Tottenham Hotspur Season Review 2014/15

We as a fan base came into this season with low expectations. Mauricio Pochettino had only just come in, had one pre season and not brought in game changing signings. It had the look of another transition season plastered all over it. The only thing we really wanted was an improvement on a disastrous 2013-14 season under Andre Villas Boas and then Tim Sherwood, where there was a complete divide between the club and the fans for the first time in a long while – so Pochettino’s first order of business was to turn that divide into a connection once again, and that includes beating some of the big sides, the team showing that they care and playing some good football – our position at the end of the season was of course cared about, but I think this season, there wasn’t the pressure on the shoulders of the players and club that Champions League football was a must – because with the sides around us, and the squad we had at the start of the season it simply didn’t look feasible and that is the way it turned out in the end. Next season is where we can judge Pochettino more objectively – with what we hope is a good summer transfer window with the keeping of key players, the introduction of good players and the leaving of the players that aren’t in Pochettino’s plans – then, with a squad that looks more like his, we can push on and hopefully have a very good season under the Argentine.
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Premier League

Overall our League form wasn’t fantastic. Losses to West Brom, Newcastle, Stoke and Aston Villa at White Hart Lane are what really dragged us down; all games we could have won, and if we had there would be no doubting we would be in the Champions League places. 12 points unnecessarily dropped, and with those points we would have hit 76 points, and finished in third, ahead of Arsenal and Manchester United – which is frustrating to say the least. But looking back at games we could and maybe should have won is frivolous, we didn’t and on the day every team that rocked up to White Hart Lane and beat us, deserved it – and brilliant performances came from struggling sides (and Stoke). Hopefully we can learn from these mistakes at the Lane and make sure they don’t happen again – teams lower in the table seem to be able to shut us down too easily and make it really difficult to create, and that has happened for a while now, even under Harry Redknapp. Even though our home form improved as the season went on, we still looked a little vulnerable against the lower opposition sides at the Lane and that needs to change next season – White Hart Lane needs to be a fortress.

The positives of the season in the Premier League come in the form of victories over Chelsea and Arsenal – the most memorable moments of our season, and definitely the best performances. On January 1st 2015, something must have clicked in the minds of the players because they didn’t look afraid of the big sides any more – they looked confident and controlled coming up against a giant of the game in Chelsea – and even going a goal down, when last season that would have led to a three or four goal defeat against a team like Chelsea, we rallied and performed to an even higher standard – and to demolish a side like Chelsea 5-3 was absolutely magnificent, something I will never forget about this season. Of course winning a North London Derby will always get into the positive side of the season, but this one was special – once again going a goal behind, we put in a performance possibly even more spirited than against Chelsea and outplayed Arsenal entirely, with crunching tackles, great defending and looking threatening up top – it was brilliant and I believe that the players understand what the derby matches mean to us, possibly because of the youth we have through the core of the team that gave us that tenacity and spirit when we needed it, and the quality of the Vertonghen, Lloris’ in the side looked even better because of the performances of your Mason’s and Bentaleb’s in the side. It was even more special because Harry Kane was the player that won us the match, a tap in from a corner and then a beautiful cross from Nabil Bentaleb found Kane and he produced one of the best headed goals I’ve seen at White Hart Lane late on for a 2-1 win. A great day neither the fans nor Kane will forget very easily.

Fifth place in the end was secured, meaning Europa League football next season. Finishing above Liverpool and Southampton who would have looked odds on to breeze ahead of us earlier in the season – but didn’t, while also being just six points off Manchester United in fourth. This isn’t a Premier League season I will look back on in distain, hopefully it’s one that I can look back on knowing it was a building block to future success. The rise of Harry Kane, Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb – the emergence and improvement of Danny Rose and Nacer Chadli, while discovering another talent in Eric Dier. Our wins over Chelsea and Arsenal – and in the end securing fifth place. I’m not complaining; a good first Premier League season for Mauricio Pochettino – but the he and the players, along with the fans know that this isn’t enough – and next season there will be an expectation for more. Hopefully we can get even further improvement.
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Europa League

Not a Europa League campaign to remember. We qualified with wins home and away over AEL Limassol. Taking us into a group stage along with Besiktas, Partizan and Asteras. We started that group stage off with an enthralling 0-0 with Partizan away from home, and then a frustrating 1-1 draw with Besiktas at the Lane with Harry Kane scoring a great goal, but Vlad Chiriches giving away a silly penalty in the last seconds for Demba Ba to slot home. We then got our first win in the competition quite emphatically, a 5-1 drubbing over Asteras Tripolis, with Erik Lamela getting a brace and treating us to the most amazing goal of the season, a rabona from outside the box into the top of the goal – an incredible piece of skill that will be a contender for UEFA Puskas award for best goal next year I’m sure. Along with that Lamela brace Harry Kane scored his first hat trick for Tottenham and also had a go in goal, which brought upon another memorable moment in our season from this game. Another win over Asteras away from home and then a 1-0 victory over Partizan at the Lane secured our place in the round of 32, but we didn’t top the group as we lost to Besiktas away from home which was a disappointing night in which the lights didn’t even work!

We went on to face Fiorentina in the Round of 32 but could only muster a 1-1 draw at the Lane before falling to a 2-0 defeat at the Artemio Franchi Stadium, which saw us knocked out of the Europa League. This Europa League campaign was fairly poor really, but when drawn against a side of Fiorentina’s quality with a Capital One Cup final to think about just a few days later; it wasn’t to be our year in Europe. There has been a lot of debate as to whether Europa League is more of a hindrance than anything else and you have to admit that it does take a lot out of the players, with long trips to smaller clubs and a format of Thursday – Sunday which doesn’t really help the players when they have to make long trips, and it can be an excuse that the players use not to perform, sadly. We are in the Europa League next season, but as we aren’t likely to win it, I see it as an opportunity to introduce young players into the first team and give them a chance; the likes of Joshua Onomah, Harry Winks & Kyle Walker-Peters. A change of philosophy in the Europa League from trying to win it, back to Harry Redknapp’s way of playing youth players is probably the most diplomatic answer to the Europa League next season.

POLL:

Should we try to win the Europa League as if it were the Champions League, should we use it to breed young talent, or would you just focus on the Premier League and domestic competitions, and sack off the Europa League?


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FA Cup

The FA Cup was a bit of a non-starter really in terms of domestic cups for us this season. With the Capital One Cup, Europa League and Premier League another competition was not really going to suit us, and despite getting past Burnley after a replay – we fell to Leicester at the Lane due to a Michel Vorm mistake. Despite all of the tradition around the FA Cup and the history Tottenham as a club have with it, it wasn’t the year to go and win it – but I would like to see us go and really have a go next term, because it is a special trophy in connection with Tottenham.
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Capital One Cup

A massive positive in our season was our performance in the Capital One Cup. After beating Nottingham Forrest 3-1 at the Lane, with Ryan Mason scoring a cracking goal, with the other two coming from Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane – we booked a date with Brighton in the fourth round at home once again, and got a convincing 2-0 win thanks to goals from Erik Lamela and Harry Kane once again which sent us into the quarter finals. Here is where you start to think we could be having a date at Wembley if the draw is favourable – and it was, yet another home tie this time against a struggling Newcastle side, and we breezed past them at the Lane 4-0 thanks to goals from Nabil Bentaleb, Nacer Chadli, Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane and our semi final place was sealed, and it would be either Chelsea, Liverpool of Sheffield United in the semi final, obviously hoping for Sheffield United to be pulled out of the hat, and it was. A two legged tie with Sheffield United awaited and we could already taste Wembley. In the first leg, thanks to a penalty from Andros Townsend we won 1-0, not convincing, but hard fought and a good building block for the second leg at Bramall Lane, which turned out to be a magnificent match – Christian Eriksen with a stunning free kick goal which looked like it would be enough to secure a place at Wembley, before United youngster Che Adams suddenly struck for 1-1 and then two minutes later for 2-1 Sheffield, and we were shell shocked, and Wembley looked like it could slip away, but Harry Kane played through Christian Eriksen who finished it beautifully for 2-2 and to send us to Wembley to take on Chelsea.

The build up to Wembley was great, we felt good and confident having beaten them earlier in the season, but we knew it would be tough – the now Premier League champions wouldn’t let us just walk all over them again like we did at the Lane, and that is the way it went. Despite a decent performance, Chelsea put in a fantastic performance – both offensively and defensively. We couldn’t break them down and when they attacked they always looked threatening, in the end it was John Terry and Diego Costa scoring to inflict a 2-0 defeat at Wembley. No repeat of the 5-3, or our 2-1 win back in 2008 unfortunately, but we lost to the team that went onto be Premier League champions, with a young team. Hopefully we can learn from the experience and make sure we don’t lose our next final!
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My awards for the season:

Player of the season – Harry Kane

Young player of the season – Harry Kane, again

Most improved player of the season – Shared between Harry Kane, Danny Rose and Nacer Chadli.

Goal of the season – Erik Lamela rabona vs Asteras in the Europa League, or Harry Kane’s second goal against Chelsea in the 5-3 win.

Assist of the season – Harry Kane to Christian Eriksen vs Sheffield United, or Ryan Mason to Danny Rose vs Hull

Individual performance of the season – Harry Kane vs Chelsea

Win of the season – Tottenham 5-3 Chelsea

Signing of the season – Eric Dier
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Building for the future. That’s how we have to treat this season. All the mistakes that were made, loses we endured and annoyances that occurred will all hopefully be so that we don’t have to sustain them any further. I believe in Mauricio Pochettino, I think he has the right ideas and I hope that Daniel Levy will back him on the back of this season, for him to create a side that is competitive at the top of the Premier League. Thank you all for following and reading throughout the season, now onto pre season! Follow me for it all @AddictedToSpurs. As always, up the Spurs and COYS!!
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All 31 of Harry Kane’s Tottenham goals this season:

Hugo Lloris’ best saves from the season:

Tottenham season review in video from YidVids:

What has been your favourite moment of the 2014/15 season? Let me know in the comments!

I spoke to @TurnstyleSport about the 2014/15 Tottenham season. Read HERE
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Also, check out my full review of all our loaned out players in the 2014/15 season, HERE.
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Match Preview, Everton vs Tottenham.

Match date & time: Sunday 24th May 2015. 3pm Kick off.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

TV: Not televised in the UK. Worldwide TV schedule can be found HERE.

The last game of the season is upon us – Everton away from home is how we will finish what has been a positive season overall, although one with it’s problems. We have had our ups and downs but overall, in Mauricio Pochettino’s first season in charge we have done what was expected of us – not at the standard of Champions League, but we have had good results this term and coming into the final day of the season we can still hit 5th place, so we do have something to play for heading to Goodison Park – maybe it’s not the most prestigious or important of things to play for, but it includes pride and well, finishing above Liverpool and Southampton would be a nice thing to finish on – as well as a win over Everton at Goodison Park, which is a difficult place to go. A convincing and good performance would be great to finish this season on and head into what is going to be an important summer and an even more important 2015/16 campaign.

Everton have had an erratic and inconsistent season – they are 10th in the Premier League and that is the highest they can get, with Stoke City four points ahead of them in 9th. But, Everton still have to cement a place in the top 10 – with West Ham just behind them on goal difference in 11th. Both Everton and ourselves still have to secure the highest positions possible in the Premier League, and although it’s not the most amazing of prizes, a place higher or lower in the Premier League, it is still important to finish as high as possible and finish the season on a high, so I’m sure both sides will be fighting hard for the victory. Last time we faced Everton, it was at White Hart Lane earlier this season, a 2-1 win with Christian Eriksen scoring as well as a rare goal for Roberto Soldado giving us one of our most important wins of the season, which gave us a massive lift for the rest of the season, and it definitely helped our confidence through the season – hopefully we can finish the season in similar fashion. The last time we travelled to Merseyside, was back in 2013 when we drew 0-0 under AVB – we will be hoping for a more exciting match, and hope that we can get the victory this time on our visit to Goodison Park. Last time out Everton scraped past West Ham at Upton Park 2-1 thanks to a Romelu Lukaku late goal that secured the three points for the Blues, let’s hope we can avoid late disappointment this Sunday!

The team news for the Toffees is that Aaron Lennon is of course ineligible for Everton because he is on loan from us, and has therefore returned to Spurs, but won’t feature for Tottenham either. Everton are suffering from seven possible absentees – Steven Pienaar (muscular), Antonio Alcaraz (muscular), Leighton Baines (ankle), Bryan Oviedo (metatarsal), Darren Gibson (metatarsal) and Tony Hibbert (knee) are ruled out, while Sylvain Distin (illness) faces a late fitness test. Romelu Lukaku is Everton’s most obvious threat – their powerful Belgian striker has 10 goals in the Premier League and 20 goals in all competitions; although he has had an inconsistent season in the League, his numbers overall have been fairly impressive and I’m sure he will be looking to improve on his League form next season. Alongside Romelu Lukaku, Belgian teammate Kevin Mirallas is another goal scoring threat, with his pace and skill can cause problems for any defence and with the lack of pace in our central defence he could be a real menace – and Mirallas scored in our last meeting, a stunning goal from range – so he is one to keep an eye on – with seven goals in the Premier League this term, and 10 in all competitions. Ross Barkley is without doubt an exciting talent for the future, with his dribbling ability and composure on the ball, as well as his shooting and eye for goal at just 21, but this season he has faltered and only hit 2 goals and 2 assists, which Barkley would be disappointed with for such a talented player – I’m sure he will still be quite the handful though this Sunday.
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The team news for Tottenham is that Michel Vorm (illness) is a doubt and will have a late fitness test, which opens the door for Brad Friedel possibly making the bench in his final game as a player before retirement. Ben Davies (shoulder) and Kyle Walker (foot) remain out injured. Vlad Chiriches returns from suspension but doesn’t look likely to earn a place in the squad. Emmanuel Adebayor has been released on compassionate leave to help sort out family problems in Togo so won’t feature in our final game of the season.

Our final game of the season and we want to go out in style. We will be looking to our attacking threats to produce in what is going to be a tough game up in Merseyside. Harry Kane is going through a little dry spell, looking fairly tired which is expected after the full on performances he has put in throughout the season – but I’m sure he will like to finish his incredible season with a goal, and make 30 goals at least 31. He will need help from his offensive support who need to do exactly that – support. Christian Eriksen has been disappointing of late, looking burnt out and I’m sure he will be relieved that the season is coming to an end and he can get some rest to come back even better next season; however I would like to see Eriksen and Kane combine well before the season is out, as their partnership really looks to be the future of our attack. But I do think that Eriksen needs a little bit of competition, as although he has been poor, he has still kept his place so he could feel irreplaceable at the moment, so that could be an area for Pochettino and co to look at. Nacer Chadli has been one of the triumphs of the season – his goal scoring and much improved performances have been a great part of this campaign and he hasn’t let up on his goal scoring, now hitting 13 for the season and I’m sure he will be looking to strike once again in our final game of the season. The final piece of our attacking force this season has been Erik Lamela, our top assister this campaign, and despite disappointing for a large part of the season, coming into the final games he has impressed with his tenacity and effectiveness in the final third – hopefully he can further improve next season. Defensively, Danny Rose has been one of our best players this season and without doubt our most improved player this season, contributing defensively and offensively, and he has brought balance to our side, making sure we have an outlet on the left hand side who has been able to provide crosses and this season goals – he has cemented himself as our number one left back and become a crucial player for us.
Our last game of the season! Let’s go out in style. Everton at Goodison Park awaits and we will be hoping to finish the season strongly, with the possibility of moving ahead of Liverpool into 5th, which would be nice to finish the season on. You can of course get updates on the game including photos, videos and more from my twitter account, follow me there @AddictedToSpurs! COYS!!

Match stats provided by StatsZone:

– Everton have gone seven games unbeaten at home to Tottenham in the Premier League, winning three (D4).

– Spurs have won consecutive PL games against Everton for the first time since April 2006 (a run of four wins).

– Tottenham have won on the final day in each of the last four seasons, the longest current run in the Premier League.

– Harry Kane has won his team more points than any other player in the Premier League this season (22).

– Everton have won six of their last seven final day games, including the last four at home.

– Four of Erik Lamela’s seven PL assists this season have been for Nacer Chadli.

– Leighton Baines needs one more assist to reach double figures for only the second time in his Premier League career.

– Romelu Lukaku has scored at least 10 goals in each of the last three Premier League campaigns.

– Harry Kane has failed to score in his last four Premier League games, his longest drought since October.

My predicted/preferred side to face Everton at Goodison Park:
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Dier – Fazio – Vertonghen – Rose
Mason – Bentaleb
Lamela – Eriksen – Chadli
Kane.

Here what Mauricio Pochettino had to say before the Everton match on Spurs TV, HERE.
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Match Review, Tottenham vs Hull City.

Match: Saturday 16th May 2015.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

Result: Tottenham 2-0 Hull City.

Tottenham goalscorers: Nacer Chadli 54’, Danny Rose 61’.

In our final home game of the season, we have managed to send the fans home happy; which is always good. A decent performance, with some great football and good goals while keeping a clean sheet is all you can ask for as we now start to look forward to the summer and then starting the rollercoaster up again for another season. This win keeps us one point ahead of Southampton, who sit in 7th and one point behind Liverpool in 5th heading into the final match of the season. It’s not a grand stand finish, it’s more about pride and bragging rights than anything else – it looks as though European football in the form of Europa League will be at the Lane once again next season, and it’s nothing to moan about – I quite like the competition, and although we will not be real contenders for the trophy, it’s a chance to try more youth players and give fringe players a chance to show what they can do. We played our strongest 11 quite often this season in the Europa League and it did hurt us, but I’m sure in Pochettino’s first season managing in a European competition, he will have learnt how much it does affect the players playing Thursdays and Sundays. Focusing back on a good win over Hull City, after a forgettable first half the players refocused and produced a very respectable performance against a fighting Hull City side, who certainly didn’t have a bad game.

In the first half, there really wasn’t too much to shout about for either team – chances were created, but there was only one clear cut opportunity that fell to Hull, as Nikica Jelavic smacked the crossbar from inside the box. The only notable chances that Tottenham created were from Nacer Chadli and Harry Kane; Christian Eriksen slid in Kane even though he probably should have had a go himself and the young player of the year slid the ball across the face of goal, when he probably should have had a go as well. Hull were very organised and solid defensively in the first half, but we didn’t test them like we should have, our passing was too obvious and predictable, and we weren’t penetrating the back line of Hull enough, partly or mainly because of the poor form of usually our most creative player Christian Eriksen, who quite simply looks like he has his suitcases packed already and sunglasses on, which after a long season like we have had, you can’t really blame him for – he has after all played in every game so far of our Premier League season, plus domestic, European and international duty. Improvement needed for the second half, especially in our play with the ball, probably going fro left back to centre back to right back about 100 times within the first half, which was a little frustrating. The best passing I saw in the first period was thanks to Tom Huddlestone, who on his return to Spurs made some pinpoint cross-field balls.

The second half was much better, despite Hull threatening from some set pieces which we looked a little nervous defending within the first five minutes of the restart, we settled and on 53 minutes opened the scoring through the impressive Nacer Chadli. He has to thank Erik Lamela for his goal, who has in the last three games been impressive; the Argentinian pounced on the ball in midfield before darting towards the final third and playing a delightfully weighted ball into the path of the onrushing Belgian, who took a tough round Steve Harper in the Hull City goal and finished with ease, 1-0 and the pressure lifted on Spurs and put firmly on the Tigers. After the ball the players looked more at ease, and it showed in the way we were moving the football, it was with more purpose and confidence and this confidence was evident in our second goal which came only seven minutes later on 60 minutes. Former Spurs captain Michael Dawson gave it away on the edge of the box and it fell to Ryan Mason, who played a one two with Rose, then lifted his head and lobbed a wonderful ball through to Danny Rose who had found himself in the penalty area, and he volleyed the ball first time with his weaker right foot into the roof of the net – another brilliant goal, which would surely seal the points for Tottenham and condemn Hull to what now seems like relegation. Hull City did push us despite the 2-0 margin, with Abel Hernandez going close in a goalmouth scramble where he should have really pulled the game back to 2-1 – but it was a lack of clinical nature within the Hull side which deserted the Tigers, with Jelavic, Dame N’Doye and Hernandez all having a match to forget. Despite some pressure from Hull, it turned out to be quite a routine victory for Tottenham in the end and one that we are thankful for in our last home game of the season. 2-0 – thank you very much.
review pic Our final home game of the season and a win! A decent performance and a good send off for the fans, showcasing the new kit heading into what I hope will be a good summer and then a good 2015/16 season, we are in need of a good year! If you have any comments, put them below and don’t forget to follow me on twitter at @AddictedToSpurs. Next up is the final game of the season, and we travel to Merseyside to face Everton as we look to secure European football, and hopefully finish 5th. Up the Spurs. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Hull at WHL:
Lloris – 8
Dier – 7.5
Fazio – 6
Vertonghen – 8
Rose – 9 – Man of the Match.
Mason – 8 (Stambouli 79’ – 5)
Bentaleb – 7
Lamela – 9
Eriksen – 6 (Dembele 58’ – 6)
Chadli – 7.5
Kane – 7 (Soldado 89’ – N/A)

Mauricio Pochettino reacts to a win in our penultimate game of the season:

The tradition lap of honour footage:

Danny Rose reacts after the 2-0 win over Hull City:

The new 2015/16 Tottenham Hotspur home kit created by Under Armour is OUT NOW! Get it now, click HERE!
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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, Tottenham vs Aston Villa.

