current crop, you can’t believe that they’d ever fail to achieve an objective given to them.
And I don’t believe that it’s merely Big Eck’s influence by the way. Since McLeish came in, there seems to have been a very strong anti-Bruce feeling suddenly appear. I believe that the majority of Blues fans wanted Bruce gone and when he went, there was an air of relief and excitement. Still, in time, I also believed that people would be able to appreciate the work that Bruce had put in. But since he’s gone, people seem to have gone the other way. Everything that was bad was Bruce’s fault and everything that’s good seems to be the work of McLeish. I’m not a fan of that and whilst I believe that McLeish can do a good job here and take us clear of the relegation zone this season and beyond, I also recognize that Steve Bruce did a lot of good in his 6 or so years in charge of the club.
But that’s for another day. For now, I’m happy with the positive feeling coming from the club. Here’s the stories that I mentioned earlier in the article:
- McLeish: Every game is big
- Boss believes that battle is a bonus
- Parnaby: We’ll fight to the end
- Forss hoping Arsenal point can fire Blues
- Nafti: Blues staying up comes first
Like I say, slow news day today. I’ll be back tomorrow with a preview for the Spurs game.
When I woke up this morning, the first thing I thought about was Martin Taylor. I think that’s the first time that’s ever happened to me. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. As much as I like and respect the Blues ‘gentle giant’, he’s not the image I’d wake up to, given the choice.
As I trudged downstairs, I thought about when all this would eventually blow over (me waking up thinking about footballers and the furore surrounding Tiny’s challenge on Eduardo.) All things in football do and this inevitably will but it’s been a very slow news week and Tiny seems to have been on the minds and lips of everyone in the footballing world. “If only,” I thought to myself “something big could happen today… Pele having a minor heart attack might do it.” I did actually think that although you’d believe that I actually wanted it to happen going by the responses of some of the users of this wonderful blog’s community on the forum. Perhaps I should’ve saved that particular thought for the blog only… you lot seem to ‘get’ me a bit more.
I thought no more about Taylor or of any more legends of the game having heart-attacks… until I got onto the bus for the journey to my lonely office. I noticed one particular gentleman was reading The Sun. So horrified was I by it that I snatched it out of his hand, screwed it up and put a curse on anyone else on the bus that read it. Okay, I didn’t but I should’ve. Half of the back page was taken up by this.
I shouldn’t be surprised… after all, my fellow Blues fans – and lots and lots of fans of other clubs – aren’t. “Typical” is the word that I’ve read quite a lot today.
Speaking of, it’s been nice to see that the majority have backed Taylor over the incident. I think it means more when it comes from the terraces although in this instance, people who have played the game to an extremely high standard saying that ‘these things just happen’ is a big help. After all, what do us Regular Joe’s truly know about the speed of a international class striker? Not much.
I’ve purposefully avoided posting each time a Blues player has come out in defence of Taylor. Partly because they’ve pretty much all done it and partly to avoid fans of other clubs registering just to say “Well, they’re going to, aren’t they?” I can’t be doing with petty name calling in the comments section of this blog. Yesterday, however, we had a friendly Gooner here and I’d like to think he’s typical rather than the mad “Taylor must die!” types that we’ve seen on YouTube.
Fabrice Muamba is the latest player to come out in defence of Tiny and I’ll link this article because he talks a lot of sense. He talks about the team spirit and how this incident has brought the team closer together. He also talks in a way that doesn’t allow the incident to overshadow the overall objective from a Blues point of view. It happened, it’s sad, we all genuinely wish Eduardo the best (and I personally also hope that Arsenal still go on to win silverware this season) but we still have a job to do and we need to consign this to the past and move on as quickly as possible (a sentiment that Alex McLeish has echoed in his latest interview in the Mail.) It may sound callous to Arsenal fans but had it been the other way around, I expect that I’d still be angry but they’d have ‘moved on’ already too.
And speaking of Eduardo, the news is filtering through that they hope that he’ll be able to return around Christmas. Considering that his career was in doubt 48 hours ago, that’s wonderful news and I hope that we see him in the Premiership again as soon as humanly possible. You can read an official Arsenal statement regarding the injury here. As well as that, there’s a small interview with Eduardo’s wife on the Setanta website. It’s only a small one and I thought it interesting because as soon as we move on to our next game, beyond and further into our inevitable relegation scrap, she will be there supporting the striker through many months of, no doubt, painful rehabilitation. It brings a nice human reminder and perhaps a bit of perspective to the story.
There’s a few other bits and pieces floating around regarding the incident today with Gordon Taylor seemingly saying quite a lot without saying anything at all. James Lawton in the Independent is being very much from the Wenger school of thought and wanting smaller clubs to meekly stand-by and be out-footballed by the much more skilful sides (not that I or any other football fan would advocate dirty play but intimidation and a bit of honest, tough and genuine tackling rarely hurt anybody.) Meanwhile ex-ref Jeff Winter has seemingly not seen the challenge and, looking at the damage alone, has waved a dismissive hand in the air and rated it in the “studs-showing two footed lunges” category. Later on in his column, he proclaims “Talking of thugs and bad tackles…” A thug? Considering earlier in the article, he pointed out that he would not argue that Taylor doesn’t have a bad bone in his body? As someone said to me earlier… “Typical.”
There has been quotes from players, pundits, Arsenal, Blues, ex-refs, journalists, bloggers and even Mrs Eduardo… but what about quotes from the man himself? They’re elusive. I’ve read some from him but depending on which site you visit depends very much on whether you think he blames Taylor or not. I’ve read him say that he doesn’t blame Taylor and I’ve read quotes that say that he feels that Taylor deliberately went in aggressively. I think we’ll have to wait a bit longer to know the truth to what he feels. It must’ve been a whirlwind and confusing 72 hours for him.
Whatever… McLeish has said something that I agree with. Although it clearly affected the Arsenal players on Saturday, they weren’t the only ones and Blues players will have just a hard a time coping with what they saw on the St Andrew’s pitch. It was a situation that can happen to any player at any time. It was a situation that, thankfully, is extraordinary in football but nonetheless inevitable. Eduardo and Tiny found themselves in the middle of such a situation on Saturday – although they weren’t the first and they most certainly won’t the the last.