2014 Tottenham Hotspur Pre-Season Review.

Pre-Season is over, and now the real business gets underway, starting with West Ham on Saturday, but I want to have a look back at what we saw in pre-season – the players that impressed, goals scored, the results we got and the performances we put in:

Tottenham 3-3 Seattle – Game 1 of the USA & Canada tour.
Our first game of pre-season on July 19th was new manager Mauricio Pochettino’s first game in charge. What we instantly saw from the team was a new way of playing, focusing on possession, pressing football with attacking flair and lots of energy. It was a very early stage of getting to grips with Pochettino’s ideas and strict fitness regime. We played well, passed the ball as well as we could on a difficult artificial surface and created a nice goal for Lewis Holtby to make it 1-0 early on, Harry Kane with a fantastic assist. Seattle then scored a penalty and a terrific goal that no goalkeeper could have saved to put them 2-1 up, probably against the run of play. We levelled with Roberto Soldado from the spot, who did extremely well in the build up to get the foul. Sloppy defending from Younes Kaboul led to Seattle taking the lead 3-2, but we levelled again late on from an Iago Falque penalty. A good run out but nothing spectacular. Lewis Holtby without a doubt man of the match, but Cristian Ceballos and Etienne Capoue also impressed.

Tottenham 3-2 Toronto – Game 2 of the USA & Canada tour.
In our second pre-season game, against a fairly strong Toronto side, we game out on top, Erik Lamela opened his pre-season account with 2 goals in a first half in which we played really good, fast paced football with a purpose. Two very well taken goals that will only help Lamela’s confidence for the new season. In the second half, we were much more sloppy, especially at the back, but I think this was down to many changes made at the break to give players some game time, Toronto pulled it back to 2-2, but in the 85th minute Andros Townsend secured our first win of pre-season with a sweet right footed strike. A game of two halfs, but I think we played well on the whole and slightly improved from the Seattle game which is always important. Erik Lamela bagged that man of the match award for me for his two goals and impressive game all-round. Another impressive game for Etienne Capoue too, I thought.

Tottenham 2-0 Chicago Fire – Game 3 of the USA & Canada tour.
Our final game of the tour in America and Canada ended with a win, in comfortable fashion. We were never troubled by Chicago and played some great football ourselves although weren’t as clinical as we’d shown in the games against Toronto or Seattle. Defensively we were much more together, though and we still passed the ball nicely and found openings. Harry Kane opened the scoring after great work from Lewis Holtby, who was everywhere in this game, he played it across for Kane and he made no mistake to make it 1-0. A very quiet 80 minutes past before we scored a fantastic second goal in the 85th minute, wonderful build up play from Roberto Soldado released Aaron Lennon, who showed his pace to go past the Chicago defence and then the goalkeeper before slotting home. A welcomed clean sheet was nice after some shaky defending and another sign that we were learning from mistakes and rectifying them and trying to improve. Lewis Holtby was man of the match once again for me, but Erik Lamela was also very impressive and probably could have had a few goals himself.

Tottenham 6-1 Celtic.
An odd pre-season game, with Tottenham looking for a stern challenge from the Scottish champions, but Celtic much more focused on their Champions League dreams that were at the time in a dire state. Only 1-2 first teamers travelled with their team, and not even their manager turned up for the game in Finland, but it was another 90 minutes to make us sharper and more confident. 6 goals scored, whether against Real Madrid or Burton Albion is never a bad thing, and as all 6 goals were scored by different personnel it shows how much firepower we can have with all guns blazing. Harry Kane, Roberto Soldado, Lewis Holtby, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Emmanuel Adebayor from the spot scored the goals. We played well, especially Etienne Capoue for me, and once again Lewis Holtby who has had a fantastic pre-season.

Tottenham 2-1 Schalke.
Our toughest test of pre-season and a good win. Schalke are a decent team who bring physicality as well as creativity in attack. Although they didn’t have some of their best players, most notably Draxler, they were a good test to have in our final game in front of the home crowd. The first half we played some great stuff with Danny Rose our best player on the left hand side giving us an outlet of pace and width that I think we lack a bit when playing Lamela, Eriksen and Lennon, all roaming around centrally. Emmanuel Adebayor opened the scoring for us from a Lewis Holtby assist, playing against his former club. We moved the ball well, showed good, one touch football with a lot of pressure on the opposition when not on the ball. We should have scored a lot more goals than we did, that was my only disappointment. We worked hard and another 90 minutes of competitive football will help our cause. Roberto Soldado got our second goal, after Andros Townsend’s shot was parried he chipped the keeper with a header. A good finish and it can only help his confidence. To concede was disappointing, as it always is, but we got a result and a good run out, which is important in our last game ahead of the new season. New signing Eric Dier was my man of the match for this game, but I was also impressed by Danny Rose and once again Lewis Holtby.

Top five performers:

1 – Lewis Holtby. A fantastic work-rate and his creativity seems to have improved from past seasons. An end product to his game and I think one who should be in the 11 to face West Ham. In this pre-season he was our outstanding performer for sure, goals and assists. Contributing in every game.

2 – Etienne Capoue. After an injury struck season in 2013/14, a good pre-season was a must for Etienne and he duly delivered. Very comfortable on the ball and showed some of the form we saw early last season. If fully fit, I’d start him against West Ham.

3 – Erik Lamela. Like a new player this pre-season. Now hoping for him to push on and show his talent where it matters. Not afraid to run at the opposition and while rotating from right wing, central attacking and left wing, he showed versatility as well. Going to be a big player for us this season I think.

4 – Danny Rose. Possibly a surprise for some to read he’s been one of our best players this pre-season, but he definitely has in my eyes. The addition of Ben Davies has seemingly given him a spark to prove himself, and it’s showing to be great having competition for that left back slot now. If Danny can improve his final ball and concentration this season while keeping fit, there is no reason why he can’t hold down a starting position, even ahead of Ben Davies.

5 – Harry Kane. I thought Harry played really well this pre-season, he worked hard and showed how much his finishing has improved in the last season and a bit. He’s established himself as a first team player, whether on the bench or starting. He does a job and when he gets opportunities in front of goal he has looked good. To pick him in the top 5 players was a tough decision, as other performers such as Roberto Soldado, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend have impressed me in these friendlies. It’s a big season for Harry and I hope he can continue to prove that he has a big future at Tottenham, at just 21 years old.

Pre-Season conclusions:

Being undefeated in pre-season can only be a positive, we had some brilliant displays, we scored goals, we showed our much more attacking and exciting style of football and it’s given Mauricio Pochettino a good start and implemented some positivity into the Tottenham fans, which is undoubtedly a good thing. One thing I can see as another big positive is that I can’t pick out a player who I think has been poor in pre-season. All have been at par or above and this gives me a lot of hope leading into the new season that Pochettino is the man to get the best out of our deep, quality squad. Of course, it is only pre-season, and it does not compare to the pace, intensity and difficulty of the Premier League, but it can give us an indicator for how Pochettino will line up.

With the World Cup this summer, it has disrupted the pre-season of some of our biggest stars, but this is the same for all the big teams. Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele, Nacer Chadli, Paulinho and Michel Vorm no minutes of game time to their belt, which is slightly worrying, along with Vlad Chiriches who was seemingly injured for the whole pre-season, but Nabil Bentaleb and Hugo Lloris were able to get in the team and up their fitness levels which is a very good thing. Both Hugo and Nabil are going to be big players this season for us, I think. I’m sure despite not playing much football, most of the magic happens on the training pitch, getting fit and learning what Mauricio Pochettino wants from them this season.

Our style of play has improved dramatically from last season and we’ve only had a few months under the guidance of Pochettino. Hopefully we continue to improve and show more attacking flair once more top players come into the frame and possibly new signings in the last few weeks of the window. It’s been a good pre-season results wise but I was more impressed with how the players went about their business and tried to show their worth to Pochettino. Now, we have to go to Upton Park for our biggest game in a long time. A good start to the season is crucial and especially against a team that beat us three times last season. Let’s hope for the best. COYS!!

Thanks for reading! What did you think of our pre-season performances? Comment below!

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Welcome to Tottenham Hotspur, Ben Davies and Michel Vorm!

Tottenham have completed the signing of Welsh left back Ben Davies and Dutch keeper Michel Vorm from Swansea in a deal rumoured to be worth around £15 million with Gylfi Sigurdsson going the other way to Swansea for £10 million in virtually a swap deal for Davies. A deal that suits Tottenham, and I’m sure Swansea will benefit from too. Sigurdsson is a fantastic player and being the key man in Swansea’s midfield will definitely make him show his undoubted quality but he doesn’t fit in at Spurs, with too many players in his position, and he’s too good for our bench, so a move is best, but Tottenham get in return a player who will fill our left back slot for years to come, in a position we desperately needed to fill and a keeper that can be a like-for-like back up to Hugo Lloris. We’re signing Davies not only for his previous performances, but also for what those performances have shown he can do in the future. It’s filled a weakness that’s been quickly spotted by Pochettino and his coaching staff. We’ve been waiting quite a while for our first piece of business in the transfer window, but it’s apparent that Pochettino believes in the squad we have and only wants to tinker in key areas, something we expected after last summer’s spending and the 7 signings we made that haven’t all clicked into place just yet, but that’s what Pochettino was hired to do. Make those players into what we believed they would be when they were first signed. Now, Ben Davies and Michel Vorm have been added to the ranks and I think it’s a good news for Tottenham.

Ben Davies is 21 and already has two full Premier League seasons to his name with Swansea, also having 7 games in the Europa League with appearances against Napoli on the résumé, so he’s a very experienced player for someone so young. He made 85 appearances for Swansea in all competitions with a League Cup trophy to his name. He came through the ranks at the Welsh club, getting the chance to play because of an injury to first choice left back Neil Taylor, and he grabbed it with both hands and within a season was definite first choice after a great season under Michael Laudrup. The second season Swansea struggled because of Europa League commitments, but the experience of trying to juggle both will surely only help Ben Davies now that he’s at Spurs. Davies’ performances have earned him a place in the Welsh national squad, too, having 10 appearances to his name and of course that will only increase with time. It’s been a pretty amazing 2 seasons for Ben Davies, and now securing this deal to Tottenham is the next step and hopefully, it’ll be even more successful than his Swansea time, in trophies and performances.

At 21 years of age, Davies is a raw talent, he will learn with experience, but the fact he has only made 2 defensive errors in two full Premier League seasons, compared to Danny Rose’s 3 defensive errors last season alone shows what a cool head is on Ben’s shoulders. Davies is a very competent left back, he does his job well, isn’t rash, doesn’t make many mistakes and is composed on the ball with an 84% passing accuracy last season. Consistency is his game, he’s a 7/10 or more week-in-week-out, composed, technically and tactically astute, finding his left winger and his strikers, or his central midfielders who can do more damage than him in the opposition half.

But offensively, Davies created 31 chances last season from the left back slot, that’s compared with Aaron Lennon last season who created just 4 more chances from a much more advanced role at right wing, so you can see he is able to provide good chances for our more attacking players. Obviously there are a lot of things he needs to learn, but he will be nurtured by Pochettino, who has seen the potential in him through signing him it seems. Signing Davies solves a problem that we’ve had since Benoit Assou-Ekotto got injured and never returned to the level that he once had, we’ve tried Jan Vertonghen there, Danny Rose has had a season at left back after a successful season at Sunderland, but he’s failed to nail down his place with Davies seemingly replacing him now. At 21 years old Ben Davies can become our left back for many years to come, and hopefully he can be even more successful than our last Welsh left back, Gareth Bale.

Michel Vorm’s signing was rumoured to be worth £3.5 million – £5 million, another Swansea player. The goalkeeper is 30 years old has vast experience in the Premier League for Swansea and has a decent amount of appearances for his native country Holland, as well as in the World Cup this summer, even if it was only for 5 minutes. At a cut price deal, this is without a doubt a good signing, as a back up to our number 1 without question Hugo Lloris. A strange transfer in many ways, as Michel could easily be number one for another team in the Premier League, but he has chosen Tottenham and wants to fight, playing in cup competitions and if, God forbid, Hugo Lloris sustains an injury. He’s a much more like-for-like swap for Hugo, quick off his line, very assured on the ball, and very agile in the save and around his area, which gives me much more confidence with him in goal, with the high line we play than with Brad Friedel, a model professional, and for sure still a top goalkeeper even at his ripe old age of 43, but he doesn’t fill me with confidence when Hugo doesn’t feature, and now we can allow Friedel to become more of a coach and use his vast experience to help Hugo, Vorm and the younger ‘keepers develop even further. With Lloris, Vorm and Friedel, we without a doubt have one of the top set of keepers in the League.

The signing of Ben Davies and Michel Vorm kicks off this summer’ business for Daniel Levy, Franco Baldini and Mauricio Pochettino to create a team ready to compete. I think the signing of Davies and Vorm shows the direction we are taking in this window, signing players who have experience in the Premier League and in Europe, so they can fit straight in without the period of getting used to the League like last season, but now we can link this Premier League experience with quality who have now had a season in the Premier League and know what to expect. It’s going to be an interesting transfer window, but we’ve kicked off our Summer signing plugging a big hole and signing a good back up keeper. Now let’s get the rest of our business sorted early, so more can bed in and we can hit the ground running for the new season. COYS!!

What do you think of our new signings? Comment below!

Welcome to Spurs, Ben Davies and Michel Vorm!

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Match Review, Stoke City vs Tottenham.

Match: Saturday 26th April 2014.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: Britannia Stadium.

Result: Stoke City 0-1 Tottenham.

Goalscorer for Spurs: Danny Rose 33′.

Delighted with the three points. We move just 3 points behind Everton in 5th and 6 points clear of Manchester United in 7th, and we are only 4 points off the top four and Arsenal, which I find quite funny, even if they do have a game in hand. The football we played wasn’t pretty, but we hung on and got the result, which is what you have to do at places like Stoke, a place which has taken points off Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United. Now only 2 games left and I’d love to win both for a great finish to the season.

In the first half, I thought we played some nice football, but we lacked cutting edge and were wasteful with the ball, despite finding spaces in the right areas we were too slow at releasing the ball to the wingers or finding the killer pass to the strikers, and when we did find the wingers the crossing wasn’t hitting the right areas. Breaking the Stoke defence down was something we found difficult throughout the game, but we did find the killer touch on one occasion, Aaron Lennon flicked the ball towards Emmanuel Adebayor wide on the right hand side, who controlled the ball well and poked it past the Stoke defender Marc Muniesa and showed a good turn of pace and then delivered a delightful ball into the danger area for Danny Rose who jumped highest to nod home in the 33rd minute to make it 1-0, his first Premier League goal of the season. The second half was very difficult for us, early on the Potters were awarded a red card for Ryan Shawcross for a late tackle on Danny Rose, his second yellow card, and it was deserved. You’d think that this would help us take the game away from Stoke, but it meant that the home side sat back and made it even more difficult for us to break them down again, despite still having some space in the midfield. We held on in the end for a good three points.

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The defensive back 5, including Hugo Lloris played very well. For me, Michael Dawson was man of the match, he returned to the side after a hamstring injury and he played superbly, making crucial tackles and winning headers all game, a great decision from Tim Sherwood to re-include the skipper in the starting 11 ahead of Vlad Chiriches and Zeki Fryers. Alongside Dawson, Younes Kaboul was very solid, the same as Dawson he made some great tackles and looked much more comfortable with an experienced head next to him, he looked much more free to run with the ball and take it out from defence and I think that was his best performance since his return from injury. The full backs Kyle Naughton and the goal scorer Danny Rose also played great games, and hopefully they can continue this form in the last two games of the season. In midfield I though Paulinho played well, but other than him I thought we were very sloppy, even Christian Eriksen wasn’t on form. Upfront, Harry Kane had his first bad game in a Spurs shirt and Emmanuel Adebayor continued his average form of late.

You can’t complain with 3 points! We are 6 points from our record points tally in the Premier League, 72 points, so 2 wins is the aim! Our next game is against West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday 3rd May. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Stoke at the Britannia:
Lloris – 8
Naughton – 7.5
Dawson – 9 – Man of the Match.
Kaboul – 8.5
Rose – 8
Lennon – 5.5
Paulinho – 7
Chadli – 6
Eriksen – 6.5
Kane – 6
Adebayor – 6

Subs:
Townsend – 6
Sigurdsson – 6
Fryers – 6.

Match highlights from our 1-0 win over Stoke:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1rjb8r_epl-stoke-city-0-1-tottenham-all-goals-highlights-hd_sport

Tim Sherwood talks to the press after the Stoke victory:

Match Review, Tottenham vs Norwich.

Tottenham 2-0 Norwich
Sigurdsson 29′
Sigurdsson 49′

Great performance and a great win. We get our season well and truly back on track after the Arsenal disappointment. We dominated from start to finish, controlling the midfield and being extremely solid at the back. Norwich weren’t bad, we were just very good. The power in midfield we have with Paulinho and Dembele was too much for the Norwich lads Leroy Fer and Bradley Johnson. We were a real threat going forward, with every attack and shot looking like a goal was going to come from it. Very good win and credit to Norwich for trying to make a game of it and attacking us! Was impressed with them, I’m sure they’ll do just fine this season.

20130914-184711.jpgThe whole team was simply sensational, they all pulled together and looked fully at home on the pitch. Yes, it will take time for the new boys to settle, but it looked as though the players had played together for months. Christian Eriksen made his debut and he was phenomenal. The playmaker we’ve missed so far this season is Christian Eriksen, the little flicks, decisive passes and general controlling of the final third was stunning, and he still wasn’t at his best. Really exciting to see him in action this season. Gylfi Sigurdsson shut the doubters, including myself, up today with his two very well taken goals. Very happy for him, hopefully he continues this form. Danny Rose, Paulinho and Mousa Dembele were others that put in a really good shift to help us to victory. Lets hope we can continue this form for a long time to come and go on a winning streak. Our next game is against Tromso in the Europa League at White Hart Lane on the 19th September kick off 8:05pm. Our next Premier League game is against Cardiff, away from home, on Sunday 22nd September, kick off at 4:00pm. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Norwich at White Hart Lane:
Lloris – 8 – Didn’t have much to do at all!
Walker – 7 – A few sloppy moments, but on the attack was very good.
Dawson – 7 – Solid when asked upon, which wasn’t very often.
Vertonghen – 8 – On the ball was superb, made some key passes, and solid at the back.
Rose – 9 – On the attack he was top class. Defensively he saved us a few times!
Paulinho – 9 – Controlled the midfield, skilful, and a brute.
Dembele – 8 – Back to his usual self, bossing the midfield with Paulinho today.
Townsend – 7 – A little too eager sometimes, but was a threat all day with his pace.
Eriksen – 9 – 3 key passes and an assist. Amazing debut, going to be brilliant for us.
Sigurdsson – 10 – Man of the match. Two goals, worked hard. All round superb he was superb.
Soldado – 7 – A couple of half chances. Not his best afternoon. Link up play was great though.

Subs:
Holtby – 6 – Worked very hard when he came on, not enough time to make an impact though.
Sandro – 7 – All over the park when he came on, tackles, passing, the lot. Happy he’s back!
Lamela – 6 – Sparks of brilliance, not a lot of time at all. Looks brilliant though!