Match Preview, Tottenham vs Benfica. (1st Leg)

Match date & time: Thursday 13th March 2014. Kick off 8:05pm.

Competition: Europa League, round of 16 1st leg.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

TV: Live on ITV 1.

Here we go, the business end of the Europa League is here, the glamour ties start to appear and the task becomes incredibly difficult to juggle with our Premier League commitments, but this season’s Europa League campaign has been a sort of nice distraction from the Premier League, something to look forward to and it builds excitement amongst fans and gives opportunities for fans to get to White Hart Lane, who may not go very often. I really like the competition, and now the challenge of Benfica is something I smile while thinking about; hopefully we put up a real fight, and then continue, because a trophy would be bloody marvellous.

We have been terrible on the big occasions this season, with too many capitulations and 3+ goals thrashing in the games which we have to put in more effort and show more quality. The fans have been disappointed far too often and hopefully, after Sherwood laid into the players, we won’t see the players give up, and will see more desire and passion from the team, even if we go a goal down. I want to see fight. We lost 4-0 to Chelsea, with luck going against us, but it wasn’t good enough and this fixture against Benfica is the perfect opportunity for the players and Sherwood to show they care and they are winners, because we haven’t seen it. We have history up against Benfica, we played them in the European Cup semi-final 52 years in 1962, our first European campaign, and lost 4-3 on aggregate. We lost 3-1 at the Stadium of Light in Portugal, and in the second leg won 2-1, with Jimmy Greaves being disallowed a goal for offside which would have drawn the game level, but we bowed out of the competition after a brilliant tournament all those years ago. Now, we will hope to have revenge against Benfica, and hopefully we will do what the 1961/62 team couldn’t do, and get past them and go into the quarter finals of the Europa League. It’s going to be a very tough game.

Benfica are a Champions League standard team. They are the level which we want to be in the near future. If we want to get into the Champions League, we have to show we can beat sides with the calibre of Benfica, Portuguese giants. Benfica are unbeaten in 17 games, winning 15 of those games in all competitions, including wins up against Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League, and Porto in the Primeira Liga. That’s impressive. They are top of the Primeira Liga, clear by 7 points and winning their last 5, so you can already see what a difficult task we have in front of us. The team news for Benfica is that after injury, Oscar Cardozo is back in the frame and is likely to start. The Portuguese outfit has a number of threats; up front, just mentioned Oscar Cardozo is a brilliant striker, he’s big and a deadly finisher with 26 goals in 25 starts last season, but this season he has been injured and has only started 11 games, scoring 4 goals. Another important player is Nicolas Gaitan, the attacking midfielder has 5 goals and 6 assists in 28; with a lot of pace and creativity he could hurt us. Rodrigo is another, we were linked in the summer with the striker/winger, and he has had a great season with 11 goals in 26 appearances, pacey and a definite goal threat.

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The team news for Spurs is that Erik Lamela (thigh/back), Vlad Chiriches (back), Etienne Capoue (ankle) and Michael Dawson (hamstring) have been ruled out of the game, and all of those players will also be out for Sunday’s North London Derby too. Mousa Dembele missed the Chelsea game with a hamstring problem, and is set for a late fitness test to see if he can play against Benfica, if not, he’ll be back for the Arsenal game on Sunday. Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose are back in contention after injuries and are likely to play a part in the game, two massive boosts, with Eriksen’s creativity being missed heavily and Danny’s offensive contributions on the left being lacked in his absence, too. Defensively, this game is crucial to our hopes of continuing to the quarter finals, we must contain Benfica’s attack, so I think we have to play our strongest back four, with Walker on the right, Vertonghen and Kaboul at centre back, along with Danny Rose at left back and Hugo Lloris in goal; this gives us our best chance of a clean sheet, playing Sandro would help defensively too. We are into the part of the competition where resting our best players will not see us through, and so the players will have to deal with the increase of games, and show desire to win in every game. Offensively, I think Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor will start upfront together; they are a partnership in working progress, and Ade drops back into midfield anyway so I don’t think we’d miss the extra midfielder too much with a 4-4-2.

Match facts provided by the Europa League.

– Tottenham have played ten games against Portuguese sides in UEFA competition, with the record W7 D1 L2 (W5 D0 L0 at home).

– Benfica have played 32 games against English clubs in UEFA competition, most recently last season’s UEFA Europa League final in Amsterdam, which they lost 2-1 to Chelsea FC. Their record in those games is W10 D5 L17.

– Spurs are unbeaten in 11 European home games (W9 D2) since a 2-1 loss to PAOK FC in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League group stage.

– Spurs beat FC Internazionale Milano on away goals at this stage of last season’s UEFA Europa League to reach the quarter-finals, where they lost out to FC Basel on penalties.

– After entering the round of 32 from the UEFA Champions League group stage, Benfica are aiming to reach the final for the second successive season.

– Tottenham (1972, 1984) are one of six previous UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League winners left in the competition along with Sevilla (2006, 2007), Valencia CF (2004), SSC Napoli (1989), FC Porto (2003, 2011) and Juventus (1977, 1990, 1993).

There is nothing better than a European night at White Hart Lane, especially against a massive club like Benfica are. Hopefully the players are as pumped as us fans are, and can put on a performance! Let’s get a win to hold us in good stead for the second leg! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Benfica at the Lane:
4-4-2
Lloris
Walker – Kaboul – Vertonghen – Rose
Townsend – Bentaleb – Sandro – Eriksen
Soldado – Adebayor.

Tim Sherwood’s pre Benfica press conference:

Match Preview, Tottenham vs Manchester United.

Match: Sunday 1st December 2013. Kick off 12:00pm GMT.

Premier League

Arguably our biggest game of the season so far against the reigning Champions, after our 6-0 drubbing dished out by the other team in Manchester a response is essential. The pressure is on for AVB from the fans and the press, after some dreadful performances and not being able to score a single goal in the League in November AVB and the players need to show what they’re capable of and soon, in this game against United it is important we get a good result, but even more important is the performance and the show we put on to the fans; some excitement, passion and desire from the players and back into smooth and offensive play. If the result doesn’t go our way, you could probably understand as it is Manchester United, so I’d say results are more important against Fulham and Southampton, but good performances in all are crucial. I believe we have a chance, if we can find our finishing touch to win the game, so let’s hope luck is on our side and the ball ends up in the back of the net a few times.

Manchester United have had an indifferent start to the season, with some bad results and some very good results, but they are now starting to pick up pace and put themselves back in a position to challenge for the title. Manchester United sit in 6th place, with 21pts just 1pt ahead of ourselves in 9th, so the margins in the top half are extremely tight. United have two key players who are both doubts for the game on Sunday, Nemanja Vidic with concussion and Robin Van Persie with a groin problem. Ryan Giggs is expected to start ahead of either Tom Cleverley or Marouanne Fellaini as he is celebrating his 40th Birthday, what a player and one of the Premier League’s best ever. Wayne Rooney is Man United’s biggest asset at the moment, the striker has returned to form and is showing why he’s classed as one of the best strikers in the world, with 6 goals in 11 appearances this season.

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It’s a difficult call to chose the starting 11, with decisions on which formation to use; 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or the favourite this season for AVB, 4-2-3-1. I wouldn’t go with the 4-4-2 for this game, as it really is a system which doesn’t suit the modern game, and the only time you can play this in the Premier League is if you do have two brilliant strikers which compliment each other and have an understanding. Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor are the most likely players to play upfront in a 4-4-2 formation, and they, sadly, don’t compete with an Aguero and Negredo or a Sturridge and Suarez or United’s partnership of Rooney and Van Persie, one player drops off and plays that number 10 role anyway so I personally don’t think 4-4-2 is the answer. I’d stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation for now, but with a different front four, of which I have put in my preferred team line up for Sunday. Big performances are needed from the players, especially from our offensive players; Aaron Lennon was one of our better players against Manchester City, going past players and trying to create chances, so I’d like him to try the same things on the right hand side up against Evra. Andros Townsend should come back into the team for this one after missing out against City, and I’d like to see him on the left getting some crosses in. Paulinho hasn’t been good enough in recent games, and Mousa Dembele put in a great performance against Tromsø in the week with a goal, so I’d start Mousa and Sandro in the middle of the park. We need Soldado to do more, hopefully he can show his class and score a couple in a massive game, I believe in Bobby! The team news is that Danny Rose remains out with his ongoing foot injury, Harry Kane is out with a back injury, Emmanuel Adebayor sadly is out with a groin injury and Christian Eriksen also is out with his ankle injury. Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue and Zeki Fryers are now all fully fit and able to feature against United.

Match stats provided by FourFourTwo

– Spurs have kept seven clean sheets this season, more than any other team in the Barclays Premier League.

– Ryan Giggs has scored more Barclays Premier League goals against Tottenham than he has against any other opponent (10).

– Tottenham Hotspur have won just one of the last 24 Barclays Premier League matches against Manchester United (W1 D6 L17) and none of the last 12 at White Hart Lane (W0 D4 L8).

– Spurs have scored just six goals in the last 11 Premier League home games against Manchester United.

– Robin van Persie has scored six goals and assisted five more in his last eight Premier League starts against Spurs.

– United striker Robin van Persie has scored 14 goals in his last 16 Premier League starts.

– Manchester United have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine Premier League away games and have kept just one shut out in their last eight overall in the competition.

– If Tottenham fail to score, they will equal their worst ever run of games without scoring in Premier League history (four games in Feb 2001 & Sep 2006).

– Excluding a penalty, Tottenham Hotspur have failed to score with any of their last 78 shots in the Premier League.

– Andre Villas-Boas’ men have averaged 24 shots (inc. blocked) for every goal scored this season, a higher average than any other team.

Massive game, let’s replicate our great recent form against United and get a win! The match is being shown live on BT Sport on Sunday 1st December, with coverage starting at 11:00am, and kick off at 12:00pm. COYS!!

My preferred team to face Manchester United at the Lane:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Walker – Chiriches – Kaboul – Vertonghen
Dembele – Sandro
Lennon – Lamela – Townsend
Soldado

AVB after the Tromsø game and pre Manchester United:

Match Preview, Tottenham vs Hull City.

Match: Wednesday 30th October 2013.

Capital One Cup

Feels like just the other day we faced Hull City at Home! Our unconvincing 1-0 win over the Tigers on Sunday was a very frustrating game in the Premier League, but we got the three points and a clean sheet. Now to repeat the process in the League Cup, but hopefully in an easier and less stressful way, a convincing win would fit the bill for this game. Cup competitions split opinion of the fans, some want us to go all out and win a trophy, some want us to play our youth team in the cups and focus 100% on the Premier League. With the squad we have, I believe we have a good chance of winning a trophy this season, whether that’s the League Cup, FA Cup, or dare I say the Premier League I don’t know but I’d love to win one of them. Winning a trophy is what football is all about; emphasised by this quote: ‘The Game is About Glory’. The top four and the Champions League is without a doubt our main aim, but we should certainly be trying very hard to put some more silverware into our trophy cabinet.

Hull City showed us on Sunday that they are a good side that can press very well and make it difficult for their opposition, they are well organised and have players that can create opportunities. They lack a goalscorer, that’s for sure, but their midfield is very solid. In the Capital One Cup I expect Hull to play a weakened side, their main aim is to stay in the Premier League and any other competition could well distract from that, although I have no doubt that they will try very hard to win with the side they put out, they wouldn’t be devastated with a loss I wouldn’t think.

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Rotation is very much expected from Andre Villas Boas. This seems the perfect game to rest his key players ahead of a very testing game against Everton at Goodison Park that will be one of our biggest challenges of the season. AVB should rest as many first teamers as possible for this clash with Hull, and when he does this we will still have a strong team to put out. The joys of a deep squad. Erik Lamela hasn’t sprung into life yet, as he is finding it difficult to settle, although now his family have arrived in England this should help. Our record signing has undoubted ability, but as AVB said, he isn’t showing ‘half’ of what he can do, hopefully he gives us a little taste of what he can do at White Hart Lane on Wednesday should he start. Emmanuel Adebayor is back training and in the squad for this game; I’d expect Manu to start, and hopefully show some of the form he has been capable of pre last season. Adebayor is a player that, if he hits form, could be a great asset to the team. Younes Kaboul, Etienne Capoue and Danny Rose are all very close to coming back into the squad, but this game could have come too early for them as they continue their recovery. It’d be great to see at least one in the squad. Ezequiel Fryers is a doubt, but Andros Townsend should be fit for the game, but Townsend is very likely to be rested after his nasty fall on Sunday which sprained his wrist.

A game we want to win to continue in the cup! Wembley is always a great occasion, so let’s strive for it! Sadly, the game is not televised, but I’ll be sure to find a stream for you all and I’ll post it on my twitter account (@AddictedtoSpurs). Make sure you follow me there for team news, match updates, pictures and video updates. COYS!!

