Match Preview, Besiktas vs Tottenham.

Match date & time: Thursday 11th December 2014. 6pm GMT KO.

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: Ataturk Stadium.

TV: Live on ITV 4 in the UK. Worldwide TV listings, HERE.

The games come thick and fast in the Christmas period, and managing your squad, keeping players fresh and hungry, while picking up as many wins as you can along the way. With our place secured in the knockout rounds of the Europa League, we now have to battle it out with Besiktas for top spot, away from home, with only a point required after the Turkish outfit dropped points to Asteras Tripolis in a 2-2 draw, while we triumphed at home to Partizan 1-0. Now, it’s in our hands to finish off the job in style by making our lives a little bit easier and topping Group C. With so many big games coming up, it is important to prioritise, and manage the squad well, using the talent we have through the core of the squad and using them effectively, and making sure that nobody is burnt out, and we keep fresh through an incredibly tough and demanding time in the season, with the importance made twice as much for Tottenham, trying to claw back points in the race for a successful and respectable league position. But right now, we’ve got to focus on the Europa League, which I hope will be a big part of our season, because with a bit of luck in the draw, we could go a long way! It’s a very prestigious competition and to win it would be magnificent, but to succeed and play some big teams in the knockout faces would be very exciting, hopefully bringing White Hart Lane to life. Away from home, in Turkey, it’s going to be very difficult to take a result back to London, but hopefully we’ll be able to continue our unbeaten record in the Europa League and top the group.

We all know of Besiktas’ quality. When they came to the Lane earlier in the season they were very impressive, and a 1-1 draw was all we could manage, even under the lights at White Hart Lane. Currently, Besiktas are top of the Turkish Super Lig, and are in great form, especially at Home, where in 11 games, they have only lost 1, winning 5 and drawing 4 in all competitions, including holding Arsenal to a 0-0 draw at the Ataturk Stadium in the Champions League. Last time out, in that 1-1 draw at the Lane, I thought it was an incredibly talented Besiktas side that graced the pitch, and they passed the ball crisply, created chances and were solid in defence and midfield. They are a well drilled side with decent, hard working players and at home, I’m sure they are going to be even more of a threat, even though like Tottenham, they are qualified as well. In their last game, they would have been disappointed to be held to the Greek side Asteras Tripolis 2-2, away from home – this was them throwing away an opportunity to get top spot with only a point in this coming game, so hopefully they throw away the opportunity to top it this Thursday evening!

The big team news for Besiktas is that star man Demba Ba (broken toe) is out of the game, after being a scorer in the reverse fixture at White Hart Lane. Other injury concerns are goalkeeper Cenk Gonen (knock), defender Tomas Sivok (hamstring) and midfielder Oğuzhan Özyakup (calf) go into the game as doubts, while fellow midfiedler Ugur Boral (knee) and Mustafa Pektemek (cheekbone) are definitely out of the game. With Demba Ba out of the game, a massive hole in their side needs to be filled, and they will be relying on attacking midfielder Gokhan Tore to provide the inspiration and goals – having scored three goals in five games in the Europa League, and they’ll be hoping that Ba’s potential replacement Olcay Sahan can step up after 4 goals in 15 appearances in all competitions up top, they’ll be hoping he can fill the shoes to the level of Demba Ba.

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The team news for Tottenham is that Emmanuel Adebayor (personal issues) is out, while Jan Vertonghen, Harry Kane, Ryan Mason, Nabil Bentaleb, Christian Eriksen and Kyle Naughton all being left in London – rested ahead of the weekend tie with Swansea. The big news is that Kyle Walker is finally back in the first team squad for the game, and will be looking to get minutes on his road to full fitness. Youngsters Joshua Onomah and Harry Winks are in the squad, while Younes Kaboul, Andros Townsend, Etienne Capoue, Danny Rose and Vlad Chiriches are back in the squad, along with Federico Fazio, who has returned after a one match suspension. I think it’s great that Pochettino has seen the need to rest Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Ryan Mason especially – as they have looked very drained recently and we need them to be reinvigorated ahead of the tie against a good Swansea side. Using the talented Joshua Onomah and Harry Winks would be great to see, as I see them both having big futures if nurtured in the correct way, and it’s clear Mauricio Pochettino sees the talent that runs through our academy sides, and deserves opportunities with the first team.

With Harry Kane and Emmanuel Adebayor not involved, the baton is to be handed to Roberto Soldado to lead the line and hopefully, get the goals we need to top the group. Isolation is a problem when he is up top on his own – so to help him out, I would play Nacer Chadli just in behind the Spaniard to give him the support, and with the Goalscoring record he has I think he could be a massive player – and it’s a great opportunity for Nacer to get some more fitness and minutes to get back to the top of his game once again. In the centre of midfield, Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason have taken the position in the Premier League, which means Mousa Dembele, Paulinho and Benjamin Stambouli will be hoping to get some minutes under their belt and try to show that they deserve a place in the starting line up in the Premier League. In defence, Vlad Chiriches is fit again after missing the Crystal Palace game and he’ll be looking to start at centre back, and I’d start him alongside young Eric Dier, who will be keen to show his qualities at centre half with the return of Kyle Walker, Kyle Naughton and the likely addition of DeAndre Yedlin in January – I think he has a massive future in that central position for us.

A big game, with top spot on the agenda. A point will do – but a win would be extremely good for confidence, going to a great side, away from home and getting a result would be brilliant. The game is shown on ITV4, but I’ll be providing match updates, videos, photos and much more on Twitter, here: @AddictedToSpurs. Looking forward to it! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Besiktas:
4-2-3-1
Vorm
Walker – Chiriches – Dier – Rose
Stambouli – Dembele
Lennon – Chadli – Townsend
Soldado.

Match Preview, Tottenham vs Besiktas.

Match date & time: Thursday 2nd October 2014. 8:05pm KO BST.

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

TV: Live on ITV4 in the UK. Full worldwide TV listings HERE.

The Europa League is here again! And I’m really, really looking forward to this game. We’re coming up against a good team, with fantastic away support that will bring an electric European atmosphere to White Hart Lane. I always enjoy the European games at the Lane – there is something special about watching Tottenham under the lights, donning that all white strip with the Tottenham faithful hopefully belting out songs and getting behind the team in a difficult game. The game will be tight, fiercely contested and full of tension, and I hope that we can come away with a much needed three points, helping us to progress in the group. If we can get past Besiktas, who are without a doubt the toughest team in the group, I think coming out on top in the group will prove much easier.

Besiktas are a good side – with good players that compete at the top of the Turkish Super Lig. They are part of 4 teams that compete for the title, Fenerbahce, Champions Last Season, Galatasaray, Besiktas and Trabzonspor, who are all good teams who are consistently in Europe, whether the Champions League or Europa League. For the past 5 seasons, though, Besiktas haven’t been able to finish above 3rd place in the Super Lig, seemingly unable to push on further after every season, with their last title coming in 2009. This season, Besiktas have started well, unbeaten from their first 4 games in the League; 2 wins and 2 draws, sitting in 2nd place behind Akhisar Belediye, who have came out of nowhere after coming 10th last season. In the Europa League, Besiktas drew 1-1 with Asteras Tripolis in game week one away from home, so we’ll take heart from that I’m sure. Last time we faced Besiktas we came out on top in 2006 in the previously named UEFA Cup, a 2-0 victory in Istanbul – Dimitar Berbatov and Hossam Ghaly getting the goals under Martin Jol’s guidance. A similar result in this game at the Lane would be glorious!

The team news for Besiktas is that Mustafa Pektemek is the only doubt for Besiktas with injury, with the rest of the squad fit. The important players for Besiktas starts with midfielder Gokhan Tore, who was the GoalScorer in their game against Tripolis; at just 22 he is a very good player, and can grab the odd goal from midfield. Another midfielder who can make the impact is Olcay Sahan, he’s Besiktas’ top scorer in the League with 3 goals in 4 games and from the wing he’s very threatening. Sahan will be feeding their new striker who is very familiar to English football, Demba Ba, going to Besiktas from Chelsea after having previous spells at Newcastle and West Ham, he’s a very good striker who can produce a finish in the box when you need it; he’s a big player for Besiktas and endeared himself to the fans with a hat-trick in a Champions League qualifier against Feyernoord. We know his threat and it’ll be tricky to contain.

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The team news for Tottenham is that Kyle Walker (pelvis) remains out, while Danny Rose (knock) and Etienne Capoue (knock) are doubts, and will probably be rested even if they are fit. The team will change, that’s for sure. Ben Davies, Nabil Bentaleb, Andros Townsend & Roberto Soldado look to be in line to feature and they need to perform as I’m sure Besiktas will put out a strong team away from home, putting in a strong performance.

For me, it’s important that we are strong in midfield for this game, close Besiktas down early and keep the ball well, and when we have the ball, be effective in attack, with pace and intensity. I expect the midfield duo to be Nabil Bentaleb and Benjamin Stambouli, and we need them to avoid being ponderous otherwise they will be caught out and give pressure to our back line. When they have the ball, they must find the right pass quickly and effectively to more advanced players so they can hopefully create chances and goals. Up front, Roberto Soldado is the likely option to start and after his good goal against Nottingham Forest he has 2 goals in 2 starts so far this season, and hopefully he can continue this against Besiktas, and if he does I think he deserves a chance to start up top in the Premier League against Southampton. In defence, new signing Federico Fazio should start and he has impressed me so far. For what he lacks in pace, he makes up for in intelligence and positioning, with the ability to play the ball out of defence as well. He has a fight on his hands to displace Younes Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen though, who were colossal against Arsenal at the weekend.

A big game is on the horizon! It’s going to be tough, hard fought and hopefully full of exciting football. The game is to be shown live on ITV 4, and I’ll update as much as possible from White Hart Lane. I’m very much looking forward to the game, and I hope we can get the win! Three points and a good win is needed! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Besiktas at the Lane:
4-2-3-1
Vorm
Dier – Fazio – Chiriches – Davies
Stambouli – Bentaleb
Lennon – Paulinho – Townsend
Soldado.

Mauricio Pochettino pre match press conference: