Tottenham v Man Utd – as it happened
Spurs: Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Zokora, Jenas, Bentley; Modric; Pavlyuchenko
Subs: Cesar, Bale, Huddlestone, Bent, Gunter, Boateng, O’Hara
United: Van der Sar; Rafael, Ferdinad, Vidic, O’Shea; Park, Fletcher, Carrick, Ronaldo; Berbatov, Tevez.
Subs: Kuszczak, Neville, Anderson, Giggs, Nani, Scholes, Evans.
Referee: Mike Dean (of the Deans).
Preamble:Golly, what a day’s action so far. Polite league leaders Liverpool yet again invite Chelsea and United to take advantage of a draw at Anfield, while effete Arsenal offer fourth place to Villa, who, at last, decide to accept it. Meanwhile at the mucky end, Sunderland show Roy Keane how it’s done, David Moyes shows Mark Hughes how it’s done and Blackburn show Paul Ince the door … or has that not happened yet? So what next, eh? Ricky Sbragia to get the Sunderland job on permanent basis? Phil Brown to ride to Manchester City’s rescue? Tottenham to actually take points off United at the Lane, thereby buggering things up for old boys Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Carrick?
5:27pm: Out march the teams, into the teeming rain and, for Berbatov, pouring scorn. Meanwhile, this just in from the Mancunican Conspiracy Department: “Whilst we’re waiting how about a compare and contrast between Evra’s punishment from the FA and Cris and Juninho’s from Uefa for deliberately getting booked in the Champions League,” wails Jeremy Conrad-Pickles. “How can you possibly not punish a deliberate yellow to avoid suspension with an automatic suspension for the match they were determined to play?”
1 min: The be-gloved Jenas sets the game in motion … and within 24 seconds United win a corner. Park rules out a future career as a postman, with awful delivery.
3 mins: Any minute now Tottenham will get another touch of the ball. Maybe …
4 mins: Woodgate draws lusty applause by dispossessing Berbatov in muscular fashion. But it comes straight back at Spurs, before Park’s shot from the edge of the area deflects behind off Jenas. It’s all United canada goose coat 1000 calorie a day diet so far.
5 mins: Pavlyuchenko’s first contribution to the game is to stretch for the ball on half-way, but miss it and clatter Vidic instead. Freekick to United, naturally.
6 mins: United are zipping the ball about expertly, obliging Spurs to chase, largely in vain. Rafael repried them jsut there by shanking the ball miles over the bar when in a good crossing position down the right.
8 mins: By my reckoning, the following Spurs players have yet so much as touch the ball: Pavlyuchenko, Modric, Lennon and Bentley. That should tell you in which direction this game is being played.
9 mins: As if riled by the previous entry, Modric suddenly gets on the ball and knocks it out wide to Bentley, who scoops in into the box towards Pavlyuchenko. Who falls over theatrically.
10 mins: Bentley attempts to re-enact his legendary goal at the Emirates, chipping it up for himself before volleying it goalwards from 35 yards. Van der Sar plunges acrobatically to his left to palm it away.
11 mins: Woe for Spurs – first Ledley King’s chronic knee condition ruled him out of this game, and now Woodgate has sustained an injury – seemingly after landing badly following a header – and is replaced by Huddlestone. The big man will go into midfield, Corluka shunts into the centre of defence and Zokora retreats to right-back. United must surely scent blood …
13 mins: Bentley swerves a fierce long freekick towards the siux-yard box, and Vidic is compelled to head it behidn for a corner. Meanwhile, word from the sidelines is that Woodgate’s problems concern his frail back.
15 mins: Tottenham have settled a bit now and the play is more even. Park is United’s most lively attacker, Tevez busy but insignificant so far. Berbatov has just drooped a lazy header into Gomes’s hands.
17 mins: A lovely, rapid break by United is brought unceremoniously to an end by a well-timed, crunching tackle by Huddlestone on Berbatov.
20 mins: Blunt to-ing and fro-ing by the sides. “It’s worrying that Gomes is now using his hands-free kit to take out Spurs defenders,” dribbles Alex Richman. “What next? Doing it from the bench?” I don’t get that, but in the abscence of any other emails I decided to publish it. Just to show you buy canada goose parka ottawa how low the bar is.
