Match Review, Cardiff City vs Tottenham.

Sunday 22nd September 2013.

Cardiff City 0-1 Tottenham. Paulinho 92′

Wow! Nerve wracking game. We dominated the match from start to finish but just couldn’t get the ball in the net! Chance after chance came, but Cardiff City’s goalkeeper kept us at bay time after time. It looked as though we were bang out of luck. We were not at our best, actually far from it, but we grinder out a result and three points is all that matters. Our passing was okay and we dominated possession, but it just wasn’t penetrating the solid Cardiff defence. A few subs from AVB changed that, and finally we got the winner through Paulinho! Happy Days!

Cardiff were holding on so well. All credit goes to them for making it really difficult for us and still having a threat at the other end. Steven Caulker had a solid game handling Soldado, kept him at bay really well and was good on the ball. At the other end, Peter Whittingham caused us problems when he got on the ball, really good player that gave Naughton problems. Unlucky for them, but they looked good and if they perform like that every game they will stay up.

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I don’t think we were very good to be honest. Frustrating evening for our players. The substitutions from AVB were spot on. Probably easy decisions to make with the players he had available but he made them perfectly. Lewis Holtby and Erik Lamela gave us a different look and in the end, they both had a key part in our winning goal. Soldado’s link up play with Eriksen was great, they were just unfortunate not to make a few more clear cut chances. Hugo Lloris saved us a few times too, another clean sheet for him! Kyle Naughton had a poor game, mistake after mistake and made the wrong decisions in the final third when he attacked, was a frustrating day for him. Christian Eriksen couldn’t really get going today, but his passing was sharp and quick, difficult when he’s got a lot of Cardiff players tracking his every move, still needs to adapt a bit more to the pace of the Premier League.

Very good win that takes us up to second, level on points with our North London rivals Arsenal. We need to improve, but with time the team will continue to gel and get better. Very excited about what’s still to come! Our next game is against Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday 24th September. Our next Premier League game is against Chelsea on Saturday 28th September. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Cardiff City:
Lloris – 7 – Slightly shaky game from Hugo, but when called upon made some key saves.
Walker – 8 – I thought Walker really improved. A threat down that right hand side, and solid defensively.
Dawson – 6 – Made some silly decisions, but also some crucial interceptions! Dealt with Campbell well I thought.
Vertonghen – 6 – Not his best game at all, but always good on the ball. Looked a little off the pace.
Naughton – 4 – Defensive liability. Really poor and doesn’t look Spurs standard after his two seasons back from Norwich.
Paulinho – 8 – Man of the match. Good on the ball and got the all important goal to get us the three points!
Dembele – 7 – Mousa and Paulinho dominated possession. He also made some key tackles.
Townsend – 6 – Very selfish. A real threat, but needs to pass a lot more. His shot really didn’t trouble Cardiff’s keeper.
Eriksen – 7 – Passing was sharp, and looked a threat but was crowded out a lot and didn’t make a massive impact.
Sigurdsson – 7 – Unlucky is his middle name! Thought he was good otherwise, but didn’t get into many goalscoring positions.
Soldado – 6 – A few chances to score, but Cardiff’s keeper was sensational. He’s getting into the positions which is good!

Subs:
Holtby – 8 – Was superb when he came on. Such passion and a real creative spark!
Lamela – 7 – Got they assist after getting into a great position on the right. Very good when he came on.
Kane – 7 – Thought he was good when he came on! His touch was good and came close to scoring!

Welcome to Spurs, Vlad Chiriches!

Yet another signing in what is turning out to be a quite stunning transfer window. Vlad Chiriches has joined from Stuea Bucuresti in a Romanian record, £8.5 million deal. Chiriches is a 23 year old centre back, with 19 caps for the Romanian national side. Vlad has signed a 5 year deal with Spurs. His nickname in Romania was ‘The Impaler’, so you can already tell he’s a brute!

With the sale of Steven Caulker to Cardiff in a £9million deal, we were quite light at the back with only three first team centre backs available. AVB has stated his desire to bring in another centre back, because he believes you need at least four top class centre halves in a team challenging for honours such as Tottenham, and I must say I agree. We seemed to have captured Vlad from Bucuresti earlier on in the transfer window, but Stuea’s somewhat crazy owner cancelled the deal from his jail cell. Madness! We continued to pursue the big Romanian, and finally, although late on, have captured him. To everyone’s delight.

Compared to Caulker, Chiriches is much more of a modern centre back. He comes forward with the ball, and tries to set up attacks when he can, a bit like one of our current centre backs Jan Vertonghen. On the ball, Vlad is composed, and elegant, and this suits our style of play a lot. To say whether he is better than Caulker is still not known, as the Premier League is obviously a much harder league than in Romania. Vlad ‘The Impaler’ has been praised by a lot of the top clubs in Europe, including Jose Mourinho, who said if he were a couple of inches taller, he would have taken him to Madrid. High praise indeed. He will need to settle in quickly, and get his mind right, and his ability on the field will show.

I don’t think Chiriches will be a starter. He’s not yet at the level of Jan Vertonghen, Younes Kaboul or Michael Dawson, but he will get games in the many competitions we are in such as the Europa League, Capital One Cup and the FA Cup. He is great back up, especially as Kaboul is coming back from a long term injury, and so may be a little fragile. Chiriches can also play at full back, he covers left back and right back, this can only be good for our squad depth. It will help out in the long run I’m sure.

Great to have Chiriches on board, and still more signings to come. Looking forward to a great season! COYS!

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Match Preview, Stoke vs Tottenham.

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

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

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

Match Preview, FC Basel vs Tottenham (2nd Leg)

First Leg: Tottenham 2-2 Basel

It wasn’t the best of results at the Lane in the first leg, but it’s still very doable, we can still get to the semi finals. Being in the quarter final, there is never going to be an easy game, so we need to put in a performance worthy of going through to the semi final of a major competition. The 2 away goals will make it very difficult for us, but we have the ability to score 2 or 3 goals in any game. Winning 1-0 would get us through, and this should give us confidence, it’s more than possible. Basel are a good side, they showed that in the first leg, but we weren’t at our best, and we still drew the game, so a better performance should bring us the result we need.

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Emmanuel Adebayor played well against Everton, and we need him to play even better and get a couple of goals. The way he plays could decide whether we go through to the semis or go out. Gylfi Sigurdsson has played well, and got 6 goals recently, so we need him to be on form, and maybe he could grab a goal like in the first leg. Steven Caulker should start, I think it’s important we play him, not only for his defensive abilities, but because of his threat from set pieces, we need goals, from anywhere on the pitch. Tom Huddlestone should start in my opinion, he has the ability to run the midfield alongside Tom Carroll, he also has a rocket of a right foot, maybe he could shave his hair by tomorrow night! We need to get through, we can do it! The game is televised on ITV 1, with coverage starting at 7:45. COYS!!

My preferred team to face FC Basel at St Jakob-Park:
Lloris
Walker – Caulker – Vertonghen – Assou-Ekotto
Holtby – Huddlestone – Carroll – Sigurdsson
Dembele
Adebayor

Match Review, Leeds United vs Tottenham

Leeds United 2-1 Tottenham

What a dreadful result and performance. Extremely disappointed to be out of the FA cup, it’s a cup that we wanted to win as it is a cup that we have a lot of history in and to be out is devastating. Leeds were average at best, but they worked extremely hard and deserved the win. It was the fact that we were so poor, makes it such a hard defeat to take. There were some brilliant performances from the Leeds players, Luke Varney and Ross McCormack gave our defence hell, which is hard to believe seeing as our centre backs deal with some of the best attacking forces in the world and don’t have that many problems, very disappointing.

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Clint Dempsey, got a lot of stick today, but it was very unneeded because he was playing in a role that he shouldn’t have, we lack a striker, so this window must bring the arrival of a world class finisher. Our centre back pairing of Caulker and Vertonghen was absolutely shocking, for brilliant centre backs they looked scared of an average Leeds attack. Assou-Ekotto looked quite solid today, a bright light in an awful display. Parker was very good as well, he gave it his all, a true leader he deserved to be captain today. An awful result, but we have to move on and get our form back on the right track. Our next game is in the Premier League against Norwich on Wednesday at 7:45pm. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Leeds United:
Friedel – 7
Naughton – 5
Caulker – 5
Vertonghen – 5
Assou-Ekotto – 7
Lennon – 7
Parker – 8
Huddlestone – 5
Bale – 7
Sigurdsson – 5
Dempsey – 6

Subs:
Dembele – 7 1/2
Obika – 7
Walker – 6

Match Preview, Sunderland vs Tottenham

Sunderland are starting to show some good form now after a very poor spell, and after beating Man City they will be full of confidence and very difficult opponents for us. Their main threat is Steven Fletcher, a player that can turn half a chance into a goal in no time at all, he is good in the air and good with his feet so he’s a complete striker. Stephane Sessegnon is a very skilful player with the ability to hurt even the best teams so we have to be very careful with him and give him hardly any time or space on the ball otherwise he can create good chances. Sunderland will be without their left back Danny Rose because he is on loan from us, this will be a big loss as he injects them with a lot of pace and his crosses can be very dangerous with Fletcher in the box.

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Jermain Defoe has been in supreme form and goals are starting to flow for him, he broke the deadlock against Aston Villa and that led to us thrashing them. He’s a poacher and if he gets a chance you can bet that he will take it. Gareth Bale will be looking to continue the form he showed against Villa and I’m sure that he can do this, another hat-trick please Gareth! An unchanged side wouldn’t surprise me because nobody on the pitch did anything wrong and the same sort of frustrating day could be in store. The team we played looked patient and relaxed and this is what we need to be in these sort of games. It will be a difficult game like every game that we play, but if we play as well as we did against Villa we should get all three points. The game at The Stadium of Light is being shown on Sky Sports at 12:45. COYS!!

My preferred team to face Sunderland:
Lloris
Walker – Caulker – Vertonghen – Naughton
Lennon – Dembele – Sandro – Bale
Sigurdsson
Defoe

Match Preview, Fulham vs Tottenham

Fulham are going to be a very hard team to beat, they have good players and a very good manager, three points would be a bonus. Dimitar Berbatov will be a big threat to our defence, and so will Bryan Ruiz, both players have tremendous talent and can cause problems for any team. Their defence is week without Brede Hangeland, and this means we might be able to get quite a few goals in with our attacking ability.

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With Dembele and Dempsey both returning to their former club it could be a very feisty affair, both definitely have the quality to hurt Fulham, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if at least one of them got on the scoresheet. Caulker should return, which means Gallas will be dropped to the bench. Jermain Defoe will be important, he needs to influence the game more than he did against Liverpool, and he must score today to keep Adebayor out of the next game. The team looks to have started to settle, and more or less the same team should go out at Fulham and come home with three points. Craven Cottage is a hard place to go but I’m quietly confident of a good win. COYS!!

My preferred team to face Fulham:
Lloris
Walker – Dawson – Caulker – Vertonghen
Lennon – Sandro – Dembele – Bale
Dempsey
Defoe

Match Review, Tottenham vs Aston Villa

Solid win for the team today, we played well and created a heap of chances. Aston Villa played defensively, and quite dirty really so it shows great character that we came through and got the win. We had a lot of chances in the first half, that we didn’t take. At this point I was starting to get worried. In the second half we got the goal through Caulker, his first for the club, and then it was clear that we would get the win as Aston Villa don’t have much of a threat in attack. When the second goal came from Aaron Lennon, we were in total control and our passing game came into action.

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Lloris started in goal, and a clean sheet was exactly what he needed on his debut in the Premier League. Dembele was once again superb and the superlatives I can use for this lad are running out, quite fantastic; he didn’t lose the ball once he had it, and he created lots of chances for the Dempsey and Defoe partnership, which is quickly flourishing. Dempsey has quick feet around the penalty area and likes to get his shot away, lots of goals predicted for this terrific signing. The new Chirpy is quite an addition as well! We bring 3 points and a good performance into this international break, and then the big challenge of the League leaders Chelsea at the Lane. I’m looking forward to that one! AVB will be looking to get a win against his former club, it should be a cracker. COYS!!

My player ratings vs Aston Villa:
Lloris – 8
Walker – 6
Caulker – 8
Gallas – 8
Vertonghen – 7
Lennon – 8
Sandro – 7
Dembele – 10 man of the match
Bale – 8
Dempsey – 8
Defoe – 9

Steven Caulker, the new Ledley King?

Today I’m going to ask the question, is Steven Caulker the new Ledley King. Caulker has the potential it seems to replace the King, and be one of the best centre backs in the Premier League. Caulker is already competent in the main areas of his position, his main skill at the moment is his passing and distribution, he learnt this trade under Brendan Rodgers last season at Swansea, the loan he had there was extremely profitable for Steven and for Tottenham. He is quick off the mark, the same as Ledley before his knee problems and this could suit our new style of defending under AVB. He looks as if he is a true sportsman, and a very modest person. This was the same with the King.

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I have been very impressed with Caulker so far, this season and last season with Swansea. It might not be fair to compare him to King but he is somebody with tremendous talent and a very bright future at the lane. He needs a little bit more experience of playing games in the Premier League, and playing next to the likes of Gallas and Dawson will help him come on leaps and bounds. We have a very good young squad coming through, Caulker is just one of the many future stars coming through the Tottenham Academy, this says a lot of very good things about our amazing club. COYS!!