Tottenham Hotspur Season Review – 2013/14.

20140515-200108.jpgIt’s been a topsy-turvy season at White Hart Lane, a season with expectation, hope and excitement at the start, having a middle of uncertainty, anger and disillusionment, ending with relief, hope and an ounce of positivity. We’ve been through it all, every emotion from elation to despair, and everything in between. Two managers, 7 new players and yet another transition season, with another one to come next season.

August – September.
Such promise. 7 new signings for a total of £110 million, but also selling Gareth Bale for a World Record £85 million, therefore from other sales such as Tom Huddlestone, Scott Parker and Steven Caulker. It was out for the English men, and in with the European talent, with Erik Lamela, Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Christian Eriksen, Etienne Capoue, Vlad Chiriches and Nacer Chadli (in price order). Mistakes were made in the way we brought these players in, that I say without a doubt, but I do not think we made a mistake on the personnel we brought in, except for arguably Roberto Soldado in hinds sight. In August, we started the season in fine form, beating Crystal Palace, Swansea and beating off Dinamo Tbilisi in the Europa League qualifying. We didn’t concede in August, scoring 10 goals in 4 games. Not bad at all, although we did scrape past Palace and Swansea.

In September, we started the month conceding our first goal, against Arsenal in a 1-0 defeat at the Emirates. The excuse was that we were in incredible uncertainty, and the sale of Gareth Bale was confirmed the same day, straight after the defeat. That was a really bad day. Really bad. The saying on the season ‘bounce back’ was then introduced and we did exactly that, beating Norwich convincing at the Lane, Christian Eriksen making his introduction brilliantly, and then beating Tromsø 3-0 in the Europa League and then one of the games of the season, beating Cardiff 1-0 away from home, Paulinho with a late back-heeled goal. After that, we beat Aston Villa 4-0 at Villa Park in the Capital One Cup. Then we drew 1-1 with Chelsea at the Lane with a very good performance. Things looked very up, AVB had us well drilled and the club was together pulling in a good direction. We sat 3rd in the table. Respectable, eh? Our best player in the first two months, would be Gylfi Sigurdsson, he was playing really well with 2 goals at the time against Chelsea and Norwich.

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October – November.
It all went a bit sour in October, a long journey to Anzhi, but a good victory, winning 2-0, but we returned to arguably the worst result of the season, a 3-0 defeat in a London Derby to West Ham United, we were dreadful, a lack of commitment and having no idea what to do in attacking positions, and West Ham punished our nonsensical defending. A tough one to take, the toughest. We did it again, we bounced back, we showed what seemed to be ‘character’ to quote Tim Sherwood and beat Aston Villa 2-0 at Villa Park, Robert Soldado with his first goal from open play, and we all thought he’d kick on from there and expected the team to do the same. Another long journey to Sheriff followed, getting the win again 2-0 and then returning to the Lane, we beat Hull City 1-0, a Soldado penalty clinching it. It all went sour for Andre Villas Boas after that. He criticised the fans, right or wrong, the media didn’t need to hear it, and neither did the fans who were already writhing in anger at the performance against Hull. Only a few days later, we faced Hull again, and scraped through again, on penalties in the Capital One Cup. A very difficult month, and after all that we still sat 4th in the Premier League table, and still in all the competitions.

In November, it really turned bad. We didn’t manage a League win and failed to score a League goal, although winning games in the Europa League against Sheriff 2-1, record signing Erik Lamela’s first goal for the club and beating Tromsø in Norway 2-0. In the League, we drew 0-0 with Everton, a hard fought game but arguably a good result against a resurgent Roberto Martinez team. No complaints. Then, after a game against Sheriff in the Europa League, we lost to Newcastle at home 1-0, in one of the most frustrating games of the season, nothing would go in. Nothing. We were left frustrated and the fans’ pressure built on Andre Villas Boas. The next game didn’t help the pressure on AVB, an absolute rout through Manchester City at the Etihad. Of course, the Champions this season, but for where we wanted to be, and by that margin, it was embarrassing and despite a large amount of fans backing AVB to get out of this slump, there was serious media pressure and reported pressure from the board. All in all, pressure. We ended November with a Europa League win at Tromsø, but it didn’t help heal the scars from a dreary two months. Tottenham finished November in 9th, which is, no sugar coating, terrible. Although, still, we remained in all competitions, unbeaten. Our best player in that time would in my opinion, be Andros Townsend, he was electrifying, but not lethal. The best of a bad bunch.

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December – January.
December was without a doubt the busiest and most full of change month of the season. We started the month well, really well. A draw with Manchester United, but scoring 2 goals after not scoring in the League in November was a positive, as well as the team spirit shown. After that, we won two on the bounce away for home, but both, we scraped past relegation candidates Fulham through Vlad Chiriches and Lewis Holtby, then past Sunderland, through an own goal and Paulinho. Our final victory under Andre Villas Boas then was upon us, a 4-1 victory over Anzhi with Soldado grabbing a hat-trick, and then the darkest day of the season so far. A 5-0 defeat to Liverpool at the Lane. Humiliating. A lack of presence, fight and quality led to a terrible day, and one that saw Daniel Levy lose patience in the Portuguese manager and fire him that next day. Right or wrong, the decision ended our season. I truly believe that. The club then appointed Tim Sherwood, Chris Ramsey and Les Ferdinand in charge and in the first game lost in the Capital One Cup to West Ham in the Lane 2-1, after returning Emmanuel Adebayor to the team and him scoring. We then had a ‘decent’ end to the Christmas period, with Tim Sherwood being confirmed as Spurs Head Coach on an 18 month contract, we beat Pochettino’s Southampton at St Mary’s through a resurgent Emmanuel Adebayor performance, but then drew to West Brom at the Lane on Boxing Day, a big disappointment, but we then performed to the highest level of the season, beating Stoke City 3-0 with free flowing football that had been missing for too long under AVB. We finally beat someone comfortably. We finished the month in 7th.

In January, we started the month in fine fashion, we went to Old Trafford and got the result in wonderful style, Emmanuel Adebayor and Christian Eriksen on the scoresheet. That’s my favourite victory of the season, an amazing win despite Manchester United’s problems this season, we have not lost to them in 4 games and beat them on their own turf twice in a row! It was back to reality after that, we lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup 2-0 at the Emirates, and now it was Sherwood’s turn to feel the pressure of the fans, his honest press conferences splitting his opinion and his tactical approach of 4-4-2 against top sides split them even further. We then beat Crystal Palace, with Jermain Defoe’s last goal for the club after the announcement of his move to Toronto, a very emotional moment and then went into beat Swansea convincingly 3-1 at the Liberty stadium, Emmanuel Adebayor continuing his great form with a brace. We finished the first month of 2014 with a heavy defeat to Manchester City, in unfortunate circumstances, a goal disallowed, wrongly, and then a wrongly awarded penalty and red card against Danny Rose. Of course, we wouldn’t go onto have an effect the game, losing 5-1, with another heavy defeat to City, but you could feel a sense of what could have been without some horrifying decisions. Plus, Etienne Capoue got his first goal for the club! At the end of January, we sat in 5th place, just three points off Liverpool in 4th. There was a little bit of hope here. Our best player during this time, was most definitely Emmanuel Adebayor, brilliant.

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February – March.
It was a mixed bag of results in February, but we continued to be there or there abouts for Champions League football and some fans still had hope! We started the month of February with a draw at the KC Stadium to Hull City, it was an incredibly hard fought match but we couldn’t seem to break them down, although Paulinho scored a great goal to get us a point. Then, as it seemed to be the case many times this season, good results came in twos. We beat Everton at White Hart Lane 1-0, taking 4 points from them this season, somehow, through a sweetly taken goal from Emmanuel Adebayor. Then, we went up to St James’ Park to complete our most convincing win of the season so far, a 4-0 win, Emmanuel Adebayor getting another brace as well as goals from Paulinho and a fine strike from Nacer Chadli, his first Premier League goal for the club. Then, a low, as we lost to Dnipro 1-0 in Ukraine in the first leg of the round of 32, and then we followed it up by being beaten by Norwich at Carrow Road 1-0, a terrible defeat with some extremely disappointed performances. The loss to Dnipro was then cancelled out, after a great 3-1 win at the Lane, Adebayor with 2 and a Christian Eriksen free-kick. A good end to a mixed month. Into the round of 16 of the Europa League.

I think March was the moment we realised that Tim Sherwood wasn’t the man to take us forward. Only 2 wins out of 7 and 4 defeats conceding 16 goals and only scoring 6. We started with a win, against Cardiff City, a 1-0 win, Roberto Soldado getting only his second goal from open play in the Premier League, but it certainly wasn’t free flowing football, we scraped past them as we had many times under AVB and under Sherwood. Then, we lost heavily to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, after going in level at the break after a great performance in all fairness, the team capitulated after a Jan Vertonghen mistake. A tough result to take like many this season, and Sherwood then criticised the players, which was highly supported and scrutinised at the same time. Then, we lost two on the bounce, both extremely tarnishing to the club, a 3-1 defeat to an incredible Benfica team at the Lane, but then another loss to Arsenal, quite unluckily even though we dominated the game. Then we performed really well at the Estadio Da Luz, a 2-2 draw, but we were extremely unlucky not to go through, a Nacer Chadli brace and a Harry Kane double of assists! Our next game was against Southampton, with a lot of the support extremely disheartened supporters not expecting anything from the rest of the season except for disappointment. The Southampton game was great, though, after going down 2-0 to a highly talented Southampton team, we fought back valiantly and showed the ‘gut’ that Sherwood had been willing for. That ‘gut’ and determination deserted Tottenham as we took on Liverpool, however, a 4-0 defeat, and the less said about that day the better. We sat 8 points off of 4th on 56 points after March. Our best player in that time being Christian Eriksen, for sure!

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April – May.
I’d say we had our best month of the season in April, unbeaten, scoring twelve goals in 4 games and only conceding 4. Our great month started with our biggest win of the season, a 5-1 victory over Sunderland, Adebayor once again getting a brace, with Christian Eriksen running the show along with a Gylfi Sigurdsson goal too. Then, we went to West Brom and conceded 3 goals, but we came back in the second half despite Adebayor missing a penalty, an own goal, a Harry Kane goal and finishing off the comeback with a Christian Eriksen late equaliser. Fulham came next, another 3 goals, but this time we only conceded once. Paulinho, Harry Kane and Younes Kaboul got on the scoresheet as Christian Eriksen ran the show once again and cemented his place as a contender for player of the season, as well as an incredible performance from Hugo Lloris, who saved a penalty and made three or four incredible saves at least. World Class. The rumours on Sherwood’s future was as intense as ever coming into May, but the team ended April on a high after going to Stoke and dragging out a result. We were on track to equal our highest ever points tally in the Premier League.

In May, we only had two games and one of them was utterly horrible. West Ham. Again. This time, on their own turf. A 2-0 defeat and a Younes Kaboul red card. We weren’t terrible, a little unlucky with a few individual mistakes but a loss to West Ham is just unforgivable, and unfortunately it’s been unforgivable three times this season. But, we finished the season on a high, which was definitely needed. Tim Sherwood’s last game as Tottenham Hotspur Head Coach, a 3-0 win, some wonderful football and the youth being introduced. A wonderful way to end a difficult season. Paulinho, an own goal by Baker and then an Adebayor penalty. We finished the season in 6th place, with 69 points, securing a Europa League place for next season. Tim Sherwood sacked and now a manager search commences. My player of the two months was Christian Eriksen. Incredible.

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My player ratings for the 2013/14 season:

Hugo Lloris – 9 – My player of the season. He has been incredible for us, saving us on numerous occasions. I don’t know where we’d be without him in the team, but we wouldn’t be in the Europa League, that’s for sure! He brings a cool, professional head even when chaos strikes on the pitch. He finds a way to keep his consistency no matter how the team is playing, who the team is playing and who the team is being managed by. Truly World Class and a pleasure to have in the team. He managed 17 clean sheets this season from 46 appearances.

Christian Eriksen – 8.5 – My outfield player of the season. At just 22 Eriksen has been a revelation, and has been praised as the ‘best of a bad bunch’ by many in the press. Although I disagree, I believe that he has been a shining light in a dreary season, with the way that he plays, conducts himself and speaks all becoming increasingly important to the club and without a doubt, the team should be built around Eriksen next season, whoever the manager is. There is so much more to come from such a brilliant, but young player. Eriksen has 10 goals and 10 assists, our top provider this season in 30 appearances.

Emmanuel Adebayor – 8 – Adebayor only played half a season, but still was one of our best performers this season. He scored so many vital goals to carry us through Tim Sherwood’s reign, and he almost made Sherwood look good, just as Gareth Bale seemed to bail out Andre Villas Boas. There were some lacklustre showings from the big Togolese striker, but overall, I think Adebayor has shown AVB was wrong to keep him in the dark, despite Adebayor being in the wrong through standing up to Villas-Boas. Emmanuel Adebayor scored 14 goals this season and getting 4 assists, he ended the season as our top goalscorer.

Brad Friedel – 7 – Judging Brad through the games he played, he has earned a 7/10. His performances in the Europa League were top class, he showed his professionalism throughout the season, not complaining, instead hailing the manager and the team, boosting moral and acting as a calm head. At 42, he has a decision to make regarding his future, and if he does decide to retire, I would love Brad to stay at the club and become a coach. He’s that sort of person. Friedel played 9 times and kept 3 clean sheets. Respectable.

Kyle Walker – 7.5 – Many will feel I have ‘overrated’ Walker here. But I would like to remind you all that Kyle was absolutely magnificent before injury toyed with his season. Without a doubt he was our best defender, showing a maturity that was lacking last season, but also a work ethic like I have never seen from him before. He was concentrated and driven to succeed and I am gutted that his injury has kept him out of a World Cup that he deserved to go to more than any other English right back. Walker made 35 appearances this season, scoring once and assisting 3 times.

Kyle Naughton – 5 – Average. He is no Kyle Walker, but what Naughton has been this season is reliable. Not many clubs have a player that will sit there and be willing to fill in whenever possible. Needed a lot this season, he was exposed a lot as a left back that he wasn’t and his lack of pace and bad decision making cost him many times. But overall I don’t think Naughton did too badly, and would like to thank him for his efforts. He showed that he cared. Naughton played 31 times for Spurs this season as a stop gap, and assisted goals twice.

Michael Dawson – 6 – Harshly treated for the majority of this season, including by myself. Dawson has shown his fight and determination on a numerous amount of occasions this season, although he has been exposed way too often as slow and very one dimensional. He’s my captain though, and his desire and passion for the club do not go unnoticed in my eyes. Dawson played 38 times this season.

Younes Kaboul – 5.5 – A difficult season for Younes. The injuries in his career have affected him a hell of a lot and he is certainly not the player he used to be, but he has captained us this season, and played some really good games, for example against Newcastle and against Southampton. I would like to think Kaboul will stay and have a full pre-season behind him to prove his worth to the fans, but whether or not the club feel too much of a risk of having him here we can only wait and see. Younes played 18 times this season, scoring 1 goal and assisting 1.

Vlad Chiriches – 7 – One of the seven new signings arriving this season, and he’s been one of the best in my view. At just 23 he has a lot to learn and he can be very nervy at times, making him prone to mistakes, but he has also had incredible games this season and is showing why we decided to sign the Romanian and ditch Steven Caulker. Vlad can only improve next season, the captain of Romania and definitely one that can push to start every game next season. Vlad played 23 times this season, scoring 1 goal.

Jan Vertonghen – 6 – A strange season for Jan. He has been accused by fans of having a bad attitude, bad body language and not showing enough passion for the team, as well as taking a big step down from the level of performance that he was last season. We all know what Vertonghen is capable of, and despite these rumours of Jan wanting out, we should try to keep him at all costs, because he is a wonderful talent. I believe he will stay. I hope he will stay. Hopefully we can see an improvement in performs from Jan next season, possibly when we have a new manager in charge! Vertonghen had an injury stricken but played 31 games, scoring 1 goal.

Zeki Fryers – 6 – A breakthrough season for young Zeki Fryers, firstly at left back, but then later in the season being used as a centre back, and I think we found the perfect position for Zeki. At left back he lacked agility and an end product, but at centre back he is composed and strong. I’d like to see more of the 21 year old there next season. Zeki played 16 times, getting 1 assist in that time.

Danny Rose – 4 – Danny, at only 23, has a lot to learn. This was his first season as our number 1 left back, but he was exposed nearly every game for defensive insecurity, a poor end product and a lack of skill on the ball. Although Danny had 3-4 good games, he isn’t at the level that Spurs need. Whether that will come in time, I don’t know, but right now, we need better. Danny made 31 appearances this season, scoring 2 goals and getting 2 assists.

Aaron Lennon – 6 – Inconsistent would be the word to describe Lennon’s season. He has been on fire at times, beating players getting dangerous balls into the box, and he has been the opposite, unimaginative, ineffective and simply poor. Aaron is still 27, so I’d definitely keep him for next season, but I hope Lamela steps up and earns his spot ahead of our long serving winger. Aaron played 34 games this season, scoring just 1 goal and getting only 3 assists.

Andros Townsend – 7 – What a start to the season Andros had. Coming back from his loan spell at QPR he was electrifying, he had the confidence to take people on, take shots and break with pace. This earned him an England call up, and he made the impact of a lifetime, scoring on his debut. Unfortunately, injury played havoc with his second half of the season and his form dipped. And now injury has ruled him out of a World Cup he was destined to go to. Hopefully Andros improves massively next season and we can see him shine again. He played 34 games scoring twice, but getting no assists.

Erik Lamela – N/A- Our record signing, but we didn’t get anywhere near a season out of him. Mismanagement, injuries and poor ability to adapt have messed the Argentine’s season and World Cup hopes right up. Such promise, but such disappointment to see our Gareth Bale replacement not start a game at White Hart Lane this season in the Premier League. He did have 2-3 good performances but needed a sustained fun in the team, and due to a fractured vertebra, he didn’t get that. He will return though and I hope he will be better than ever! He played 17 times for Spurs, but only had 3 starts in the Premier League. He scored 1 goal and got 3 assists.

Paulinho – 7 – I think Paulinho has had a very good first season at the club. It has been blighted by some terrible, invisible performances but all in all I think he’s done well, especially in the goal scoring department. Playing higher up the pitch he is a joy to watch has immense skill, but playing in a deeper role next to a similar player, such as Mousa Dembele, Paulinho didn’t have the strength and grit to make tackles. That’s why his best performance came alongside Sandro, or next to Dembele when we were bossing the game. Hopefully he’ll push on next season and prove himself to more and more fans. He played 37 times for us this season and scored 8 goals with 2 assists, a good first season tally.

Sandro – 6 – Injury has struck Sandro’s season once again. This time muscular niggles that have kept him out of the team and stopped him from having, just like Lamela, a sustained run in the team. There have been some difficult matches for Sandro, not playing well or in good form, but I think mostly he has when he has started. He’s a crucial player for the team and I can’t wait to see him in a Spurs shirt next season. Sandro played 25 games and scored 1 goal.

Mousa Dembele – 6 – It’s like a broken record, but Mousa is another player who’s season has been seriously harmed by injuries. He looked as if he had been playing with injuries all season and that meant his form wasn’t up to the standard that we wanted it to be. He has a World Cup now so I hope he gains a lot of confidence from that and comes back to Spurs a better player. Mousa did despite injury play 42 games this season, scoring 2 goals and getting 1 assist.

Nabil Bentaleb – 7 – Nabil has had a great season. Promoted through the youth system at just 19 he has put in some stellar displays in the midfield role, as well as some poor performances, which are expected at just 19 years of age. His connection with Sherwood made it difficult at times, with fans pilling pressure on the young mans shoulders, but he dealt with it really well. Nabil played 21 times, getting 1 assist.

Etienne Capoue – N/A – Etienne started the season in outstanding form, our best player against Crystal Palace and Swansea, but he was hit by injury, another player, and after that never found the level he is capable of. He missed 50% of the season through, higher than any other player, so I really can’t give him a fair rating. It will be interesting to see whether Capoue is kept by the new manager, or moved on. Etienne played 18 times scoring 1 goal and assisting 1.

Lewis Holtby – 6.5 – Only half a season with Spurs before being shipped out to Fulham, but during that time he made it difficult to make a decision between Eriksen and Holtby, and I think he played well at times during his time at Spurs and was unlucky, but probably for the best of his development that he was sent out on loan. I hope to see him back in a Spurs shirt next season, pushing for a place. Lewis took part in 22 games for Spurs this season, scoring 3 goals and getting 5 assists.

Nacer Chadli – 6 – Chadli hasn’t set the world alight. Far from it. He has shown glimpses of why he is so highly rated in Holland and in Belgium, but as of yet hasn’t shown it to the Spurs faithful. Some very good performances, especially his 2 goals against Benfica, and his stunner against Newcastle, but he needs to improve. He played central midfield and behind the striker later on in the season which didn’t help, though. Although he played well behind the striker, in central midfield I don’t think it suits him. Nacer played 35 times, scoring 5 goals and contributing 4 assists.

Gylfi Sigurdsson – 6.5 – Gylfi’s start to the season was sublime, he had a goal scoring instinct and scored some wonderful goals as well as goals where he had to be in the right place at the right time. I think Gylfi is a great player, technically, mentally and physically. He lacks a lot of pace, which let’s him down, but he has such a great shot and a great footballing mind. It’s unfortunate Sigurdsson is forced out onto the left hand side so often. He’d be a real threat in the central position. There are things wrong with his game and there has been this season. Still, he’s only 24. Gylfi played 35 games this season, scoring 6 goals and getting 3 assists. Not too bad.

Harry Kane – 7.5 – I can only judge on the games that they have played, and Harry Kane has had a superb end to the season, as well as good performances against Hull City in the League Cup and Cardiff away earlier this season. Brought in by Sherwood to the starting 11 he has repaid the faith with goals, a hard work ethic and some real good performances. Harry has played 19 games this season for Spurs, scoring 4 goals and getting 2 assists.

Jermain Defoe – 6 – Defoe was outstanding in the Europa League for us this season, there’s no denying it. He scored goal after goal and played really well, but his Premier League performances, of which there were very few, were poor. Jermain was sent off to Toronto and we will miss a true Spurs legend, but I don’t think we’ll miss the player. Defoe played 22 games for Spurs this season, with 11 of those from the bench. Scoring 10 goals and getting 3 assists.

Roberto Soldado – 5 – Hard. Disappointing. Underwhelming. All words we’d use to describe Roberto Soldado’s first season at the club, and possibly his last. I want Soldado to succeed as much as the next but judging on this season he has been terrible in front of goal. It’s a mystery. He has lost his goalscoring touch through a flight from Spain to England and I don’t know why. Everything he touches he seems to miss. Although, his link up play and play with the ball is top notch, something he never really had in Spain. I’d call it weird other than anything. We’ll see what happens to him this summer. Roberto played 37 times for us this season, scoring 11 goals and getting 5 assists.

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My awards for the season:

Player of the season – Hugo Lloris.

Young player of the season – Christian Eriksen.

Goal of the season – Gylfi Sigurdsson vs Hull City. (League Cup).

Assist of the season – Eriksen vs Norwich to Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Individual performance of the season – Hugo Lloris vs Fulham.

Win of the season – Manchester United 1-2 Tottenham.

Signing of the season – Christian Eriksen.

Most disappointing player of the season – Roberto Soldado.

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Ups, downs and upside downs. All in all it’s been an eventful season, for sure! Expectation outweighed reality, and now as fans we have to rally again, support the team, the players and the whole club to try and do our bit to help the side on the pitch. And that starts by supporting our new manager, whoever it may be. I’m looking forward to a great World Cup, a brilliant pre-season, an uncertain Transfer Window and a new season of excitement! Thank you for reading, tweeting and debating with me on twitter and on the website. It’s been a pleasure and I can’t wait to do it all over again next season! Leave your comments down below, subscribe and follow my twitter account if you don’t already – @AddictedToSpurs. Thank you and COYS!

All the goals from the 2013/14 season:

Season Review video:

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It’s that time again, the Europa League returns.

The Europa League round of 32 is approaching, Tottenham face a double legged tie against Dnipro from the Ukraine, it’ll be a tough game, especially out in the Ukraine, but Spurs are certainly the favourites and are expected to continue to the round of 16, and therefore face either POAK or Benfica.

We’ve had quite a long break from the competition, our last game in mid December, a lot has happened since then, the big change being a different head coach, AVB departing for Tim Sherwood. AVB did an extremely good job in the Europa League, leading us to 6 wins out of 6 games in the group stages conceding only 2 goals and scoring 15, including some great performances, especially against Anzhi at White Hart Lane, winning 4-1. The question now is, how will Tim Sherwood take to the competition? AVB treated it with the utmost respect, fielding strong teams and aiming fully to win the title; he didn’t get the opportunity to finish the job he started in the Europa League, but after a great group stage we have a fantastic foundation to mount a challenge. Tim Sherwood, from what he said HERE about the Europa League, you can see that Tim Sherwood wants to win the trophy too.

Last season, we didn’t have the deepest squad in the world by a long way, we tried under AVB to win the Europa League, and failed in the quarter finals to Basel, on penalties. What that Europa League run did for our League form wasn’t great, 4 of our 8 losses last season came after Europa League fixtures in the week, so I think that shows the type of impact it has on players physically and mentally. The long trips, the hard fought games, and the lack of training for Premier League games in the end was a big factor in Spurs losing out on the Champions League places there’s no doubt about it. Last season is the past, and the squad we have now is extremely different to what we had back then, 7 new players have come in, Sandro and Younes Kaboul have returned from injury, and youth players Zeki Fryers, Nabil Bentaleb and Harry Kane have come through so the squad is very strong and this is why I think we’ve got a really big chance of going a long way in the Europa League, and that not having an effect on our League form, that has returned under Tim Sherwood.

Having this incredible squad is all well and good, but is it going to be used if we really want to go and win the Europa League? We will have to use the full squad. Players that won’t play in the Premier League will get opportunities in the games we have to play in Europe, and therefore coming up against teams like Benfica if we can get past Dnipro becomes very difficult, we have to find the right balance. That’s the job that Sherwood has to deal with, because there are a lot of expectations from the fans that we can win the Europa League, but even higher aspirations of getting in the top four. Sherwood has to adjust his team in accordance with the strength of the opposition, the scores in the first legs, and the game we have that weekend in the League. A lot of factors. Every Spurs fan wants to win every game, in every competition, I’d like to think it’s the same for every player and every manager, too. The will to win.

Winning a European trophy is something not every team can even have the chance to do, that’s what we have, a chance. We’ve won this competition twice already in 1972 and 1984, so it’s about time we put Tottenham on the European winners list once again, 30 years after last winning it. Yes, the dream is to play in the Champions League, up against the biggest and best teams in the world. Let’s not let that dream and aspiration effect our opportunity to win a brilliant trophy, with a lot of history. Football is about winning trophies, not just participating. Let’s hope we can put a run together in the Europa League, and you never know we could be in Turin on the 14th May 2014, fighting for a major trophy. That’s a dream, as well as playing in the Champions League next season.

Personally, I am really looking forward to the return of the competition on the 20th February, having games in the week and at the weekend is exciting, the European nights under the lights at White Hart Lane are special, and winning a trophy is something Spurs really need at the moment, so the pressure is on Tim Sherwood after being knocked out of both the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup under his tenure to perform in the Europa, and bring a win back from the Ukraine. COYS!!

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Christian Eriksen is quickly becoming the player we know he can be.

Since Eriksen made his much anticipated move away from Ajax to a the Premier League he has been in the limelight from the Dutch press, the Danish press, and the English press. The pressure and expectation that comes with that must be very difficult to take for someone who you look past all the time that he’s been on the footballing scene, is still only 22. He deals with it very well, he’s adored in Denmark, respected greatly at Ajax, now he’s a fan favourite at Tottenham and rated highly by the English media. It’s all going rather well for the Dane at the moment.

Eriksen had trials at Barcelona, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester United and AC Milan before making a move to Ajax from Odense in 2008 at 15, saying “My first step should not be too big. I knew that playing in the Netherlands would be very good for my development. Then Ajax arrived and that was a fantastic option”. For me this shows a level headed, well advised kid who is determined to better himself through hard work, rather than trying to run before he can walk. There was obvious talent there and he chose a team that doesn’t stand out against the Barcelona’s and the Manchester United’s, but known for their ability to grow young players. This is when you know you’ve got a guy with the know-how to get to the top. Eriksen made his Denmark debut at 17 in 2010, and appeared in the 2010 World Cup as the youngest in the tournament. That’s when Eriksen burst onto the scene and in 2011 he went on to win the Danish Footballer of the year award, Dutch football talent of the year and Ajax talent of the year, as well as winning the Eredivisie title with Ajax. He won the Eredivisie title with Ajax again in 2012 and 2013, before completing his move to Tottenham. So he’s been about a bit.

We signed Christian Eriksen for £11 million, or if you believe the press in the Netherlands, they say it’s actually €11 million, roughly £9 million. It really is incredible to think that a player with that potential could be grasped for so cheap, with no Champions League football (good to note his contract was running down though), for me other club’s scouts must be getting seriously questioned, but we aren’t complaining, far from it, we’re revelling in the glory of such a brilliant acquisition.

Christian Eriksen on his debut against Norwich was incredible, notching an assist and the man of the match award. This set the tone for the rest of his Tottenham career in my eyes, classy, quick thinking and with the ability to create goals for himself and others. Injury to his ankle set him back, he missed a few games and didn’t come back all guns blazing as Holtby had taken his place after some decent performances in Eriksen’s absence, but he showed what a great mentality he has again through waiting for his chance, this time in the Europa League, and showing his capabilities. He has had a few disappointing games, but this must be expected when you are getting used to the Premier League’s pace and physicality at such a young age.

Since Tim Sherwood has taken over he has been better than under AVB, the Dane has 3 goals and 3 assists in 6 appearances for Sherwood in the Premier League, becoming in my opinion our most important player. He’s been crucial in every game Sherwood has taken charge of, winning us points, creating opportunities, contributing with goals and assists, defensively working hard and linking up the play supremely. What we have seen from him on the left has showed his versatility and his willingness to help the team and as Tim would say ‘put a shift in’, and in the hole, like we saw against Swansea, he’s even more effective, being closer to the final third, so being much more of an offensive threat and linking up with Adebayor, who at the moment must be a joy for Eriksen to be playing with. His recent performances have me seriously thinking, without a doubt that he can become just as important to us in the future, as Bale was for us last season.

With the quality central midfielders we’ve had at the club, there is bound to be comparison. In Denmark they compare him to the great Michael Laudrup, a fast thinking attacking midfielder with the ability to pick out a pass and get a goal. With Spurs, it’s the comparisons with Luka Modric and Rafael Van Der Vaart. The similarities are there, for sure. He has the slightness and low centre of gravity that Modric had, with such great vision, and the ability to pop up in the right areas and find a pass or stick the ball in the back of the net just like Rafa had. If Eriksen can tone these abilities and improve on them, especially his finishing, I see no reason why he can’t surpass what they have become.

Just thinking about his potential makes my mouth water, he’s the real spark in this current Tottenham team and he’s thriving on the attention at the moment, his confidence has always been high in himself, but it must be sky rocketing right now. We know he’ll keep his feet on the ground, continue to work hard and perform well, because that’s the sort of guy he is, he’s got good heads around him, guiding him in the right direction, mainly his Dad who he listens to as he has said in many interviews so I’m just looking forward to the future having this talent in our team. Long may his form continue. And let’s enjoy the player he is now, and the player he is set to become.

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POLL RESULTS – Which manger do you want to take over at White Hart Lane?

After AVB was sacked, the attention immediately went on to who would replace him. It’s a tough choice in which many factors and many candidates come into the field, with this poll it was me getting an idea of who the fans wanted, so to judge and get my feeling on who should come in. It’s quite a simple result…

1) – Frank De Boer is your choice for Spurs manager now AVB has departed. The Ajax manager aged at just 43 has played great football and picked up trophies at the top team in Ajax, he has previously turned down the opportunity to work in England, but now could be his time to make the move and link up with Vertonghen and Eriksen. I would be very pleased with this appointment, as would most of you, but it’s a difficult one as he is currently at Ajax, and whether he would leave mid-season would be highly unlikely.

Result – 30.5% of votes, 564 votes.

2) – Michael Laudrup makes second position, the Swansea coach at 49 years of age has impressed during his time at Swansea, playing elegant, passing, offensive football which Spurs fans crave for. He could be a great appointment, but in the middle of the season it is again difficult to pull away from his club, as his agent has stated he has ‘no intention’ of leaving Swansea mid-season, it looks like it’s dead in the water this one.

Result – 17.8% of votes, 329 votes.

3) – Jurgen Klinsmann is your third choice replacement for AVB. The former Spurs man currently managing the USA has impressed as a coach, and with his connection with Spurs early on it had looked like he could be a major candidate for the job, but after signing a 4 year deal with the US, and the US president claiming no chance of a move, plus a World Cup on the horizon, this is another man which looks to be impossible to get at the Lane. Would be great though..

Result – 10.3% of votes, 190 votes.

4) – Glenn Hoddle comes in at fourth place, a Spurs legend and former Spurs manager has been backed by many to return to management and take the role at White Hart Lane, Gary Linekar most notably. He is available, but his last job was at Wolves in 2006, which ended in his sacking, so it would be a risk. A great footballing mind and knows the Premier League and Spurs inside out, but not a long term replacement, and I’m not a fan of going backwards.

Result – 8.7% of votes, 161 votes.

5) – Guus Hiddink comes in at a low fifth place. Experience in the Premier League, brilliant manager and would be ideal to stabilise a club. The least riskiest appointment I feel, but unfortunately his agent has ruled him out of the running for the THFC job, as he is contracted to the Netherlands job after the World Cup in 2014, so starting a new job now would only be short term and whether that is what we are looking for, I’m unsure.

Result – 6.5% of votes, 120 votes.

6) – Mauricio Pochettino of Southampton makes sixth place. An inexperienced manager, that is doing a great job with the Saints, he plays offensive and expansive football and reports suggest he’s on the short list for the job, but it’s again unlikely that he leaves a project that is going well to come to Spurs mid-season. It’d be a risk, after not even completing a full season yet as a boss in the Premier League. Surprised he’s so low, but very doubtful he’d be coming to Spurs anytime soon.

Result – 6.1% of the votes, 115 votes.

7) – Fabio Capello, the bookies early favourite, comes in at a low seventh. The former England boss doesn’t seem to be a popular choice because of his defensive, ‘Italian’ way of playing football. A reason fans wanted AVB to go was that his football wasn’t fast enough, so I guess this is why he is so low on the list, we want fast offensive football. He is a very good manager and has connections with Franco Baldini, if he were to come in, I’d be relatively happy. But he is with Russia at the moment.

Result – 6% of votes, 112 votes.

8) – Roberto Di Matteo isn’t a popular choice, which will surprise some. In eighth, but he has won a Champions League with Chelsea after taking the helm after ironically an AVB sacking, he plays good football and was unfairly in my opinion sacked by Chelsea. Maybe the reason he is so low is because of the Chelsea link, he’s a legend for the Blues and we don’t like them that much. I wouldn’t mind seeing him take charge and having a go at the job myself.

Result – 4.3% of the votes, 80 votes.

9) – Coming in at last place, is our ‘interim’ manager, Tim Sherwood. He is currently in charge of first team affairs and until we find a full time replacement for AVB he’s in charge. Reports say if he impresses Levy, he will be given the full time job, and that would cause a clash of opinion between people. He’s a top coach, but inexperienced and a very big risk. He’s very highly rated by Daniel Levy, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him put in charge until the end of the season, but that isn’t what I want. I want a long term, well thought out replacement.

Results – 2% of the vote, 47 votes.

Thank you all for voting, it’s been a weird couple of days and I’m sure that feeling will continue for a while! Let’s hope and pray Levy gets this appointment right, and we can get our season back on track. I still have high hopes, we have a great squad and there is a team there that is capable of achieving things. First though, my support is with Sherwood to do a good job, he has my faith, he may well surprise you. But, Levy, the people have spoken, bring us Frank De Boer! COYS!!

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POLL – Which manager do you want to take over at White Hart Lane?

After the news that AVB has left Spurs with ‘mutual consent’ between the two parties, the search begins for a new manager at the Lane. Which coach do you think is the right man to take over, and help us to reach our goals not only this season, but in the future?

VOTE HERE:

Match Review, Tottenham vs Anzhi Makachkala.

Match: Thursday 12th December 2013.

Europa League

Tottenham 4-1 Anzhi Makachkala.

Tottenham goals: Soldado 7′, 16′ and 70′ (pen), Holtby 54′.

Anzhi goal: Ewerton 44′

A great win, and a brilliant professional performance from the lads. In a match that meant little in terms of qualification, we went into the game ready to secure the 100% record that was up for grabs, a team of Champions wants to win every game no matter how big or small, and that’s what we did and in great style too. We started really brightly and very quickly got the goal from a Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick that with a deft touch from the head of Roberto Soldado, found the inside of the post and into the net for 1-0, a much needed goal for Roberto. We continued to press and got another just nine minutes later. Mousa Dembele winning the ball well in midfield and finding Erik Lamela who skillfully with a reverse ball put Soldado clear in front of goal and he finished expertly like someone with re-found confidence. A quiet spell then came from Spurs and Anzhi started to get into the game again. White Hart Lane went a bit flat and we became sloppy in possession, and it lead to their goal, Ewerton finishing for 2-1 just before half time. After the break we came back out and started playing better football, our passing improved and we started creating chances again. Our third goal came after some lovely football, Andros Townsend from the right hand side drinking the ball into the box for Lewis Holtby who controlled it really well, two touches and finished brilliantly, the ball not touching the ground, 3-1! We continued to play well and started introducing the youngsters, Ryan Fredericks entering the frame, and impressing, it was his mazey and adventurous run into the box that forced a tackle from the Anzhi defender and after a little debate, a penalty was awarded and that means Roberto Soldado gets his chance for his hat-trick, which of course he delivered, a great performance from Robbie.

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Great to get the win, and secure the 100% record, 6 wins from 6 and 18 points is great, very happy. The Europa League draw is on Monday, 16th December 2013, let’s hope for a good draw in the round of 32. Our next game is in the Premier League, against Liverpool at the Lane on Sunday 15th December 2013. A massive game! COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Anzhi at the Lane:
Friedel – 7
Naughton – 7
Capoue – 8.5
Fryers – 8
Rose – 7.5
Holtby – 9
Dembele – 8.5
Lamela – 7
Sigurdsson – 8
Townsend – 8
Soldado – 9 – Man of the Match

Subs:
Fredericks – 8
Eriksen – 8
Coulthirst – 7

AVB’s thoughts on our 4-1 win over Anzhi:

Highlights from our 4-1 win:

Match Preview, Tottenham vs Anzhi Makhachkala.

Match: Thursday 12th December 2013. Kick off 8:05pm.

Europa League

After already securing our place in the knockout stages, and securing our place at the top of group K, this game holds little meaning but getting through the group with a 100% win record. It’s a good chance for us to give game time to some youngsters, those who need match fitness after injury and keeping fringe players happy. The last time we faced Anzhi, it was a decent contest but we played a decent game and win comfortably 2-0 in the end, so at home, we will be looking to get some goals and win the game well.

Anzhi have been in terrible form, they lie bottom of the Russian League without a win in 19 attempts in all competitions. Anzhi have already qualified from Group K in second place, so they don’t have much to play for, except pride! They do hold a threat going forward, with their 6’8 Ivorian striker Lacina Traoré. Jucile in midfield is an ever present and can be said to be their most creative of players, with Burmistrov and Traoré expected to lead the line.

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The big team news for the game is that Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose have recovered from injury, and in contention to play against Anzhi, and more importantly, our game against Liverpool on Sunday. Also, Harry Kane has recovered from a back injury and is available to play against Anzhi. The bad news is that Jan Vertonghen is ruled out and expected to miss up to four weeks with an ankle injury he picked up at Fulham last week. Vlad Chiriches is out, but expected to recover for the game against Liverpool and Younes Kaboul is ruled out with a quad injury, but will return to training on Tuesday next week. Emmanuel Adebayor has been left out of the squad by AVB. Youth players Shaq Coulthirst, Ryan Fredericks and Laste Dombaxe have been called up to the first team and I’d expect them to play some part in the game so they can gain some much needed experience, I’m surprised more haven’t been called up by AVB.

The game is being shown live on ITV 4, kick off at 8:05pm. Let’s get this 100% record in the bag! COYS!!

My predicted team to face Anzhi at White Hart Lane:
Friedel
Fredericks – Dawson – Fryers – Naughton
Capoue – Dombaxe
Lamela – Sigurdsson – Townsend
Defoe

AVB gives his thoughts pre Anzhi:

Match Review, Tottenham vs Manchester United.

Match: Sunday 1st December 2013.

Premier League

Tottenham 2-2 Manchester United.

Tottenham goals: Kyle Walker 18′, Sandro 54′.

Manchester United goals: Wayne Rooney 32′, 57′ (pen).

We’re back in the goals! A great performance and just what we needed. It’s a shame we couldn’t get more from the game, because I thought we deserved the win, although a point and two goals against the Champions is a good result to have after the abysmal performances and results against Newcastle and Manchester City. We started the game brightly, with some good passing, creating good chances through the pace of Aaron Lennon and midfield power of Mousa Dembele and Paulinho. I was really pleased with the speed of our game and the way we were looking to attack and hurt Manchester United, we as fans want more of that from the team, very positive signs for the rest of the season. We got the breakthrough, a brilliant free kick from Kyle Walker underneath the wall with power made it 1-0, that’s his first goal of the season and what a great time to get it! Exactly 1 year after his last goal. We continued to play well, but United got back into the game more and more, then got level after a lucky deflection off Kyle Walker fell to Wayne Rooney who finished it well, disappointing! We came back really well in the second half, with more good passing and a few more chances before the beast, Sandro, let fly from 30 yards and the ball rippled the net, our goal of the season so far, stunning goal from a magnificent player. The lead was short-lived as Danny Welbeck was fouled in the box by Hugo Lloris to earn United a penalty and Rooney was never going to miss. We continued to push and push, and came close a few times, but couldn’t get the win that we arguably deserved.

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Great performances all over the park, most notably coming from Kyle Walker; he has had a very good season so far, showing his defensive solidity and his offensive guile as well, was his best performance of the season, with a goal and some fantastic crosses into the box, while keeping United as quiet as possible on his right hand side. Aaron Lennon and Walker’s partnership on the right was one massive positive from the game, they caused multiple problems and it seems Lennon is back to his best, giving us that natural width we have so badly lacked this season. Sandro has been getting better and better as the season goes on, and he was brilliant again, not just his unbelievable strike to put us 2-1 ahead, but his work rate and desire to win the game. Everyone dreams of a team of Sandro’s. The passion and will-to-win that the players showed on the pitch was exactly what I wanted, it makes me very encouraged about the future, as doubt had creeped into my mind about how much the players were up for the rigours of the Premier League and if they actually wanted to play for Spurs, my prayers were answered and they showed that hunger, long may that hunger and desire continue to run through the Spurs team, and AVB. Vlad Chiriches is settling in very well at Spurs; his composure and ability on the ball for a centre back in the Premier League is outstanding, I am very happy we have him in our team, as time goes on he will certainly get better and better. The pressure on AVB that the press speculated has been lifted after the result, but the big games are the ones against Fulham, Sunderland and Southampton that are coming up; 9 points are needed from those three to put us back in the hunt for Champions League places.

Good result, brilliant performance. But much more work to come in this busy December schedule, up next is Fulham at Craven Cottage on Wednesday 4th December, with kick off at 7:45pm. After Fulham sack our former manager Martin Jol, they’ll be keen to make a response, but we need to get a run of wins together. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Manchester United at White Hart Lane:
Lloris – 7
Walker – 9 – Man of the Match.
Dawson – 7
Chiriches – 8
Vertonghen – 8
Paulinho – 7
Sandro – 9
Lennon – 9
Dembele – 8
Chadli – 6
Soldado – 5

Subs:
Townsend – 6
Defoe – N/A
Sigurdsson – N/A

Match highlights of our 2-2 draw with Manchester United:

AVB’s post match reaction:

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, Tromsø vs Tottenham.

Match: Thursday 28th November 2013. Kick off 6pm GMT. Live on ITV 4.

Europa League

We are already qualified for the Europa League knockout stages, and with a win against Tromsø in Norway, we will have confirmed our place at the top of the group. After our embarrassing 6-0 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad, a response from the players and AVB is needed just to cool the tense atmosphere amongst fans and press alike, obviously a win against Tromsø wouldn’t make up for the loss to City, as it is more than expected from the players, but it would deflect some criticism if we can put on a good show. The game that we can gain some respect back is against Manchester United on Sunday; we need to make sure we put in a good performance and so we need to keep players fresh and ready for that game, it should be our main focus, not this game against Tromsø. Being already qualified, we should rest a vast amount of players.

Tromsø’s season finished on the 10th November 2013, and they were relegated coming 15th out of 16 teams, which is a shock as they were a top four team last season. They mustered 29 points and just 7 wins in 30 games, so we are definitely the favourites. Although of course they are a poor team in comparison to ours, they will want to put on a show with nothing to lose, it’s a massive game for them and their fans. With conditions in their favour and being used to the artificial pitch, they’ll look to make it a difficult game for us and make it very tight. The players to look out for are Bendiksen in midfield, he carries a goal threat and can find some good passes, and up front Ondrasek and Nystrom, who are Tromsø’s biggest threats up top.

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Lots of changes are expected in this game, with AVB promising to change it up and give the youngsters a chance to show what they’ve got on a bigger stage. Kyle Walker, Hugo Lloris, Paulinho, Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon, Sandro, Younes Kaboul, Emmanuel Adebayor, Christian Eriksen, Heurelho Gomes and Harry Kane will not feature against Tromsø. Eriksen because of an Ankle injury, Adebayor because of a slight groin problem, Gomes is not eligible and Harry Kane because of a back problem, the rest of the players have been rested. Youngsters Jordan Archer, Shaquille Coulthirst, Kenneth McEvoy, Laste Dombaxe and Ryan Fredericks have made the trip to Norway and could well feature, with Nabil Bentaleb not eligible. It’s difficult to call what side will play, as there are so many options for AVB to use, but I’d expect to see Etienne Capoue, Kyle Naughton and Nacer Chadli to feature at some point during the game, if not start.

The game is our chance to confirm our place at the top of the group, so we want to do it as soon as possible and continue our winning streak in the Europa League. You can watch the game on ITV 4 with coverage starting at 5:30pm GMT. You can follow me on twitter @AddictedToSpurs, for all the coverage of the game including videos, pictures and goal updates! COYS!!

My preferred team to face Tromsø at the Alfhiem Stadion, of which is a complete and utter guess:
4-4-2
Friedel
Naughton – Chiriches – Dawson – Fryers
McEvoy – Capoue – Dombaxe – Chadli
Soldado – Coulthirst

AVB press conference pre Tromsø: