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+Big Match Verdict

Posted on 26 April 2005  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

It was not to be again at Highbury as Arsenal saw to it that Chelsea must clinch their title at Bolton and we must bank a healthy points return from our final three games to realise our aim of finishing in the top seven.

Joe Antonio Reyes' 22nd minute strike effectively sealed the contest during a period of home dominence, although the boys stood firm and pressed Arsenal back in the final minutes and were pretty unlucky not to emerge with a share of the spoils.

Sub Robbie Keane nodded a gilt-edged goalscoring opportunity just wide, while Ashley Cole was fortunate to get away with a clear hand ball shortly afterwards.

Fredi Kanoute returned to the starting line-up to lend his height to attacking matters, while Martin Jol's options on the bench certainly offered scope for offensive changes - Keane, Mido and Reto Ziegler.

The team has a good balanced look to it these days, with Andy Reid offering natural width on the left and Simon Davies providing likewise on the right. The combative Sean Davies and the elegant Michael Carrick appears to be a useful combination in the engine room, with a fixture like this offering the pair the chance to prove it.

The home side were without a couple of forward threats, Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg being marked absent, while Philippe Senderos was preferred to Sol Campbell at the back.

We were nearly in big bother within a minute when Reyes sprang the offide trap on latching onto a Robin Van Persie throughball and promptly rounded Paul Robinson before being forced wide by Ledley King and firing into the side netting. The alarm bell was well and truly sounded.

The good ship was steadied over the next ten minutes or so with Michael Dawson commanding affairs at the back and Jermain Defoe zipping around on the hunt of an opening up top. A little shimmie and chip on 14 minutes had Jens Lehmann looking nervously over his shoulder. A couple of minutes later Lehmann was forced into more meaningful action when Defoe had clear site of goal and the German parried his powerful effort away to safety.

However, first to trouble the scorers on the night was Reyes on 22 minutes, the Spaniard once again using his pace to spring the offside and, from an angle to the left of the area, he produced a thumping drive across Robinson and into the net.

There followed a period of being extremely rattled and you just hoped the break would arrive without further damage being inflicted on the scoreline.

Get through to the break the boys did and Martin resisted making changes during the interval. Composure was called for and there was significantly more assurance in the way they went about their work in the opening stages of the second half.

Possession and corners were aplenty, but real chances were at a premium and it was Arsenal who made the first changes with a double substitution - Edu and Bergkamp arriving on the scene. Martin swiftly followed with the introduction of Mido for Kanoute, who had endured a frustrating evening.

Arsenal stepped it up a bit with the game entering the final 15 minutes and Lauren went close from distance before Edu hit the post with a clever piece of work. Reyes then rattled the side netting with half of Highbury imagining their advantage had been doubled.

It was time for a bit of R & R - Robbie and Reto. Defoe and Davis made way. Keane should have scored with just three minutes left on the clock, a Reid teaser from the left found the head of the striker and a goal looked very much on. Keane's nod lacked direction and went wide with Lehmann beaten. Cole then got away with a handball in the area under pressure from Keane and fortune seemed to be favouring the home side.