Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Live: Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur

Follow live, minute-by-minute commentary of the Premier League game between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford on Monday Aug 22 2011, kick-off 20.00 BST


3 - 0


FULL TIME: Manchester United 3-0 Tottenham
90+1 min That was the first little sign of frustration from De Gea, who faced up to Defoe for a minute. A little word of complaint in Lee Probert's ear, and Defoe was in the book. Still, he wouldn't have been kicked if he'd held the initial shot...
90 min Three minutes of injury time as Tottenham break again. Three on three for a moment. Defoe gets the ball on the left byline. His cross is blocked but only as far as Huddlestone, and as we know, 'He Can Hit Them'. He does hit it. It's blocked. Van der Vaart with another shot from distance, and De Gea's spilled this one too! Defoe follows in with a trailing foot, and he's going to get booked for that. Naughty.
88 min Van der Vaart misses a golden chance to pull one back! He was allowed to run into the area under pressure from Evans, had time to get his shot away from about 14 yards, but fired it miles over the bar.
Goal86 min GOAL Manchester United 3-0 Tottenham (Rooney)Giggs with a right-footed cross from the right. Rooney with a towering header. This United side, they really can do anything they turn their hands to, and with just minutes left, United have cut Tottenham open again. Giggs unmarked in the right channel as the ball is pulled back to him by Nani, Rooney unmarked 10 yards out and given a free header. Brad Friedel blameless, as he has been all night.
85 min Tottenham still having a go. Lennon in space on the right. He has a look at his options in the box, doesn't like any of them, pulls it back for Van der Vaart, and De Gea spills a stinging low shot at his near post. He really is a satchel of nerves at the moment. Van der Vaart tests him with another, but it's easier to deal with, and de Gea holds onto this one.
82 min Rooney misses from around two yards! Anderson again with oodles of space about 30 yards out. He releases Nani down the right, who swings in a wonderful cross. A leaping Hernandez should get something on it at the near post, and Rooney probably wasn't expecting the ball to reach him. It bounces just before it reaches him, he swings a boot at it, and the ball explodes off it and over the bar.

81 min Those Tottenham substitutions have left the midfield wide open. Van der Vaart's dropped back into the middle in theory, but there still seems to be so much space in there.
80 min The goal was at Defoe's mercy there. De Gea had strayed out of his goalmouth to try and claim the cross from the left. That goal really would have made the last 10 minutes interesting. Welbeck comes off to a superb reception. Cleverley and Young also trudge to the touchline, and it's going to be Giggs, Park and Hernandez to replace them.
78 min But Defoe hits the post on the volley from a tight angle! Another error by De Gea, who came for a cross, but didn't claim it.
77 min And now Friedel has to dive at the feet of Anderson to deny United a third. Tottenham's role may now be one of damage limitation.
Goal76 min GOAL Manchester United 2-0 Tottenham (Anderson) Oh, brilliant from Welbeck! A sublime piece of skill gives Anderson an easy finish from 12 yards! Rooney laid the ball off for Anderson, who played a diagonal pass into the area for Welbeck. With two defenders closing Welbeck down, he completely wrong-footed both of them with a back-heel back into the path of Anderson, who had the simplest of finishes. That seals the points for United!
74 min Great tackle from Jones as Pavlyuchenko bears down on goal! Bale tries to work a cross in, but United clear.
73 min Here are the Tottenham substitutions. Pavlyuchenko on for Kranjcar, Huddlestone on for Livermore. Those of you wondering why Huddlestone didn't start, he's still recovering from an ankle injury and ideally wouldn't have been risked tonight.
71 min Kaboul comes away with the corner, and suddenly Defoe's on the break. Defoe's so menacing when he's just sort of shimmying towards goal at pace. Is he going to shoot from the edge of the area? Is he going to lay it to his left for Bale? In fact, he tries to play in Van der Vaart, but misjudges it and it's intercepted.
70 min Welbeck anticipates a throw-in from Corluka and intercepts. Now, he's away again. He opens up those long legs of his and strides towards goal from the left channel, and it's deflected out for a corner.
69 min It is indeed Pavlyuchenko and Huddlestone who are preparing to come on for Tottenham. Clearly Harry Redknapp and I think alike, which has implications I don't really want to get into at this stage.
68 min The infusion of belief and comfort into United's play has been staggering. Young torments Corluka on the United left - stepovers, step-back-overs, the lot, and eventually fires a cross-shot in at Friedel's near post that he eventually claims at the second attempt.
67 min The ball comes in from the left, Smalling heads it back across goal, and Welbeck tries an audacious overhead kick! Friedel saves.
66 min United are continuing to boss this game. There's a swagger to them now, and Tottenham are being beaten to the punch time and again. Harry Redknapp will be thinking about a change, but what can he do? Huddlestone for one of the midfielders, perhaps? Pavlyuchenko on as a second striker? Meanwhile, it's a corner for United.
64 min Brilliant save from Friedel! Rooney took the free-kick and absolutely leathered it! That was curling in, as well, until Friedel flew to his right to knock it away with outstretched fingers. It's not right seeing a 40-year-old man flying through the air like that. It's just not right.
62 min A real boost for United, who'd have struggled to convince most neutral observers that they deserved to be ahead on the strength of that first hour. But Welbeck's been taking up some nice positions all game, and this time Tottenham neglected to mark him. Now, a free-kick to United right on the edge of the area as Kranjcar scythes down Evra.
Goal60 min GOAL Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham (Welbeck)Great early cross, great soaring header! United make their pressure tell, and it's a goal crafted in youth. Cleverley had drifted to the right, received the ball from Young and crossed first time. Welbeck was around the penalty spot, leapt majestically and flicked a header past Friedel.
58 min Assou-Ekotto with a delightful little shimmy to dance clear of Evans, and he's clipped on the heels. Evans needs to tread carefully here. Free-kick to Tottenham, which is touched onto Van der Vaart... who tries to shoot from 40 yards. It's miles over. Christ, that's miles over. Harry Redknapp buries his head in his hands. That Van der Vaart, he must be thinking. Why must genius always be so maddening?
57 min Jones advances - he does like to venture forward once in a while - and chips it into the area. Rooney, back to goal, heads it on, and Young lets fly with the volley from about 16 yards. It's well over the bar.
56 min After a few minutes of all Tottenham, it's been a few minutes of all United. It's almost as if they're taking it in turns to play. Free-kick on the United left, which Young is going to take. It's blocked, but United will have a throw on their left.
54 min Assou-Ekotto with a superb tackle on Nani as the Portuguese cuts inside onto his left foot and looks to shoot. Impossible to exaggerate how good that block was. He came out of absolutely nowhere.
53 min Friedel rescues Tottenham with a fine double save! First of all Anderson fires it in first-time, and Friedel beats it away. It's straight to Rooney 20 yards out though, and his low shot is blocked too. United storm back into the game, and the crowd are responding.
51 min Super start to the second half by Tottenham. United have hardly been able to get a foot on the ball for the last three or four minutes. Virtually all 10 Tottenham outfield players have a role in the move. Eventually Van der Vaart spreads it left for Assou-Ekotto, whose cross is headed away by Evra.
49 min Lennon bundles Evra off the ball on the United left, and he's got plenty of options in the centre. Van der Vaart's screaming for it eight yards out, but Lennon doesn't see him! He tries firing it into the near post, but it's cleared immediately, and Van der Vaart is apoplectic with rage. Ooof, there's actual smoke coming out of his ears.
48 min Now, Tottenham break. Lennon finds Bale, who's charging through the centre. He tries the low shot from 18 yards, with Defoe to his left, and it's a poor shot, dragged and trickling wide.
47 min Young with a snap shot after a sustained spell of United pressure! The ball breaks to him on the edge of the area, and he probably had a bit more time than he thought to turn and shoot. Friedel's at full stretch, but holds on to the ball.
46 min Free-kick on the Tottenham right, just inside their own half. Van der Vaart tries to lift it over the top for Lennon to chase, but it's just got a bit too much on it. Goal-kick.
21.02 The players are back out there, and there's a substitution for Tottenham. Vedran Corluka comes on in place of Kyle Walker, who had a tough first half and according to Geoff Shreeves, was sick during the break after feeling nauseous all day.
TwitterCurrently tweeting on Twitter: Henry Winter. And he says this: "Great save by Friedel from Cleverley. De Gea's distribution exceptional. Spurs comfortable. Van der Vaart good."
Currently trending on Twitter: 'Kaboul', 'Aaron Lennon', 'Brad Friedel'. And: 'Gadaffi'. He's actually done quite well to get up there, has our Muammar. What with all the different spellings of his name, and all.
So, as it stands: Manchester City will probably be champions by about February.
In order not to lose, Tottenham must: Hope United aren't reading this live blog. Oh, and stop playing so many pigging long balls. Have they not noticed that their target man's about 5ft 2in?
In order to win, United must: Be more enterprising in the final third. Too often crosses have come in with nobody on the end of them. Too often Tottenham have been able to pick up the loose ball after clearing the first. Cleverley and Anderson need to make a few more of those sneaky late runs to the edge of the box.
Rejoice! John Obi Mikel's dad is fine! Rumours that Mikel himself subdued his father's captors with a crunching, studs-up tackle from behind remain, as yet, pure conjecture.
Must try harder: Assou-Ekotto, Defoe, Evans.
Best players on the park: Jones, Nani, Young, Friedel, Dawson.
Ratings out of 10: United 6, Tottenham 7.
HALF-TIME: Manchester United 0-0 Tottenham
45+1 min Defoe with his first real sight of goal. He's about 20 yards out, decides to try and curl a shot around De Gea, but puts it about a yard wide. Lennon was in support to his right, but you can't blame for Defoe for having a go when he's had so little to feed off this half, and when you're as good from that range as he is. That's half-time.
44 min Two minutes of injury time. Now, Kaboul and Nani have squared up here, and there's a little situation for Lee Probert to defuse. Nani slid in lustily on Kaboul as the Frenchman was about to release the ball, but there was no contact. Kaboul then walked up to Nani and sort of inclined his head towards him as if either paying deference or threatening the full-on nose-destroyer. Probert gets himself in between Kaboul and Nani and waves them both in opposite directions.
43 min Bale on the left. Cuts inside. Squares it for Van der Vaart on the edge of the area, and his left-footed snap shot is saved low by De Gea. Tottenham are getting little half-chances, but there's been nothing really clear-cut yet.
41 min Van der Vaart strides menacingly into the United half again, tries to set Defoe free, and Jones slides in to clear. Defoe's had nothing this half. I'd be surprised if he's had more than half a dozen touches this half.
40 min Young's limping over to the touchline. If he's not ready to continue yet, United may well try and stick it out until half-time and have a good look at him in the changing rooms. Oh, you know what I mean.
38 min Now Dawson gets booked for clattering into Ashley Young as he looks to burst clear. Young's stayed down; the physio's on gingerly flexing his right knee. Young's right knee, it scarcely needs to be said, not the physio's.
36 min Evans stretches for a tackle he didn't really need to make, and gives away a free-kick about 40 yards out. He also gets a booking. Lennon tries to lift the free-kick in, it's charged down, and Michael Dawson gives a sterling demonstration of Foolhardy Courage In The Face Of Severe Personal Injury Risk, getting his head on the ball just as Welbeck was looking to bring it down with a stout boot. It was a crucial intervention too, if Welbeck had somehow managed to get past Dawson he'd have been clear on goal. Welbeck's actually penalised there, and he's going to get a yellow card too, which looks a trifle harsh.
35 min The Sky microphones have clearly been placed in the Spurs corner of the ground. I refuse to believe that 70,000 United fans are being drowned out by a handful of Cockneys chanting "There's only one Michael Dawson".
34 min Nani in yards and yards of space in the centre, and that was almost trouble for Tottenham. He tried to curl one in from about 20 yards out, but it was deflected off two players and ballooned over the bar. Friedel rises to catch the corner.
32 min Young - back on the left - pings in another cross, Rooney stoops, looking for the glancing header, but Tottenham somehow hack it away. Livermore then gives the ball away under pressure, but does well to win it back about 35 yards from his own goal.
31 min Another good little spell from Tottenham, who are enjoying plenty of space in the middle third of the pitch. Kranjcar tries a shot from distance. It's a palm-stinger, but fairly easily saved by De Gea.
29 min Tottenham corner from the right. Van der Vaart takes it... and swings it straight out of play. Oh, Harry's not happy with that. Harry's emitting oaths and spreading his arms as if he's just been denied bail. Comical.
27 min Nani's switched to the left, Young to the right. Nani starts a move that Young almost finishes, the cross laid off by Welbeck to Rooney who chips the ball to the back post. Young tries to float a header back across goal over Friedel, but puts it inches wide.
26 min For the first time, Walker and Lennon really combine down the Tottenham right. With so little height in the centre, though, they're loath to swing the cross in.
24 min Van der Vaart breaks free after looking to be running into a cul-de-sac down the left-wing. A sublime little shimmy to burst clear of Smalling, and suddenly he's running towards goal. Under pressure from Jones, he tries to catch De Gea off his line from about 35 yards, but it's an easy catch.
23 min Terrifically open opening, this. Friedel gives the ball straight to Nani from a clearance, which leads to a minute or so of United pressure. Eventually Jones tries a left-footed volley from outside the area. It finds its way through to Welbeck, who's tackled very well by Livermore as he thinks about turning and shooting.
21 min Nani whips the ball along the edge of the six-yard area and it misses everyone! Assou-Ekotto was caught in his own corner, Welbeck laid it back for Nani, and Rooney stopped and started before finally making the run towards the near post, which is why he didn't get there.
20 min Lennon with a burst of pace down the Tottenham right. Evra doesn't commit himself, and Lennon can swing in a deep cross. Poor defensive header from Smalling, who doesn't realise that Bale's behind him. Bale runs in from the left, cuts in on his right foot, and unleashes a shot with his weaker foot that is comfortably saved by De Gea at his near post.
19 min The possession statistics lean slightly towards Tottenham too. Spurs also ahead in the song stakes, with their fans chanting "You're just a ---- Aaron Lennon" to Ashley Young.
E-mail17 min After a rip-roaring start from United, Spurs have come right back into this, and they're just about shading this at the moment. An email from Gorkhn Singh: "Expect Fergie may need to play a double 'Supersub' card tonight by bringing on experience in the shape of Berbie and Giggs, and temper a spirited Spurs side, boosted by their recent 5-0 demolition of the fourth best club in Scotland. Great for Fergie to be holding a full house of youth, talent and experience."
15 min First little flicker of delight from Gareth Bale. That's a lovely piece of skill to ghost past Anderson and Cleverley. He tries to sprint past Phil Jones and goes down as Jones flies in... but it was his toe that just got to the ball first. Bale walks away limping, as he does from every tackle, but he's essentially fine.
14 min Dawson gets his head on the corner, and it looks to be looping and innocuous until he dips alarmingly. De Gea's momentarily troubled, but the ball lands on the roof of the net.
13 min Van der Vaart again in good amounts of space 30 yards out. He tries the right-footed shot. It's deflected behind. Tottenham's first corner of the game.
12 min Assou-Ekotto is pinned back in his own corner and is forced into the long hoof. Smalling heads it back to De Gea, who tries to evade Van der Vaart with a little back flick and almost comes unstuck! It's a foul, though, as Van der Vaart just caught him on the slide. Far too close for comfort for De Gea.
11 min This spell of Tottenham pressure is all the encouragement Rooney needs to wander back into midfield. It works - under pressure Tottenham give the ball away and Cleverley tries to find Welbeck with a long, low ball. Kaboul marches across to the left-back position and slides the ball out of play.
9 min And Tottenham can get the ball down and pass it around a little. It's their best spell of the game. As I type that, Kranjcar gives the ball away.
7 min Friedel saves brilliantly from Cleverley! It's just the kind of run Paul Scholes used to make - isn't it strange talking about Paul Scholes in the past tense? Almost as strange as it talking about Friedel in the present tense - and from 20 yards out, he tries to curl the ball into the far corner as Young once again advances down the left. It's the faintest of fingertips from Friedel, but it's just enough to tip it around the post. United, and especially Ashley Young, are dominating these first few minutes.
5 min First little sign of promise for Tottenham. Nobody in a red shirt is bothering to track Van der Vaart around the pitch, and he could well have a productive night. He gets the ball from Bale 40 yards out in space, tries to pick out a through pass for Defoe, and it's cut out on the stretch by Jones.
4 min The corner's swung into the six-yard box, a load of heads go up for it, and I think that's Rooney who gets the last touch, well over the bar.
3 min All United in these early stages. Nani and Evra combine on the left - Walker and Lennon both stitched up like complete transplant patients there - and Evra's low cross is cut out by Dawson for a corner.
2 min Rooney with a free header from 12 yards, straight at Friedel! The ball was given away very lazily indeed by Van de Vaart on the Tottenham left, who tried to spread the ball to the other side of the pitch with the outside of his foot. Rooney cut it out, bore down on goal, found Nani to his right and got on the end of the cross. He's not at all happy with the header, which gave Brad Friedel a nice, easy start to his Tottenham career.
1 min And United have two half-openings in the first half-minute! Young gets free down the left, stealing in ahead of Walker, and his low cross is cleared by Kaboul at full stretch. Rooney delivers the ball back into the six-yard box, but it's too high for Welbeck.
20.00 United to kick off. Here we go.
19.58 Here come the teams. Ashley Young and Aaron Lennon exchanging warm greetings in the tunnel, probably involving some incantation of the word 'blood'. The referee tonight is Lee Probert, whocame under fire from Ferguson in April after he booked Chicarito for diving against Newcastle.
19.52 We all understand what United are about. So how do Tottenham pull this one off? In terms of strengths and weaknesses, the teams are pretty evenly matched. Fairly light in midfield, exciting options out wide, a slightly green defence, a new goalkeeper, and a mercurial forward who could just as easily pop up in the centre of midfield, on either wing, or in the six-yard box tucking away an easy chance. Van de Vaart v Rooney is where I reckon the midfield battle will be won. They're not directly going head to head with each other, of course, so the comparison is in at least one sense completely fatuous. But Kranjcar and Livermore will need Van de Vaart to provide them with an option through the centre, which means the Dutchman will have to eschew his irritating habit of taking 10-minute breathers on the wing. Likewise, Rooney is very quick to drop a little deeper if the midfield two are getting outnumbered - or, if truth be told, he goes more than four minutes without getting the ball - which then makes him Livermore's problem. Big test for the 21 year-old, who scored his first senior goal in the win over Hearts.
19.40 "We've had a good start to the campaign, so hopefully we can maintain that kind of form, because we did really well at home last season," says Sir Alex. "Jonny's been with us for a long time, he understands what the club's about. Chris Smalling's been doing terrific, so I'm not worried about experience."
19.35 Geoff Shreeves corners Harry Redknapp and asks him about Tottenham's staggeringly awful record at Old Trafford (played 82, lost 58, drawn 24, killed 16, maimed 220). "I don't know the record. It don't bother me. Different managers, different teams, different game. It's a special place. There's certain grounds in the country that are just special places to go and play football. We'd like to have played last week, but we looked bright and sharp against Hearts. We ended up with a couple of lads playing centre midfield who probably wouldn't have played there if everyone had been fit."
And what about Modric? "Luka's a great player, we need him, we want to keep him, and without him we won't be as strong. Hurry up and finish the transfer window, and we'll know he's here to stay." Clearly he hasn't read the back page of the newspaper he 'writes' for, then. The back page of today's Sun reads 'MODRIC ON STRIKE'.
19.31 Ooh, just spotted that Javier Hernandez has made it onto the United bench. That's quite some way ahead of schedule.
19.30 First of all, Heurelho Gomes has been dropped for a man who not only can remember when Richard Nixon was president, but can probably also remember the last time Spurs won at Old Trafford. Brad Friedel, all 40 years and four months of him, makes his first start for Tottenham. Kyle Walker makes his first Premier League start for Tottenham since April 2010, having played for two other clubs and earned himself an England call-up in the meantime. Jermain Defoe is preferred to Roman Pavlyuchenko, Jake Livermore is preferred to Tom Huddlestone and Jermaine Jenas, while the slightly disgruntled Croatian is preferred to the seriously disgruntled Croatian. No Gallas, no Hutton, no King and no Crouch. They're all injured.
Sir Alex is giving Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley another chance to nail down a place in the first team. They both start in what is a staggeringly raw midfield battle. With Ferdinand and Vidic both injured, the makeshift back four is very much as trailed.
Manchester United (4-4-2): De Gea; Smalling, Jones, Evans, Evra; Nani, Anderson, Cleverley, Young; Welbeck, Rooney.
Subs: Lindegaard, Fabio, Park, Carrick, Giggs, Berbatov, Hernandez.
Tottenham (4-4-1-1): Friedel; Walker, Dawson, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Kranjcar, Livermore, Bale; Van der Vaart; Defoe.
Subs: Gomes, Bassong, Corluka, Huddlestone, Jenas, Townsend, Pavlyuchenko.
19.10 No team news yet, but one man we know will not be at Old Trafford tonight is Luka Modric. "His head's not in the right place," says Harry Redknapp; it is, like the rest of him, back in London, watching this game at home with an M&S ready meal. The thought that Modric has played his last game for Tottenham is a dispiriting one for Spurs fans; the thought that Roman Pavlyuchenko has not is almost too heartbreaking to contemplate.
19.00 Has anybody else noticed that Tottenham haven't played a game yet? Here we are, two weeks into the season, Manchester City already champions-elect, at least six teams in crisis, all the Scottish teams out of Europe, and yet Tottenham are still stuck on zero games, zero points. (Although comically, Everton, West Brom and Blackburn have somehow managed to find a way to slip beneath them in the table.) Not that they haven't yet kicked a ball in anger. Or should that be mirth, given the wretchedness of the Hearts defence they came up against on Monday? Not sure how much you can read into that game. Tottenham will be stronger, and you can bet their opponents will be too.
Which brings us to Manchester United, four times League Cup winners and one-time home of Jordi Cruyff. They began their defence of the title in typically United-style - playing pretty badly and then fluking a late winner. Despite the admittedly formidable achievements of winning the Community Shield and winning at The Hawthorns, Mike Phelan's new-look side are still something of an unknown quantity. How will their defence gel? How many more mistakes can David de Gea make before he starts earning some unpleasant nicknames? Is Dimitar Berbatov reallydoing a correspondence course in hotel management?- Telegraph

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