22 mins: It’s all gone a bit scrappy. Still being played at a pleasant speed, and both sides are brimming with offensive intent, but neither are really clicking at the moment. “I hope it’s only a slight knock for Woody,” blubs Jerry Thomas. He’s a vital player who seemed to have left his persistent injuries can you wash a canada goose jacket in the washer in the past. Also, the booing of Berba is only mild, like the booing they gave Keane it’s just panto booing not actual vitriol.” That’s right, a clear indication that the Spurs fans recognise they all would have done exactly the same in his position.
25 mins: Rafael is showing an admirable eagerness to get forward from right-back, but so far his corssing and passing has let him down every time. meanwhile, many of you have written in – OK, one of you – to tell me Alex Richman’s Gomes blurb was a reference to his canada goose coat – victoria binning of Corluka at Stoke a few weeks back. I had realised that, of course, it’s the “hands-free kit” bit that puzzles me. But let’s not dwell on that dross: the point of printing it was to inspire you into sending something better.
28 mins: Pavlyuchenko almost intercepted a risky Ferdinand back-pass, but didn’t.
30 mins: Brilliant run by Lennon, who scurried past two before unleashing a low drive from the edge of the area. Van der Sar gets a hand to it and then recovers in time to block Pavlychenko’s follow-up.
32 mins: A Carrick drive is turned behind for a corner, which triggers panic in the Spurs box. But stout defending eventually prevails, as shots from Vidic and Park are blocked by Bentley and Dawson. “Have Spurs ever managed to snatch anyone away with the lure of greater glory, or is it always a one-way transaction?” asks Alexander Pick, presumably rhetorically. “I feel they owe it to their bile-flecked fans to at least try to sign a player that another team’s fans like so much that some of them will risk a jail-term and eternal exclusion from football matches to abuse when on trips to White Hart Lane.”
35 mins: Park slips a neat ball through to Berbatov, whose control betrays him, Judas-like.
36 mins: Comical tackle by Park, who lost a 50-50 tackle with Assou-Ekotto and reacted by rugby tackling the Frenchman to the ground!
37 mins: Tevez had been peripheral until a few seconds ago, when he collected the ball wide on the left and charged past two and into the box. His eventual shot, from a tight angle, did not to the burst justice.
39 mins: Nice, patient build-up by Tottenham before Zokora darts in from the right and clips a tantalising ball towards the penalty spot. Modric peeled off Ferdinand to meet it with a diving header that flew inches over.
40 mins: This is livening up again. Tevez and Ronaldo exchanged flashy passes in the Spurs box and then the Portuguese slotted the ball across the face of goal. Berbatov could have converted if Gomes hadn’t cut it out brilliantly. Then Spurs race down the other end and the ball breaks to Huddlestone, whose ferocious long-ranger is blocked by … Pavlyuchenko.
43 mins: After a relatively sprightly start, Berbatov has receded into his shell and currently his only purpose seems to be to delight the Tottenham hordes who’ve come to sledge him. O’Shea has just sent in a fine cross to him, but he, though unmarked, completely failed to connect with it.
44 mins: O’Shea is continuing to do a passable impression of Evra, overlapping nicely down the left just there and sticking in a respectable cross. But both Berbatov and Tevez had run to the near post so no one was on hand to pick it up at the back.
Half-time: Here is what we have seen so far in the first half:1) Further evidence that Harry Redknapp has restored shape and purpose to Tottenham.2) Reasons why I’m sure Alex Ferguson won’t sign Carlos Tevez on a permanet basis. 30m is far too much for a player who runs around a lot but is not truly cutting.3) Reasons why Berbatov, though clearly classy, has not yet won over United fans: 30m is far, far, far too much for a player who is not truly cutting and doesn’t even run around a lot. It’s not just his manner, he really is off the pace today. 4) Proof that Aaron Lennon has improved hugely since last season, primarily in terms of his crossing and shooting accuracy.5) Proof that Didier Zokora would improve every squad.6) Indications that this bitty game could go either way.
Other random half-time thoughts: “I followed your advice regarding the F5 key