Match date & time: Saturday 11th April 2015. 3pm GMT KO.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

TV: Not televised live in the UK. Check out the worldwide TV schedule HERE.

After a really frustrating bore draw with Burnley at Turf Moor last weekend, we look to put the record straight against a familiar face Tim Sherwood, and his Aston Villa side at the Lane this Saturday. Our form has been quite patchy of late which is to be expected after such a disheartening result in the Capital One Cup final, but we still have things to play for. The top four looks very unlikely, but it was never expected in Mauricio Pochettino’s first season in charge, despite an ounce of disappointment in that probably not being possible this season, we have to have a bit of patience, even though I know that isn’t the best quality in football fans! At home to a struggling Aston Villa side, we are the favourites, but this can be deceiving, as a side like Aston Villa have everything to play for, and as we found out against the likes of Leicester and Burnley, these sides will put everything on the line to get points, which makes it extremely tough for sides just like us, who don’t have the pressure of Premier League survival stacked upon our shoulders. We have the quality to get passed these sides but their heart and determination makes our job harder, it means as a team we have to perform at a higher level to victor in these games. Knowing Tim Sherwood as we do, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wants to win this game for his own personal pride rather than the survival of Aston Villa Football Club, so we’re not only battling the will of a relegation threatened side, but also a bitter Tim Sherwood who will want to add to that win percentage.

Villa sit 16th in the Premier League, just 3 points away from the dreaded drop zone. That 3 points is not enough if you’re Tim Sherwood, and our former manager has been looking to find those points, but discovering that it is harder than he might have thought down at the bottom. After losing his first two games as Villa boss in late February, March was good to Aston Villa and helped them pull out of the bottom three of the Premier League with a big 4-0 win over Sunderland the pick of the bunch. But, two games into April, they are yet to win, with a loss to Manchester United, which is nothing to be ashamed of, but also a 3-3 draw with fellow relegation battlers QPR at Villa Park, which is a bit of a missed opportunity for 3 points for the Villains. Let’s hope we can make it a loss sandwich for Tim Sherwood’s men. Last time we faced Villa was back in November of last year, a 2-1 win thanks to late goals from Nacer Chadli and the one and only Harry Kane giving us the win in the Premier League tie. The last time we faced the Villains at the Lane was the last game of last season, under the guidance of now Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood – we triumphed 3-0 thanks to goals from Paulinho, a Baker OG and an Emmanuel Adebayor penalty. Hopefully we can get a repeat result, but with Tim Sherwood on the losing side!

The team news for Villa is that Scott Sinclair (hamstring), Ashley Westwood (hamstring), Alan Hutton (ankle), Chris Herd (herd) & Libor Kozak (broken leg) are all ruled out of the match, while Philippe Senderos (calf) is expected to return, as Carles Gil (hip) is to undergo a late fitness test for the Villains. That’s quite a backlog of injuries for Tim Sherwood to deal with, but he’ll be hoping that players like Christian Benteke to step up like he did against QPR, with the big Belgian striker netting a hat trick against the Hoops, and after a slow season, he seems to be picking up pace and showing some of his old form, at just the right time for Aston Villa in their fight for survival. With our defensive frailties on show to the world lately, I am sure Villa will be looking to Benteke to make us pay – hopefully we can contain the threat that the Belgian has to offer as much as possible. Along with Benteke, the pace of Gabby Agbonlahor is always a threat, stretching and working the defences of opponents and running the channels, he will definitely be hard to contain. I think we have had a distinct lack of pace in our team recently, so Agbonlahor could really be a thorn to our hopes of winning the match.
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The team news for Tottenham is that Hugo Lloris (knee) and Kyle Walker (foot) are ruled out of the match, while Jan Vertonghen (illness) is a doubt. With our number 1 still side-lined, it paves the way for Michel Vorm to continue in goal after his solid performance against Burnley, ending in a clean sheet for the Dutch international. As Kyle Walker is also on the injury list, it means that either Vlad Chiriches or Eric Dier will deputise for the England international, with DeAndre Yedlin not expected to be close to the first 11, but it would be nice for him to be in the squad. Federico Fazio wasn’t included in the match day squad against Burnley, but with our defensive woes, I think the big Argentinian could be reintegrated into the side, possibly replacing Vlad Chiriches in the centre of defence to allow Eric Dier to fill in at right back, where he has experience from the start of the season.

Our 0-0 draw with Burnley was far from a classic, and our offensive prowess was crowded out by Burnley’s defensive solidarity, but with Aston Villa being a very offensive and open side, it could expose space for our attack minded players to flourish once again. Tim Sherwood is known for wanting to showcase his attacking style of play, so you have to expect an open game at the Lane this Saturday. One player that will thrive in an open game is Christian Eriksen – who has had a difficult run of form recently, but this is the perfect opportunity for the Dane to open his wings again and take control of a game again. His talent is undeniable but he does lack consistency at times, and I don’t think he has fully adapted to the English game as of yet. But, he’s still very young and will only blossom further in England. I’ve said it time after time, but when Eriksen performs, Tottenham perform along with him. Harry Kane captained the side against Burnley, and could captain the side again against Villa, but he needs help in attack otherwise he can be swarmed by the opposition and as we saw against Burnley, he became ineffective, as sadly he cant do everything on his own! That support needs to be from not only Christian Eriksen, but also the wingers that Mauricio Pochettino decides to go with, whether that be Nacer Chadli, Erik Lamela, Andros Townsend or even Paulinho – their job is to supply Harry Kane not only with crosses and passes, but with bodies and support offensively. Kane can’t be left stranded up top; otherwise I think Villa will find it quite easy to deal with him as a unit. I do believe that our offensive threat will be too much for the defensive frailties that Villa do have.

Match stats provided by StatsZone:

– Tottenham have won their last five PL meetings with Aston Villa, netting two or more goals in each game.

– Aston Villa have scored just six goals in their last 12 Premier League matches against Tottenham and never more than once in a game.

– Tottenham have gained 10 points from losing positions at home this season, more than any other side.

– Aston Villa have gained no points from losing positions away from home in the Premier League this season; the only team not to do so.

– White Hart Lane is the highest scoring stadium in the Premier League this season (51 goals).

– The Lane has also seen the most first half goals this season (27).

– Christian Benteke has scored seven goals in his last five Premier League appearances.

– Under Tim Sherwood, Benteke has scored at a rate of one goal every 87 minutes in the Premier League.

– Villa have conceded three goals in each of their last two Premier League games. They have only conceded 3+ goals in three successive games twice in PL history (in 2009 and 2012).