Match Facts provided by BBC Sport.

– This is the first meeting in the League Cup for Spurs and Hull.

– Hull have only won once at White Hart Lane – a 1-0 victory in their first-ever season in the Premier League in October 2008.
Tottenham

– Spurs have not lost in 90 minutes at home in the League Cup since losing 3-1 to Birmingham City in October 2000 – a run of 18 matches.

– Before beating Aston Villa in the last round, Tottenham were knocked out in their preceding four League Cup matches against top-flight opposition.

– Spurs have won the competition four times in 1971, 1973 , 1999 and 2008.

– Hull have reached the fourth round of the League Cup for the first time since 1977-78, when they lost 5-1 at Arsenal.

– The Tigers have been eliminated on six of the last seven occasions that they have faced Premier League opposition in this competition.

– That win came at Wigan Athletic in August 2008, the only occasion they have won over 90 minutes away from home against top flight opposition in 20 League Cup matches.

My predicted/preferred team to face Hull City at White Hart Lane in the Capital One Cup:
4-4-2
Friedel
Walker – Dawson – Chiriches – Naughton
Lamela – Paulinho – Dembele – Chadli
Adebayor – Defoe

Finally a Striker.

We’ve reached an agreement with Valencia for the transfer of Roberto Soldado, subject to a medical. The transfer went on for a lot longer than we wanted, but it’s done now, and we can celebrate having a top class striker at the Lane, finally! We’ve broken our transfer record for the second time this Summer, £26 million the fee, surpassing the £17 million we paid for Paulinho.

We have been linked with every striker possible this Summer. The list is endless, but the main candidates were always, David Villa, Christian Benteke, and Roberto Soldado. All three strikers have immense quality, and I would have been thrilled with either one, and thankfully we have one, Roberto Soldado. I think he is the most natural striker out of the three, and he’s a striker in his prime, so I think there is a strong argument that we have signed the best one out of the three.

Soldado is a natural number 9. He has immense finishing ability, that aspect of his game is world class, he also works hard upfront, and makes good runs off the shoulder of the defence. He is a goal scorer, plain and simple; he can score 20+ goals a season, as he has proven in Spain and for Spain. Everyone knows we lacked goals from up front last season, and we have now solved that problem with the signing of Roberto Soldado.

Soldado will work very well in the 4-3-3 formation that AVB prefers. He can hold up the play and include others in the attack, he’s decent in the air, but that isn’t his best attribute by a long way. With players like Chadli, Lennon, and (hopefully) Bale, he will score a tonne of goals. I’m sure he’ll fit in perfectly at Spurs, and the fans will love him as soon as he scores his first goal. Looking forward to that!

At Valencia, Soldado was their best, and most loved player. Their captain, and their hero. He scored 59 goals in 101 appearances for Valencia, a great record. He also scored 24 goals in 35 appearances last season, with is exactly what we need from him this season. As I said, he’s a goalscorer. You could say £26 million is quite a bit to pay for a 28 year old, but he is a goal scorer, and that’s (sadly) what they cost nowadays. If we want top quality, we have to pay top dollar, that’s the reality.

Welcome to the Lane, Roberto Soldado! Lets hope we can have a great year. COYS!!

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Poll Results: Which Striker you want at White Hart Lane.

On the 27th May, I created a poll to see which striker you most want to be playing for us next season. I had a great response, with 788 votes in total, and now I’m going to show you the results!

Christian Benteke, 22 years old, Aston Villa.

Benteke is a brilliant player, with 19 goals in the Premier League he was always going to be linked with a move away. He has great strength, and is brilliant at holding up the play and including his team mates in the attack, but he can also work things on his own, he has a fair amount of pace to get past defenders and this kind of ability is something that is really needed at the Lane. As well as being strong, and fairly quick, he’s a great finisher, again, what we need at the Lane. He’s a young player, with a big future, personally, I think it would be a great move for the club to make happen. It’s a difficult deal to do, with Aston Villa desperate to hang onto their star man, but it could be done if the player decides to force a transfer.

Transfer Fee: £15million – £20million

Poll Result: 252 votes. 32% of the votes.

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Leandro Damiao, 23, International.

The long transfer saga that is Leandro Damiao to Spurs. We’ve had four transfer windows of it, and it’s always been ‘close’ to happening, but it’s never actually happened. He’s a good player, but I think some people have started to doubt his ability to perform in the Premier League, I for one am one of those people. I’ve seen him play a few times, and maybe that isn’t enough, but from what I’ve seen, he’s not my first choice. Although, if AVB wants him, I’m fully behind him.

Transfer Fee: £18million – £24million

Poll Result: 182 Votes. 23% of the Votes.

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David Villa, 31, Barcelona.

I’d be a big fan of this. Very experienced striker, with a goal record that speaks for itself. If we are to pull this off I think it would be a big statement that we want to push for the Champions League, a player known world wide, at Tottenham Hotspur sounds very good. We need two strikers, and I think having Villa and another would be brilliant. The player is versatile, he can play on the left wing as well as a central striker role, I’d absolutely love this transfer to go through. It seems the only thing that would hold this deal back is wages, and hopefully we can sort that out.

Transfer Fee: £10 million – £15 million

Poll Results: 139 Votes. 18% of the Votes.

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Roberto Soldado, 28, Valencia.

Soldado is a very talented striker, with a very good record for Valencia, he has performed in the Champions League, and has been linked with numerous moves away, but with Valencia missing out on Champions League, this could be the season that he finally parts with the Spanish club. Roberto would fit in well here, very good finisher, decent in the air, and he would suit our style of play a lot. I would really like him to join, except I think the age of the player has put me off slightly. At 28, he’s not one for the future. You could say this about Villa, but I think his versatility and name, just edge that of Soldado.

Transfer Fee: £20 million – £25 million

Poll Results: 84 Votes. 11% of the Votes.

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Jackson Martinez, 26, Porto.

Martinez would be my choice of striker. I’m surprised at the lack of votes he got, as this isn’t a real reflection on the quality of the player. He is strong, fast, and a clinical finisher, perfect for the Premier League. He has a brilliant record in the Portuguese league, with 33 goals in 31 games. It’s fair to say he’s an absolute beast. I think the AVB and Porto link could have a say in this deal, and I really hope it can be done, my dream striker.

Transfer Fee: £25million – £30 million

Poll Results: 56 Votes. 7% of the Votes.

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Wifried Bony, 24, Vitesse.

Bony is a top striker, but it seems he’s not exactly your preferred choice to grace White Hart Lane. He is the top scorer in the Dutch League, and he is a very good player. Quick, strong, and very good finisher. He looks like he has all the right attributes to come to the Premier League. I think he would be a cheaper option, and he is at quite a young age, so he is a good option to have, but would agree that he isn’t exactly my first choice.

Transfer Fee: £8million – £10million

Poll Results: 30 Votes. 4% of the Votes.

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So there are the results! Christian Benteke the overwhelming favourite for the fans to have at White Hart Lane.

We had other suggestions from people who disagreed with all the people on the list. The likes of Alvaro Negredo, Mario Gomez, Rodrigo and Gonzalo Higuain all mentioned.

Thanks to everyone who took part in my Poll, lets hope a couple of these deals actually come true this summer, and we can have another crack at the Top Four. COYS!!

The Outgoings at White Hart Lane.

Ahh, the transfer window beckons once again, always a busy time at White Hart Lane, but not always the best of times. In the past we’ve had players going out that we wanted to stay, and players coming in who nobody wants! But this Transfer Window has to be perfect for us, we’ve got expectations as Spurs fans that need meeting, and if they aren’t, serious questions will be asked about the Tottenham board, it’s time to get rid of the deadwood and spend some money!

The Outgoing players.

A clear out is definitely needed for us this summer, we have players who are sitting around not contributing that will never reach the heights that we need them to. Our back up players simply aren’t as good as the teams around us, and it hurt us last season, and it needs to be rectified. The players below are the main outgoings, I think they are the most likely, but I wouldn’t be surprised at many others being shifted out of North London.

Jake Livermore – A definite outgoing this summer, hasn’t got the quality that we need and there are better back ups around him, it’s surely the end of his Tottenham career. I think a lot of mid-table teams could be in for him.

Price tag – £3million – £5million.

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Heureleho Gomes – Gomes is a player that has been on the way out for a long time, and this summer has to be the time he leaves, he is a player taking money from the club that we need in other areas and it’s time to ship him out.

Price tag – £500,000 – £2million

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Emmanuel Adebayor – Adebayor has had a poor season, and with the club reportedly paying him £100,000 a week, he has to go, this money has to be used in other areas of the squad, and Adebayor just isn’t the man we need to be paying the big bucks.

Price tag – £5million – £8million

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William Gallas – It’s being reported that we haven’t offered the veteran centre back a new deal and that he will leave the club, great news, more money freed up for other areas of the squad, and well, I think we can all agree we are happy he’s leaving.

Price tag – Free (Released)

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David Bentley – Again, it’s being reported that the misfit midfielder will be let go and that we have released Bentley, it’s sad that he didn’t really make anything of what was a promising career, but it’s time for him to move on. I hope he can maybe regain some old form at another club.

Price tag – Free (Released)

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Benoit Assou-Ekotto – I think a new left back is key in this summer, and this opens the door for Assou-Ekotto to leave, a good player throughout the years, but it seems he is not in the plans of AVB, and AS Monaco could be his destination.

Price tag – £4million – £5million

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Tom Huddlestone – I think Tom has been very unlucky with injuries, he was in a rich vain of form when injury halted his progress, he has never regained his old form, and it looks as though he has lost that little bit of class that used to make him a great player.

Price tag – £5million – £6million

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Jermain Defoe – Jermain will only leave if we sign at least 2 other strikers, Defoe is only good enough for the bench, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t like the idea, and wanted to leave. I like Jermain, but at 31, it could be time for him to move on.

Price tag – £7million – £8million

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Scott Parker – I would say Scott is a good back up player, he is a very hard worker and he only wants the team to do well, but I’m not sure if he’s at the level we need him to be, with Sandro coming back, he won’t have a first team place.

Price tag – £3million – £4million

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I think this clear out is needed, and it will happen to free up wages for incoming players, and a new deal for Gareth Bale. It’s inevitable that some younger players will be let go as well, with Dean Parrett already on the way out of the club, but we’ve got to hope that we keep some of our most talented youngsters as well, and integrate them with the first team.

Match Review, Stoke vs Tottenham.

Stoke 1-2 Tottenham.
N’Zonzi 2′. Dempsey 20′
Adam S/O 47′. Adebayor 83′

What a win. A hard fought victory at the Britannia for an extremely important three points. We knew it would be difficult, and it really was in the first half, when they got the early goal it was feared that we wouldn’t come back, and Stoke would defend, but we got back into it through an amazing Clint Dempsey goal, and from then on, it was all Tottenham. We left it late, but we don’t care, three points thanks to Emmanuel Adebayor. Charlie Adam got sent off for a second bookable offence, and it was definitely deserved, played horribly all game. Not a good way for Stoke to celebrate their 150th anniversary.

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Clint Dempsey was exceptional, chased the ball down well, and when we needed him to produce, he came up with the goods, a goal and an assist, the perfect day for Clint. Adebayor was very good, he possibly should have been in the box more often as when he is, he can grab a goal, but that was the only criticism, link up play was superb, and right at the death, he got a really important, match winning goal, some could say, he’s back. Jan Vertonghen played at left back today, a position I don’t feel he has adapted to well, but he was great, his crossing was good, offensively played well when needed, and then amazing when needed at the back. Good performance. Hugo Lloris had a tough time, which was expected, but he seemed to deal with it better and better as the game went on, wasn’t particularly needed in the second half. An awesome three points, we deserved the win. It’s still possible, we’ve done our job. Keep the faith, and support Wigan on Tuesday! Our next game is the last game of the season, at White Hart Lane against Sunderland, lets go out with a bang. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Stoke at the Britannia:
Lloris – 6
Walker – 7
Dawson – 8
Caulker – 7
Vertonghen – 9
Lennon – 8
Huddlestone – 7
Parker – 7
Dempsey – 9 Man of the Match
Bale – 8
Adebayor – 9

Subs:
Dembélé – 8
Sigurdsson – 7
Defoe – 6

Match Preview, Stoke vs Tottenham.

We know that qualification for the Champions League is now out of our hands, Wigan or Newcastle have to take points away from Arsenal, but we have to do our job, beating Stoke is a necessity as is beating Sunderland, if we drop points in either game, the dream is over. We know what Stoke do, it’s not pretty but most of the time it’s effective, they lump balls into the box and defend very well, so it’s going to be very tough to get three points over at the Britannia. We have more of an incentive to win the match than Stoke, and this should help us, but it’s Stoke, they will want to win at all costs. The main threat for us, is set pieces, we are dreadful at defending them as we have seen many times this season, I’m sure we will work on that specifically for this game, but it’s going to be hard containing Stoke’s height in defence, and attack.

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The return of Emmanuel Adebayor, the performance at Stamford Bridge was outstanding, he seems to have finally found his form, and most importantly he has found his goal scoring form, hopefully he can put in another awesome performance at the Britannia. Gareth Bale was bullied out of the game against Chelsea, something that was expected, and I expect some of the same tactics against Stoke, except I think he will have more opportunities to break free into space, and affect the game a bit more, it’ll be difficult for him, but we know he’s capable of anything. Both our centre backs will need to be in top form for this game, aerial battles will be key to who comes out on top. Another big game, need three points to keep us in the race for top four. The game is televised on Sky Sports from 1pm. COYS!!

My preferred team to face Stoke at the Britannia:
Lloris
Walker – Dawson – Caulker – Vertonghen
Lennon – Huddlestone – Dembélé – Sigurdsson
Bale
Adebayor

Match Review, Chelsea vs Tottenham

Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham
Oscar 10′. Adebayor 26′
Ramires 39′. Sigurdsson 80′

Well, not what we wanted, but still a really great effort. We needed three points, that much was clear, and we didn’t get it and that is extremely unfortunate. Champions League is still a possibility, but it looks a much harder goal to reach now. A draw sits us 1 point behind Arsenal having played the same amount if games, and it’s now out of our hands, if they win their remaining games, Champions League is theirs. I think Chelsea still have two tough games, but with their performance against us, they look ready to win those tough games. Hard to take not winning, but I’m proud of how we performed to get a point on the night.

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Emmanuel Adebayor was superb, gave us options all night with his ability on the ball, and he had a brilliant game, he scored a wonderful goal and his assist to Sigurdsson for the second was a touch of a genius. Let’s just hope he can continue to produce this form for the last two games. Missing Dembélé was a massive blow, the way he plays would have opened this game up for the likes of Bale and Holtby, but without him, we couldn’t really find the space, and both Bale and Holtby were marked off the ball, both having next to no impact on the game. Another AVB substitute came on and made the difference, and this time it was Sigurdsson, he never stops working the lad, and in the end got us the goal that forced the point. It wasn’t the game we were all hoping for, but it was a really hard fought point, we can be proud. We can do it, believe. Our next game is against Stoke at the Britannia on Sunday. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Chelsea at the Bridge:
Lloris – 7
Walker – 7
Dawson – 5
Vertonghen – 6
Assou-Ekotto – 4
Lennon – 6
Huddlestone – 8
Parker – 5
Bale – 6
Holtby – 5
Adebayor – 9 Man of the Match

Subs:
Sigurdsson – 8
Dempsey – N/A

Match Preview, Chelsea vs Tottenham

This is it. The win or bust game, the biggest game of the season. Win, and Champions League football looks almost a certainty, drop points and our dream could be over. We don’t have a great record at Stamford Bridge, but this season is the time to break our run of poor results, and grab a spectacular three points. Chelsea have some wonderful players, Mata, Lampard and Ba can all hurt you in a split second, and containing them will be difficult, but it can be done. André Villas Boas will be returning to his former club, the place in which he was kicked out of extremely unfairly. AVB will want to go back and show that they were wrong to get rid of him, and three points would be bliss.

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Gareth Bale will need to continue his unbelievable form if we are to gain three points. His quality has been the difference in most games this season, and if he could get us a win against Chelsea it would top off an amazing season for Gareth. The fitness of Aaron Lennon and Mousa Dembélé is a factor, they need to be back as both are so important to us and our balance as a team. Both players have muscle tightness, so I’d expect them to be available. Jermain Defoe or Emmanuel Adebayor, a question that will be in AVB’s mind up until team selection. For me, Adebayor has to start, the way he holds up the ball and includes other people in the game is a big asset, and him starting will also help Gareth get on the ball more often. Defoe should play, but only from the bench, he’s more of a super sub, like we saw against Manchester City. Humongous game, one of the biggest games in a long time, three points is the only option. We can do it. The game is televised, it is on Sky Sports 1 from 7pm on Wednesday 8th May. COYS!!

My preferred team to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge:
Lloris
Walker – Dawson – Vertonghen – Assou-Ekotto
Lennon – Huddlestone – Dembele – Sigurdsson
Bale
Adebayor