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 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 Preview, Besiktas vs Tottenham.

Match date & time: Thursday 11th December 2014. 6pm GMT KO.

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: Ataturk Stadium.

TV: Live on ITV 4 in the UK. Worldwide TV listings, HERE.

The games come thick and fast in the Christmas period, and managing your squad, keeping players fresh and hungry, while picking up as many wins as you can along the way. With our place secured in the knockout rounds of the Europa League, we now have to battle it out with Besiktas for top spot, away from home, with only a point required after the Turkish outfit dropped points to Asteras Tripolis in a 2-2 draw, while we triumphed at home to Partizan 1-0. Now, it’s in our hands to finish off the job in style by making our lives a little bit easier and topping Group C. With so many big games coming up, it is important to prioritise, and manage the squad well, using the talent we have through the core of the squad and using them effectively, and making sure that nobody is burnt out, and we keep fresh through an incredibly tough and demanding time in the season, with the importance made twice as much for Tottenham, trying to claw back points in the race for a successful and respectable league position. But right now, we’ve got to focus on the Europa League, which I hope will be a big part of our season, because with a bit of luck in the draw, we could go a long way! It’s a very prestigious competition and to win it would be magnificent, but to succeed and play some big teams in the knockout faces would be very exciting, hopefully bringing White Hart Lane to life. Away from home, in Turkey, it’s going to be very difficult to take a result back to London, but hopefully we’ll be able to continue our unbeaten record in the Europa League and top the group.

We all know of Besiktas’ quality. When they came to the Lane earlier in the season they were very impressive, and a 1-1 draw was all we could manage, even under the lights at White Hart Lane. Currently, Besiktas are top of the Turkish Super Lig, and are in great form, especially at Home, where in 11 games, they have only lost 1, winning 5 and drawing 4 in all competitions, including holding Arsenal to a 0-0 draw at the Ataturk Stadium in the Champions League. Last time out, in that 1-1 draw at the Lane, I thought it was an incredibly talented Besiktas side that graced the pitch, and they passed the ball crisply, created chances and were solid in defence and midfield. They are a well drilled side with decent, hard working players and at home, I’m sure they are going to be even more of a threat, even though like Tottenham, they are qualified as well. In their last game, they would have been disappointed to be held to the Greek side Asteras Tripolis 2-2, away from home – this was them throwing away an opportunity to get top spot with only a point in this coming game, so hopefully they throw away the opportunity to top it this Thursday evening!

The big team news for Besiktas is that star man Demba Ba (broken toe) is out of the game, after being a scorer in the reverse fixture at White Hart Lane. Other injury concerns are goalkeeper Cenk Gonen (knock), defender Tomas Sivok (hamstring) and midfielder Oğuzhan Özyakup (calf) go into the game as doubts, while fellow midfiedler Ugur Boral (knee) and Mustafa Pektemek (cheekbone) are definitely out of the game. With Demba Ba out of the game, a massive hole in their side needs to be filled, and they will be relying on attacking midfielder Gokhan Tore to provide the inspiration and goals – having scored three goals in five games in the Europa League, and they’ll be hoping that Ba’s potential replacement Olcay Sahan can step up after 4 goals in 15 appearances in all competitions up top, they’ll be hoping he can fill the shoes to the level of Demba Ba.

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The team news for Tottenham is that Emmanuel Adebayor (personal issues) is out, while Jan Vertonghen, Harry Kane, Ryan Mason, Nabil Bentaleb, Christian Eriksen and Kyle Naughton all being left in London – rested ahead of the weekend tie with Swansea. The big news is that Kyle Walker is finally back in the first team squad for the game, and will be looking to get minutes on his road to full fitness. Youngsters Joshua Onomah and Harry Winks are in the squad, while Younes Kaboul, Andros Townsend, Etienne Capoue, Danny Rose and Vlad Chiriches are back in the squad, along with Federico Fazio, who has returned after a one match suspension. I think it’s great that Pochettino has seen the need to rest Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Ryan Mason especially – as they have looked very drained recently and we need them to be reinvigorated ahead of the tie against a good Swansea side. Using the talented Joshua Onomah and Harry Winks would be great to see, as I see them both having big futures if nurtured in the correct way, and it’s clear Mauricio Pochettino sees the talent that runs through our academy sides, and deserves opportunities with the first team.

With Harry Kane and Emmanuel Adebayor not involved, the baton is to be handed to Roberto Soldado to lead the line and hopefully, get the goals we need to top the group. Isolation is a problem when he is up top on his own – so to help him out, I would play Nacer Chadli just in behind the Spaniard to give him the support, and with the Goalscoring record he has I think he could be a massive player – and it’s a great opportunity for Nacer to get some more fitness and minutes to get back to the top of his game once again. In the centre of midfield, Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason have taken the position in the Premier League, which means Mousa Dembele, Paulinho and Benjamin Stambouli will be hoping to get some minutes under their belt and try to show that they deserve a place in the starting line up in the Premier League. In defence, Vlad Chiriches is fit again after missing the Crystal Palace game and he’ll be looking to start at centre back, and I’d start him alongside young Eric Dier, who will be keen to show his qualities at centre half with the return of Kyle Walker, Kyle Naughton and the likely addition of DeAndre Yedlin in January – I think he has a massive future in that central position for us.

A big game, with top spot on the agenda. A point will do – but a win would be extremely good for confidence, going to a great side, away from home and getting a result would be brilliant. The game is shown on ITV4, but I’ll be providing match updates, videos, photos and much more on Twitter, here: @AddictedToSpurs. Looking forward to it! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Besiktas:
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Walker – Chiriches – Dier – Rose
Stambouli – Dembele
Lennon – Chadli – Townsend
Soldado.

Match Preview, Tottenham vs Partizan Belgrade.

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

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christian Eriksen speaks to the press ahead of Partizan:

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

Match Review, Asteras Tripolis vs Tottenham.

Match: Thursday 6th November 2014.

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: Theodoros Kolokotronis Stadium.

Result: Asteras Tripolis 1-2 Tottenham.

Asteras GoalScorer: Berrales pen 90′.

Tottenham GoalScorers: Townsend pen 37′, Kane 42′.

Tottenham red card: Federico Fazio 90′.

It’s a win. The win we needed to put us in a comfortable position in Group C of the Europa League. As I mentioned in my match preview, it was always going to be a different game and result to the home game in which we won 5-1. Away from home, on a ‘so-so’ pitch and against a team that know how to be solid and counter at pace. It’s the result that is important and we have got that and now we can come home to London and concentrate on a big home game against Stoke on Sunday. The performance, especially defensively, is a little bit worrying, with not enough protection coming from the midfield and a flat back four, with a high line made it easier for Asteras to get in-behind and that’s where they got their penalty, our red-card and their goal, which left a little bit of a sour taste in the mouth of the fans and I’m sure, Mauricio Pochettino. Three points, though, away from home in Europe is always a good result and hopefully we can finish off the job and secure qualification against Partizan at home in the next game in the Europa League.

The first half was good from Spurs’ point of view; we kept the ball for what felt like 90% of the first period and Asteras didn’t really threaten us defensively, but sat deep and made it difficult for our more creative and powerful attacking players. But, our individual quality prevailed and after a lot of probing, thinking and what seemed to be the players figuring out a little bit more about the weaknesses of Asteras, Andros Townsend marauded down the left flank and Asteras’ Sankare, who dived in at Townsend and gave away the penalty, which Townsend finished with aplomb to make it 1-0 on 37 minutes. This opened the game up a bit more for us; Townsend, who had been switched to the right hand side was very effective and continued to be a thorn in the Asteras defence. And it was Townsend who turned creator and produced a delightfully weighted and lofted cross for the in-form Harry Kane to prod home with his head on 42 minutes, which looked like it was game over. Not Harry’s most beautiful goal ever, but he seems to be doing everything right in his goalscoring game. Half time fell and we looked comfortable for the three points.

In the second period, though, we started badly; reminiscent of the game against Newcastle, in which we looked comfortable but became complacent and lacked focus. It was exactly the same and at the back we were at six’s and seven’s, not able to regain the ball and the control of the game and this was the story throughout the second half, where Asteras showed their game plan to much better effect in this half, counter attacking well and creating chances, while still keeping their shape and remaining compact. The chances they were creating were clear cut enough, working the keeper and missing by small margins. We were lucky for our lead not to be cut until so late on, but it was poor, poor finishing from a side that looked unable to stick the ball in the back of the net. From what looked like a comfortable position at 2-0, was now looking hard to hold onto which is disappointing from our point of view, but it was a credit to Asteras who are a decent side and showed it in the second half. Despite all of the chances in the second period for Asteras, it was a penalty that they needed to get a goal back, and it came too late for them in the end to snatch a point. Federico Fazio getting caught out, and Jerónimo Berrales going down after minimal contact from the big Argentine, and he was fortunate to get the call, as I’d say it was a very soft penalty. Federico, being the last man and the foul being given, had to be shown a red card, which was unfortunate.

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The team did the job in the end which they were set out to do. It wasn’t pretty at times, we didn’t pass the ball as well as we would have liked and we didn’t create the chances that you’d expect, but we got two goals and that was enough to dismantle a wasteful Asteras side. For me, Andros Townsend has to be given the man of the match award, but it’s a difficult one as there weren’t too many stand out performances. So, Townsend has to be given the honour of the Addicted To Spurs man of the match after scoring and assisting the two goals that eventually got us the win! I’ve said it for a long while now, but Andros Townsend needs to be given a sustained run at the left midfield role; he has the pace and directness to play there, and also, as shown in the second goal with his cross for Harry Kane, he has the delivery also and with a Harry Kane, or Emmanuel Adebayor in the box, we will get goals from those crosses. For me, Townsend is so much more effective and less wasteful on the left than on the right. Michel Vorm in goal deserves a mention; he made a lot of good saves and his distribution was very good, hopefully he can continue to perform for us in the Cup competitions, but I don’t think playing well in these games would be enough to replace Hugo Lloris, and I think he knows that! Harry Kane scores again and it’s his 10th goal for Spurs this season, and 13th for both club and country. That’s an incredible tally for a 21 year old and now, he has to be given the opportunity to start in the Premier League, he has earned it. But, it’s also correct of Mauricio Pochettino to protect him and not introduce him too early. Kane is young, and his career is a marathon, not a sprint.

The result we wanted. Whether we did it in the fashion we wanted is besides the point, it’s 3 points and we are in a commanding position to go through to the Knockout stages. Now, the attention turns back to the Premier League, and win against Stoke is desperately needed after a poor run of form at White Hart Lane in the League. Sunday 9th November is the date, and you can follow it all with my at my Twitter account, @AddictedToSpurs.. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Asteras in Greece:
Vorm – 7.5
Dier – 6
Fazio – 5
Vertonghen – 6.5
Davies – 6.5
Stambouli – 6
Dembele – 7
Lamela – 6 (Sub 46′: Soldado – 6)
Townsend – 8 – Man of the Match.
Eriksen – 6 (Sub 63′: Mason – 5.5)
Kane – 7.5. (Sub 76′: Paulinho – 5)

Pochettino post match interview:

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, 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, Tottenham vs Asteras Tripolis.

Match date & time: Thursday 23rd October 2014. 8:05pm KO BST.

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

TV: Live on ITV 4. Full world wide TV listings HERE.

Match day three of the Europa League group stages is at our doorstep, and we need to step up our performances & increase our points tally if we are to avoid a shock group stage exit. In two games, we have accumulated just two points and that isn’t good enough, despite two difficult games away at Partizan and at home to Besiktas. It’s important we aim to take full points from our next four games in the group, especially our home fixtures, starting with Asteras Tripolis. Our start of season form has stuttered at times, and we lack consistency from game to game, so that is something we must put right really early before it starts to take an effect on the team, manager & fans. In the Europa League, we are expected to go out, get a few goals and breeze the group, but also make a real go of the knockout stages. We all know it’s not as easy as it sounds, but our players must perform better than they have done so far and aim to win what is a great & prestigious competition. At home to Asteras Tripolis, the expectation is that we will get our first win of the Europa League campaign; it’s now up to the players to deliver that and hopefully with some style.

Asteras Tripolis, despite being the somewhat unknown quantity of Group C, currently top it and are the only team in the group to record a win in the competition so far, beating Partizan Belgrade 2-0 at home. The Greek outfit also managed to get a 1-1 draw away at Besiktas, a team we struggled with at times at the Lane. The unknown aspect of their game could play into their advantage and therefore it’s important the players don’t underestimate the opposition and try to play the game our way, with an early goal, otherwise this team could cause us problems if they decide to sit back, frustrate & then counter attack us. Being group leaders at this moment in time doesn’t mean too much, and you would still expect Tottenham and Besiktas to be going through once the fixtures are all played, but the assumption of having an easy group is wide of the mark and we must take this game seriously and Pochettino has to get the point of professionalism across to the players as best as he can. Asteras will have a game plan, and they will work hard to stick to it; it’s our job to break the team down early and dictate & control the game in the way we want it to be played.

Asteras Tripolis have a couple of injuries heading into the game; striker Ziguy Badibanga (thigh), defender Dorin Goian (ankle) and midfiedler Eric Tie Bie (knee) have been ruled out of the game, with midfielder Dimitris Kourbelis (thigh) a doubt. The main threat for Asteras lies with strikers Jerónimo Barrales, who has 4 goals in 7 games, and Manuel Parra who has 3 goals in 9 games, but 2 in 2 Europa League games. The creator for Asteras is Martin Rollé, the Argentinian attacking midfielder on loan from San Lorenzo has 5 assists in 9 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. Despite having these threats, we will hope that they won’t be getting many opportunities and we can focus on our attacking prowess.

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The team news for Tottenham is that Kyle Walker (abdominal), Kyle Naughton (ankle) and Nabil Bentaleb (ankle) have been ruled out of the game. Other than them, we have a full squad to chose from and it looks as though this will be another opportunity to change the team around and give ‘fringe’ players a chance to express themselves and push for a starting place in the Premier League. As always it’s an opportunity to put their names into Mauricio Pochettino’s thinking with a good performance, and hopefully that can lead to a good, hard working and prosperous squad.

The debate all around the Tottenham fans at the moment is which striker should lead the line. Emmanuel Adebayor, Harry Kane, or Roberto Soldado. In this game, I would start with Harry Kane; he offers the most of any striker we have in my eyes, he works hard, holds the ball up well and can finish chances, which both Soldado and Adebayor are struggling with at this moment in time. It is another opportunity for Harry Kane to prove to Pochettino that he is the option for the Premier League games and can lead the line on his own; so far, Mauricio looks to favour Emmanuel Adebayor over both, but I think Kane has staked a better claim than both so far this season, with 3 goals in 4 starts, the same amount of Adebayor & Soldado in 12 starts combined. In midfield, I expect Mousa Dembele and Benjamin Stambouli to start, with Nabil Bentaleb out injured. Mousa has lost his place in the Premier League starting line up, but has an opportunity to fight for his place in this game. I think Dembele is an incredible player, with talent coursing through his veins, but of course he needs to show it more regularly and also contribute a little more in the attacking third of the pitch. Stambouli and Dembele could provide a very balanced combination; I hope they both show their quality on the pitch. Defensively, Federico Fazio and Vlad Chiriches look the likely partnership, with Fazio suspended from Premier League duty, Jan Vertonghen looks like he will be rested. In goal, it will be interesting to see whether Hugo Lloris or Michel Vorm gets the nod; I wouldn’t be surprised to see either start, but I would personally like to see Vorm get a chance.

Important game! Important to get back to winning ways after losing to Manchester City, and also put our first win on the board in the Europa League Group Stages. The game is being shown live on ITV4, but I will be providing game updates, videos, photos and more on my Twitter account, here: @AddictedToSpurs. Let’s get three points!! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Asteras at White Hart Lane:
4-2-3-1
Vorm
Dier – Chiriches – Fazio – Davies
Stambouli – Dembele
Lennon – Paulinho – Townsend
Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino’s pre Asteras press conference:

How would you line up against Asteras?

Match Preview, Tottenham vs Besiktas.

Match date & time: Thursday 2nd October 2014. 8:05pm KO BST.

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

TV: Live on ITV4 in the UK. Full worldwide TV listings HERE.

The Europa League is here again! And I’m really, really looking forward to this game. We’re coming up against a good team, with fantastic away support that will bring an electric European atmosphere to White Hart Lane. I always enjoy the European games at the Lane – there is something special about watching Tottenham under the lights, donning that all white strip with the Tottenham faithful hopefully belting out songs and getting behind the team in a difficult game. The game will be tight, fiercely contested and full of tension, and I hope that we can come away with a much needed three points, helping us to progress in the group. If we can get past Besiktas, who are without a doubt the toughest team in the group, I think coming out on top in the group will prove much easier.

Besiktas are a good side – with good players that compete at the top of the Turkish Super Lig. They are part of 4 teams that compete for the title, Fenerbahce, Champions Last Season, Galatasaray, Besiktas and Trabzonspor, who are all good teams who are consistently in Europe, whether the Champions League or Europa League. For the past 5 seasons, though, Besiktas haven’t been able to finish above 3rd place in the Super Lig, seemingly unable to push on further after every season, with their last title coming in 2009. This season, Besiktas have started well, unbeaten from their first 4 games in the League; 2 wins and 2 draws, sitting in 2nd place behind Akhisar Belediye, who have came out of nowhere after coming 10th last season. In the Europa League, Besiktas drew 1-1 with Asteras Tripolis in game week one away from home, so we’ll take heart from that I’m sure. Last time we faced Besiktas we came out on top in 2006 in the previously named UEFA Cup, a 2-0 victory in Istanbul – Dimitar Berbatov and Hossam Ghaly getting the goals under Martin Jol’s guidance. A similar result in this game at the Lane would be glorious!

The team news for Besiktas is that Mustafa Pektemek is the only doubt for Besiktas with injury, with the rest of the squad fit. The important players for Besiktas starts with midfielder Gokhan Tore, who was the GoalScorer in their game against Tripolis; at just 22 he is a very good player, and can grab the odd goal from midfield. Another midfielder who can make the impact is Olcay Sahan, he’s Besiktas’ top scorer in the League with 3 goals in 4 games and from the wing he’s very threatening. Sahan will be feeding their new striker who is very familiar to English football, Demba Ba, going to Besiktas from Chelsea after having previous spells at Newcastle and West Ham, he’s a very good striker who can produce a finish in the box when you need it; he’s a big player for Besiktas and endeared himself to the fans with a hat-trick in a Champions League qualifier against Feyernoord. We know his threat and it’ll be tricky to contain.

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The team news for Tottenham is that Kyle Walker (pelvis) remains out, while Danny Rose (knock) and Etienne Capoue (knock) are doubts, and will probably be rested even if they are fit. The team will change, that’s for sure. Ben Davies, Nabil Bentaleb, Andros Townsend & Roberto Soldado look to be in line to feature and they need to perform as I’m sure Besiktas will put out a strong team away from home, putting in a strong performance.

For me, it’s important that we are strong in midfield for this game, close Besiktas down early and keep the ball well, and when we have the ball, be effective in attack, with pace and intensity. I expect the midfield duo to be Nabil Bentaleb and Benjamin Stambouli, and we need them to avoid being ponderous otherwise they will be caught out and give pressure to our back line. When they have the ball, they must find the right pass quickly and effectively to more advanced players so they can hopefully create chances and goals. Up front, Roberto Soldado is the likely option to start and after his good goal against Nottingham Forest he has 2 goals in 2 starts so far this season, and hopefully he can continue this against Besiktas, and if he does I think he deserves a chance to start up top in the Premier League against Southampton. In defence, new signing Federico Fazio should start and he has impressed me so far. For what he lacks in pace, he makes up for in intelligence and positioning, with the ability to play the ball out of defence as well. He has a fight on his hands to displace Younes Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen though, who were colossal against Arsenal at the weekend.

A big game is on the horizon! It’s going to be tough, hard fought and hopefully full of exciting football. The game is to be shown live on ITV 4, and I’ll update as much as possible from White Hart Lane. I’m very much looking forward to the game, and I hope we can get the win! Three points and a good win is needed! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Besiktas at the Lane:
4-2-3-1
Vorm
Dier – Fazio – Chiriches – Davies
Stambouli – Bentaleb
Lennon – Paulinho – Townsend
Soldado.

Mauricio Pochettino pre match press conference:

Match Review, Tottenham vs AEL Limassol. (2nd Leg)

Match: Thursday 28th August 2014.

Competition: Europa League play-off second leg.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

Result: Tottenham 3-0 AEL Limassol. (5-1 win on aggregate)

Tottenham GoalScorers: Kane 45′, Paulinho 49′ & Townsend (pen) 66′.

Tottenham Hotspur are through to the Europa League group stages after a fairly stress free two legged tie against AEL Limassol. We controlled the second leg from start to finish, on the ball very calm, although not put under much pressure from the Cypriot side. We were very professional and got the job done, scoring 3 goals and getting a clean sheet; that is very pleasing and now we must hope our good form continues under stiffer opposition in the Premier League on Sunday, Liverpool. Focusing on this game, we didn’t play incredibly well, but we continued to create chances, pass the ball relatively well, find the net and keep very tight at the back.

In the first half, we dominated, and early in the game we earned a penalty after good work from Paulinho who found Kyle Naughton on the right flank, who when in the box poked the ball before the goalkeeper and was taken out as the referee awarded a penalty, but the ‘keeper came off worse and a head injury forced him off; the replacement ‘keeper Pulpo came on and had to face a penalty from Harry Kane, and he came off better, saving the penalty after a poor spot-kick from Kane. After his penalty miss, Harry Kane didn’t let his head drop and continued to probe, probe and probe, and after sloppy play from Limassol, the ball fell to Paulinho who slid the ball through to Kane and he slotted the ball home in emphatic fashion. 1-0, and now the tie was surely past the Cypriot champions.

In the second half, we continued to press well, Sandro especially breaking up play and starting attacks very well from central midfield. Vlad Chiriches performed his trademark dribble from the back in the 48th minute, but lost the ball, only to win the ball back into the path of Paulinho who dropped his shoulder and finished the ball low into the corner to make it 2-0 and to get his first goal of the season. Comfortable on the ball, we continued to control the pace of the game and create chances, with the most of them falling to Harry Kane who was unable to get his second or third of the game, which will be disappointing for him. We continued to put Limassol under pressure and Kyle Naughton, who found himself in the box chipped the ball which hit a hand and another penalty was awarded, somewhat harshly but Andros Townsend stepped up and guided the kick into the bottom right hand corner, 3-0 at the 66th minute and the game dwindled from that moment on. A comfortable win.

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There were quite a few stand out performers; but my man of the match was Sandro, he was very impressive in the centre of the park. His tackling was crisp and his passing simple; exactly what you need from a defensive midfielder, especially next to the more advanced Mousa Dembele and Paulinho who were also very impressive in this game. In defence, Vlad Chiriches did very well on his return from injury, he broke up play and passed the ball well; and got the assist to top it off. There are rumours of Vlad leaving, but I’m very keen on keeping him in the squad, he’s a very good squad player and could possibly become more than that in the future too. Upfront, Harry Kane did very well, swift turns, decent link up play and a solid work rate – but he’ll be disappointed with his finishing, which he does have to improve on, being only 21 though he will only continue to improve.

A very professional win, and through to the Europa League group stages. Now we look forward to the Premier League; Liverpool at White Hart Lane on Sunday 31st August. A massive game. Follow @AddictedToSpurs for it all! COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced AEL Limassol:
Lloris – 8
Naughton – 7.5
Kaboul – 7
Chiriches – 8.5
Davies – 8.5
Sandro – 9 – Man of the Match.
Dembele – 7.5
Paulinho – 8.5
Lennon – 7
Townsend – 7
Kane – 8.

Subs:
Veljkovic – N/A
Holtby – N/A.

Match highlights from our 3-0 win over AEL Limassol:

Pochettino’s post match press conference: