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+The Monday Verdict

Posted on 15 November 2004  - 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).

If ever a reminder was required over the magnitude of this game a little one came our way a couple of hour ahead of kick-off with chance meeting with Martin Jol's brother Cornelius.

He caught a 7am flight over from Holland along with his wife and son and was collected at Stansted Airport and ferried to the Lane by Martin's wife. The excitement was so evident on the face of father and son as they posed for their picture in front of the FA Cup in reception and he reported that Spurs has always been his English club.

"It was Pat Jennings, Alan Mullery and Alan Gilzean when I was a kid!" he exclaimed. "What do you think the score will be today?" he went on to question before simply adding 'this is a dream'.

Martin's brother, who said his Dutch favourites are PSV Eindhoven, himself coaches a second division outfit in his homeland and was jetting back first thing Sunday morning for his own weekend assignment.

The stars were out in force ahead of the 12noon kick-off, pre-match presenter Brian Alexander got the thoughts of Roger Lloyd Pack - okay, Trigger - followed by Bobby Davro. Jurgen Klinsmann was supposed to be another pitchside guest but he got snarled up in traffic on the North Circ and only just made it to the game on time.

There was a welcome return for Erik Edman after five weeks out, otherwise it was the same team that overcame Burnley on Tuesday.

The Old Spice tune blasted through the PA system accompanied by a few Derby goals on the Jumbotron to get the crowd in the mood - as if they needed it - before the teams emerged and we were set for our unfamiliar high noon helping of football.

The game sprung into life on four minutes when a Jermain Defoe dart down the left turned the visiting defence. Support was late, but it was Pedro Mendes at the far post who showed most willing and the Portuguese volleyed Defoe's cross into the ground and goalwards and Jens Lehmann needed two grabs to bring the ball under control.

Some 14 minutes later Defoe tried his luck down the opposite flank, edged a bit closer to the area before sliding the ball into the path of strike partner Robbie Keane. The stadium prepared to erupt before Robbie was denied by a fortunate goalkeeping interception. The balance of play was definitely in our favour at this stage.

The first real threat on our goal came just after the half an hour mark when Frederick Ljungberg fizzed one across the six yard box from the right, it is one of Arsenal's most lethal weapons but, this time, the ball across was too strong for Jose Antonio Reyes.

Moments later a Michael Carrick free-kick from the left - Defoe was upended by Kolo Toure - looked set to land flush on the forehead of Keane in front of goal, but a punch from Lehmann saved the visitors at this point.

We did not have to wait long though for Noureddine Naybet's first goal for Spurs, another Carrick free-kick from the left this time squirmed through a forest of bodies in the Arsenal area and arrived at the foot of the Moroccan who squeezed his effort past Lehmann to open the scoring on 37 minutes. Cue delirium all around.

The lead could have been doubled a minute later when, from a Reto Ziegler free-kick, Patrick Vieira had his own keeper at full-stretch with a backward header.

White shirts were pretty much first to everything in the opening period and the players set about their work with real zeal and appetite, appearing to feed off the emotions of the crowd.

Those emotions were dampened in the final minute of the half when Thierry Henry got the luck of the bounce in the area and poked the ball past Paul Robinson to lever us all quickly down from a real high.

It was a case of how the boys would respond to what is always a crushing disappointment, it is for good reason that the stroke of half-time is the worst time to concede.

Just after the break is another and we can be grateful the the radar of Reyes was askew when Ljungberg skittled another low cross along the edge of the six yard box.

It all got worse on 53 minutes when Noe Pamarot was adjudged to have downed Ljungberg and Lauren netted from the spot in the 54th. The danger started from an attempted Robinson clearance taking a deflection off King and landing at the feet of an Arsenal player.

Defoe came close up the other end before possession was lost in midfield and Vieira stormed through to net high past Robinson on 59 minutes. It was two on two, but Ljungberg blatantly stopped Edman coming across to halt the run of the Frenchman.

There then followed a stunning goal, Defoe picked up the ball out on the left, darted infield and then, on the edge of the area, picked his spot and curled the ball into the top left hand corner.

Hopes of a comeback diminished considerably on 69 minutes when, after a scrappy phase of play, Fabregas managed to find Ljungberg in the area and the Swede struck his shot under Robinson and into the net.

But the boys had no intention of simply lying down and accepting gallant defeat, a Carrick free-kick from the left was nodded home with a lofted header from Ledley King and it was game on again with 17 minutes left on the clock.

Martin Jol gambled and took off Brown to make way for Fredi Kanoute, Keane dropped into the 'hole' as we sought Derby intervention.

Again, though the next goal was not ours and Robert Pires worked himself an angle inside the area and fired past Robinson with ten minutes remaining.

The game bordered on the bizarre and Fredi Kanoute ensured a thrilling finish when he latched onto Ziegler's through ball and scored with just two minutes of normal time remaining. It was Fredi's first goal in the Premiership for nearly a year.

It was then all bodies up top as we chased an equaliser, but it was not to be despite a very late fizzing effort from sub Simon Davies.