Gallas wins over Hart and minds

Tottenham 4 Blackburn 2
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The Independent Online

On a day when three Premier League games ended goalless and half the 16 teams playing failed to score, the spectators at White Hart Lane on Saturday were treated to an almost unfair abundance of entertainment. So it was strange that much of the post-match talk about a game that could have ended 8-4 concerned a defender and a forward who hardly had a shot at goal.

William Gallas, the Tottenham centre-back, did not exactly stand aloof from the chaos around him, despite a key goal-line clearance with the score at 2-0, but his displays have made Tottenham supporters forget his murky past as captain of Arsenal.

Announcing interest in Gallas when he became a free agent in the summer, Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, laughed off suggestions that the home crowd would never accept a former leader of their greatest rivals. That he has been proved right is just as well for Gallas, who could otherwise have expected abuse from all sides of the Emirates Stadium when the two teams meet there next Saturday.

"The crowd are beginning to take to him, and so they should," said Joe Jordan, the Spurs first-team coach. "He didn't have a pre-season but he's a quality football player and as he's got games under his belt he's got better and better. I know about rivalries but there's a guy who has come here and sweated to win games in a Spurs jersey. If you're making that commitment then the supporters should get right behind you. If the quality of play he's producing shows to the supporters that we have a real player here, they should be delighted."

Gallas had to show more of his mettle once Blackburn sent on Jason Roberts at half-time. After goalscoring appearances as a substitute against Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United, Roberts must have expected to start, but Sam Allardyce, the manager, believes that frustration has provided the right motivation.

"He is playing great at the moment so we will keep him as angry as we can," Allardyce said. "He is a player that wanted to make a statement and he has done very well at it.

"We said after the transfer deadline, 'You thought you were going to get away and you haven't so you are still a part of the team. If you prove you are the best player to play then we will play you.' He has forced himself into being almost the No 1 selection for the front line at the moment."

Almost, but not quite, as Allardyce initially preferred Nikola Kalinic in a defensive formation that was soon overrun. Gareth Bale scored two for Tottenham and created another for Roman Pavlyuchenko – who also missed a penalty – while Peter Crouch netted his first goal of the season.

But even at 4-0 down, the Roberts-inspired Rovers had enough chances to level, although only David Dunn, with the help of a deflection off defender Ryan Nelsen, and Gaël Givet found the net.

March facts

Man of the match Bale Match rating 8/10.

Possession Tottenham 62% Blackburn 38%.

Shots on target Tottenham 12 Blackburn 8.

Referee A Marriner (West Midlands) Att 35,700.

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