Match Review, Asteras Tripolis vs Tottenham.

Match: Thursday 6th November 2014.

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: Theodoros Kolokotronis Stadium.

Result: Asteras Tripolis 1-2 Tottenham.

Asteras GoalScorer: Berrales pen 90′.

Tottenham GoalScorers: Townsend pen 37′, Kane 42′.

Tottenham red card: Federico Fazio 90′.

It’s a win. The win we needed to put us in a comfortable position in Group C of the Europa League. As I mentioned in my match preview, it was always going to be a different game and result to the home game in which we won 5-1. Away from home, on a ‘so-so’ pitch and against a team that know how to be solid and counter at pace. It’s the result that is important and we have got that and now we can come home to London and concentrate on a big home game against Stoke on Sunday. The performance, especially defensively, is a little bit worrying, with not enough protection coming from the midfield and a flat back four, with a high line made it easier for Asteras to get in-behind and that’s where they got their penalty, our red-card and their goal, which left a little bit of a sour taste in the mouth of the fans and I’m sure, Mauricio Pochettino. Three points, though, away from home in Europe is always a good result and hopefully we can finish off the job and secure qualification against Partizan at home in the next game in the Europa League.

The first half was good from Spurs’ point of view; we kept the ball for what felt like 90% of the first period and Asteras didn’t really threaten us defensively, but sat deep and made it difficult for our more creative and powerful attacking players. But, our individual quality prevailed and after a lot of probing, thinking and what seemed to be the players figuring out a little bit more about the weaknesses of Asteras, Andros Townsend marauded down the left flank and Asteras’ Sankare, who dived in at Townsend and gave away the penalty, which Townsend finished with aplomb to make it 1-0 on 37 minutes. This opened the game up a bit more for us; Townsend, who had been switched to the right hand side was very effective and continued to be a thorn in the Asteras defence. And it was Townsend who turned creator and produced a delightfully weighted and lofted cross for the in-form Harry Kane to prod home with his head on 42 minutes, which looked like it was game over. Not Harry’s most beautiful goal ever, but he seems to be doing everything right in his goalscoring game. Half time fell and we looked comfortable for the three points.

In the second period, though, we started badly; reminiscent of the game against Newcastle, in which we looked comfortable but became complacent and lacked focus. It was exactly the same and at the back we were at six’s and seven’s, not able to regain the ball and the control of the game and this was the story throughout the second half, where Asteras showed their game plan to much better effect in this half, counter attacking well and creating chances, while still keeping their shape and remaining compact. The chances they were creating were clear cut enough, working the keeper and missing by small margins. We were lucky for our lead not to be cut until so late on, but it was poor, poor finishing from a side that looked unable to stick the ball in the back of the net. From what looked like a comfortable position at 2-0, was now looking hard to hold onto which is disappointing from our point of view, but it was a credit to Asteras who are a decent side and showed it in the second half. Despite all of the chances in the second period for Asteras, it was a penalty that they needed to get a goal back, and it came too late for them in the end to snatch a point. Federico Fazio getting caught out, and Jerónimo Berrales going down after minimal contact from the big Argentine, and he was fortunate to get the call, as I’d say it was a very soft penalty. Federico, being the last man and the foul being given, had to be shown a red card, which was unfortunate.

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The team did the job in the end which they were set out to do. It wasn’t pretty at times, we didn’t pass the ball as well as we would have liked and we didn’t create the chances that you’d expect, but we got two goals and that was enough to dismantle a wasteful Asteras side. For me, Andros Townsend has to be given the man of the match award, but it’s a difficult one as there weren’t too many stand out performances. So, Townsend has to be given the honour of the Addicted To Spurs man of the match after scoring and assisting the two goals that eventually got us the win! I’ve said it for a long while now, but Andros Townsend needs to be given a sustained run at the left midfield role; he has the pace and directness to play there, and also, as shown in the second goal with his cross for Harry Kane, he has the delivery also and with a Harry Kane, or Emmanuel Adebayor in the box, we will get goals from those crosses. For me, Townsend is so much more effective and less wasteful on the left than on the right. Michel Vorm in goal deserves a mention; he made a lot of good saves and his distribution was very good, hopefully he can continue to perform for us in the Cup competitions, but I don’t think playing well in these games would be enough to replace Hugo Lloris, and I think he knows that! Harry Kane scores again and it’s his 10th goal for Spurs this season, and 13th for both club and country. That’s an incredible tally for a 21 year old and now, he has to be given the opportunity to start in the Premier League, he has earned it. But, it’s also correct of Mauricio Pochettino to protect him and not introduce him too early. Kane is young, and his career is a marathon, not a sprint.

The result we wanted. Whether we did it in the fashion we wanted is besides the point, it’s 3 points and we are in a commanding position to go through to the Knockout stages. Now, the attention turns back to the Premier League, and win against Stoke is desperately needed after a poor run of form at White Hart Lane in the League. Sunday 9th November is the date, and you can follow it all with my at my Twitter account, @AddictedToSpurs.. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Asteras in Greece:
Vorm – 7.5
Dier – 6
Fazio – 5
Vertonghen – 6.5
Davies – 6.5
Stambouli – 6
Dembele – 7
Lamela – 6 (Sub 46′: Soldado – 6)
Townsend – 8 – Man of the Match.
Eriksen – 6 (Sub 63′: Mason – 5.5)
Kane – 7.5. (Sub 76′: Paulinho – 5)

Pochettino post match interview:

Match Preview, Asteras Tripolis vs Tottenham.

Match date & time: Thursday 6th November 2014. 6pm GMT KO.

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: Theodoros Kolokotronis Stadium.

TV: Live on ITV4 in the UK. Worldwide TV listings HERE.

Europa League duties await and a trip to Greece to face Asteras Tripolis is the challenge. With three games left in the group, and a difficult trip to Besiktas being the last of those three, it’s important we wrap up qualification as soon as possible, starting with a win in Greece against Asteras, who in the first game at White Hart Lane, we dismantled 5-1. With a win, and a game at home to struggling Partizan next up, qualification to the knockout stages would look very prosperous, with Besiktas and Asteras sure to fight us all the way for those two spaces at the top of Group C. Away to Asteras, it will be no easy task, as we found out when they visited the Lane, they work hard and were not truly represented by the scoreline. An early goal to ease us into the game would be very welcome, and I think if we can hit early, I don’t see Asteras hitting back with the lack of firepower they have.

After the game at White Hart Lane, we know what Asteras Tripolis are capable of. They set their team out well, worked hard and attempted to counter us and get in-behind our back line whenever they could. Their goal came from a Harry Kane goalkeeping mistake, though, and I think up front they struggle to create clear cut opportunities to really hurt the opposition. But, at home, on their own turf, they could be a completely different threat, and try to really take control of the game and peg us back, rather than keeping very solid and compact, allowing us to have the ball but make it difficult to create chances. Following Asteras getting beaten at the Lane, they have played three games winning 2 and drawing another, so their confidence in their own League and Cup hasn’t been effected by our devastating win. Their last game in the Europa League at home, they won 2-0 against Partizan and showed great offensive qualities as well as keeping a clean sheet. It’s going to be more difficult than some may expect, I think.

The team news for Asteras is that Ritchie Kitoko (thigh), Eric Tie Bi (knee), Dimitris Kourbelis (thigh) and Ederson (hamstring) are out through injury, while defender Dorin Goian (ankle) is doubtful. The main threat for Asteras stays the same with strikers Jerónimo Barrales, who has 5 goals in 8 games and scored against us last time out, along with Manuel Parra who has 3 goals in 9 games, but 2 in 3 Europa League games. The creator for Asteras is Martin Rollé, the Argentinian attacking midfielder on loan from San Lorenzo has 5 assists in 10 games so far this season, bagging 2 goals as well, he can cause defences problems and can play the incisive pass or deliver the dangerous cross. He either plays on the left hand side or as a number 10.

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The team news for Tottenham is that many first team players have been left behind in London, those include Emmanuel Adebayor, Younes Kaboul, Aaron Lennon, Kyle Naughton & Brad Friedel, with Hugo Lloris (suspended), Nabil Bentaleb (ankle) and Kyle Walker (abdominal) forced to sit the game out.

Some players that I would have probably started for this game have been left at home, that includes Aaron Lennon and Nabil Bentaleb, who has been ruled out with an ankle problem. But, there are a lot of players I’m excited to see more of in a Tottenham shirt. Benjamin Stambouli has impressed me a lot in his small time at Spurs so far, he works hard, makes good challenges and has composure on the ball and I think he’s pushing Etienne Capoue very hard for a starting berth in the Premier League after Etienne’s high standards have dropped in recent weeks. Playing Mousa Dembele alongside Stambouli gives the central midfield partnership good balance of attack and defence, and it gives us a good foundation in our Europa League side. With Aaron Lennon being left in London, whether that’s for further recovery for his slight hamstring twinge, or resting for the game against Stoke, it gives Andros Townsend the opportunity with Erik Lamela to man the wings, and give support to what is expected to be an attacking duo of Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane. With an attacking line up like so, we should have no trouble scoring goals, with Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli available from the bench most likely if we need goals and creation. Defensively, it’s a decision for Mauricio Pochettino whether to reinstate Vlad Chiriches into the line up, and line him up with Federico Fazio, or go for the more reliable Jan Vertonghen to partner the big Argentinian. With Hugo Lloris out, Michel Vorm is set to start start his first European game of the season.

It’s a game in which we need three points to put us in a very good space in the group for qualification, and we could do with Partizan getting a result off Besiktas also. Asteras away will be difficult, but we should have enough to get the result we want and get us to the top of the group. The game is televised on ITV4 in the UK, with an early 6pm GMT KO, but you can follow the whole game with me on Twitter, including photos, match updates, videos & more. Follow me here: @AddictedToSpurs. Let’s get three points! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Asteras Tripolis:
4-4-1-1
Vorm
Dier – Fazio – Vertonghen – Davies
Lamela – Stambouli – Dembele – Townsend
Soldado
Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino speaks to the press prior to the Asteras game:

Match Review, Tottenham vs Asteras Tripolis.

Match: Thursday 23rd October 2014.

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

Result: Tottenham 5-1 Asteras Tripolis.

Tottenham GoalScorers: Harry Kane x3 13′, 75′, 81′, Erik Lamela x2 29′, 66′.

Asteras GoalScorer: Barrales 89′.

An incredible game of football. Incredible goals, a red card, Harry Kane in goal, and a Tottenham win. It had the lot. Looking past all of the madness, we got a really, really important three points in the Europa League that gets us our first win and gives us a good foundation to get through to the knockout stages. We played well, but were not fantastic, our passing was a little sloppy and in defence we got caught out a few times by a well drilled, technically sound side who have shown quality in their Europa League fixtures so far, and to be fair to them, they didn’t deserve to be thrashed 5-1, this score doesn’t reflect the effort and quality that they put into the game, they made it very even and well matched, but it was Tottenham’s individual quality that pulled us through so emphatically. Focusing on the negatives is for Mauricio Pochettino, though, I like to focus on the positives and for me there were many. Our ability to be clinical and kill the game was very refreshing and very pleasing; we have lacked that in recent times, and now hopefully we can translate that ability into the Premier League, starting on Sunday against Newcastle.

In the first half, we started well, we attacked at pace and passed the ball relatively well. Defensively at times we were a little shaky, which is a little worrying as we were playing a very strong back 5, with a lot of leaders in there including Fazio, Lloris & Vertonghen. At times I expected more from the back 4. A little more communication and organisation, but as we didn’t concede in the first half I can’t complain too much. We scored through Harry Kane, Etienne Capoue laying him off and Kane hit the ball sweetly and it skidded into the ball far corner of the goal for 1-0 after 13 minutes, a flying start which was just what we needed. Then, we created a few more chances, Etienne Capoue going close and Harry Kane once again. But, it was Erik Lamela who got the second goal on 29 minutes, what can I say about a goal like that? It is a masterpiece, a piece of art on the football pitch. The best goal I have seen from a Tottenham player in a good few years and I’m so glad that it was Erik Lamela who got it, a ‘Rabona’ goal from outside the box is almost unheard of in the game and even to attempt it is audacious, but to score from it is insane. An incredible goal from an incredibly gifted player. It’s his best moment in a Tottenham shirt so far. ‘So far’ being the key words.

In the second half we ran away with the game, we controlled the ball well and found space in between the Asteras midfield and defence. Etienne Capoue and Mousa Dembele took charge of the midfield more and more as time went on and were very effectual to the pace and tempo we played at, u was very impressed with them, especially Etienne Capoue. We didn’t score the third goal until 66 minutes in, though, that man Erik Lamela got his second of the game, twisting and turning in the box and getting a shot away which was blocked, which then popped up and it was an instinctive volley that was too powerful for the Asteras goalkeeper and the game was dead and buried. On a hat-trick, Lamela was replaced, unsurprising with the Premier League just around the corner. Only 9 minutes later we got the 4th goal, 76 minutes in Harry Kane got his second of the night, Mousa Dembele’s shot parried by the Asteras ‘keeper only for the quick thinking Harry Kane to tap in. Then, only 5 minutes later, he completed his hat-trick, turning the defender before seeing his shot blocked, rebounded into Federico Fazio’s path, then he composed himself before lifting up the ball onto Harry Kane’s head for him to tap in. His fantastic night was topped when Hugo Lloris was unfortunately sent off after his sweeper ‘keeping backfired after the offside trap was broken, with all three substitutions used, it was Harry Kane who stepped up and took the goalkeeping gloves. The first shot he had to face was a free kick from Jorónimo Berrales, who smartly decided to smack the ball straight at the make shift goalkeeper, and it produced their only goal as Kane spilt the ball and it squirmed passed the line. 5-1, no clean sheet, but a good win and a good three points.

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The team played well, it wasn’t perfect, and Asteras caused us problems at times but individually I think there were a lot of very promising performances. Erik Lamela played a very good game and scored two goals of extraordinary quality, but for me, Harry Kane took the man of the match award. A hat trick, but also his work off of the ball, ability to hold it up and play in his team mates. Harry is a much more well rounded player, who scores so many different types of goals than he is given credit for at times. It’s time for Kane to be given the chance to perform in the Premier League, he has earned the right; much more so both Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor, his goal rate is much better and I think his all round game is also better and probably more developed. His hunger for goals and for games impresses me immensely. Etienne Capoue was impressive once again, he’s developed so much so far this season, he has the ability to dictate games and dominate a midfield and he needs to do that more often in bigger games, he has all the tools to be a massive player for Tottenham. Ben Davies put in arguably his best performance so far in a Spurs shirt, he worked hard down the left flank, was involved heavily in crossing and creating but also assured on the ball and when under pressure defending, coped well. I hope he can continue to improve and push forward.

A good win! Three points and back to winning ways in empathic style. Now, we have to translate this winning formula into the Premier League and beat Newcastle at White Hart Lane this coming Sunday, 26th October. Our next Europa League game will be against Asteras once again, this time we travel to Greece, on Thursday 6th November, where we need a result! Follow @AddictedToSpurs for it all! COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Asteras Triplos:
Lloris – 8
Dier – 7
Fazio – 6.5
Vertonghen – 6.5
Davies – 7.5
Capoue – 8.5
Dembele – 7
Lamela – 8.5
Townsend – 6
Kane – 9 – Man of the Match.
Adebayor – 5.

Subs:
Eriksen – 5
Chadli – 6.5
Lennon – 5.

Match highlights from our 5-1 win:

Pochettino’s post match press conference:

Match Preview, Tottenham vs Asteras Tripolis.

Match date & time: Thursday 23rd October 2014. 8:05pm KO BST.

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

TV: Live on ITV 4. Full world wide TV listings HERE.

Match day three of the Europa League group stages is at our doorstep, and we need to step up our performances & increase our points tally if we are to avoid a shock group stage exit. In two games, we have accumulated just two points and that isn’t good enough, despite two difficult games away at Partizan and at home to Besiktas. It’s important we aim to take full points from our next four games in the group, especially our home fixtures, starting with Asteras Tripolis. Our start of season form has stuttered at times, and we lack consistency from game to game, so that is something we must put right really early before it starts to take an effect on the team, manager & fans. In the Europa League, we are expected to go out, get a few goals and breeze the group, but also make a real go of the knockout stages. We all know it’s not as easy as it sounds, but our players must perform better than they have done so far and aim to win what is a great & prestigious competition. At home to Asteras Tripolis, the expectation is that we will get our first win of the Europa League campaign; it’s now up to the players to deliver that and hopefully with some style.

Asteras Tripolis, despite being the somewhat unknown quantity of Group C, currently top it and are the only team in the group to record a win in the competition so far, beating Partizan Belgrade 2-0 at home. The Greek outfit also managed to get a 1-1 draw away at Besiktas, a team we struggled with at times at the Lane. The unknown aspect of their game could play into their advantage and therefore it’s important the players don’t underestimate the opposition and try to play the game our way, with an early goal, otherwise this team could cause us problems if they decide to sit back, frustrate & then counter attack us. Being group leaders at this moment in time doesn’t mean too much, and you would still expect Tottenham and Besiktas to be going through once the fixtures are all played, but the assumption of having an easy group is wide of the mark and we must take this game seriously and Pochettino has to get the point of professionalism across to the players as best as he can. Asteras will have a game plan, and they will work hard to stick to it; it’s our job to break the team down early and dictate & control the game in the way we want it to be played.

Asteras Tripolis have a couple of injuries heading into the game; striker Ziguy Badibanga (thigh), defender Dorin Goian (ankle) and midfiedler Eric Tie Bie (knee) have been ruled out of the game, with midfielder Dimitris Kourbelis (thigh) a doubt. The main threat for Asteras lies with strikers Jerónimo Barrales, who has 4 goals in 7 games, and Manuel Parra who has 3 goals in 9 games, but 2 in 2 Europa League games. The creator for Asteras is Martin Rollé, the Argentinian attacking midfielder on loan from San Lorenzo has 5 assists in 9 games so far this season, bagging 2 goals as well, he can cause defences problems and can play the incisive pass or deliver the dangerous cross. He either plays on the left hand side or as a number 10. Despite having these threats, we will hope that they won’t be getting many opportunities and we can focus on our attacking prowess.

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The team news for Tottenham is that Kyle Walker (abdominal), Kyle Naughton (ankle) and Nabil Bentaleb (ankle) have been ruled out of the game. Other than them, we have a full squad to chose from and it looks as though this will be another opportunity to change the team around and give ‘fringe’ players a chance to express themselves and push for a starting place in the Premier League. As always it’s an opportunity to put their names into Mauricio Pochettino’s thinking with a good performance, and hopefully that can lead to a good, hard working and prosperous squad.

The debate all around the Tottenham fans at the moment is which striker should lead the line. Emmanuel Adebayor, Harry Kane, or Roberto Soldado. In this game, I would start with Harry Kane; he offers the most of any striker we have in my eyes, he works hard, holds the ball up well and can finish chances, which both Soldado and Adebayor are struggling with at this moment in time. It is another opportunity for Harry Kane to prove to Pochettino that he is the option for the Premier League games and can lead the line on his own; so far, Mauricio looks to favour Emmanuel Adebayor over both, but I think Kane has staked a better claim than both so far this season, with 3 goals in 4 starts, the same amount of Adebayor & Soldado in 12 starts combined. In midfield, I expect Mousa Dembele and Benjamin Stambouli to start, with Nabil Bentaleb out injured. Mousa has lost his place in the Premier League starting line up, but has an opportunity to fight for his place in this game. I think Dembele is an incredible player, with talent coursing through his veins, but of course he needs to show it more regularly and also contribute a little more in the attacking third of the pitch. Stambouli and Dembele could provide a very balanced combination; I hope they both show their quality on the pitch. Defensively, Federico Fazio and Vlad Chiriches look the likely partnership, with Fazio suspended from Premier League duty, Jan Vertonghen looks like he will be rested. In goal, it will be interesting to see whether Hugo Lloris or Michel Vorm gets the nod; I wouldn’t be surprised to see either start, but I would personally like to see Vorm get a chance.

Important game! Important to get back to winning ways after losing to Manchester City, and also put our first win on the board in the Europa League Group Stages. The game is being shown live on ITV4, but I will be providing game updates, videos, photos and more on my Twitter account, here: @AddictedToSpurs. Let’s get three points!! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Asteras at White Hart Lane:
4-2-3-1
Vorm
Dier – Chiriches – Fazio – Davies
Stambouli – Dembele
Lennon – Paulinho – Townsend
Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino’s pre Asteras press conference:

How would you line up against Asteras?