Tottenham 1-3 Manchester United
GOALS Defoe (1 min), Giggs (25 min), Anderson (41 mins), Rooney (78 mins)
Tottenham: Cudicini; Corluka, Bassong, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Huddlestone, Palacios; Keane, Crouch, Defoe.
Subs: Hutton for Corluka, Jenas for Palacios, Krancjar for Keane.
Man United: Foster; O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Fletcher, Scholes, Anderson, Giggs; Rooney, Berbatov.
Subs: Carrick for Berbatov, Nani for Anderson
THERE is something weird and clever about the Premier League fixture computer. We play le Arsenal at Old Trafford one week, all go away for a little International hoo har, then we leave Mr Wenger in Manchester to play the other lot from across town and we take our fans to their city to play Tottenham.
Rio Ferdinand returned to partner Nemanja Vidic and you had a feeling that all was now right with the world. Wayne Rooney continued up front, to carry on what we can now call his explosive start to the season oh yeah and the Notorious B.E.R.B.A made his return to White Hart Lane. Remember when we bought Teddy Sheringham from Spurs and took him back there for his first United league match? On that afternoon Teddy looked like a man possessed, trying extra hard to put one over his old team. It seemed unlikely we would see such visual signs of increased effort from Berba against Spurs, but he definitely always is trying.
We didn’t have to wait long for the first goal, and it was the team with the one hundred percent record that scored it, Jermain Defoe showing once again that he is in form (even starting the match on the field and not from the bench). The ball was crossed into the danger area, Peter Crouch jumped for the knock down and Jermain Defoe met it with an over head kick to be proud of. It would have been nice if Rio would have remembered to make it harder for the striker perhaps but let’s take nothing from the finish.
Bad start yes, but hill to climb for United? It never really looked that way. When Berbatov went down under the influence of Wilson Palacios, Ryan Giggs hit the free kick perfectly and levelled the score. From that point on the visitors grew in confidence and the Wouldn’t it be great if theory kicked in. Dimitar Berbatov showed some spark, Anderson(playing better passes than he did that night against Burnley) found Berba who lashed a shot at the top corner but saw Cudicini in fine form to deny him. It would have been great if Dimitar would have scored but others had chances too. Wayne Rooney also found himself well placed, the Spurs ‘keeper denying our number 10 from close range and Berbatov’s shot from the rebound hit a Spurs defender. Instantly Paul Scholes gave the striker a second chance to put the ball in the net and silence his former fans, but he blazed over and had to suffer the jeers.
Aside – you have to wonder if you would get a sprint and celebration ala Adebayor, if Berbatov did score against Spurs. We at GtS have our doubts.
As the first half drew to a close United found their way through and grabbed a lead that looked likely almost from the moment Defoe hit the net. A United corner was cleared only as far as Paul Scholes who hit something resembling a shot or a cross back into the Tottenham area, which was again cleared but only as far as Anderson who unleashed a powerful shot to beat Cudicini, giving United the advantage and Anderson the chance for a baffling goal celebration.
The second half could be described as bright with glimpses of cloud. Robbie Keane will feel he probably should have scored when he was on the end of a Jenas pass and got a shot in, Nemanja Vidic was alive enough to make his presence felt and chance was gone. We will also make note of a fantastic Foster save from Jermaine Jenas but we have to mention those ‘clouds’ eventually and they both involve Paul Scholes. With Spurs looking to get back into the match Defoe received the ball in the middle of the park and Scholes being Scholes, got there as soon as he could. The yellow card was accepted but that was not the end of the matter as our little ginger wizard wanted to prove that he, with Eric Cantona making a career in movies now, is the worst tackler at the club. John O’Shea headed the ball in Scholes’ direction and the player’s first touch took the ball a little away from him and had Robbie Keane sniffing around, if you were cringing at this point you were watching through your fingers seconds later as Scholes went in on Tom Huddlestone and saw red.
Tottenham failed to make the most of their numerical advantage and Carlo Cudicini showed some inspired form to at least try and keep United from adding another but Wayne Rooney was not to be denied his goal. Darren Fletcher played a simple ball through to Rooney who found himself in space between two Spurs defenders, then turned inside and sent it through Cudicini’s legs. An embarrassing goal to concede perhaps, especially for a goalkeeper who had done well but such is the form that Rooney is in that we will always bet on him to beat the man in the nets, whoever that may be.
All in all, a very decent United performance. More good moments from Ben Foster, a sturdy performance from Darren Fletcher and a bit of a spark from Anderson which was nice to see.
Next for the men from Old Trafford, a trip to Istanbul before the biggest game of the season; the Manchester Derby and the return of our former striker, once worshiped by the many a fan in red. But enough about Mark Hughes, let’s not forget Carlos could return also. Let’s give him the welcome he deserves.
In a bit. GtS