|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (2)||WOOLWICH WANDERERS 0 (0)|
|Date : – Thursday 12th May 2022||Kick off : – 19.45|
|Competition : – Premier League||Venue : – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium|
|Crowd : – 62,027|
|Referee : – Paul Tierney (Lancashire)||Linesmen : – Mr. Contantine Hatzidakis; Mr. Neil Davies|
|Fourth official : – Peter Bankes|
|VAR official : – Mike Dean||VAR Assistant : – Lee Betts|
|Weather : – Dry, mild|
|Woolwich Wanderers kicked off the first half attacking the Park Lane end|
|Playing time : – 90 + 6 minutes
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR||WOOLWICH WANDERERS|
|Kane (p) 21m 50s||None|
|Kane 36m 39s|
|Son 46m 11s|
|Davies (foul on Nketiah) 17||Holding (continually fouling Son) 26|
|Conte (dissent) 17||Smith-Rowe (foul on Moura) 86|
|Odegaard (foul on Moura) 88|
|Xhaka (dissent) 90+1|
|Holding (second yellow – elbow on Son) 33|
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR||WOOLWICH WANDERERS|
|1.||Hugo LLORIS (c)||32.||Aaron RAMSDALE|
|6.||Davinson SANCHEZ||17.||Cedric SOARES|
|15.||Eric DIER||16.||Rob HOLDING|
|33.||Ben DAVIES ( 14. Joe RODON 82)||6.||GABRIEL ( 20. Nuno TAVARES 76)|
|5.||Pierre-Emile HOJBJERG||25.||Mohamed ELNENY|
|30.||Rodrigo BENTACUR||34.||Granit XHAKA|
|21.||Dejan KULUSEVSKI ( 27. Lucas MOURA 72)||8.||Martin ODEGAARD|
|7.||Heung-Min SON ( 23. Steven BERGWIJN 72)||35.||Gabriel MARTINELLI ( 2. Emile SMITH-ROWE 64 )|
|10.||Harry KANE (p)||30.||Eddie NKETIAH ( 9. Alexandre LACAZETTE 73)|
|22.||Pierluigi GOLLINI||1.||Bernd LENO|
|8.||Harry WINKS||4.||Benjamin WHITE|
|51.||Matthew CRAIG||23.||Albert Sambi LOKONGA|
|45.||Alfie DEVINE||87.||Charles PANTINO|
|42.||Harvey WHITE||69.||Zachary SWANSON|
|44.||Dane SCARLETT||19.||Nicolas PEPE|
|Manager : – Antonio Conte||Manager : – Mikael Arteta|
|Kit Supplier : – Nike||Kit Supplier : – adidas|
|Shirt Sponsor : – AIA||Shirt Sponsor : – Emirates
|Shirt Sleeve Sponsor : – cinch||Shirt Sleeve Sponsor : – Visit Rwanda
|Colours : –
||Colours : –|
|Images of kits courtesy of the marvellous Colours of Football website|
|For such a potential high reward riding on this match, the outcome was a reasonably straightforward 3-0 win for Spurs over the South Londoners aided by Rob Holding receiving the traditional red card for the Gooners in this fixture. Punished by two Harry Kane goals and one from Heung-Min Son, the majority of the second half was played out with Spurs happy to keep hold of the ball and run the opposition around, causing them to pick up more yellow cards in an ill-disciplined display that fits well with their club going back to the time when Wenger let his players run wild.
The tension in the air was palpable before the match and flares were prominent along the High Road, along with a large number of fans arriving in N17 well before kick off. That was nothing compared to the atmosphere that welcomed both sides to the pitch. Spurs lined up with Davinson Sanchez taking Cristian Romero’s place with the Argentine defender suffering from the knock he picked up at Anfield, so it had more than a touch of irony that the January fixture that was postponed at Woolwich’s request because they didn’t have enough players. So, for this match we were missing five players who would have been available then, although we now had Son fit and firing. How the difference played to Tottenham’s strengths.
With the game’s early stages seeing Woolwich pushing forward, the Spurs defence were coping with anything that was played into the box and while they were pressing and knocking the ball around, it was all tiki-taka stuff, with their players playing their tricks and flicks. Aside from a weak, blocked shot from Odegaard and Saka slipping as he shot, leaving the ball to trickle through to Hugo. A right wing cross almost found Sessegnon coming in at the far post and it was an intended clever back-heel by Nketiah that didn’t turn out to be that clever as it gave Spurs a glimpse of a chance, giving it to Hojbjerg, who mis-hit his cross from the right that flew high over the angle on the far side of the goal.
Arteta had his side hyped up and their intention to stay tight to Kane and Son was now paying off. Holding had been detailed to stop Son and that was by any means necessary. He couldn’t deal with Sonny receiving the ball on the half-turn and certainly couldn’t live with his pace, fouling him on three separate occasions with a kick in our striker’s back on one of them. The balding Holding was living up to his name.
The boos that welcomed every touch by a red shirt gradually died away, but there was enough noise to terrify their players and it looked like it had. Having been beaten by a couple of determined tackles by Sanchez and Royal, the great hope for the Gooners, Martinelli, slipped out of the game. Odegaard looked like he wanted to get the ball forward, but had few options as after the first ten. A long, hopeful ball forward caught Davies underneath it and when Nketiah barged him over near our defensive corner, the Welshman hooked the Woolwich striker’s foot to stop him getting away. He got a yellow card, as did Antonio Conte for his protestations. Nothing came from it and Tottenham’s liking for a tackle was rattling the away team, with even Xhaka unable to respond in kind. When Tottenham worked the ball across the pitch 40 yards from goal, Kulusevski put in a cross to the far post where Sessegnon and Son were there to go for it, but Soares lost his head and backed into Son without going for the ball, referee Tierney had a clear view and pointed to the spot. Despite League directives, the official was surrounded by red shirts so he wasn’t visible to the naked eye. The ill-conceived decision to try to prevent Son getting on the ball that cleared Holding’s transplanted head was not going to be changed. Deploying all the delaying tactics in their repertoire, Harry Kane stood apart, holding the ball and waiting his moment to place the ball on the spot and send it into the keeper’s right hand bottom corner as Ramsdale could only look over his shoulder to see the ball go the other way as he dived to his right.
Going a goal ahead in 22 minutes had not been in Arteta’s plans and it turned the game in Tottenham’s favour. More confidently stroking the ball around, the red shorts were desperate in their attempts to try to get possession. Just after a left wing cross by Xhaka caught Lloris back-pedalling a long way, only to stretch and drop the ball with Odegaard in close attendance (although Hojbjerg was on hand to make sure Hugo got it back in his hands), Arsenal’s frustrations finally fond their way into the referee’s notebook. Holding once more grappled with Son, who was too clever for him and his holding got him a yellow card.
Attempts by the Gooners to play the ball out from the back were even worse than ours, as they passed to white shirts. Hojbjerg received one loose pass and fed it through to Son, who passed inside to Kane on the edge of the box. He nut-megged Gabriel, took it to the right and fired in a shot that Tomiyasu managed to block with an extended leg. The ball dropped for Emerson Royal, but his shot flashed over the angle, although it was closer than Xhaka’s effort in the next Wanderers attack that landed halfway up the South Stand. The singing had hardly abated for half an hour and Eric Dier’s forward pass looking for Son never reached him, as Holding came across the Korean and his elbow moved towards Son to catch him in the face. Tierney had no hesitation in producing the yellow card that meant that the Gooner defender was walking off after 33 minutes. His team-mates were once again around the ref claiming that it was his shoulder, while Xhaka was claiming that Son head-butted Holding’s elbow !
When the melee and the moaning had finished, Woolwich were 1-0 down and one man down. The free-kick was cleverly played down the left side over the defence to Sessegnon, who unfortunately didn’t get a decent contact on it, otherwise a ball across the six-yard line would have resulted. Still the fouls came from the away team and Saka fouled Hojbjerg, hurting himself in the process. Son whipped in the free-kick and Kane glanced it on, but it was put out on our right by Tomiyasu for a corner. Again it was Son who took it and Bentancur was unmarked in the middle of the goal to head downwards toward the far bottom corner. With Nketiah sleeping, Kane made a move behind him to head the ball over the line to make sure with a header a foot off the ground and about six inches out ! With a central defender missing, the space was there and Woolwich failed to smell the danger by marking properly to gift Spurs a 2-0 lead.
The opposition were falling apart, fouling Kane on the halfway line and Harry took it quickly to his right, where Emerson was in acres of space. It was a little too long for him to reach, but Kulusevski kept it alive and crossed, but it was crowded out. The Spurs press was causing panic when a Woolwich player got the ball and Odegaard was left on the floor when Kane and Davies double-teamed him, so he held his head to stop Spurs moving forward again. Funnily enough he was fine to continue thirty seconds later. Five minutes before half time, Sessegnon’s cross looked for Royal at the far post, but he had to go around Tomiyasu, so by the time he could reach the ball, all he could do was lift it over the top from close range. The visitors did have an opportunity three minutes before the break, when Saka sent Nketiah away on their left. He cut inside to curl an effort looking for the far top corner, but Lloris leapt up to his left to palm the ball over the bar with a fine save. Odegaard again mis-hit a shot that Hugo fielded with ease and the Spurs skipper was there with a diving interception to grab the ball before Saka’s cross picked out Nketiah.
The half-time whistle brought great cheers from three and a half sides of the ground, while the away fans were quiet … it was like a library over there. Tottenham had sat in deep in those opening stages and ceded possession to Wanderers but they didn’t make anything from it. Micky Hazard was choked up when he introduced Riley, a young lad who had cerebral palsy and was told he wouldn’t walk again, but he battled to be able to walk and made his way to the goalmouth, as it was his dream to score a penalty at the stadium. Pat Jennings was brought on to give him a keeper to score against and the youngster got his kick over the line past a Tottenham great.
The same 21 players came out for the second half and Spurs were on top straight away. In fact, they were 3-0 ahead after just 71 seconds ! Sanchez played a low pass into Kane in the middle of the area and with Gabriel too tight to him, they fell to the floor with the defender managing to poke the ball to his left and amidst Gooners thinking another penalty was going to be given against their remaining lumbering central defender, they allowed Son to pick his spot to fire it through the crowd to score. As he wheeled away to celebrate one of the Wanderers kicked the ball after him, while the others surrounded the ref again, claiming a foul, but I wasn’t sure whether they were saying it was Kane who committed it or that it should have been a penalty !
The result had been more or less a foregone conclusion some time ago, but this killed it. The Woolwich players did summon enough about them to have one shot on goal. Martinelli played a pass inside to Saka and he shot, but Ben Davies made another excellent block and then was alert to Nketiah closing in, so hacked the ball away from in front of goal. The ball was probably heading in past Lloris’s left, so it was a vital block by Ben. Saka had a run on the right to finish with an effort on target, but it was straight at Hugo, who made a routine collection of the ball.
By now the olé’s were ringing out. Woolwich were half-heartedly chasing the ball and when Spurs worked the ball from Emerson on the right to Kane on the left, the Brazilian got on the end of Harry’s cross to head down to Ramsdale’s right, but the keeper got down to it to make a good save. He was called on to make another when Kane got the ball and with space ahead of him, made ground and hit a drive from 30 yards out that the keeper touched over the top. Kane wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to try and record a hat-trick, while Son almost had a second when Hojbjerg’s pass sent Sessegnon away on the left with a ball in his stride. Ryan’s square ball picked out Son, as he did at Liverpool, but it was just behind Heung-Min’s run and he did well to make a contact, but the ball squirted over the bar.
With little to shout about and not wanting to waste the flare that had been sneaked into the ground, the Gooner fan threw it onto the pitch to celebrate a substitution being made. The hopes of the Woolwich fans were going up in the sad smoke that wisped up from the flare on the turf. Odegaard shot wildly over the bar before more misery was heaped on the South London side with Bergwijn and Moura replacing Kulusevski and Son. Sonny looked very unhappy at being hooked off, as he might have felt that there were more goals to be had.
Kane was still looking for his third, winning a header to Hojbjerg’s cross, but it looped easily into Ramsdale’s hands, but his challenger for the ball went down and the referee stopped the game for Gabriel to receive treatment. It wasn’t a head injury and Wanderers didn’t kick the ball out, so I’m not sure why play couldn’t continue. He was subbed, but I am sure that his presence didn’t matter much. Substitute Tavares pulled a ball back low for Odegaard and he got his shot on target, but again, Lloris was well-positioned to take it with an easy save, while Ryan Sessegnon made a run across the Gooners box, but ran out of space to do much with the ball.
Joe Rodon made a rare appearance, coming on for Davies, while Moura was getting kicked from pillar to post, as once more his pace could not be dealt with by the Goons, producing yellow cards for Odegaard and Rowe-Smith (the future of English football apparently). They were joined in the book by the Xhaka, who felt left out, so talked his way into the referee’s list of offenders when Spurs were given a free-kick for a foul on Moura.
And that was that. A 3-0 win with Conte getting the team set-up to cope with and then be clinical in finishing the job. The Spurs players were keyed up and were strong in the tackle and effective in possession, with the early jeers for playing the ball around at the back dissolving once the tactic started pulling Woolwich players around. Davies was outstanding at the back, as was Dier and Sanchez performed well so that Romero was hardly missed. Hojbjerg and Bentancur had to cover a lot of ground in the first half, sitting deep and then getting up to support the front three. Kane and Son were the executioners, but the team worked so hard behind them that the chances came to kill off the challenge from the Wanderers. Kulusevski also put in a lot of work and while his forward contribution wasn’t as prominent as in previous games, he worked hard back and forward, always being a threat when on the ball.
As the Woolwich players traipsed over to the much depleted away section, they outnumbered the remaining Goons left in the stands. The BBC Football page’s article on Arteta’s rebuild looked shallow and fawning after they had been taken apart. They might still get the final Champions League place, but this performance allied with Arteta’s failure to respond to situations, choosing to moan about the referee instead (sound familiar ?), will cast a shadow over future meetings and the Woolwich’s side to respond under pressure. His lack of reaction to Holding’s sending off handed Spurs their second goal and it was hard to see what he was trying to achieve in the second half other than avoiding a thrashing. Tottenham settled for three and conserved their energy while making the red shirts chase the ball and pick up more injuries. It was all too easy against a team who had a plan, albeit difficult to see what it was. Bad decision making on and off the pitch was their downfall.
The three points are very handy, but that is all they are at the moment. Two wins each for both sides will see Spurs finish fifth. This sort of performance must be repeated in those two games to ensure that we don’t fall down as we had when we had beaten Man City at the Etihad.
Marco van Hip
|The attendance set a new record for the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.
This win was Tottenham’s 500th in the Premier League.
Lucas Moura made his 200th appearance for Spurs.
|Leicester City||3||Norwich City||0|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers||1||Manchester City||5|
Premier League Table 2021-22
|7||West Ham United London||36||16||7||13||63||42
|9||Brighton & Hove Albion||36||11||14||11||38||42||47||-4|
|15||South Coast Big Club||36||9||13||14||41||61||40||-20|