– Harry Kane has scored six goals in his last four Premier League games at White Hart Lane.

It’s a big game. Tim Sherwood returns to the Lane, hopefully to a decent reception. It’s important we return to winning ways quickly against a struggling Villa side, but we have to be aware that this Sherwood side will come into this game like a final and we have to be on top of our game to avoid an upset. The game isn’t shown live in the UK, but I will be updating you live at my twitter account, with goal updates, photos, videos and much more, follow me there @AddictedToSpurs. Let’s get three points! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred side to face Aston Villa at White Hart Lane:
4-2-3-1
Vorm
Dier – Fazio – Vertonghen – Rose
Mason – Bentaleb
Lamela – Eriksen – Townsend
Kane.

On the Forza Football app by @FootballAddicts, the users predicted:

A Tottenham win: 76%

An Aston Villa win: 15%

A Draw: 9%.

Mauricio Pochettino’s press conference pre Aston Villa:

Check out Spurs retro gear by Campo Retro HERE!
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Match Preview, Hull City vs Tottenham.

Match date & time: Sunday 23rd November 2014. 4pm GMT KO.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: The KC Stadium.

TV: Live on Sky Sports 1 from 3:30pm GMT. Worldwide TV listings HERE.

After what has felt like a long international break, Tottenham return to action with a tough away fixture against Hull City. After losing to Stoke City at home, a reaction is needed from the players, from the manager & from the whole club. In recent times, we haven’t seen anywhere near the level Tottenham are capable of, the players have seemed to shy away from responsibility and it has been a sorry time around the club, but a good performance and a win can change the feeling in the players, it can boost their confidence and with a bit of luck and quality, our fortune can quickly change – and our season can look a little more rosy. But, the players can’t just expect that to happen; they need to go out there with fire in their heart and go and make it happen, change their own fortunes and change people’s opinion on them, because if they don’t want to win and improve, then what’s the point of them playing football? I hold a lot of faith in our manager and the players, and I think there is no doubt that we will turn it round, but I’d love that to happen much sooner than later, because the atmosphere around the club can become sour when a bad run of results occurs. The team have to halt that and change the fan’s opinions.

We come up against a Hull City side that sits 15th in the Premier League table, winning only 2 games out of a possible 11. They have had some narrow defeats though, and they haven’t been terrible by any means, but it hasn’t been good enough and they aren’t getting the results they want or maybe even deserve. They have lost their last 2 games, narrowly to Southampton and Burnley 1-0, and their performance level against Burnley was very low, as acknowledged by manager Steve Bruce, who was extremely disappointed with the loss, so they will be looking for a reaction, especially in front of their fans against a bigger side like Tottenham. But, we will be looking to get a reaction after our dismal display against Stoke, so it’s going to be a hotly contested game, but hopefully the quality of our players will shine through and we can put in a good showing. In recent times, Tottenham have had the best of the results against Hull City, being unbeaten in the last 6 games, winning 3 and drawing 3. Last time out, we drew at the KC 1-1, with Paulinho scoring for Tottenham and Shane Long scoring for Hull, now Long has departed from Hull and Paulinho has, well, disappeared. I don’t think a draw suits either team, though, and both will be going all out to try and win this game, so hopefully we can take advantage of gaps in the Hull defence.

The team news for Hull City is good for them, Michael Dawson (ankle), Curtis Davies (back), Alex Bruce (hamstring), Nikica Jelavic (knee) & Alan McGregor (shoulder) are all back in contention for the game, but Robert Snodgrass (knee) remains out. They will be seriously boosted by the names returning to action, especially the defensive partnership of former Spur Michael Dawson and the talented Curtis Davies, who has done really well since coming into the Premier League. Hull City have some really talented players, as well as those gritty, hard working guys who will give everything. Offensively, those talented players include striker Abel Hernadez, who has 3 goals in 8 games, but has played really well since coming in from Palermo, others include on loan pair Hatem Ben-Arfa from Newcastle and Gaston Ramirez from Southampton; they are yet to make an impact but do have natural flair through their make-up. The steel in midfield, mixed with flair and finishing ability comes from Mohamed Diame, who has an impressive 4 goals in 11 appearances and after coming in from West Ham and we have to be able to accommodate his power from midfield.

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The team news for Tottenham is that Nabil Bentaleb (ankle), Kyle Walker (abdominal) & Kyle Naughton (suspended) are of course out of the game, while Andros Townsend (ankle) and Danny Rose (ribs) are doubtful along with unnamed players coming back from international duty, likely to be Emmanuel Adebayor who returned late after two games with Togo. Also, Christian Eriksen twisted his ankle on Denmark duty, but should be okay for this game. With Kyle Walker and Kyle Naughton ruled out, we will seemingly rely on Eric Dier to fill in at right back, being fresh after remaining at Hotspur Way instead of going on England U21 duty. And, with Danny Rose a doubt, it looks like Ben Davies could get his full Tottenham Premier League debut and start his first game, which after some ‘iffy’ performances from Danny Rose recently, I’m very welcome to.

One of the few shining lights of the season has been the performances of Nacer Chadli and the goals he has scored, with 6 goals so far this season in the Premier League, our top scorer, and the top scoring midfielder in the Premier League. He always looks a threat and is playing with the sort of quality we didn’t see last season. Hopefully, he can get another goal or two against Hull this Sunday, because he’s becoming a vital player for Tottenham Hotspur. After starting his first Premier League game against Stoke, Harry Kane scored another two goals for England’s U21s to take his Goalscoring tally to 15 goals in 20 appearances this season for club and country; now, he needs to rack up the goals in the Premier League, and hopefully he can get a sustained run of starts and then hopefully repay Pochettino’s faith with goals, which we know he is more than capable of getting. In midfield, Etienne Capoue has disappointed in recent games after being outstanding in the early part of the season, and now I think it’s time to give Benjamin Stambouli a game in the Premier League, alongside Ryan Mason; that gives you a good balance between defence and attack, and I think Stambouli is much more creative than Etienne, so that helps our cause as we need to be more creative and less pedestrian in midfield. After being left out of the starting 11 against Stoke, I think Erik Lamela needs to be reintegrated into the team because I hold faith he can be that spark we need, in assists and hopefully very soon, goals.

Match stats & facts provided by Opta:

– Hull City have won just one of their last 10 Barclays Premier League matches (W1 D5 L4).

– This is Spurs’ worst start to a Premier League season since 2008-09.

– Hull have won none of the last five Premier League games against Tottenham (W0 D2 L3), three of these were at the KC Stadium (W0 D1 L2).

– Only Aston Villa (2) have had fewer different scorers this season than Hull City (4).

– After scoring in each of their opening eight Premier League games this season, Hull have now failed to score in their last three.

– Nacer Chadli has scored six Premier League goals in 10 appearances this season – he found the net once in 24 appearances last term.

– Tottenham have earned more red cards in the Premier League in the calendar year 2014 than any other team (6).

– There have also been more red cards in Spurs games than those involving any other team this season (five – three for and two against).

– Only Hull City (5) have conceded more goals in the opening 15 minutes of matches this season than Tottenham (4).

– Spurs have conceded more penalties than any other team in the top flight this term (5).

This is a big game for both sides, but I think Tottenham have a lot more to lose than this Hull City side. A loss would be quite detrimental to Tottenham, especially if the performance isn’t up to the standard we demand and expect. The game is being shown live on Sky Sports 1, but I will be providing match updates, videos, photos & much more from my Twitter account, follow me there, here: @AddictedToSpurs. Let’s get three points! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Hull City at the KC:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Dier – Kaboul – Vertonghen – Davies
Stambouli – Mason
Lamela – Eriksen – Chadli
Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino speaks to the media ahead of the Hull game:

Match Preview, Asteras Tripolis vs Tottenham.

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

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: Theodoros Kolokotronis Stadium.

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

Europa League duties await and a trip to Greece to face Asteras Tripolis is the challenge. With three games left in the group, and a difficult trip to Besiktas being the last of those three, it’s important we wrap up qualification as soon as possible, starting with a win in Greece against Asteras, who in the first game at White Hart Lane, we dismantled 5-1. With a win, and a game at home to struggling Partizan next up, qualification to the knockout stages would look very prosperous, with Besiktas and Asteras sure to fight us all the way for those two spaces at the top of Group C. Away to Asteras, it will be no easy task, as we found out when they visited the Lane, they work hard and were not truly represented by the scoreline. An early goal to ease us into the game would be very welcome, and I think if we can hit early, I don’t see Asteras hitting back with the lack of firepower they have.

After the game at White Hart Lane, we know what Asteras Tripolis are capable of. They set their team out well, worked hard and attempted to counter us and get in-behind our back line whenever they could. Their goal came from a Harry Kane goalkeeping mistake, though, and I think up front they struggle to create clear cut opportunities to really hurt the opposition. But, at home, on their own turf, they could be a completely different threat, and try to really take control of the game and peg us back, rather than keeping very solid and compact, allowing us to have the ball but make it difficult to create chances. Following Asteras getting beaten at the Lane, they have played three games winning 2 and drawing another, so their confidence in their own League and Cup hasn’t been effected by our devastating win. Their last game in the Europa League at home, they won 2-0 against Partizan and showed great offensive qualities as well as keeping a clean sheet. It’s going to be more difficult than some may expect, I think.

The team news for Asteras is that Ritchie Kitoko (thigh), Eric Tie Bi (knee), Dimitris Kourbelis (thigh) and Ederson (hamstring) are out through injury, while defender Dorin Goian (ankle) is doubtful. The main threat for Asteras stays the same with strikers Jerónimo Barrales, who has 5 goals in 8 games and scored against us last time out, along with Manuel Parra who has 3 goals in 9 games, but 2 in 3 Europa League games. The creator for Asteras is Martin Rollé, the Argentinian attacking midfielder on loan from San Lorenzo has 5 assists in 10 games so far this season, bagging 2 goals as well, he can cause defences problems and can play the incisive pass or deliver the dangerous cross. He either plays on the left hand side or as a number 10.

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The team news for Tottenham is that many first team players have been left behind in London, those include Emmanuel Adebayor, Younes Kaboul, Aaron Lennon, Kyle Naughton & Brad Friedel, with Hugo Lloris (suspended), Nabil Bentaleb (ankle) and Kyle Walker (abdominal) forced to sit the game out.

Some players that I would have probably started for this game have been left at home, that includes Aaron Lennon and Nabil Bentaleb, who has been ruled out with an ankle problem. But, there are a lot of players I’m excited to see more of in a Tottenham shirt. Benjamin Stambouli has impressed me a lot in his small time at Spurs so far, he works hard, makes good challenges and has composure on the ball and I think he’s pushing Etienne Capoue very hard for a starting berth in the Premier League after Etienne’s high standards have dropped in recent weeks. Playing Mousa Dembele alongside Stambouli gives the central midfield partnership good balance of attack and defence, and it gives us a good foundation in our Europa League side. With Aaron Lennon being left in London, whether that’s for further recovery for his slight hamstring twinge, or resting for the game against Stoke, it gives Andros Townsend the opportunity with Erik Lamela to man the wings, and give support to what is expected to be an attacking duo of Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane. With an attacking line up like so, we should have no trouble scoring goals, with Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli available from the bench most likely if we need goals and creation. Defensively, it’s a decision for Mauricio Pochettino whether to reinstate Vlad Chiriches into the line up, and line him up with Federico Fazio, or go for the more reliable Jan Vertonghen to partner the big Argentinian. With Hugo Lloris out, Michel Vorm is set to start start his first European game of the season.

It’s a game in which we need three points to put us in a very good space in the group for qualification, and we could do with Partizan getting a result off Besiktas also. Asteras away will be difficult, but we should have enough to get the result we want and get us to the top of the group. The game is televised on ITV4 in the UK, with an early 6pm GMT KO, but you can follow the whole game with me on Twitter, including photos, match updates, videos & more. Follow me here: @AddictedToSpurs. Let’s get three points! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Asteras Tripolis:
4-4-1-1
Vorm
Dier – Fazio – Vertonghen – Davies
Lamela – Stambouli – Dembele – Townsend
Soldado
Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino speaks to the press prior to the Asteras game:

Match Review, Aston Villa vs Tottenham.

Match: Sunday 2nd November 2014.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: Villa Park.

Result: Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham.

Aston Villa GoalScorer: Weimann 16′.

Tottenham GoalScorers: Chadli 84′, Kane 90′.

What a win! An incredibly important win for Tottenham Hotspur, Tottenham players and Mauricio Pochettino. After a very difficult performance, with a lack of pace and direction in our play it’s fantastic that we have still grabbed the three fantastic points. But, in all honesty, it doesn’t really matter now! We’ve won the game, maybe getting a bit lucky, but it’s three crucial points that ends a bad run of results in the Premier League. Two late goals that have won us the game and it’s shown the belief and fight in the team that was in doubt, especially after the first half performance. It was a difficult afternoon, but we’ve come out the other side and now hopefully we can push on, with Harry Kane up top!

In the first half, we started well, we looked threatening on the counter attack and we had a plan in place to attack with pace. But, defensively, my God, we were all over the place. We didn’t look able to compete with the power and height of Christian Benteke and the pace of Charles N’Zogbia. It was difficult to get a rhythm into our play, our passing was sloppy and Aston Villa were able to take advantage. In the 16th minute, a bit of sloppy defending from Danny Rose allowed Aston Villa to get in behind Tottenham and slip a ball into the box where Andreas Weimann was there to poke the ball into the back of the net for 1-0. Etienne Capoue and Danny Rose at fault, and Aston Villa then dropped back and closed up in defence to make it difficult for us to make chances and score goals! The best chance falling to Emmanuel Adebayor, who got in behind the Villa defence after a beautifully weighted ball from Roberto Soldado, Adebayor did everything right, got his body in the right position and onto his favourite foot and then didn’t get enough power on the effort and Brad Guzan made a decent save. Half time came, and Villa were ahead.

In the second half, we looked to push hard for the equaliser and then push for the win. We still found it very difficult to find a rhythm, the ball wasn’t sticking to our feet and it looked like we were pushing but it would come to no prevail. Erik Lamela made a slight impact onto the pace of our game and the intensity, but it wasn’t looking like it was going to be enough, and at times we looked a little defeated, like the form book was flicking through their heads every time a chance was squandered. In the 58th minute, Harry Kane came on to every Spurs fans delight and he made the difference. You could see the confidence in his ability, he knew he would get a chance and he was confident he could take it. He came into the side and his confidence made a big difference. He created 2 chances in 30 seconds and gave the side a big lift. We continued to push and then we got a little bit of luck after Christian Benteke lost his head and lifted his hand into Ryan Mason, who did well to rile Benteke up from a Spurs point of view. A red card and now, we had a chance to fight back and at least get the point. The equaliser came from a corner, Erik Lamela whipping it in and Nacer Chadli came in from the back post and knocked the ball into the net for 1-1. Breakthrough, late on, but we had the momentum now and three points was in sight. 90 minutes in, Harry Kane stepped up to a free kick and we got that bit of luck you need in football when his free kick was deflected into the goal. 3 points! Huzzah!

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The team didn’t play well, we didn’t find a rhythm in our play and were overall disappointing. But, it’s an important three points and we can’t complain too much! The man of the match was either Ryan Mason, who showed passion, fight, desire and quality in midfield with his passing, tackling and offensive runs. A big mention for Harry Kane though, who has made impact in the Premier League and now surely needs to have a prolonged run in the team. In form, lots of confidence and goals, what’s not to love! I thought there were a lot of poor performances though, which was disappointing. Etienne Capoue, Younes Kaboul, Danny Rose & Emmanuel Adebayor really having games to forget. Roberto Soldado was lively, he worked hard and showed some great touches but it was unfortunate he didn’t get into those Goalscoring pockets a bit more which has been the story throughout his Tottenham career. Nacer Chadli did well, ran at defenders, found pockets and took his chance when it popped up – impressive.

A great win! An unfortunate performance, but it’s three points and I find it hard to be upset after winning! We now need to build and improve on this win, starting with a win in Greece against Asteras Tripolis on Thursday. Then, we return to Premier League action with a home tie against Stoke on Sunday 9th November. Let’s go! COYS!! Remember to follow me on Twitter: @AddictedToSpurs.

My player ratings for the team that defeated Aston Villa:
Lloris – 7
Naughton – 6
Kaboul – 5
Vertonghen – 6
Rose – 5.5
Capoue – 5
Mason – 8 – Man of the Match.
Eriksen – 5
Chadli – 7
Soldado – 6.5
Adebayor – 5.

Subs:
Lamela – 6.5
Kane – 8
Townsend – 6.

Match highlights of our 2-1 win over Aston Villa:

Mauricio Pochettino’s post match reaction:

Match Preview, Aston Villa vs Tottenham.

Match date & time: Sunday 2nd November 2014. 4pm GMT KO.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: Villa Park.

TV: Live on Sky Sports 1. Worldwide TV listings HERE.

After our midweek Capital One Cup victory against Brighton, we now return to Premier League action with 3 points on the agenda. Villa Park and Aston Villa await in what will be a tough, but winnable game of Premier League football. Every game is a ‘must win’, but some are more important than others. After dropping unnecessary points to Newcastle, West Brom & Sunderland, as well as losses to Liverpool and Manchester City, it’s time we get that winning feel back to our side in the Premier League before it starts to effect the players confidence and doubts start to creep into their thoughts. We need to get three points and a good victory and then hopefully create a good run of results. In the Cup competitions we have done well, but we’ve been struggling in the League, and now, facing a side struggling even more than us, it’s time hopefully to get three points on the board again, and things look a little more rosy.

Aston Villa sit 15th in the Premier League table, with 3 wins, 1 draw and 5 losses from their 9 games, accumulating 10 points. That’s only 1 point off of Tottenham who currently sit in 11th place, but of course we have to remember that these are very early days. Aston Villa started the season flying, winning 3 and drawing 1 of their opening 4 games. Beating Liverpool at Anfield and Stoke at the Britannia along the way, with was very impressive. But, in their last 5 games, they haven’t got a single point, or scored a single goal, and have entered a very sticky patch in their season. Hopefully, we can take advantage of this and heap misery on the Villains. In recent times, Tottenham have dominated this fixture. Home and away Aston Villa in the last 6 years haven’t been able to live with us. In our last 12 games against The Villa, we have gone unbeaten, winning 9 and drawing 3 since 2008, scoring 25 and conceding just 5 in the process. On paper, and looking back on the history, it looks as though we will prevail once again. I hope that’s the case! Aston Villa also haven’t scored a goal in our last 5 meetings against us, where we have won every time, scoring 15 goals in those 5 games, another 2 or 3 would do nicely this Sunday!

The team news for Aston Villa is that long term absentees Fabian Delph (dislocated shoulder), and Libor Kozak (broken leg) remain out; and they are joined by Philipe Senderos (thigh) and Alan Hutton (ankle) on the treatment table and not available for this game. Andi Weimann (calf) was a doubt for Villa, but looks to have recovered in time to play along with Nathan Baker (hamstring) who scored an own goal the last time the two sides met.

Aston Villa have some good players, in attack and in defence. Up front, we are all aware of the big Belgian Christian Benteke, who recently recovered from a long term injury to regain his place in the Aston Villa side. He lacks sharpness and match fitness, but we know how much of a threat and a nuisance he can be to defences with his presence and finishing ability. The pace of Gabby Agbonlahor is always a threat to any team; he can get in behind you or drive your defence backwards and players who can do that are very valuable, but, his final product has always let him down, although he does have 2 goals in his 8 games so far this season, but of course none in their last 5. Defensively, Ron Vlaar is key to their set up. His organisation and leadership skills make him invaluable to their side and when he isn’t on form, or is out of the team, it makes a notable difference to their side. We saw in the World Cup what a solid player Ron Vlaar can be, but maybe Villa need more defensively than just him. He can’t do it all.

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The team news for Tottenham is that Nabil Bentaleb (ankle) and Kyle Walker (abdominal) remain out of the side, with Etienne Capoue (knee) and Aaron Lennon (hamstring) doubts, and awaiting late fitness calls this Sunday. Hopefully we can get those two fit in time.

All the talk leading up to the game has been about Harry Kane. Will he start, won’t he start. It’s a question being debated by thousands. After his incredible goal scoring form so far this season, it’s hard to argue a reason that he shouldn’t be starting, especially looking at the goalscoring record of his competitors up front. For me, I’d like it if he were to start, leading the line with Nacer Chadli, Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen behind him, creating and feeding Harry Kane chances for him to try and finish off. I know some will be upset at leaving out Roberto Soldado, who performed admirably in midweek against Brighton, but I don’t want to sacrifice those three behind the striker, I think they all have the capability to win you matches, more so than Soldado at this moment in time. Erik Lamela shone in midweek once again, and showed everyone what he can do with the ball at his feet and in front of goal, so hopefully he can produce a few pieces of magic to light up the Premier League, and hopefully he can get his first, long overdue, Premier League goal. Defensively, Eric Dier didn’t have his best day against Newcastle last weekend, and has played a lot of games, in some ways to his benefit and in some ways harming him, and I think it’s time for a little rest for the young Englishmen who has done a stellar job in the absence of Kyle Walker & Naughton, not in his favoured position we must remember. Kyle Naughton should make his way into that right back slot, and that gives us a better balance to the team, as Naughton is a right back by nature and has more of an attacking ability than Dier, and knows the balance between attack and defence better.

Match stats & facts provided by Opta:
– Aston Villa have scored just one goal in their last six Premier League matches against Tottenham, including failing to score in the last four meetings in a row.

– Emmanuel Adebayor has scored more goals against Aston Villa (7) than versus any other opponent in the Barclays Premier League.

– Adebayor has netted four in four Premier League starts for Spurs against the Villans.

– Tottenham have won eight and lost none of the last 11 Premier League matches against Aston Villa (D3).

– Andros Townsend has scored on his last two Premier League visits to Villa Park.

– Aston Villa have become the ninth different side to lose five successive Premier League games without scoring a single goal. The PL record is seven (Ipswich Town in 1995).

– The last time that Aston Villa went five league games without scoring was March 1992. They have never failed to score in six consecutive league games.

– Andreas Weimann has played a hand in 75% of Aston Villa’s league goals so far this season, scoring two and assisting another.

– Tottenham have not drawn any of their last 37 Premier League games 0-0 – the longest run of its kind among the 20 current PL clubs.

– Spurs have scored more goals in the opening 30 minutes of their matches (5) than Aston Villa have managed all season (4).

Back to winning ways is a must this Sunday! Hopefully we can continue our form in recent years against Aston Villa and take advantage of some of their bad form. The game is televised on Sky Sports, but I’ll be providing match updates, photos, videos & much more from my Twitter account. Follow me here: @AddictedToSpurs. Let’s get three points! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Aston Villa at Villa Park:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Naughton – Kaboul – Vertonghen – Rose
Stambouli – Mason
Lamela – Eriksen – Chadli
Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino speaks to the press ahead of the trip to Villa:

Match Review, Tottenham vs Brighton.

Match: Wednesday 29th October 2014.

Competition: Capital One Cup Round 4.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

Result: Tottenham 2-0 Brighton.

Tottenham GoalScorers: Erik Lamela 54′, Harry Kane 74′.

Tottenham progress to the Quarter Finals of the Capital One Cup! Just three games away from Wembley and the thought of winning it is just about dropping into Tottenham fan’s dreams. We have been drawn to face Newcastle United at White Hart Lane in the quarter finals, a team that has just beaten us, and Manchester City away from home, so not easy but it could have been a lot worse with Liverpool and Chelsea still in the competition, despite Newcastle beating us before hand, we still remain clear favourites to progress to the Semi-Finals. Now, to look more closely at our highly contested victory over Brighton at the Lane:

In the first period, we dominated the ball, Brighton were confined to their half for 90% of the time and we were probing and poking away at their defence. The ball was played into the box numerous amount of times but we couldn’t get the breakthrough; Roberto Soldado, Harry Kane and Aaron Lennon going closest. A frustrating first half, but one in which the Seagulls didn’t threaten us and we looked comfortable in possession of the football. The problem is, although we look comfortable in possession, we don’t look threatening enough. It’s important to take advantage of that pressure and find the killer pass, or go in behind the Brighton defence. We didn’t do that enough, but it was a solid first half and you can’t complain too much when you are creating chances, and there were a few clear cut opportunities which should and could have been goals.

In the second half, we introduced Erik Lamela for Aaron Lennon who was playing well, but had a slight hamstring problem. Lamela changed the game from the outset, and we looked much more threatening and creative with the ball at our feet. And, that’s where our goal came from. The understanding between Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado is very impressive; they are two very intelligent and creative players when the ball is at their feet and when two intelligent players combine, you will create chances and in this instance, that chance was a goal. Erik Lamela on 54 minutes played the ball into the feet of Roberto Soldado, who headed it up slightly before playing a delightful pass into the path of Erik Lamela, who slid the ball into the net with his right foot for 1-0. A much needed breakthrough that put us in firm control of the game, with Brighton not offering a lot offensively. Despite being 1-0 down, Brighton didn’t try to attack us in the way that was expected – they still sat fairly deep, let us have possession of the football and tried to play a counter attacking game, even though Tottenham had men back and were not pushing all out to get a second goal. I’m sure Sami Hypia will be disappointed with his team’s attacking performance, but pleased with how they shut Tottenham out for the most part. The game continued to be a little scrappy, without the real quality of the players shining through, and that is how our second goal came about, in a scrappy fashion. Andros Townsend for what must have been the first time in the game, got to the byline and whipped in a good ball for Roberto Soldado, which hit his leg and then the keeper parried into the path of Harry Kane, who wanted it more than any other defender on the pitch to stick the ball home to make it 2-0. Job done.

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There were some very good performances from the Spurs players in this game, we passed the ball well, created a good amount of chances, scored two goals and kept a clean sheet and that is all we can really ask from the team. We’re in a bit of a sticky patch of form but you could see that the players really put a shift in and worked until the result went our way and that is pleasing. Hopefully we can get the three points at Villa Park on Sunday, too. The man of the match for me was Benjamin Stambouli, I think in the middle of the park he worked really hard, he went into every challenge committed and passed the ball well. In the cup games he’s played, Stambouli has really impressed me and I think it’s only a matter of time, if he continues with these performances, that he will be pushing for a Premier League start. Another player that deserved man of the match probably equally as much as Stambouli was Kyle Naughton, he has been very good all season and coming back from injury, he was stellar once again. He put in some fantastic crosses and defended well when Brighton attacked with pace on the counter attack. In the absence of Kyle Walker, Naughton has really stepped his game up and as a right back is showing why he’s still a Tottenham player. Erik Lamela changed the game when he was entered into proceedings; he was direct, full of energy and had the finishing touch as well for his goal. He also isn’t afraid to chase back, make a tackle and work for the team and that’s always a good trait to have. Harry Kane scored again, another decent performance, but when he is scoring like this he simply must start in the Premier League, he is on fire! His strike partner Roberto Soldado also did really well, with two assists (sort of) and a very fine performance but his goal that he did deserve didn’t come, but he’s getting closer and you can see how hard he’s working and how much he wants it.

A good win, and into the quarter finals. Cup runs are always fun and hopefully, we can continue to win when we face Newcastle. A trip to Wembley would be fantastic. Not looking too far ahead, this Sunday we travel to Villa Park for an away Premier League tie against Aston Villa. A tough game but it’s crucial we return to winning ways in the Premier League. Remember to follow me on Twitter: @AddictedToSpurs. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Brighton at the Lane:
Vorm – 7
Naughton – 8.5
Fazio – 8
Vertonghen – 7.5
Davies – 7.5
Stambouli – 8.5 – Man of the Match.
Dembele – 7
Lennon – 7.5
Townsend – 6.5
Kane – 8
Soldado – 8.

Subs:
Lamela – 8
Chadli – 6
Paulinho – 5.

Match highlights from our 2-0 win over Brighton:

Pochettino speaks to the press following our 2-0 win: