Blackburn Rovers 0 Tottenham Hotspur 2
Published 21/12/2009 | 01:25
Three days after their defeat of Manchester City hastened the inevitable for Mark Hughes, Tottenham Hotspur accounted for his former club in a very different type of game.
"We had to scrap more today," said the Tottenham manager, Harry Redknapp. Indeed, with only two home defeats in Sam Allardyce's first year in charge, the evidence is that everyone has to scrap for the spoils at Blackburn.
Spurs' willingness and ability to do so says as much for their top four aspirations as their capacity for running other sides off their feet when everything is going their way.
Six points from the two Lancashire clubs have come at a good time for Spurs, with most of the teams above them looking distinctly fallible. Redknapp was particularly animated by Liverpool and Manchester United's defeats on Saturday. "Teams are getting beaten when they wouldn't have got beaten in another year," he said. "There's an opening for someone. Whether we're good enough, time will tell."
A side hoping to make that breakthrough probably needs an embarrassment of riches in at least one key area – and Spurs have it up front. At Ewood, the prolific Jermain Defoe missed his one real chance, but Peter Crouch stuck all three of his away – one disallowed for offside – and Robbie Keane came off the bench to spark up the effort in the second half.
Redknapp still has a few things to sort out – today he will be calling in the players who went on that unauthorised trip to Dublin – but Spurs showed at Blackburn the difference between a side that has been able to spend big and one that has not.
"We'll have to sell before we can buy," said Allardyce, contemplating his ruined first anniversary in the job and the rapidly approaching transfer window. "We might be better working with what we've got."
He had a fair point in arguing that Crouch's first goal should have been ruled out for climbing all over Ryan Nelsen, but his real problem was the one underlined by misses from Benni McCarthy and Franco Di Santo; Blackburn simply cannot score goals.
There were good things about their performance, notably an industrious midfield lead set by Vince Grella and some fleet-footed work down the left from the young Canadian Junior Hoilett. But until someone starts to score occasionally, the season will become harder and harder work for Rovers.
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Robinson; Jacobsen, Nelsen, Givet, Chimbonda; Salgado (Pedersen, 63), Grella, Nzonzi, Hoilett (Roberts, 80); Di Santo (Kalinic, 71), McCarthy.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Bassong, Assou-Ekottu; Lennon (Hutton, 89), Huddlestone, Palacios (Jenas, 57), Kranjcar; Defoe (Keane, 66), Crouch.
Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).
Booked: Tottenham Corluka.
Man of the match: Crouch.