Match Preview, Tottenham vs Newcastle.

Match date & time: Wednesday 17th December 2014. 7:45pm GMT KO.

Competition: Capital One Cup Quarter Final.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

TV: Not televised in the UK. Worldwide TV listings HERE.

After our 2-1 away win against Swansea in the Premier League on Sunday, our focus quickly turns to the Capital One Cup Quarter Final at the Lane. For me, it’s our biggest game of the season so far. To make it into the semi finals would be a big achievement – and being three games away from Wembley is tantalising. At White Hart Lane, we have to be hoping that we will make the Semi-Finals, but, against a decent Newcastle side who have already beaten us at the Lane this season, we cannot underestimate the threat that they possess. Our home form has been difficult this season to say the least, but in the cups, we are unbeaten, so hopefully we can continue that form and triumph into the semi-finals. Realistically, it will be a very hard competition to win, but in one off games, anything can happen if we take it seriously. This close to the Final, it’s necessary to put out a strong, competitive side, even with the amount of games thrown our way during the Christmas period. A trophy is something that would give the club a lift like nothing else can. People have banged on about the top four and the Champions League for a long time, but I think fans are starting to realise that whether or not we get in, it’s almost impossible to win. So what’s the point? A trophy is a memory that can last a life time, and goes down in the history books. It’s what football fans crave – a day at Wembley. A glory, glory night. There is a long way to go, though, and first, Newcastle stand in our way.

Newcastle are a decent side, with good quality players. They sit 8th in the Premier League, and in 10 games they have only lost twice. Including wins against Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea. They cannot be underestimated, as I say. In the last round of the Capital One Cup, Newcastle travelled to Manchester City as big underdogs, but came away from the game as 2-0 winners at the Etihad and secured a place in the Quarter Finals. This just highlights how difficult the game will be for us – but we’ll be hoping that they won’t recreate the form showed against Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham, but instead recreate the result of when they last visited North London and faced our rivals – Arsenal – as they fell to a 4-1 defeat at the Emirates. If we can find our form, if we are direct and show the quality that we possess, we can triumph and get through – but, if we are too relaxed, slow and complacent, then Newcastle will come to the Lane and steal the dream of Wembley away from us before it’s even been comprehended. In our last two games against Newcastle at White Hart Lane, we have lost both by one goal – so we’ll be looking to buck the trend before this becomes a habit!

The team news for Newcastle is that goalkeepers Tim Krul (ankle) and Rob Elliott (hip) are both ruled out, while Ryan Taylor (knee), Gabriel Obertan (hip), Siem De Jong (thigh), Davide Santon (knee), Curtis Good (groin) and Rolando Aarons (hamstring) are all ruled out, while Mehdi Abeid (ankle) will undertake a late fitness test ahead of the game. Also, right back Daryl Janmaat (suspended) is out of the game. Newcastle have some good players, and none are better than driving midfielder Moussa Sissoko; he has power, pace and can effect games and change their momentum – and we saw the brute force of that the last time Newcastle made the journey to White Hart Lane, as he changed the game in Newcastle’s favour with his driving runs and quality on the ball. To deal with him, it’s important that we enforce our midfield upon them, and make sure that we are efficient on the ball and are energetic defensively to counter act Sissoko’s big threat. Another of Newcastle’s big threats, scored against us in our last fixture – Ayoze Perez has pace, technique and energy up front, as well as the ability to stretch a defence and run in behind – not forgetting his eye for goal, and he’s netted 4 goals in 8 games, including 3 against Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham.

IMG_3141.JPG The team news for Tottenham is that Emmanuel Adebayor (match fitness), is out of the game. And that’s it. Hurrah! Kyle Naughton has returned to the squad after injury and completes a full squad, excluding the absence of Emmanuel Adebayor. It really is important, coming into the Christmas period, that we have fully fit squad to choose from, and hopefully the players step up and play & train for their places in the first team. We’re very lucky to have a fully fit squad; and now we have to utilise that to our advantage and put a run of results together, building consistency.

It’s difficult to predict what sort of starting eleven Mauricio Pochettino will select in this game – as it is difficult timing in between extremely important Premier League fixtures, and we all know that Pochettino preaches his faith in the squad, and isn’t afraid to make changes and use his team – but, we also have to take into consideration that this is as big as a Premier League game, if not bigger – and the fans will want a performance as well as most importantly – a result. It’s a big game for our fringe players as well as our key players, as it is an opportunity for them to showcase their talents, as it is every time they step on the pitch. The players that I’m referring to are Mousa Dembele, Etienne Capoue, Aaron Lennon and Benjamin Stambouli, who all in my opinion have the quality to be in the Premier League first team, but have a fight on their hands with the performances of the likes of Nabil Bentaleb, Ryan Mason, Nacer Chadli and Christian Eriksen – which is a tall order for the fringe players. The key player in this game, excluding Harry Kane, who is likely to be rested, is Nacer Chadli who if he finds his form again, can win us a game with his goals and ability on the ball. It’s likely that Nacer will play just behind Roberto Soldado, which if they can form an understanding, could be quite a profitable partnership.

It’s a big game! I hope White Hart Lane will find it’s voice for a Quarter Final of a major domestic trophy. The game isn’t televised. I will be attending the game, but I will attempt to update as much as possible from the stands. Hopefully I’ll be reporting a win! Follow me on Twitter for it all, here: @AddictedToSpurs. COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Newcastle at the Lane:
4-2-3-1
Vorm
Naughton – Dier – Vertonghen – Rose
Capoue – Dembele
Lennon – Chadli – Townsend
Soldado.

Mauricio Pochettino’s pre Newcastle press conference:

Match Review, Tottenham vs Asteras Tripolis.

Match: Thursday 23rd October 2014.

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

Result: Tottenham 5-1 Asteras Tripolis.

Tottenham GoalScorers: Harry Kane x3 13′, 75′, 81′, Erik Lamela x2 29′, 66′.

Asteras GoalScorer: Barrales 89′.

An incredible game of football. Incredible goals, a red card, Harry Kane in goal, and a Tottenham win. It had the lot. Looking past all of the madness, we got a really, really important three points in the Europa League that gets us our first win and gives us a good foundation to get through to the knockout stages. We played well, but were not fantastic, our passing was a little sloppy and in defence we got caught out a few times by a well drilled, technically sound side who have shown quality in their Europa League fixtures so far, and to be fair to them, they didn’t deserve to be thrashed 5-1, this score doesn’t reflect the effort and quality that they put into the game, they made it very even and well matched, but it was Tottenham’s individual quality that pulled us through so emphatically. Focusing on the negatives is for Mauricio Pochettino, though, I like to focus on the positives and for me there were many. Our ability to be clinical and kill the game was very refreshing and very pleasing; we have lacked that in recent times, and now hopefully we can translate that ability into the Premier League, starting on Sunday against Newcastle.

In the first half, we started well, we attacked at pace and passed the ball relatively well. Defensively at times we were a little shaky, which is a little worrying as we were playing a very strong back 5, with a lot of leaders in there including Fazio, Lloris & Vertonghen. At times I expected more from the back 4. A little more communication and organisation, but as we didn’t concede in the first half I can’t complain too much. We scored through Harry Kane, Etienne Capoue laying him off and Kane hit the ball sweetly and it skidded into the ball far corner of the goal for 1-0 after 13 minutes, a flying start which was just what we needed. Then, we created a few more chances, Etienne Capoue going close and Harry Kane once again. But, it was Erik Lamela who got the second goal on 29 minutes, what can I say about a goal like that? It is a masterpiece, a piece of art on the football pitch. The best goal I have seen from a Tottenham player in a good few years and I’m so glad that it was Erik Lamela who got it, a ‘Rabona’ goal from outside the box is almost unheard of in the game and even to attempt it is audacious, but to score from it is insane. An incredible goal from an incredibly gifted player. It’s his best moment in a Tottenham shirt so far. ‘So far’ being the key words.

In the second half we ran away with the game, we controlled the ball well and found space in between the Asteras midfield and defence. Etienne Capoue and Mousa Dembele took charge of the midfield more and more as time went on and were very effectual to the pace and tempo we played at, u was very impressed with them, especially Etienne Capoue. We didn’t score the third goal until 66 minutes in, though, that man Erik Lamela got his second of the game, twisting and turning in the box and getting a shot away which was blocked, which then popped up and it was an instinctive volley that was too powerful for the Asteras goalkeeper and the game was dead and buried. On a hat-trick, Lamela was replaced, unsurprising with the Premier League just around the corner. Only 9 minutes later we got the 4th goal, 76 minutes in Harry Kane got his second of the night, Mousa Dembele’s shot parried by the Asteras ‘keeper only for the quick thinking Harry Kane to tap in. Then, only 5 minutes later, he completed his hat-trick, turning the defender before seeing his shot blocked, rebounded into Federico Fazio’s path, then he composed himself before lifting up the ball onto Harry Kane’s head for him to tap in. His fantastic night was topped when Hugo Lloris was unfortunately sent off after his sweeper ‘keeping backfired after the offside trap was broken, with all three substitutions used, it was Harry Kane who stepped up and took the goalkeeping gloves. The first shot he had to face was a free kick from Jorónimo Berrales, who smartly decided to smack the ball straight at the make shift goalkeeper, and it produced their only goal as Kane spilt the ball and it squirmed passed the line. 5-1, no clean sheet, but a good win and a good three points.

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The team played well, it wasn’t perfect, and Asteras caused us problems at times but individually I think there were a lot of very promising performances. Erik Lamela played a very good game and scored two goals of extraordinary quality, but for me, Harry Kane took the man of the match award. A hat trick, but also his work off of the ball, ability to hold it up and play in his team mates. Harry is a much more well rounded player, who scores so many different types of goals than he is given credit for at times. It’s time for Kane to be given the chance to perform in the Premier League, he has earned the right; much more so both Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor, his goal rate is much better and I think his all round game is also better and probably more developed. His hunger for goals and for games impresses me immensely. Etienne Capoue was impressive once again, he’s developed so much so far this season, he has the ability to dictate games and dominate a midfield and he needs to do that more often in bigger games, he has all the tools to be a massive player for Tottenham. Ben Davies put in arguably his best performance so far in a Spurs shirt, he worked hard down the left flank, was involved heavily in crossing and creating but also assured on the ball and when under pressure defending, coped well. I hope he can continue to improve and push forward.

A good win! Three points and back to winning ways in empathic style. Now, we have to translate this winning formula into the Premier League and beat Newcastle at White Hart Lane this coming Sunday, 26th October. Our next Europa League game will be against Asteras once again, this time we travel to Greece, on Thursday 6th November, where we need a result! Follow @AddictedToSpurs for it all! COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Asteras Triplos:
Lloris – 8
Dier – 7
Fazio – 6.5
Vertonghen – 6.5
Davies – 7.5
Capoue – 8.5
Dembele – 7
Lamela – 8.5
Townsend – 6
Kane – 9 – Man of the Match.
Adebayor – 5.

Subs:
Eriksen – 5
Chadli – 6.5
Lennon – 5.

Match highlights from our 5-1 win:

Pochettino’s post match press conference:

Match Preview, Manchester City vs Tottenham.

Match date & time: Saturday 18th October 2014. 12:45pm KO BST.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: Etihad Stadium.

TV: Live on BT Sport 1. World Wide TV listings HERE.

After a long, drawn out international break – Premier League football returns and we certainly won’t be eased back in… The test of Premier League champions Manchester City awaits at the Etihad Stadium, a place nightmares were born last season with a 6-0 defeat. There is no good time to face Manchester City at the Etihad – so this is as good as any. The Tottenham team will have to perform to their maximum & beyond to get the three points that we all crave against the Champions, but it is possible and we have shown our mettle before this season – and now we’ll be looking for that again. No doubt that Manchester City are an incredibly talented, strong and devastating outfit, and at home they are very, very difficult to beat, but on the day of the game you just don’t know what is going to happen, and we’ve beaten them before at the Etihad, despite that being before they hit the heights of winning the League, but we can do it again, and take inspiration from that 1-0 win from Crouch’s header, and also more recently Stoke’s 1-0 win at the Etihad earlier this season. It is possible that we get all three points, but of course, it will need to be a performance full of togetherness, strong mentality and a clinical nature when we get the chances.

Manchester City are a wonderful team with so much quality throughout their squad, we all know how tough this game will be for us. Manchester City sit in 2nd place in the Premier League table with 7 games gone, they have 4 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss – 14 points. A steady start to the season with their high standards, with the loss coming to Stoke City at home 1-0, and the 2 draws coming against Arsenal and Chelsea. The City team have been performing to a good level, but I think they are yet to reach their swashbuckling best as of yet. Tottenham sit in 6th place in the Premier League, only 3 points off of Manchester City in 2nd, and that tells you how tight this Premier League is and will be in the future. A win for Tottenham makes our start to the season extremely pleasing and I think gives us a massive lift to go on and really achieve this season – but we have an incredibly difficult task ahead of us and we need to put in a massive team performance to get a victory.

The team news for Manchester City is that Samir Nasri (groin) and Eliaquim Mangala (thigh) have been ruled out of the game. Yaya Toure had been touted by the press to be rested in this game after the international break with Ivory Coast, but Pellegrini has brushed that rumour aside, saying he’s likely to play. Other than that, they have a fully fit squad.

It is difficult to pick out just one big threat from the Manchester City team, but I would say that Sergio Aguero, when fit and firing, is the Premier League’s best striker and gives every defence problems every game that he plays, he has 5 goals in 7 Premier League appearances which shows his clinical nature when given the opportunity. Behind him, David Silva provides the creative spark – one of the best players in the Premier League, and best ‘number 10s’ in the World, he can slip the ball between the defence and find an opening you didn’t think was there, he provides the perfect ying to Aguero’s yang and they work very well together. In midfield, Frank Lampard has a very good record against Tottenham when he played at Chelsea, and now after his switch to New York City, and loan deal to Manchester City, he is still in the goals and looks totally settled in Manchester, with his goal Scoring ability not leaving his side.

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The team news for Tottenham is that Kyle Walker (abdominal) and Kyle Naughton (ankle) are out of the game, with Nacer Chadli (hip) and Hugo Lloris (groin) minor doubts, but fully expected to make the team after being such crucial players for us so far this season. Other doubts include Emmanuel Adebayor and Nabil Bentaleb, who have returned late after international duty with Togo and Algeria respectively, but I’d expect both to be fine for the game.

As I’ve said, we’ll need a mammoth team performance to get 3 points and maybe even 1 point, so our players will have to be on top form. I think our problem so far this season has been our lack of clinical edge in front of goal; we create the chances to score but don’t finish them and kill teams off unlike teams such as Chelsea & Manchester City, this is the difference between the top 4 and top 6, our ability to score goals and kill games. A lot of our hope relies on Emmanuel Adebayor finding form again, he hasn’t been able to hit the back of the net like he did in the second half of last season, and his hold up play has also been rather suspect to criticism. But, against his former club, and the inspiration 2 wins with his national team Togo will give him, now’s the perfect time for him to start banging them in again! If Adebayor isn’t available due to getting back late from international duty, I’d give Harry Kane the opportunity up top, his work rate and eye for goal at the moment means he does deserve a shot in the Premier League at some point. In midfield, I think Etienne Capoue has been outstanding so far this season, he is very secure defensively, and passes the ball very well to start attacks and has become a key player to Pochettino’s system; against Manchester City we will definitely need him on top form to help us nullify their attacking threat in midfield, tracking the runs of Lampard, Toure, Silva etc and stopping them in their tracks on the ball, it’ll be a tough afternoon for Etienne but he has the ability to really make the difference in midfield. I’d pick out Capoue vs Toure as the key battle in this game, apart from Aguero vs Lloris! Christian Eriksen was the match winner last time out against Southampton, and I’m hoping he can now push on after that, then match and improve on his form last season, he’s very important for us.

Match stats & facts provided by Opta:

– Manchester City have won six of their last seven Premier League meetings with Tottenham Hotspur (L1).

– Tottenham have secured 20 wins against Manchester City in the Premier League; only against Everton (20) have they won as many.

– The last six Premier League games between Man City and Spurs have produced 30 goals (five per game on average), with City scoring 22 of these goals.

– Edin Dzeko has scored six goals in six Premier League games against Spurs; more than versus any other opponent. Four of these goals came in one game (August 2011).

– Sergio Aguero has netted five goals in five PL apps against Tottenham; only against Norwich City (5) has he scored as many in the competition.

– Man City have gone two home games without a win in the Premier League (L1 D1). The last time that they went three PL home games without a victory was back in November 2010 (L1 D2).

– Tottenham have won just three of their last 11 Premier League away matches (W3 D4 L4); this after winning their previous five on the road in succession.

– Manchester City scored 11 goals in their two Premier League games against Spurs in 2013-14. The last team to score more in a single PL season versus one opponent were Spurs against Wigan in 2009-10 (12 goals).

– Spurs lost 0-6 against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in November 2013. This is their joint heaviest defeat in Premier League history (6-0 v Sheffield United in March 1993 and 7-1 v Newcastle United in December 1996).

– Christian Eriksen has only been involved in five goals (three goals, two assists) in 13 away appearances in the Premier League, compared to 12 goals in 19 PL apps at White Hart Lane (six goals, six assists).

I believe this game will be much closer than in previous times, there is no doubt it will be truly difficult but if we can show a similar mentality to the one we showed against Arsenal in the 1-1 draw we can get something from this game. Pochettino has a fairly good record against Manchester City and I trust in him to set the team out in the correct way to suffocate their attacking threat, but also hurt them with ours. I’m looking forward to Tottenham being back in action! The game is live on BT Sport at 12:45pm, but I’ll be giving live updates, photos, videos and more on my Twitter account, follow me there: @AddictedToSpurs. COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Manchester City at the Etihad:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Dier – Kaboul – Vertonghen – Rose
Capoue – Mason
Lamela – Chadli – Eriksen
Adebayor.

Mauricio Pochettino’s pre match press conference:

Match Review, Tottenham vs Southampton.

Match: Sunday 5th October 2014.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

Result: Tottenham 1-0 Southampton.

Tottenham GoalScorer: Christian Eriksen 40′.

Three points! Hurrah! A brilliant victory, hard fought, nail biting but all in all, extremely positive. Southampton are a good side, who are in terrific form and we shut them out and got all three points, even if we did have to hold on and sit back a little bit more than we wanted to at the end. We worked hard and offensively we were threatening, even if we didn’t finish off the chances we had and make more of the possession game that we played. Both teams played fairly well, and in the end, it was the quality of Christian Eriksen that split the teams. There is a lot more that we could have done, but it is all positive signs to improvement in the future. One thing that still isn’t quite there is our clinical nature in front of goal. We have to finish off our chances and finish off teams when we get the chance, otherwise we take the risk of losing 2 points, or maybe even 3. I can’t complain with three points though, and even better that we did it as a team – together.

In the first half, I thought we played really well, passed the ball around, pressed high and showed some of our best form of the season. When we pressure teams we force mistakes and get chances. We saw that against QPR and now against Southampton & Arsenal. We need to press as a team and this will come in time. Erik Lamela didn’t stop all game, fighting for every ball available and when he was dispossessed, he fought for the ball back again. The same goes for all the midfield, in all honesty, which is very pleasing. After creating a few chances, we were getting closer and closer before the deadlock was broken – good work from Emmanuel Adebayor bombing down the left hand side, who then found Nacer Chadli, with a cute flick out to Christian Eriksen on the edge of the box who took a touch and rifled the ball low into the bottom left corner, 1-0, close to half time and we were playing some great football. Almost straight after that, we found another opportunity. Nacer Chadli went through on goal and threaded the ball low, but it hit the post and came back out instead of creeping in. That was a little frustrating and unfortunate, but we were creating, and looking threatening.

In the second half, it was more difficult, we didn’t create as many clear cut chances, and let Southampton into the game a little bit more than we would have liked. They improved, worked the ball a little bit more, earned more free kicks and the ball was in our half much, much more. Defensively, we were compact though and kept them at bay. We limited their chances and when they did get opportunities, Hugo Lloris was to thank. I thought Kaboul and Vertonghen worked very very well together, limiting the in form Graziano Pelle to next to no chances. We worked well as a team but the game got more tough as time ticked away, the ball seemed to be constantly in the air and we couldn’t get it down and bring the ball out of the danger areas, giving away silly free kicks, no thanks to the referee, though. We did manage to see the game out, thankfully and got a vital Premier League three points after a little bit of a shaky few games. Now hopefully we can push on and gallop up the table as far as possible!

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The team played well as a whole, and it’s difficult to pick one outstanding player. Defensively, we were very strong again, and I hold that to the partnership between Vertonghen and Kaboul, they both compliment each other very well and this leads to a balanced, well organised back line who look very comfortable together with good understanding. I think Jan Vertonghen has severely improved his form in recent games and I think we can finally say that he is completely back to his incredible best, especially alongside an in-form Younes Kaboul, and even an in-form Danny Rose, who was brilliant in this game – defensively and offensively. In midfield, Etienne Capoue and Ryan Mason played fantastically well together, chasing, tackling, pressing and moving the ball quickly when they had possession. Etienne especially was formidable once again and he is becoming invaluable to the team, and for sure once of the first names on the team sheet. It was great to see the three players behind the striker – Lamela, Eriksen & Chadli – all linking well and creating chances, as well as making chances for themselves. Their partnership and understanding can only improve and when it is in full flow they can become an incredibly frightening proposition for the opposition. My only disappointment was Emmanuel Adebayor, who I thought again had a shocking game, and I would call for either Roberto Soldado or Harry Kane to be given the chance to lead the line instead of Adebayor.

A good win and a decent performance. It was a tough game in which we did well to defeat an in-form Southampton side. We did well and now we have to improve further, our next opponent being the easy challenge of the Premier League Champions away from home, Manchester City! That game falling on Saturday 18th October at the Etihad. Looking forward to it after the international break. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Southampton at White Hart Lane:
Lloris – 9
Naughton – 7 (injured in first half)
Kaboul – 8.5
Vertonghen – 8.5
Rose – 8.5
Capoue – 9 – Man of the Match.
Mason – 8
Lamela – 7
Eriksen – 7.5
Chadli – 8
Adebayor – 5.5.

Subs:
Dier – 8
Dembélé – 6.5
Kane – 6.

Mauricio Pochettino’s post math press conference:

Mauricio Pochettino’s post match interview:

Christian Eriksen’s goal against Southampton:

2014 Tottenham Hotspur Pre-Season Review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top five performers:

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-Season conclusions:

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

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

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

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

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Transfer Window Review – January 2014

We didn’t sign anyone this transfer window, there were calls from fans to sign another striker and a left back, but we did neither and I think that is due to many things. Personally, I am not disappointed we didn’t sign anyone, if anything I am pleased we didn’t panic and shake the squad up even more, which certainly isn’t needed. What we need, which is what Sherwood thinks, is our injured players to return to the pitch and give a big push until the end of the season for Champions League football, that’s the aim, we’ve got the players to do that. We need them to perform and get us there.

The teams around us didn’t do a lot of business:

Manchester City and Liverpool signed nobody! City maybe didn’t need anyone, but I think Liverpool needed at least 1-2 players for squad depth.

Manchester United signed Mata, which although is a brilliant signing you could say they didn’t particularly need him, I think there are a lot of other areas of the pitch they needed to strengthen.

Arsenal only signed Kallstrom on loan. In my opinion probably needing a striker.

Everton made two signings, Lacina Traore on loan and Aiden McGeady, two good signings though.

Chelsea were busy, but sold Mata, signed Salah and Matic with Zouma coming in and being loaned out straight away.

What other teams did shows that the January window isn’t a good time to make signings, especially long term signings, for us, signing nobody showed that nobody worth buying was there. I can’t think of many realistic signings that would hugely improve or improve our squad at all.

Our departures in January…

Jermain Defoe to Toronto for £6 million. – Expected departure, he’s here to stay until March, will be sad to see him leave as he has been a great player for us over the years. We’ll have a great send off for him in his last few games.

Simon Dawkins to Derby for an undisclosed fee. – After being on loan and impressing, the 24 year old has finally left Spurs permanently, good luck to him, was never going to get the chance at the Lane.

Shaquile Coulthirst to Leyton Orient on loan. – The young striker has impressed for our youth side, now he gets the chance to strut his stuff and score some goals with some experience under his belt!

Jon Obika to Brighton on loan. – Forever on loan, now 23 years old, it doesn’t seem he’s got a future at Spurs. It’s a chance for him to score goals to secure a permanent deal away from Spurs I presume.

Ryan Fredericks to Millwall on loan. – Big future for Ryan at the club, he has also signed a new deal at Spurs until 2017 and this loan will be great for him, I’ve been really impressed with him for the U21s and for the first team. Now he can gain some experience and get into the first team next season.

Adam Smith to Bournemouth for an undisclosed fee. – Upsetting it hasn’t worked out for Adam at Spurs, after a few appearances in the first team some thought he could be direct back up to Kyle Walker, but with the emergence of Fredericks it seems he’s no longer needed in the future.

Lewis Holtby on loan to Fulham. – I’m glad Holtby can get first team football in the Premier League, he deserves that. A brilliant player who will probably keep Fulham in the League, he needs to show his quality at the Whites and then come back to Tottenham next season even better and even stronger. I still have confidence Lewis has a big future at Spurs. I’ll miss him for the rest of the season though!

The deals that never materialised.

Dimitar Berbatov to Spurs. – Dimitar ended up at Monaco on Deadline Day permanently from Fulham! After being heavily linked, it is reported Sherwood said no to possibly signing the Bulgarian striker. I was on the fence about his signing, on one hand he is a player who disrespected our club greatly when leaving to Manchester United, on the other hand he was still the player that made my mouth-water when I watched. Difficult to chose. But, it’s not happened, so we don’t have to worry about the backlash!

Etienne Capoue to Napoli. – The deal didn’t go through! Yay! I’m happy he’s stayed, been one of our better signings, early on he was incredible for us, now he gets to stay and continue his time at the club. Good news, although I must say I thought he would depart. Maybe his goal against Manchester City persuaded Sherwood to keep him!

Conclusion.

Nothing special! Not many shocks and not any incomings. Some may have wanted a left back or a striker but I fully believe we have the squad to compete heavily for the top four places. Thank God it’s all over, we can fully concentrate of football. No excuses now! Let’s have a right crack at it! COYS!!

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Match Preview, Tottenham vs FC Sheriff Tiraspol.

Match: Thursday 7th November 2013. Kick off: 8:05pm.

Europa League

A big game and a 100% must win. If we win on Thursday, we are through to the knockout rounds of the Europa League, and continue our 100% record in the tournament, we need to get through as early as possible so we can rest our players in the final two remaining games against Tromsø and Anzhi Makhachkala, but obviously, securing a place in the knockout round is something we want to do, so the motivation to win is big. Our inability to score goals and play free attacking football has been highly documented, we registered a 0-0 draw with Everon at the weekend in which our attacking performance disappointed once again, we as fans are waiting for it to click, and I’m sure it will, but it needs to happen soon! While our attacking play is lacking, our defensive performances have been sublime, not conceding a single goal in the Europa League so far, hopefully this continues against Sheriff! Last time out against Sheriff, we won 2-0 away from home, far from a convincing win; they surprised us with their fast attacking football, but their finishing was appalling, and ours was quite clinical, so we won the game with a seeming comfortably score line.

FC Sheriff are a tough side, who attack with purpose and pace, they can cause problems for teams, especially teams who like to attack like ourselves. It’ll be a very difficult, but it’s one we should win, at home, we’ll be confident of getting a result. They sit top of the Moldovan league, with 35 points from 14 games, 7 points ahead of their nearest rivals Costuleni, having a very impressive goal difference of 33, they like scoring goals! Isa is their biggest threat, he plays up top for the Moldovan champions and he showed in our game with them that he has pace and the ability to hold up the ball and get midfielders into the game. We’ve got to keep him quiet. Other players to look out for are Jhulliam, Cadû and Ricardinho; all Brazilian!

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I expect changes to the team, but still a very strong one. The players need to go out and show their attacking prowess, and get a big win at the Lane, for the fans more than anyone else, we want to get this game done and dusted early, and book our place in the knockout stages. Chances for a lot of so called ‘fringe’ players to make a mark, and show their worth to the squad, the most noteworthy being our record signing, Erik Lamela, he hasn’t particularly taken North London by storm like some Spurs fans wanted, but he’s slowly improving and put in a good performance in his last game against Hull in the Capital One Cup, showing glimpses of his undoubted quality. He’s settling into a new environment, but we want to see some good performances, and get his confidence up, so he has the chance against Sheriff. Jermain Defoe is expected to lead the line, our top scorer in the Europa League, always pops up with a goal in these games, with the service he could receive from Eriksen, Lamela and Sigurdsson, he’s in good hands. Etienne Capoue is back! He is in contention for a place in the line up, and it’s a great pleasure to have him back in the squad, an important player, with great quality, looking forward to seeing him back in action after his lengthy injury. The team news is that Danny Rose, Sandro, Zeki Fryers and Emmanuel Adebayor are all out of the game through injury, while Kyle Naughton and Etienne Capoue come back into the frame. Hugo Lloris is also fit and available for selection after his heavy blow to the head, but Brad Friedel is expected to start.

Should be a fast paced and exciting game! It is being shown live on ITV 4, with coverage starting at 7:45pm on Thursday 7th November, kick off at 8:05pm. Let’s hope we can show our offensive ability, as well as our defensive stability and light up White Hart Lane once again. COYS!!

My preferred team to face FC Sheriff at White Hart Lane:
4-2-3-1
Friedel
Walker – Dawson – Kaboul – Naughton
Capoue – Dembele
Lamela – Eriksen – Sigurdsson
Defoe

AVB’s press conference pre Sheriff:

Match Review, Tottenham vs Swansea

Tottenham 1-0 Swansea
Soldado pen 58′

Two games, two wins at the start of the season. Nothing more we could ask for. Two clean sheets, and two Soldado goals! Our Premier League campaign has started very well, and long may it continue. We dominated possession, and the game, but chances were very hard to come by. Swansea defended well, not giving a lot of space in midfield, and almost cancelled Soldado out of the game. They had a couple of chances, but weren’t a massive trouble as our defence and midfield is very strong. We only lacked in one thing, a spark. Someone to make things happen, a Gareth Bale if you like. This isn’t our full squad, as more signings are on the way, but one of those signings has to be a very special attacker. Erik Lamela please.

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Etienne Capoue was brilliant all day. He was everywhere, nipping at the heels of the Swansea players, making a nuisance of himself, and stopping opposition attacks. Really impressive start to his Spurs career, and Sandro has an extremely difficult job getting back into the side with Capoue’s excellent competition. Andros Townsend deservedly got his chance today after his performance against Tbilisi mid-week, and he was great! The one player that ran at the Swans defence, and tried to make things happen, and won us the penalty to the Soldado goal. Another exciting performance from Townsend. I can’t help but mention Jan Vertonghen. That man is exceptional, so classy in his work, and in my opinion in the top three centre backs in the Premier League, if not the best. Paulinho was great in midfield, but is still settling into the pace of the Premier League, so if this isn’t his best, we’re in for a treat. Soldado with another goal that wins us the game, just what you want from your record signing! Our next game is against Dinamo Tbilisi in the second leg of the Europa League play off at White Hart Lane on Thursday 29th August live on ITV 4. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Swansea at the Lane:
Lloris – 8
Walker – 5
Dawson – 6
Vertonghen – 8
Rose – 7
Townsend – 8
Paulinho – 7
Capoue – 9 Man Of the Match
Chadli – 7
Dembele – 6
Soldado – 7

Subs:
Defoe – 6
Sigurdsson – 5
Sandro – 6

Etienne Capoue, the French Tank.

Yet another signing in what has been a brilliant window so far. Etienne Capoue has joined Spurs from Toulouse in a reported £9 million deal and a 4 year contract. The 25 year old French international known as the ‘French Tank’ back in his homeland is a centre defensive midfielder, but can also dip into the centre back position when required.

Competion.

Etienne will have to work hard to gain a place in the first team, with the quality we have in this area, but he will give our starters a run for their money, and this is always good. Squad depth and competition for places is needed when you build a squad trying to challenge for top honours. Capoue plays in the same position as Sandro, and it is now a battle between them for the starting spot.

Needed?

Personally, I think Capoue was needed. With Huddlestone leaving to Hull, Livermore to Hull on loan, and Scott Parker looking to be out the door, there is a definite space for Capoue. He is a better player than those three, and a France international, so it is good business to offload them and bring in Etienne in my opinion. We already had a very strong competition for places in the midfield with Holtby, Sigurdsson and Carroll, but they are much more attacking players. We lacked a back up for Sandro, and I’m very glad we now have it.

Attributes.

Capoue is a tank. He is so strong, with and without the ball. He can sit in front of the defence and make key tackles and interceptions. He made more successful interceptions than Mousa Dembele, Frank Lampard and Tom Cleverley combined last year in France, which shows you how important he is defensively. He scored 7 goals last season for Toulouse, and for a defensive midfielder/centre back, this is very impressive. A definite threat from set pieces. Experts on the game in France say he was the best player in the league last year apart from PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which is massive praise indeed. Also, the Toulouse president explained Capoue as the best player Toulouse have produced in 20 years.

Summary.

This signing could turn out as a shrewd move from Daniel Levy and AVB, as he is highly rated in France, and with the World Cup coming up for Capoue he will want to show what he can do, and be starting regularly. A hard task, but it seems as though he has the ability to really push Sandro, Paulinho and Dembele for their starting berth.

Another signing, and more to come. Looking good for the new season. COYS!

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