Match Review, Southampton vs Tottenham.

Match: Saturday 25th April 2015.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: St Mary’s.

Result: Southampton 2-2 Tottenham.

Southampton goalscorer: Graziano Pelle 28’, 65’.

Tottenham goalscorers: Erik Lamela 42’ & Nacer Chadli 71’.

A fair result for both sides, with Southampton probably feeling the more aggrieved of the sides at not coming away victorious. The way we played was okay, but we lacked that offensive guile that was needed in the final third, not getting enough chances to really hurt Southampton before they could hurt us. This draw means we stay 6th, one point ahead of today’s rivals Southampton in 7th, and coming into a tough game against Manchester City, the result isn’t ideal, but away from home against an organised, well balanced, technically good side, we have done well to come out with a point – it’s not an easy place to go by any stretch of the imagination, so I think most would be somewhat happy with a point – but a little frustrated we couldn’t nick a win which would have been ever so sweet. Our passing was okay, we pressed the Southampton side quite well and didn’t let them have too much space both in midfield and in the final third, but they were the most accomplished on the ball, and created the most chances – all the while limiting our service to Harry Kane, with Christian Eriksen, Lamela and Chadli being swarmed and unable to get their heads up quickly enough. But, I don’t think we can complain too much at a point – as it reflects how tight in quality we both are, and have been this season. Watching the game, you could see that both sides were very close to each other on the table without looking at it.

In the first half, we were sloppy and unimaginative. We gave the ball away too cheaply in midfield and when we did have the chance to counter or mount an attack, we weren’t quick enough – which definitely pointed out our lack of pace within the team at the moment, especially without Danny Rose and Kyle Walker. It didn’t look as though we were in a position to concede, apart from Morgan Schneiderlin going close from a corner, but on 28 minutes after initially clearing the danger, we put ourselves into a position to concede with another individual error – this time, a terrible pass by Ryan Mason put Ben Davies under pressure, with Graziano Pelle breathing down his neck, and the Welsh defender not clearing his lines, and the big Italian poked the ball away from him, past Hugo Lloris for a frustrasting and avoidable 1-0. We reacted well to going a goal down, and started to control the football a bit more and create openings, and that led to our equaliser. Down the right hand side, Eric Dier whipped a great ball into the box, which missed Harry Kane and found Erik Lamela, who knocked the ball with his arm/shoulder/head past Kelvin Davis in the Soutampton goal for 1-1 on 42 minutes, to get us to half time at a respectable 1-1.

The second half saw us improve, pass the ball better and make less mistakes in the midfield while looking more solid at the back – but our service to Harry Kane still wasn’t good enough and we didn’t create an awful lot. Nacer Chadli had a couple of siters but nothing really that troubled the evergreen Kelvin Davis in goal, and frustration continued as we couldn’t break down a compact Southampton side, you have to be fair to the Saints – they didn’t give us many opportunites to score, but you could swing it the other way and say we didn’t do enough to test the defence when we had the ball! It was Southampton that got the goal to put them ahead once again, Saido Mane making the run and picking out Shane Long, who delivered and inch perfect cross onto the head of Graziano Pelle who got loads of power on his power and it flew past Hugo Lloris to make it 2-1 on 65 minutes. That lead was short lived for the Saints though, and six minutes later, a great ball from Eric Dier set Nacer Chadli on his way and he used his strength to fight off Maya Yoshida and side foot the ball into the back of the net for 2-2. The end of the game was very tense, and we did create a few chances, but it was Southampton that possibly could have pinched the three points, with Pelle, Davis, Mane and Long all looking dangerous. With seven minutes added on at the end, the tension levels rose, and we controlled the first five minutes of added time, looking as though we may get the winner, but suddenly, the pressure shifted and Southampton got free kicks and corners, leaving a few nails bare. But, we did well and got a decent point.
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A good point. We don’t have to be ashamed of that result or our performance, and hopefully we can perform even better in our next match, against Manchester City at White Hart Lane next Sunday on Sky Sports 1, that should be an interesting one! Coming into the last four games of the season, I would like to see us really go for it, as at this point we don’t have much to lose! Follow me on twitter for it all, here @AddictedToSpurs. Up the Spurs and COYS!!

My player ratings for the side that faced Southampton at St Mary’s:
Lloris – 7.5
Dier – 8
Fazio – 7
Vertonghen – 7.5
Davies – 6 (Chiriches 75’ – 5)
Lamela – 7.5
Mason – 7
Bentaleb – 8.5 – Man of the Match (Soldado 86’ – N/A)
Chadli – 7 (Dembele 82’ – 6)
Eriksen – 7.5
Kane – 6

Mauricio Pochettino reacts to the 2-2 draw with Southampton:

Match highlights of our 2-2 draw with the Saints:

Match Preview, Liverpool vs Tottenham.

Match date & time: Tuesday 10th February 2015. 8pm GMT KO.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: Anfield.

TV: Live on BT Sport 1. Worldwide TV listings HERE.

After triumphing in the North London Derby, we almost instantly have to re-focus on what is another massive game against a really good side, wanting to continue our good form and build on the fantastic result against Arsenal. The way in which we played was admirable, and now we have to replicate that intensity and energy this Tuesday against an energetic, creative Liverpool side, who at home are very difficult to beat, and always recognised as a side with a brilliant record at Anfield, with the Kop behind them. With the form we are in, we have to look to keep this momentum going and with confidence elevated within the squad we have all the tools to succeed in Merseyside against a good side, but one that is still finding it’s feet after the sale of Luis Suarez. At the moment we sit in 5th place, just one point off Manchester United in 4th and two points away from Southampton in 3rd, and now we must be looking to break our way into that top four bracket, and have a good opportunity to keep up the pressure with a win at Anfield, as tough as the game will no doubt be. I think we go into the game without fear; we have a team functioning well, that now knows that on their day, can beat any side in the League, and the good mentality that has been grinded into their make up by Mauricio Pochettino is starting to pay off magnificently, as the side never looks like losing, and even if we do go a goal behind there isn’t panic, and we always seem to be self-assured that we will snatch a goal or two with the quality we have up top, so, heading into another big game at Anfield, I’m confident of taking at least a point, and I’m sure Pochettino and the players feel the same.

Focusing on Liverpool; after a tough start to their season, with the loss of Luis Suarez, and the failure to settle in by some of their big signings, it was a turbulent beginning, with intense media scrutiny on their performances and results, but, they have recently started to pick up their displays and showcase more energy, creativity and goal threat than previously. They have hit good form, and in their last five Premier League games they have won 4 and drawn 1, and are unbeaten in 8 League fixtures, with their last loss coming to Manchester United, 3-0, back in mid December, so there is no doubt that we are coming into a very difficult fixture, with this Liverpool side in a winning mentality, despite their Merseyside derby bore draw at Goodison Park on Saturday evening. They will be high on confidence having gone unbeaten at Anfield in 9 games in all competitions, with only Chelsea back in early November scraping a 2-1 win. In our last game against the Merseyside giants, we fell to a 3-0 defeat at White Hart Lane at the start of the season, being unlucky to lose by that scoreline, but deservedly losing the game at the very start of Mauricio Pochettino’s reign at White Hart Lane. Then, the last time we visited Anfield was under Tim Sherwood’s tenure near the end of last season, a 4-0 defeat to a devastatingly good Liverpool side who had the power of Luis Suarez at their disposal, and a very well drilled and functioning side that was threatening for the League, whereas our side was to put it lightly, dysfunctional and poorly managed. Now though, it’s a different story and we will be looking to put the record straight after our poor displays in recent times against the Reds. We both had a derby on the Saturday, and we came out on top while Liverpool couldn’t get on the scoreboard in a 0-0 draw, and now we’ll be hoping we can keep Liverpool at bay and grab another three points within three days.

The team news for Liverpool is that key man Phillipe Coutinho have recovered from knock in the game against Everton to be fit for this game, but Lucas Leiva (groin), Brad Jones (hip), Raheem Sterling (foot) and John Flanagan (knee) are out, while Adam Lallana is in line to return to contention after a groin injury, which will be a big plus for the Reds. There is no doubting that having Phillipe Coutinho fit for the Reds will be a God send for Liverpool, who rely on him for creativity, goals and their overall ability to impact games and change them in Liverpool’s favour. Coutinho, recently, has been brilliant, and has 3 goals and 5 assists so far this season, which isn’t spectacular, but recently he has upped his game and become a more integral part of the Liverpool side, and has a similar effect on the side that Christian Eriksen has to our side, with his ability to see passes and gaps, as well as spread the play and contribute with goals and assists. Unfortunately for Liverpool, England and Daniel Sturridge, the striker has been side lined for a long period of time, but is now starting to get back into his stride, and returned against West Ham with a goal, and made an appearance from the bench against Everton at the week-end and will be hoping he can get back into the starting line up as soon as possible, but youngster Jordan Ibe may have something to say about that! The 21-year-old attacker was electric in the Merseyside derby and will be hoping he can get a sustained period of time in the side, and have his effect on Liverpool’s fortunes, he has pace, good technique and can cause problems for defenders. He is certainly one to watch out for in a dangerous Liverpool attacking group.
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The team news for Tottenham is that DeAndre Yedlin is the only absentee from the squad due to international duty with the USMNT, but other than that our side is 100% fit, healthy and raring to go, and long may it continue! Nabil Bentaleb returned to fantastic effect against Arsenal, but it was Andros Townsend who missed out on the 18 man squad who will be looking to fight his way back in, along with Younes Kaboul, Vlad Chiriches, Etienne Capoue and Emmanuel Adebayor, who’s futures don’t look bright at Tottenham at this moment in time.

There seems to be only one man who I can talk about at the moment and that man is Harry Kane. He is beyond unbelievable and is in nothing short of World Class form, hitting the 22-goal mark against Arsenal and continuing to silence any doubters he has left. Now, another big game is looming large and we are looking to the 21-year-old man in form to deliver once again and outshine the other English firepower in the ranks of Liverpool. You can see that he is enjoying himself on the field, and is relaxed about his chances, as he knows that when he gets one, he will take it, and he is being brilliantly clinical in front of the two posts. His all round game is the best in the Premier League at the moment, and every pundit across the land is running out of superlatives for the man who performs beyond disbelief. Now, after dismantling Arsenal and Chelsea, I am sure Harry Kane’s eyes are lighting up at the prospect of adding another side to his collection of goals. I don’t think anyone would put it past him! Mousa Dembele is along with the rest of the side who have been overshadowed by Kane’s greatness, as quietly in the background the powerful Belgian has been performing admirably just behind the striker, holding the ball and moving it beautifully, and really making the side tick over nicely, and against Liverpool, with the absence of Lucas Leiva, the grit in midfield, I think Mousa could have a big impact on the outcome of this game, and if he can get into his stride and effect the game in a similar way that he did against Arsenal, then I think along with Harry Kane, Mousa could be a vital part of any success. In the engine, it’s Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason who are putting in the work, and we will need them to be at the top of their games, to harass the creative spark of Liverpool’s midfield and take control of the game with their energetic and positive way of playing the game, and Nabil Bentaleb’s more offensive nature could be key as well, being the player who provided the inch perfect cross for Harry Kane’s winning header in the North London Derby. He really is a bright prospect for the future, and I look forward to seeing him develop even further. In defence, the partnership of Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen is looking very fruitful, with the defenders not only building a good understanding between themselves, but also their fullbacks, with Dier and Walker interchanging and helping each other well, and the same for Vertonghen and Rose. Dier has really showed his maturity in that centre back position, and showed how much better suited to that role he is than at right back.

Match stats provided by Opta:

– The Reds have lost just one of their last 20 Premier League home matches against Spurs (W13 D6 L1).

– Spurs managed just one shot on target when they entertained Liverpool at White Hart Lane earlier in the season.

– Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur in the fixture with the most own goals in Premier League history (9), with three of them being netted by Jamie Carragher.

– The Reds have scored 15 goals in the last four Premier League meetings with Spurs, while the Lilywhites have failed to register on the score sheet in any of the last three.

– Liverpool have won just four of their last 11 Premier League home matches (W4 D5 L2).

– Liverpool scored their 10th Premier League penalty against Tottenham in the reverse fixture last August. This took them clear of Manchester City against Aston Villa as the team with most penalties against a single opponent.

– Spurs have won five of their last seven Premier League away games.

– All seven matches in that run have seen exactly three goals scored and finished either 2-1 or 3-0.

– Jordan Henderson has scored in two of his last three Premier League games against Spurs.

– Harry Kane has now scored 22 goals in all competitions this season; more than any other Premier League player.

– Kane has scored 11 goals in his last 14 appearances for Spurs in all competitions.

Another massive game looming large! A trip to Anfield after a North London Derby, and we have to put the win to the back of our minds and focus fully on gaining another big win against a fellow top 4 competitor. It’s another chance for the players to show that this side is one that can compete for the Champions League positions this season, and hopefully we are able to complete what would be a brilliant couple of weeks, securing our place at Wembley, triumphing in the North London Derby, and then winning at Anfield is what dreams are made of for Spurs fans! The game is being shown live on BT Sport 1, but you can follow me on twitter, here: @AddictedToSpurs, for all the match updates including goals, videos, photos and much more. Give us a follow and let’s get three points! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred side to face Liverpool at Anfield:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Walker – Dier – Vertonghen – Rose
Mason – Bentaleb
Lamela – Dembele – Eriksen
Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino previews the trip to Merseyside:

Match Preview, Tottenham vs Partizan Belgrade.

Match date & time: Thursday 27th November 2014. 8:05pm GMT KO.

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

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

Tottenham’s Europa League campaign continues with the visit of Partizan, with an opportunity to proceed to the knockout stages with a win. We are level on points with Besiktas, 4 points ahead of 3rd place Asteras Tripolis, and 7 points ahead of 4th placed Partizan. With a win, we will qualify, and then we go to Besiktas fighting for top spot in the group, whether we will need a win or draw is yet to be decided, but first of all, we need to be qualified so that game against Besiktas doesn’t become a ‘must win’. There are a lot of permutations, but in the penultimate game in Group C, a lot will be decided. Hopefully, it will all go in our favour. After our win late on away at Hull, we have to change our focus quickly onto the Europa League and winning at White Hart Lane. Our form is good in the competition; winning our last 2 games against Asteras Tripolis, and now, back at White Hart Lane, it’s important we get the win again. At home, we are more than expected to get a result, but we have to deliver against a side which we struggled against away from home, I’m sure they’ll look to make it as difficult as possible for us, but I’m sure we will have enough to break them down, and secure qualification to the knockout stages.

Partizan are top of the the Serbian Super Liga, winning 11 of their 13 games and losing only 1. They’re used to winning, they know how to win and they can cause problems to sides, but, their League form hasn’t transferred into their Europa League games, and they sit bottom of Group C, with only 1 point and scoring only 1 goal, but that point came against Spurs in our visit to Belgrade, a frustrating & disappointing 0-0 draw. What was the unknown has become known, though. We have played them, and seen them play both Besiktas and Asteras Tripolis, knowing what they are, their threats, weaknesses and tactics, and with the opposition scouting system in place at Tottenham, I’m sure that makes it much easier for us to deploy a team that can win this game, and win it well. In the last game – we did draw 0-0 – and Partizan managed to completely nullify our offensive threat, so we have to make sure we are able to get through this time and pose much more of a threat to their goal, and at home, I’m very confident that we will.

Partizan only have a couple of injury concerns, Darko Brašanac (illness) is out, while fellow midfielder Nikola Drinčić (back) is a doubt for the game, and hasn’t featured in the Europa League this season since the play off rounds. Despite only scoring once in the Europa League so far, they do have a goal scoring striker in the League in the form of Petar Škuletić, who has an impressive 12 goals in 13 league appearances. So, given chances, he will be a threat to our goal, but those chances will most likely and hopefully be hard to come by for the Serbian outfit. Chances will be at a premium, and I think if they do get any, it will be Škuletić that they will be heavily relying on. Last time out against Besiktas, it was Saša Marković who got the goal from midfield, but as a more holding midfielder, they can’t rely on him for goals. For creation, it’s in the hands of captain Saša Ilic, and secondary striker Danko Lazović who has 8 goals in the Super Liga so far this season, their second highest goalscorer. It’s our hope that their creative, goalscoring players continue not to click in the Europa League and we will be able to qualify in relative ease.

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The team news for Tottenham is that captain Younes Kaboul (knock), Emmanuel Adebayor (back), Nacer Chadli (knee), Andros Townsend (ankle), Danny Rose (Chest), Etienne Capoue (knock), Kyle Walker (match fitness) and Federico Fazio (suspended) won’t feature, while Nabil Bentaleb makes an overdue return to the squad after an ankle injury, thankfully. It’s a good thing we have a big squad, because I think any other team in the Europa League would struggle to field a competitive team with 8 first team absentees. The absences represent a chance for the fringe players to come in and make an impact. Pochettino has hinted at Paulinho, Vlad Chiriches and Aaron Lennon getting a chance after their performances from the bench away at Hull, and I would agree, I think they deserve a chance, and if Pochettino doesn’t reward good performances from the bench with starts, then we would have a problem in the squad – hopefully the fringe players deliver.

Aaron Lennon performed really well against Hull coming in off of the bench, he was a different attacking force, bringing what he has done for years on end, which is using his pace, stretching opponents, getting to the byline and creating opportunities for his team mates. Our attacking force has lacked raw pace at times, and definitely lacked width – and if Aaron Lennon offers you anything at all, it’s width! Playing in the right wing I think Lennon does have something to offer us this season, in both the Premier League and the Cup competitions. In defence, as rotation is a common factor in the Europa League, it’s hard to really say who will get the nod, whether it’s Jan Vertonghen and Vlad Chiriches for a more experienced look, or giving confidence to Chiriches, and partnering him with the less experienced Eric Dier, while playing Kyle Naughton out at right back. I’d really like to see Eric Dier at centre back, he’s natural there and as a young player I would like to see him in his most comfortable position, especially before we judge him; at right back it is evident he lacks confidence and I think comfort, which makes it difficult for him to show people his talents – it’s time for his chance at centre back. Up top, with the absence of Emmanuel Adebayor, I would be inclined to continue the partnership of Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane, that’s our best chance for goals, I think, and building that partnership and understanding can only help in the long term. With Chadli, Townsend and Adebayor absent, I think it’s even more likely that Soldado and Kane will get the nod up front for this game, and possibly again on Sunday against Everton. Youth could also be introduced – with midfielder Harry Winks, attacking midfielder Cristian Ceballos and central defender Dominic Ball in the squad, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least one get a run somewhere in the game, if not one actually start the game.

Qualification is just around the corner! At White Hart Lane, we have a big, big chance at putting in a really good display for the fans, and to get through in style would be really comforting. The game is live on ITV 4, and I’ll be attending the game so I will update as much as possible from the stands at the Lane! Follow me on Twitter for much more Spurs, here: @AddictedToSpurs. COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Partizan at the Lane:
4-2-3-1
Vorm
Naughton – Dier – Chiriches – Davies
Paulinho – Stambouli
Lennon – Kane – Ceballos
Soldado.

Mauricio Pochettino speaks to the press ahead of Partizan (2 videos):

Christian Eriksen speaks to the press ahead of Partizan:

How would you line up the Tottenham side to face Partizan? Is it time to give the youth a chance?

Bringing Balance back to Tottenham’s team.

We have seriously struggled at home to break teams down, create chances and kill teams off. Not just this season, but under André Villas-Boas too during his 18 months in charge. It’s difficult to put your finger on why these games at White Hart Lane are so difficult, why we look stuck for ideas and unable to win games in a comfortable fashion. Many suggestions have been made, whether it’s the lack of atmosphere & support at the Lane and general expectation that Tottenham will & should win at Home, and it’s the player’s responsibility to entertain & not our responsibility to be the ‘twelfth man’; the fact teams set up in an organised and defensive nature, or my personal favourite from Mousa Dembele, ‘the pitch is too small’. All may have a point, especially the lack of atmosphere at White Hart Lane in recent times, but personally I put it down to a lack of balance in the Tottenham team that is emerging so far this season and at times the two seasons before.

In the 2011/12 season, especially the first half, I think we had the most balanced team in the League. Harry Redknapp was a good manager, he knew how to man manage these players, give them confidence and set them up in a good way which was full of flair, offensive nature & a clinical edge. The balance in that side was extraordinary. With Kyle Walker and Benoit Assou-Ekotto in the full back positions, Gareth Bale on the left of midfield, Aaron Lennon on the right, with Rafael van der Vaart just behind Emmanuel Adebayor. Not forgetting the midfield pivot between Luka Modrić and Scott Parker/Sandro. Look at that, with those players in their prime, we had a team capable of challenging for the League title, but it wasn’t to be, we tailed off at the end of the season and finished fourth, with the unlucky event of Chelsea winning the Champions League and sending us into the Europa League. We lost Luka Modrić, Rafa left for Hamburg and it all went a little tits up. But, that’s beside the point. What I want to look at is how to recreate the sort of balance that team had within it’s ranks in the class of 2014/15.

The key to a balanced side is the full backs and wingers. And at the moment, this season, we haven’t seen that balance. One of the reasons for this is the absence of Kyle Walker through injury. 7 long months of not having a natural outlet at right back, who understands the balance of offence and defence. This season, we have relied on Eric Dier for the most part, and as a natural centre back, he’s done a very decent job, especially defensively apart from his mistakes against Newcastle, but he hasn’t been able to give us an offensive outlet and this makes the team lopsided. On the left, Danny Rose has had a tremendous season so far in my view, he’s come on leaps and bounds from last season’s performances and you have to give him full credit for working hard and coming back stronger, fitter and a much more competent left back under the pressure of new signing Ben Davies. Danny has given the team an offensive outlet on that left hand side, and has been relatively good at balancing his defensive duties with his offensive ones. If we can get Kyle Walker back into this team as soon as possible, and keep Danny Rose in good form, I truly believe we will see this team flourish so much more than we have done so far this season, stretching teams and creating more space for our creative players. The addition of DeAndre Yedlin possibly in January could also be a really big addition and help with this problem of balanced, attacking full backs when Walker is not available.

The reason that offensive full backs are so important to this Tottenham team is Pochettino’s use of ‘inverted wingers’, or having three players behind the striker with the freedom to roam and find their own space. The problem with this is that all three that we play – Eriksen, Chadli & Lamela, like to come inside and this makes our play really narrow and more difficult to find space and create clear cut chances to score goals. With the outlet of offensive full backs, it stretches the opposition and then and only then, will we be able to find space, create chances in the middle of the park and hopefully, score goals! Nacer Chadli & Christian Eriksen have been fairly impressive so far this season, with Nacer really the only player who looks to take on the defenders and try to get in behind an opposition’s defence, and Christian Eriksen is always looking to thread a killer pass, spread the play to our wide players or score himself. Erik Lamela has been slightly underwhelming, it’s true, he needs to improve and be much more efficient on the ball, but sometimes being given this freedom he has too many thoughts running through his head and his decision making seriously deteriorates because of it. It’s part of his game he needs to work on and become a more effective player with goals, hopefully his first Premier League goal comes sooner rather than later; he needs it. If the understanding of the three players behind the striker improves, and the players themselves become more effective, alongside the offensive full backs, I think we can get a good balance in this team.

Upfront, in the striker position, there is no doubt that we lack a clinical goalscorer, except for the young Harry Kane, who needs to be given a sustained chance in the Premier League before judging fully whether he is ready to lead the line. In January, I’m really hoping we can add another striker, even if that man is Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez, someone Pochettino knows well, who occupies the left forward role a bit more than leading the line, but bottom line is, we need someone who can stick the ball in the net more often! In the central midfield position, it looks like Etienne Capoue & Ryan Mason have nailed their places there with good performances, with Etienne only really having a bad game against Newcastle & possibly Manchester City. Their midfield pivot needs time to develop, because I think it’s the starting of a good partnership, with Ryan Mason the more attacking of the two, pushing forward and playing the more incisive passes to get the team going, while Etienne Capoue screens the back four and helps break up play, which he is capable of for sure. It’s important those two increase their understanding. At centre back, it seems Jan Vertonghen and Younes Kaboul is the first choice pairing, and they have been rather inconsistent together, performing in stellar fashion against Arsenal and Southampton, but being poor against Newcastle. With offensive full backs, I think, because of Kaboul’s ability to cover at right back, and Jan Vertonghen’s ability to cover at left back, they would be able to cover when Rose and Walker attack, with Etienne Capoue dropping back further into a ‘sweeper’ position. That, gives us good balance and hopefully the players would have a clear indication of what their roles are in the team. That is just how I would set out, though.

I’m not naive to think that the inclusion of Kyle Walker in the team makes us world beaters, of course. But, under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino, I think it makes us much more of a threat going forward and able to create chances easier than it has been so far this season. At Southampton, Pochettino had a balanced team with offensive full backs, Nathaniel Clyne/Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw were fantastic under his tenure and playing with inverted wingers of Lallana and Rodriguez worked wonders alongside Rickie Lambert leading the line. His Southampton team created loads of chances, attacked with pace & purpose and scored goals because they had a balance and understanding alongside a good work rate and clear game-plan. That is what Tottenham need to develop and that is Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham challenge, to recreate and better the football he played at Southampton with this team, which I think has better players, but they need to be guided in the correct way.

We need to manage expectations this season and back the team and manager. Despite results not being what we wanted we must be patient and not act in a knee jerk fashion. Back the club. Pochettino is managing players that aren’t his at the moment and needs time to build his own team, hopefully he is given that opportunity by Daniel Levy and backed in a good way, with decisions made and money spent. That’s the dream. I still hold hope that it can be reality. When Tottenham lose it seems the end of the world, but we must look beyond the short term and give the manager and players support and time. That’s the key to success. Hopefully the fans do realise that, but also hope the club see that too. Wishing Kyle Walker a speedy recovery, with reports he could return to training very soon and possibly be in action by late November. That would be a massive boost!

In an ideal world, without injuries at this moment in time, my Tottenham team would be:
Lloris
Walker – Kaboul – Vertonghen – Rose
Mason – Capoue
Lamela – Eriksen – Chadli
Kane.

Up the Spurs!

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Remember to follow me on Twitter, here: @AddictedToSpurs and also vote for me in the Football Blogging awards! Info on how, here: FBA Voting info. COYS!!

Match Review, Tottenham vs QPR.

Match: Sunday 24th August 2014.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

Result: Tottenham 4-0 QPR.

Tottenham GoalScorers: Chadli 12′, Dier 30′, Chadli 37′ & Adebayor 65′.

What a win! An incredible team performance and three points that takes us to the top of the table, for now, anyway. For the first time we got a glimpse of the incredible potential that our team has, offensively and defensively. We worked as a team, pushed as a team, attacked as a team and won as a team. The first time in a very long while that I have been completely and utterly pleased with a Tottenham performance. I couldn’t fault it. Queens Park Rangers were not good, they didn’t put us under enough pressure and their team were all over the place defensively and didn’t look threatening at all offensively, but, we were brilliant to take advantage, you can only beat in front of you, right? Every player on the pitch played their part in the victory and this is so very pleasing, it’s been long overdue.

In the first half, it was important to get an early goal and we did exactly that through Nacer Chadli, Emmanuel Adebayor finding the ball which Chadli took down very well on the chest and the poked the ball past Robert Green, 12 minutes in and it forced QPR to change their tactics and attack more, which left more and more spaces for us to create more and more chances. Every time QPR got the ball we had a player snapping at their heels, harrying them and putting pressure on them. 8 times out of 10 we won the ball back and created an attack. That’s something that Pochettino has brought instantly into the way we play, and it’s brilliant to see. Lamela, Capoue, Bentaleb, Adebayor, Eriksen, Chadli… Everyone pressed high and worked so hard to get the ball if we lost it, which in reality was very rare with possession 57% to 43% in our favour. In the 30th minute, we won a corner which Erik Lamela stood up to take, he then whipped a fantastic ball into the near post where none other than home debutant Eric Dier was there to flick the ball into the net past Robert Green, again. 7 minutes later, a fantastic 48 touch move from back to front found Erik Lamela in space to run, he darted into the box and picked out a delightful little ball into the path of Nacer Chadli who powered a header into the left side of the net, giving us a commanding 3-0 lead going into the break. Lamela with 2 assists, Chadli with 2 goals.

The game was won, in principle, but we still had a second half to play and a clean sheet and goal difference are important things. Every little helps. We continued to play like we did in the first half, pressing high, creating opportunities, but QPR improved, they changed to a 4-4-2 formation and it worked in their favour. Although they still never looked like threatening our clean sheet, except for earning a few corners, we were comfortable and QPR looked as if they were just playing for pride as they knew the game was gone, and so did their fans who were in all honesty, lifeless after what was a barbaric first half for them. I’m sure they’re thankful they didn’t have a big journey home after. The ball was sticking to our feet, we were keeping it and using it in areas which matter, something we haven’t seen for too long, ironically, since Harry Redknapp was in charge. We need to be a little sharper in the final third, but these are very, very early days in the Pochettino era and we can only improve with more training sessions and games. In the 65th minute, Nacer Chadli played a delightful ball down the left hand side to a rampaging Danny Rose, who slightly undercooked his cross but luck was on our side and the ball scurried through to Emmanuel Adebayor, who in the box, on his right foot, was not going to miss. He struck the net and we struck a 4-0 scoreline. Delight. We continued to push for a fifth goal, but the damage was done and then, we topped it off with getting a well deserved clean sheet, testament to the performances of our back line and midfield.

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Our whole team was brilliant in this game, we worked together and as one, which is something we haven’t done in a long, long time. To pick out a couple of good performers is a very difficult task, but, I aim to please so I will try. Eric Jeremy Edgar Dier, £4 million from Sporting Lisbon; a nothing transfer, one for the future and certainly not headline stuff, but his start to the season has been nothing short of sensational, not just his goals that as a defender are just a bonus, but it’s his composure on the ball, sharpness of thought, tenacity in the tackle and a magnificently simple way of playing football that is delightful and old fashioned. His potential is incredible, but we mustn’t get carried away; he is still only 20 years old but these performances show he plays far beyond his years. Experience will only make him better and that is exciting, centre back, right back, he’s got what it takes, that’s for sure. Danny Rose at left back along with Eric Dier was brilliant, defensively he was switched on and always made the right decision, in the tackle, on the ball and in attack, I was very, very impressed with his performance and the addition of Ben Davies has spurred him on to up his game and that is very pleasing. Another defender to mention, even though we scored four goals, is Jan Vertonghen; in a three word review I’d like to state that: He is back. That’s really all I need to say. World Class. In front of the defence, Etienne Capoue was phenomenal, he worked for the team, did all the dirty work and then was composed enough to find a more offensive player who can find the key pass. All pre-season Etienne was brilliant and he’s carried that form into the season, rediscovering the form of early in last season. Nacer Chadli got 2 goals and was a key part in our 4th goal too playing a great pass through to Danny Rose, it was his best ever performance in a Spurs shirt and he’s caused a lot of people to eat their words, hopefully now he can kick on and score 10+ goals this season, showing why we bought him. Erik Lamela was another fantastic performer, he didn’t stop running for 90 minutes; if he lost the ball he immediately won it back, and when on the ball he was always a threat, a few times not quite getting it right but again he will only improve as the season goes on, 2 assists is always good and hopefully he can, the same as all the team, push on and deliver week-in-week-out.

Just a fantastic win all round. Four goals, a clean sheet and top of the Premier League table, even if it is just temporary! It’s very early days but we’ve been starved of excitement and joy for quite a while so excuse me while I gloat and shout from the rooftops that we won a game comfortably as a team and I didn’t feel worried at any point! Next up is our second leg Europa League play-off fixture against AEL Limassol at the Lane on Thursday 28th August. Then we return to Premier League action at White Hart Lane again, this time, against Liverpool on Sunday 31st August. Exciting. Remember to follow me on twitter for all the updates.. Here: @AddictedToSpurs. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced QPR at WHL:
Lloris – 8
Dier – 10 – Man of the Match.
Kaboul – 8.5
Vertonghen – 9
Rose – 9
Capoue – 9
Bentaleb – 8.5
Lamela – 9
Eriksen – 8.2
Chadli – 9
Adebayor – 8.5.

Subs:
Dembele – 8
Kane – 8
Soldado – 6.

Pochettino post match reaction:

Match highlights:

Match Preview, Tottenham vs QPR.

Match date & time: Sunday 24th August 2014. 1:30pm GMT KO.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

TV: Not televised in the UK.

Our first home game of the season has arrived; and it’s another difficult London derby opponent in Queens Park Rangers. Harry Redknapp, former Tottenham boss and now manager of QPR, returns to White Hart Lane for the first time since he was sacked in 2012, a very weird sacking which I’m sure even people now are disappointed with or utterly confused by considering the job he had done. But, that’s in the past and Tottenham Hotspur has moved on. 2 head coaches later, we have Mauricio Pochettino in charge and everything is looking very positive. Returning to White Hart Lane for Mauricio Pochettino’s first competitive home game, against Harry Redknapp’s team, the atmosphere should be very good and the match intriguing against a difficult opponent who have good players in their side.

In recent years, we haven’t faced QPR many times, only playing them four times the 2000s, and that’s not until after 2011. In those four games, we’ve won both our home games, but lost and drew our two away games. So thankfully this games falls at home. Last time we faced QPR, we drew 0-0 at Loftus Road against Redknapp’s side; a disappointing result after we had a lot of chances under AVB. In our last fixture against them at the Lane, we faced Mark Hughes’ side and we came away 2-1 winners, an Alejandro Faurlin own goal and Jermain Defoe strike got us the win but it was very hard fought. QPR come into this game after a defeat to Hull City in the first game of the season, 1-0 and very disappointing but slightly unlucky with the amount of chances they had to draw level or even win the game, so they come into this game desperate to get something from the game and they will fight very hard for points, as all the teams from lower down in the division do when they come to White Hart Lane; make it as difficult as possible for us to control the game. We have to take our chances when they come and contain QPR from counter attacks and from set pieces which I think they will be threatening this season.

The team news for QPR is that everybody in their squad is fit and ready; no-one on the treatment tables. Although, new signing Eduardo Vargas is ineligible as he hasn’t yet received international clearance. New signings Leroy Fer and Mauricio Isla could both make their QPR debuts, however after signing earlier in the week. The real threat from QPR comes from their pacey attacking line. Upfront, Loic Remy is a real threat with his pace to get in-behind the defence and also his ability to poach goals inside the box. He’s the player that we have to keep quiet, but there’s a reason we’ve been linked to him all summer, and there’s a reason Liverpool tried to sign him, it’s because he’s a striker that could play in a top Premier League team. As well as Remy, Mauricio Isla could be a real threat down the flanks for QPR after joining from Juventus, and Junior Hoilett is another that with his pace could get at our fullbacks if we aren’t careful and our wingers don’t help out.

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The Team News for Tottenham is very positive; after playing in midweek, our World Cup stars Jan Vertonghen, Paulinho, Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli are back in the squad and ready for the game, while the players that didn’t travel to Cyprus, Emmanuel Adebayor, Younes Kaboul, Aaron Lennon, Etienne Capoue and Christian Eriksen, are all back and in the squad to face QPR. The only disappointing news is that Kyle Walker (pelvis) and Vlad Chiriches (back) remain sidelined, while Kyle Naughton is suspended, which leaves quite a gap at right back, but I’d expect Eric Dier to fill that hole.

Erik Lamela changed the game in our favour on Thursday night against AEL Limassol with 2 assists, and now for this game he has his chance to start his first Premier League game at White Hart Lane since signing last summer. That’s quite astounding the fact he hasn’t already done that before, but that’s what terrible injuries and probable mismanagement can do. He is like a new signing this year, I truly believe that, and I think he can be that creative, special spark we need this season to push on and be successful. This is his time to prove himself and every Spurs fan wants him to succeed and fulfil his undoubted potential. Under the right guidance, from Mauricio Pochettino, he can do that this season. It’d be brilliant to see him get his first Premier League goal against QPR to kick start him. At right back, with Kyle Walker and Kyle Naughton not available, I think it will be Eric Dier who fills the gap. His debut was incredible, both his performance and then his match winning goal, at just 20 years of age his potential is mouthwatering and I think he can play a lot of games this season, even if we do sign another centre back. At the back, I think Danny Rose will retain his place at left back despite pressure from Ben Davies, because Davies did play in midweek, with Jan Vertonghen coming in at centre back alongside Younes Kaboul. Upfront, despite his goal in midweek, I think Roberto Soldado will remain benched with Emmanuel Adebayor retaining his place up top. Although, I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Roberto Soldado start ahead of the big Togolese man.

Match facts & stats provided by Opta:

– Tottenham have won four of their last six Barclays Premier League games against QPR, with one of those wins masterminded by current Rangers boss Harry Redknapp.

– In their last Premier League campaign (2012-13), QPR took fewer points from London derbies than any other side (nine in 10 games).

– QPR have won just four of their last 40 Premier League games.

– Tottenham have won four of their last five Premier League games.

– Joey Barton has created more goalscoring chances than any other Premier League player this season (6).

– Tottenham, along with Stoke, were one of only two teams not to pick up a booking on the opening weekend.

– Tottenham have won each of their last four Premier League home games, scoring 14 goals in the process.

– The Lilywhites have won all but two of their Premier League home games in 2014 (losing to Manchester City and Arsenal).

– In 102 Premier League London derbies at home, Spurs have only won one more (38) than they have drawn (37).

– Rio Ferdinand has not conceded a foul in any of his last 27 Premier League appearances.

I’m very much looking forward to getting back to White Hart Lane! It’s a tough game, one that we could easily slip up on, but I have faith we can get three points against an old friend. I’ll be at the Lane, so my coverage on @AddictedToSpurs will be limited! But I’ll be sure to provide a stream for you all as the game is not televised. Let’s get 3 points.. COYS!!

My predicted team to face QPR at the Lane:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Dier – Kaboul – Vertonghen – Rose
Bentaleb – Capoue
Lennon – Lamela – Eriksen
Adebayor.

QPR boss Harry Redknapp’s pre match press conference:

Match Review, West Ham vs Tottenham.

Match: Saturday 16th August 2014.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: Upton Park.

Result: West Ham 0-1 Tottenham.

Tottenham GoalScorer: Eric Dier 93′.

Sending off West Ham: James Collins 63′.

Sending off Tottenham: Kyle Naughton 29′.

We’ve got our first win on the board and did it in typical Tottenham fashion. Keeping you on the edge of your seat 24/7 and giving you absolutely no inkling into what is going to happen. In Mauricio Pochettino’s first game in charge, to get the win is the main thing, how we played is not what we need to focus on. With this win so much pressure has been lifted off Pochettino’s shoulders, off our shoulders and the player’s shoulders. 1 game, 1 win. That’s all that is important.

In the first half, we started well, put some good passes together and looked slightly threatening, but quite jittery at the back. West Ham were doing well to cull our attacks, and offensively themselves, they did well to put us under pressure. They then bombarded us for 10 odd minutes, corners, free kicks and everything inbetween and got their reward with a penalty, Kyle Naughton handling the ball in the area and then receiving a red card, which was very harsh. A penalty? Yes. A red card? Not a chance. Mark Noble stepped up, famous for his clinical nature from penalties, but dragged it wide to all of Tottenham’s relief. We dragged ourselves through to half time. They had chances, went close, but it was 0-0 at the break and we were grateful for that.

In the second half, we were better. On the ball, much more sharp and organised after a talking to from Mauricio Pochettino. The introduction of Andros Townsend and Lewis Holtby gave us much more impetus and attacking threat, in particularly Andros Townsend who was providing crosses and shots that were testing the West Ham defence. We worked the ball much more in the final third but were still restricted to longer range shots. Frustrating. The momentum turned in our favour and with that, on the 63rd minute, James Collins of West Ham got his second booming of the day and was sent down the tunnel. 10 vs 10. 30 minutes to go. It was in our hands to win. We continued to push. In particular with Townsend and now Harry Kane. We continued to push, but West Ham were still getting chances. In the 88th minute they had a big chance, Hugo Lloris spectacularly stopping Stewart Downing’s effort. As good as a goal from Hugo. Then, after our endeavour, we finally broke the deadlock. In the 93rd minute Harry Kane released Eric Dier, who broke the offside trap, rounded the goalkeeper and finished with ease to give Tottenham victory. Fantastic. IMG_1110.JPG
Eric Dier, on his Premier League debut, in a London derby, played a very, very good game. Defensively he was solid, on the ball he was composed and then at the end he scored the winning goal. He worked so hard for the team, filled in at right back when we needed it, at centre back and then up front! Man of the match without doubt. Hugo Lloris was also fantastic; he’s World Class and he showed again why he wins us at least 10-15 points a season, maybe even more. As a collective the performance wasn’t amazing, we can admit that. West Ham probably deserved more from the game but football is a cruel game and after a red card that shouldn’t have been, maybe Karma was on our side. A brilliant three points to kick-start our season.

What a three points! A last minute winner against West Ham is always really nice, especially on the first day of the season and Mauricio Pochettino’s first game in charge. It’s important we push on after this win and now try to improve ourselves in the way we play, defensively and offensively. Next up, Europa League play-off action as we travel to Cyprus to face AEL Limassol at the Antonis Stadium on Thursday 21st August. We return to Premier League action against QPR, our first Home game of the season on Sunday 24th August. Follow @AddictedToSpurs for it all… COYS!!

Player ratings for the team that faced West Ham at Upton Park:
Lloris: 8.5.
Naughton – 3.
Dier – 9 – Man of the Match.
Kaboul – 4.
Rose – 6.
Capoue – 5.
Bentaleb – 7.
Lennon – 5.
Eriksen – 6.5
Lamela – 5.
Adebayor – 5.

Subs:
Townsend – 8.
Holtby – 6.
Kane – 7.

Mauricio Pochettino post match press conference:

Mauricio Pochettino post match reaction:

Eric Dier post match reaction: