Match Preview, Tottenham vs Arsenal.

Match date & time: Saturday 7th February 2015. 12:45pm GMT KO.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

TV: Live on BT Sport 1. Worldwide TV listings can be seen HERE.

It’s the North London Derby! The match that both Arsenal fans and Tottenham fans look out for first when the season’s fixtures are released to the World; and I certainly can’t wait for the contest to begin. Both sides that are in good form, with no obvious winner, with players in incredible form too, doing brilliant things, and it really is going to be a phenomenal competition between two really good sides with high confidence. Goals are always expected – drama and aggression a certainty, with a pinch of guile and creativity. There have been so many fantastic North London Derbies, and I think there is a big chance that we get another high scoring, but extremely competitive match with the sides having such high confidence, I don’t think either side has even contemplate that they could lose and so it is a very intriguing match. Despite the bragging rights being on the line, this is also a really massive came because of the context of the Premier League table, Tottenham sitting 6th and Arsenal lying 5th, with just 2 points between the sides, so a win could do a lot not only for confidence, but for our position in the League, as we could go 4th depending on Southampton’s result. I am always excited for these derby games, against the ‘big’ sides where the foundations of White Hart Lane are rocked and you can feel the tension and nerves lying on palms; it’s time to do the business, Tottenham!

Arsenal have had an very inconsistent season so far, but sit 5th in the table after hitting a real good run of form in the last five matches, winning all five, scoring 15 goals in these 5 games and conceding only 2, in 1 game against Brighton in the FA Cup. So, they come into the derby in good form, hitting a run of consistency and playing with confidence, but in the North London Derby, whatever your prior results are can’t be an indication of what will happen in the match, as simply anything can happen, from red cards, injuries, stunning strikes and so many other anomalies within the game, that can stray so far from the norm. Arsenal’s last clash was against Aston Villa at the Emirates, a 5-0 win, and they come into the game assured of their quality and ready to compete, and will try to take solace from their last visit to White Hart Lane, where they grinded out a 1-0 win after an early Thomas Rosicky strike, despite pressure from a Tim Sherwood guided Tottenham, but a lot has changed since then, and in our trip to the Emirates earlier this season, we put on a really good show, we were great on the counter attack and very solid at the back and managed a 1-1 draw; Nacer Chadli getting our goal before Oxlade-Chamberlain got the equaliser. Now, we’ll be looking to go one step further and turn a draw into three points, but I am sure Arsenal will be trying everything to do exactly the same. Hopefully, we get a game that lives up to the build-up and hype around the fixture. A classic, but one that turns out as a Spurs win!

The team news for Arsenal is that star man Alexis Sanchez (hamstring) is a major injury doubt, while goal scorer last time out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin), captain Mikel Arteta (foot), right back Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder), midfielder Jack Wilshere (ankle) and injury connoisseur Abou Diaby (calf) are all ruled out of the match, while Danny Welbeck (hip) is expected to return to the squad after his injury. Despite the absentees that arsenal seem to always have, they still possess some real talents, and at the moment creative midfielder Santi Cazorla is in a rich vain of form, and has really contributed to his sides recent upturn in performances, he has 6 goals and 6 assists so far this Premier League season, and was vital in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over the champions Manchester City, providing the spark that guided them to victory. And, with Sanchez ruled out, they will be relying on the Spaniard for inspiration in attack, along with record signing Mesut Ozil who has returned to the side and provided a great performance against Aston Villa and will be looking to build on his displays in the coming games, but hopefully he doesn’t continue to influence games in the way Arsenal fans would like! As well as their creative options; in midfield Francis Coquelin has added some steel, organisation and aggression to Arsenal’s team and they will look to utilise his qualities to attempt to control our own creativity, with Lamela, Eriksen and Chadli, as well as Ryan Mason in central midfield. The battle in midfield, I think, will determine the outcome of the match; the energy and tenacity of ours and the guile and creativity of theirs. It will be quite a match up.
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The team news for Tottenham is that Nabil Bentaleb is back in the frame after the African Cup of Nations with Algeria, and Mauricio Pochettino says that the 20 year old, energetic midfielder is ‘100%’ and ready for the game, and I would not be surprised to see the passionate youngster thrown straight back in along Ryan Mason, as both work very well together and know the importance of this sort of match, and I am sure they could run the midfield, even if it would be harsh to take Mousa Dembele out of the line up. With Nabil Bentaleb back from international duty, new signing DeAndre Yedlin is still with the USMNT, and not available for the match.

There are so many key battles, including Theo Walcott vs Danny Rose, Olivier Giroud vs Jan Vertonghen, Harry Kane vs Laurent Koscielny and Francis Coquelin vs Nabil Bentaleb. All of these small battles within the match are so interesting, and so close, these individual clashes will determine the final outcome; whether it’s Harry Kane bossing Laurent Koscielny or Giroud getting the better if Vertonghen; these things are so important. In my view, the player that makes us tick is Christian Eriksen, he’s the one that finds the space in midfield, spreads the play, and when he plays well, the team revolve around him; if he can step it up and get to top form, we’ll be in very good shape if we’re able to contain the threat from Arsenal – I am sure we will be able to find the space to hurt this Arsenal team, with Eriksen finding the gaps. Plus, if we can get a free kick in the final third of the pitch, I’d definitely bet on him converting! Harry Kane has been a revelation so far this season, and as he’s a Spurs fan, he knows exactly what this fixture means to the fans, to the club and everyone around the club and now it’s his chance to affect the game himself and score the goals to win the game, it would complete the fairy-tale, of the youth product coming up through the ranks, becoming a key player, and then destroying our bitter rivals. It’s perfect, no? Hopefully our dreams can come true. His performance at West Brom was excellent, and his display against Chelsea was electric, now, he has the chance to make his impact on the North London Derby, and in the form he’s in, with his confidence so high, I have no doubt that he will. He’s a machine. In midfield, Mousa Dembele has had a good couple of games, but in this game, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nabil Bentaleb partner another Spurs fan in Ryan Mason, and in this game, you need the players to understand what it means, to have that fight in their belly, to go into the tackle without fear, but with aggression and desire – and Bentaleb and Mason have that sort of attitude and can make this derby feisty and exciting, as it should always be. On the wing, Nacer Chadli has been brilliant, and in the last North London Derby, he was excellent, and got the goal for Tottenham and cemented himself as a cult hero for Tottenham when he shushed the Arsenal fans at the Emirates and sent the Spurs fans into delirium; hopefully he can do the same at White Hart Lane, he’s certainly got the appetite for it!

Match stats provided by Opta:

– Spurs have lost just one of their last six Premier League home games against North London rivals Arsenal (W3 D2 L1).

– Theo Walcott has scored four and assisted three goals in his last six Barclays Premier League appearances against Tottenham.

– Emmanuel Adebayor has scored more goals in North London derbies than any other player (10 – eight for Arsenal, two for Spurs). Adebayor is one of only two players to score for both sides in a North London derby along with Jimmy Robertson.

– Spurs and Arsenal have drawn 18 times in the Premier League, making it the most drawn fixture in the history of the competition.

– Tottenham have kept just one clean sheet in their last 32 Premier League matches against the Gunners.

– Arsenal have not managed back to back away wins in the Premier League this season and have only managed it once since January 2014.

– Tottenham have conceded the most penalties in the Premier League (6) while Arsenal have won the most (6).

– Olivier Giroud has scored five goals in his last six Premier League appearances.

– David Ospina has as many clean sheets in the Premier League this season as Wojciech Szczesny (3).

– Spurs are unbeaten in their last six Premier League home matches (W4 D2).

There’s no bigger home Premier League fixture than Arsenal. All fans can put to bed their differences on opinion and unite in their desire to beat Arsenal. It’s a magical fixture, and one in which the best players shine, and crave success. Hopefully, this Saturday can be one of success for Tottenham Hotspur, because the fans are craving this result with all their hearts. I certainly am. The game is live on BT Sport 1, and I will be giving live updates with goals, photos, videos and more; follow me on twitter for it all: @AddictedToSpurs. Let’s get three points!! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred side to face Arsenal at White Hart Lane:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Walker – Fazio – Vertonghen – Rose
Mason – Bentaleb
Lamela – Eriksen – Chadli
Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino’s pre Arsenal press conference:

Match Preview, West Brom vs Tottenham.

Match date & time: Saturday 31st January 2015. 3pm GMT Kick Off.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: The Hawthorns.

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

After making it to Wembley in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday, our attention quickly turns back to the Premier League, and a challenging fixture against a reinvigorated West Brom side under the guidance of Premier League survival specialist Tony Pulis. Our confidence is high, our form is good and we have a fully fit squad to choose from. Wembley is on the horizon and we are in good positions in the Europa League with the knockout stages close and Premier League, where we sit only 3 points off of 4th spot, and 5 points off 3rd. It hasn’t been the perfect start under Mauricio Pochettino, but you offered this situation to him at the start of his reign as Tottenham boss, I am sure he would of snapped your hand off and said thank you very much. There is no doubt that we have seen significant improvement under the Argentinian, not only in our fitness, but in the side’s mentality and will to win; there is a certain toughness that wasn’t here 6 months ago, and self belief is most definitely running through the veins of the players. What we want to see now is further improvement; more comfortable victories, a more fluid style of play and consistency in our performances over all three competitions that we are still involved in. But, at this moment in time, I don’t think I can complain at all, because as seasons go, this is shaping up to be quite a successful one!

West Brom have had a turbulent season, starting under the unpopular manager choice of Alan Irvine, who lost his job after a run of only 2 victories in 14 matches, the club turned to Tony Pulis, who was manager of the year last season with Crystal Palace, and now things look more rosy for the Albion, having now gone unbeaten under Pulis in 5 games, winning 3 and drawing 2. A January unbeaten is what the Baggies will be looking to achieve, and it will be a tough test at the Hawthorns to stop that. Last time we faced West Brom was at the Lane, and the Albion triumphed 1-0 thanks to a James Morrison header in a gloomy day in North London, and now we will look to retaliate with a victory of our own on their home turf. Last time we visited the Hawthorns, it was a six-goal thriller, with West Brom taking a three goal lead in the first half an hour, before we clawed it back in the second half to 3-3 thanks to goals from Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and an own-goal from Jonas Olsson. It was late heroics from Christian Eriksen that acquired us the point, hopefully this time he can help us claim all three. Tony Pulis will make sure his side is well disciplined, difficult to break down and at full concentration throughout the 90 minutes, so it will be very challenging to score the goals we want to, and we will have to rely on Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane and Nacer Chadli to spot the small gaps, or pounce on small mistakes and make them pay, as well as keeping our guard up to what I am sure will be a team set up to counter attack with pace, with the likes of Saido Berahino and Stephane Sessegnon able to use that speed to stretch defences and cause problems.

The team news for the Baggies is that back up keeper Boaz Myhill (finger) is facing a late fitness test, while Jonas Olsson (calf) and Youssef Mulumbu (hamstring) are ruled out. The good news for the Albion is that new signing from Wigan Callum McManaman, who scored against Spurs in his last appearance against us, is available and in the squad to face us, and he could use his craftiness to West Brom’s advantage for sure. As well as McManaman, West Brom will look to young striker Saido Berahino, who has been in great form so far this season for the Baggies, bagging (pun intended) 14 goals in 27 appearances, which has earned him interest from clubs such as Liverpool, and even Tottenham, so there is no doubt who will be down as West Brom’s danger man in the Spurs dressing room. A player who I enjoy watching a lot, is Stephane Sessegnon, and he is without doubt West Brom’s most skilful and intelligent player in the final third, as he can contribute with goals and assists, but probably not as much as he could do, with only 1 goal this season, and 3 assists, which I must say is not as impressive as it should be for a player with a great footballing mind. Along with Berahino and Sessegnon, in midfield they will look to the craft of Chris Brunt, Graham Dorrans and James Morrison to move the ball around and create chances, with the Albion relying on Yacob to be the holding man in midfield, and most likely stick like a fly to honey on Christian Eriksen. There is no doubting that this West Brom side will be set up really well, and will work their socks off in defence and midfield.Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 21.13.48
The team news for Tottenham is that Nacer Chadli returns after compassionate leave, while Hugo Lloris returns after a short break and Mauricio Pochettino reports no injury concerns, while DeAndre Yedlin and Nabil Bentaleb are away on international duty for the USA and Algeria respectively. It isn’t often that we can boast a fully fit squad, and with the heavy fixture list it is important that we take full advantage, but we must make sure the side isn’t rotated too much, so that it doesn’t alter our rhythm or the team’s understanding. The return of Nacer Chadli and Hugo Lloris is vital, and I hope they can make a big impact to help us achieve victory at the Hawthorns this Saturday.

Against Sheffield United, Mousa Dembele was fantastic, on the ball he was positive, imaginative and inventive and he gave us control in the game when he got on the ball. He is such a brilliant talent, and when he turns it up, he can be as good as any player in the Premier League, which makes it so frustrating to see him as a bit part player in our side, when if he could take games by the scruff of the neck, he could quite easily cement a place in our starting eleven. I would like to see him given a chance to start in the Premier League, as another chance to be consistent in his performances and hopefully he can give us control of the game against West Brom in the centre of the park if he is given the opportunity by Mauricio Pochettino; he definitely deserves it after his midweek performance. He speaks for himself with his performances and goals, but I am going to mention him again, especially after his incredible, match winning brace in midweek – Christian Eriksen is wonderful, on the ball, from set pieces and in front of goal, and he has been crucial to any success we have had so far this season, and we will be trusting him again to deliver in another important game, after notching 10 goals already this season. Nacer Chadli is back in contention, and we have missed his effectiveness in front of goal, as well as his link up play with Eriksen & Kane, and general wing play on the left hand side. Hopefully Nacer can pick up where he left off before the tragic passing of his father, and he can continue to generate such great form, but if he isn’t quite fit enough, then I hope he can make an impact from the bench. Up front, Harry Kane is enduring a slight goal drought by his standards, and I am sure he will be eager to end that barren spell with a goal or two, but even if he doesn’t, he still produces such a fantastic work ethic, and his link up play has been superb.

Match stats & facts provided by Opta:

– West Brom’s win over Spurs earlier this season ended a run of nine Barclays Premier League games without a win over the Londoners (W0 D5 L4).

– Spurs are unbeaten in their last four Premier League trips to the Hawthorns (W2 D2).

– Christian Eriksen has scored in two of his three Premier League games against West Brom.

– Seven of Tottenham’s last eight Premier League wins have been by a 2-1 scoreline.

– Spurs’ record after 22 games this campaign is worse than each of the last five seasons.

– Tottenham have won 10 points with goals scored in the 88th minute or later this season; four more than any other side.

– Spurs have conceded more penalties than any other team in the Premier League this season (6).

– No player has scored more winning goals than Christian Eriksen this season (5- level with Yaya Toure).

– Harry Kane has scored six goals in his last seven Premier League appearances.

– Tottenham have lost just one of their last eight Premier League matches (W5 D2 L1).

Our concentration levels have to be up to scratch if we want to avoid West Brom doing the double over us this season. Hopefully, we will be professional and get the job done at the Hawthorns – it is important that we get some consistency, not only in our results but in our performances, and I would like to see us try and take control of the game early on and score an early goal, and build on that to kill the game off! It will no doubt be very tough though, and we will have to be at our best to break down a well drilled Pulis side. The game isn’t televised, but I will be providing goal updates, photos, videos and more at my twitter account, follow me there, @AddictedToSpurs. Up the Spurs!! COYS!

My predicted/preferred side to face West Brom at the Hawthorns:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Walker – Dier – Vertonghen – Rose
Stambouli – Mason
Townsend – Dembele – Eriksen
Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino’s pre West Brom press conference:

Match Preview, Tottenham vs Sunderland.

Match date & time: Saturday 17th January 2015. 3pm GMT kick off.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

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

The games are coming around very quickly at this moment in time, and we are in a crucial period of the season in which we have the opportunity to go to Wembley in the Capital One Cup against Sheffield United, as well as progress in the FA Cup against Leicester, and all the while we have big games in the Premier League, where we will be looking to pick up maximum points away to West Brom, but first, our full attention must be on the game at the Lane against Sunderland, and pick up to the three points to keep us well in the hunt with the top sides in the League. Our home games against lower opposition are absolutely vital, with all points in the Premier League so valuable, we need to capitalise on all of our opportunities, and this struggling Sunderland side is a good opportunity to get three points on the board, even though it’s never an easy game. After losing away at Crystal Palace, in what was a very frustrating and unfortunate game, with a buoyant Palace side able to fight back – and in the end it was a big three points dropped; and now we need to try to make up for it and keep momentum going and beat Sunderland to get points on the board, but also to get back to winning ways heading into some massive games this month. After beating Burnley 4-2 in the FA Cup, we gained back a little bit of momentum, but in the cup it is different to the Premier League, and our importance in performance and results is mostly judged on our League form, which has been good up until our slip up to Palace – and we will be hoping that it is just a slip up, and we can get right back up and on track with a win against the Black Cats.

Sunderland sit 16th in the Premier League table, and are in the relegation battle this season, with former Spur Gus Poyet in a little bit of a situation after winning only once in ten games and twice in 13, with 20 points from 21 games, which certainly isn’t setting the world alight, and they have developed a reputation for being the draw specialists of the Premier League, with only 3 wins this season, and 11 draws, which I am sure would be frustrating for the Sunderland fans, and Gus Poyet will be hoping he can get some more wins on the board to help guard from criticism and release the pressure on Poyet and Sunderland. The Black Cats have had some tough fixtures recently, and haven’t picked up any points in the last two games against Liverpool and Arsenal, and if they go three games without any points on the board, I’m sure Poyet’s job will be in jeopardy. But, from a Tottenham perspective, it’s a real chance to finish off what is already a wounded animal. The last time we faced Sunderland, earlier this season, we drew 2-2, with Nacer Chadli and Christian Eriksen scoring in a game where we just couldn’t get the three points despite going ahead twice. The last time we faced Sunderland at the Lane, was last season, where despite going behind, we came back to win comfortably 5-1, with Emmanuel Adebayor getting two goals, with Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane and Gylfi Sigurdsson also getting on the scoresheet in the emphatic victory. A repeat scoreline would be most welcome.

The team news for Sunderland is that former Spur Jermain Defoe, who made his move to Sunderland on Friday, is eligible to face his former club at his former home stadium for Sunderland, but as he hasn’t played competitive football in four months, and after only one training session with Sunderland, it is difficult to see him starting and playing the majority of the game. With Defoe, eligible, Liam Bridcutt (suspended), Steven Fletcher (groin), Lee Cattermole (groin) and Anthony Reveillere (calf) are out, with Jack Rodwell (hamstring) an injury doubt, and will undergo a late fitness test. Sunderland have some good players, and after obtaining Jermain Defoe they hope that they have signed a player to bring them goals and experience, and after his time at Tottenham, we know that he can, when on form, cause havoc to any defence, and he has a great eye for goal… Especially when it’s a debut, and he has scored on every debut that he has had, so betting on a Defoe goal seems like easy money! Along with Defoe, Connor Wickham is another goal threat where goal threats are scarce; he runs the channels well and can cause problems and make himself a nuisance, but he only has 2 goals, and that isn’t the return he would have wanted with the threat he poses; the young striker can play on the flanks as well and puts in a good shift for the side. Winger Adam Johnson is probably Sunderland’s biggest outlet for pace and effectiveness, and he has 5 goals so far this season in all competitions, but hasn’t been able to register an assist for his team mates, which is probably a bad stat for his team mates, rather than Johnson himself, as he has created 20 chances, the second highest after Sebastian Larsson with 39, who is their set piece specialist. There are some really good players in this Sunderland side, and if they get some momentum in their play I am sure they can cause us problems.Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 22.46.49
The team news for Tottenham is that Erik Lamela (calf) and Ryan Mason (hamstring) remain out, while Nabil Bentaleb is with Algeria at the African Cup of Nations. Federico Fazio (illness), Vlad Chiriches (back) and Younes Kaboul (illness) are doubts, while Emmanuel Adebayor is still available, despite not playing since early November against Stoke at the Lane. New signing DeAndre Yedlin doesn’t seem to be ready to make his debut as of yet, and is definitely unlikely to be thrown into Premier League action. With Fazio, Chiriches & Kaboul doubts, it seems we are a little short on centre backs, and that could mean Eric Dier being put into central defence, after not starting a game since the home draw to Crystal Palace in early December. Hopefully he isn’t rusty!

There is no doubting that Harry Kane has been phenomenal in recent times, and we will be looking to him once again to provide the finishing touch against the side he scored his first Premier League goal against, last season in the 5-1 win at the Lane; it was definitely the first of many and he is on his way to becoming indispensable to the side, and he has already cemented himself as one of the best strikers in the League at the moment, on form and on quality. I believe Kane is consistently improving under Mauricio Pochettino, and I hope that this development will continue and he will become an amazing asset for us. The man who makes us tick, and the person we need to perform to find gaps in tight games at home is Christian Eriksen, as he has two goals in his last two games against the black cats, it seems he has made quite the habit of performing against Sunderland; hopefully he can grab another goal and help us break down their defence and find those gaps again! The three musketeers of Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen is completed by Nacer Chadli, who is a constant goal threat in every situation, from corners, with his right and left foot, as well as his ability to score from outside the box, he has become a crucial player to us and he has been a big improvement from last season. After the Burnley game, Paulinho and Andros Townsend received plaudits, and both are pushing hard for first team berths, with Townsend already cementing a place ahead of Aaron Lennon while Erik Lamela remains out, and Paulinho returning from the abyss to reclaim what seems to be a bit of his old form, and improvement means opportunities, even for someone who looked as though his Tottenham career looked unstable to say the least, with Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason out, it could be an opportunity for him to prove his worth in the Premier League after some decent performances in the cups and from the bench, and he has been very patient and not made a fuss, which I think is very honourable. Andros Townsend performed really well against Burnley and hopefully he is finding form once again as well and can become very effective on that right flank for Tottenham in the absence of Erik Lamela.

Match stats & facts provided by Opta:

– Christian Eriksen has netted in both of his Barclays Premier League appearances against Sunderland.

– Sunderland managed to net two goals despite only having one shot on target in the reverse fixture at the Stadium of Light earlier this season against the Londoners.

– Tottenham are unbeaten in their last nine Premier League games against the Black Cats (W6 D3).

– Defeat last time out against Manchester City (2-3) ended a run of five on the road without loss for the Black Cats in the Premier League (W3 D2). It also ended a run of four consecutive clean sheets away from home.

– Spurs are unbeaten in their last five Premier League home games (W3 D2).

– Tottenham Hotspur have recovered 12 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season, the most in the top flight.

– Harry Kane has scored six goals in his last six Premier League games for Spurs.

– Nacer Chadli has provided an assist in four of his last five league appearances for Tottenham.

– Spurs have given away six penalties in the Premier League; two more than any other side in the division.

– Sunderland have scored a higher proportion of their goals in the final 15 minutes of Barclays Premier League games than any other side (33%).

A big game to get back on track and return to winning ways in the Premier League, and one in which we will be welcoming back an old friend and now a new foe in Jermain Defoe; but let’s hope it isn’t a happy return for him on the pitch! The game isn’t being shown live on TV, but I will be providing match updates, including goal updates, photos, videos and much more from my twitter account; follow me there, @AddictedToSpurs. Let’s get three points!! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Sunderland at White Hart Lane:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Walker – Dier – Vertonghen – Rose
Stambouli – Paulinho
Townsend – Eriksen – Chadli
Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino’s pre match press conference:

Match Preview, Crystal Palace vs Tottenham.

Match date & time: Saturday 10th January 2015. 5:30pm GMT Kick Off.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: Selhurst Park.

TV: Live on Sky Sports 1. World wide TV listings HERE.

Exiting the festive period, we have left ourselves in a great position to pursue a great season. After going 7 games unbeaten in all competitions, we have found ourselves just two points off the top four, and still in every competition we can be involved in, including the semi finals of the Capital One Cup, with a real chance to go to Wembley and challenge for coveted silverware. In these recent seven games unbeaten, it looks as though the players have really found their form, and Mauricio Pochettino has found something of his best 11, or at most best first team, match day squad of eighteen. We have been injury free, and competition for places means that our squad looks hungry and ready to fight entering into the final half of the season. Our next six games are favourable, but massive. We have the chance to go to Wembley against Sheffield United, but also we have to continue this unbeaten run, and keep momentum ticking over into the second half of the season. This all starts with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, who are a difficult proposition at home, and with a new manager, and his first home game, he will be looking to make a good impression; and the players could rise to the occasion. But, if we play the way we know we can, and emulate a performance of the calibre of our 5-3 win over Chelsea, the we should have no problem in seeing off Crystal Palace. There is no doubt Palace will try to make it as difficult as possible for us on their home turf, with the crowd behind them – we have a really difficult task ahead of us, but we need to be professional, and get the job done and move on. It’s crucial we don’t let the momentum that we have dither.

Palace have struggled this season, which was expected after Tony Pulis left them just before the start of the season. Neil Warnock replaced him, but he only lasted half of the season before Alan Pardew stepped up and took the job, to the surprise of many leaving Newcastle – a much safer side with better players. Crystal Palace sit 18th in the Premier League, inside the relegation spots, and Pardew has a big job to keep them up, which means he will be looking to start strong, and transform Selhurst Park into the fortress it became last season under Tony Pulis; and that, Pardew will be hoping, will start with us. Palace have only won once in their last 14 Premier League games, and are without a win since their victory over Liverpool at Selhurst Park eight games ago, back in November. This barren spell led to manager Neil Warnock losing his job, and being replaced by Alan Pardew. In our last game against Crystal Palace, we drew 0-0 at the Lane, in an exciting, but frustrating game in which Palace did really well to counteract our offensive prowess. It wasn’t our finest game but Palace really turned up and probably deserved more from the game. In our last game at Selhurst Park, we won 1-0 on the first day of last season; with Roberto Soldado getting the only goal from the spot. I think this time around, we will want to break down the Palace defence a little more, and finish off the game as early as possible. If we have a slow start, Palace could easily grow into the game and dig in, which would make our task harder than it has to be. Last time we faced an Alan Pardew side, it was against Newcastle at the Lane in the Capital One Cup quarter final, in which we won comfortably 4-0; hopefully Pochettino’s men can recreate a similar scoreline against Pardew’s new side.

The team news for CrystaL Palace is that their midfield menace Yannick Bolasie, and midfield hard man Mile Jedinak will both be absent for Alan Pardew’s first Premier League game in charge as they are both on international duty; and they will be a huge miss for Palace, as they are both arguably their most important players, and Yannick Bolasie caused us all sorts of problems in our last encounter at the Lane, and I am sure our defence will be glad not having to face him once again. Mile Jedinak is the leader of the side, the hard man, but also the orchestrator of it all from his deep position in the centre of midfield; he is a touch of class in an otherwise below average Palace side, and I am sure they will miss him dearly; hopefully we can make his absence count. Other than those absentees, James McArthur (knock), Marouane Chamakh (hamstring) and Glenn Murray (ankle) are all slight doubts for the Eagles, but are expected to at least make the squad. With the absence of Bolasie and Jedinak, Palace will have to rely offensively on the talents of Wilfried Zaha, who is on loan from Manchester United and has undoubted talent on the ball. His end product is questionable, but on his day he can be a big threat to any defence, and Pardew will be hoping he can be the man to help his side create chances, and use his pace to stretch our defence. Up front, Palace have a wealth of options, from Chamakh to Doyle, to Campbell to Murray and the to Dwight Gayle, and all of these strikers aren’t exactly prolific, but they still pose a threat given the correct service, but if we can nullify the supply, we can isolate the striker and then we should get most of the fun in the match. There’s no doubting that this Crystal Palace side will put in a massive shift to prevent us from scoring, and will look to hit us on the counter with the pace of Zaha and Gayle; we will have to make sure to score early and then hopefully we can take command of the game.

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The team news for Tottenham is that Nail Bentaleb has joined up with his Algerian team mates for the African Cup of Nations and so will be absent from this game. DeAndre Yedlin isn’t ready after only joining up with the side on Wednesday, with Ryan Mason (hamstring) & Erik Lamela (calf) out of the game through injury. With Mason and Bentaleb out, it’s a chance for Mousa Dembele and Benjamin Stambouli to stake a claim for first team football, and hopefully they can grab their chance and put in a good display.

There is no hesitating when asked who the key man for Tottenham is at the moment; Harry Kane has been nothing short of sensational so far this season and we rely upon him for goals, but it’s not only his goals, but it’s his overall contribution of assists, hold up play and his incredible work rate, which makes him so valuable to us, and he is developing into a wonderful player with a massive future. Another player in a rich vain of form is Nacer Chadli, who has 9 goals and 4 assists so far this season and has been a revelation with his contribution, and has established himself as an incredibly important player to us, to have a midfielder who can get 10 goals plus a season alongside Christian Eriksen. In defence, Federico Fazio and Jan Vertonghen have been in stellar form as a unit, and our back five as a whole is beginning to take shape with Kyle Walker back from injury and Ben Davies and Danny Rose competing valiantly for a place at left back, and our results prove that continuity and understanding within the side and at the back is leading to consistency in our results, and hopefully no injuries will disrupt the flow of thew side and the squad, and we can continue to produce good results and climb the table. On the wing, with Erik Lamela out, and Aaron Lennon seemingly on his way out, an opportunity has arisen for Andros Townsend to stake a claim on the right wing after being a bit part player for quite a while he has the chance to put a run of games together and hopefully rediscover some form that he had early on last season.

Match stats & facts provided by Opta:

– Crystal Palace have gone eight Premier League games without a win (W0 D5 L3).

– Tottenham Hotspur have recovered more points from losing positions than any other team in the Barclays Premier League (12).

– The Eagles have failed to score in five of their last seven Premier League matches.

– Harry Kane has scored five goals in his last five Premier League matches.

– Palace have failed to score in their last three Premier League games against Spurs.

– Spurs have won six and lost just one of their last nine Premier League matches.

– Harry Kane has the best minutes/goal ratio of any player to score at least five PL goals for Tottenham (149, Klinsmann 169).

– Crystal Palace have committed more fouls than any other team in the Premier League this season (270).

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

– Kevin Doyle has scored four goals against Tottenham, his joint-highest tally against any Barclays Premier League opponent (along with Fulham).

It’s a massive game to continue our recent form, and it would be lovely to go eight games unbeaten. Crystal Palace are a tough proposition, but we have what it takes to break them down and come out as victors. The game is being shown live on Sky Sports 1, but I will be providing match updates including goal updates, photos and videos. Follow me on twitter for it all, @AddictedToSpurs. Let’s get another three points! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Walker – Fazio – Vertonghen – Rose
Stambouli – Dembele
Townsend – Eriksen – Chadli
Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino speaks to the press ahead of Palace:

Match Preview, Tottenham vs Burnley.

Match date & time: Saturday 20th December 2014. 3pm GMT KO.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

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

It’s been a good week for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. A good win away at Swansea, and then an emphatic win over Newcastle in the Capital One Cup Quarter Finals, which has led us to a winnable tie against Sheffield United in the Semi Finals. It’s a good opportunity for us now to create some momentum, and what better chance than another home win against newly promoted Burnley. A game that we should win, but one that must not be underestimated, as we know our form at the Lane in the Premier League has been shaky at best. It’s about time we transferred our cup form and consistency into our League form, as we have the makings of a good season evolving. To win a trophy would be incredible, but it’s no excuse for not being successful in the Premier League; we have high expectations, with the squad that we have, to attain a respectable top 5 League position, and if we can get top 5, and possibly win a trophy, this would be an incredibly good first year in charge for Mauricio Pochettino, and hopefully give us a good foundation for improvement next season. But, there are a lot of games to play and a lot of things to be decided, and the key to us having the good season that I preach, is to improve our home form and start to win the games that we should, and win them well. Consistency is key and if we can put a good run of results and performances together, we will look very good for the second half of the season. We will be hoping for no slip ups at the Lane against Burnley, and a recreation of the performance and result that was procured against Newcastle. Last time we faced Burnley, we lost 4-2 at Turf Moor back in 2010. And the last time we faced them at White Hart Lane, we won 5-0, with Robbie Keane grabbing four along with a Jenas goal. We’ll be hoping for a repeat of that, step up Harry Kane for the hat trick!

Burnley, after a very difficult start to life in the Premier League, have found their feet, slowly. After 10 games without a win in the Premier League, it was looking very bleak for the boys in claret and blue, but to their credit, after a slow start they are starting to adapt to the Premier League, work very hard and start to grind out good results. The side did not spend big money at all after coming up from the Championship, and are relying on what is a Championship standard squad to try and grit their way through the Premier League with the lack of funds available, and it is not a surprise that they find themselves hovering just above the relegation zone in 17th with 15 points, ahead of QPR, Hull and Leicester. In their last 6 games though, since their 10 game drought ended, they have picked up 3 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss, which suggests a bit of form is starting to develop. Their only loss coming to QPR at Loftus Road, 2-0. In their last game though, at Turf Moor, they triumphed against Southampton 1-0, and so come into this game high on confidence. At home, it looks as though they could gain a lot of momentum – but they do struggle on their travels, with only 1 win in 7 attempts, but that came on a difficult journey to Stoke City. It seems definite that Burnley, with their lack of offensive creativity, will try to sit deep and soak up pressure, before hitting on the counter attack and from set pieces, relying on the pace and goals for Danny Ings. It’s our job to make sure we are efficient on the ball, and score an early goal to quash the Burnley resilience.

The team news for Burnley is that Stephen Ward (ankle), Michael Duff (shin), Sam Vokes (knee) and Matthew Taylor (calf) are all out, while Ben Mee (illness) is set to return for the Clarets. There is one key factor you need at the bottom of the table if you want to survive, and that’s goals – and Burnley have potentially got a player that can bring that factor to fruition. The England U21 striker has pace, desire and an eye for a goal – and he’s Burnley’s main hope of survival, if he can stay in form and start to consistently get goals. In 13 appearances so far this season in the Premier League, he has 4 goals and is Burnley’s top scorer, which isn’t a brilliant record by any means, but it shows that recently he’s been finding his feet in the world’s most competitive League. If Burnley want a result at the Lane, they’ll be hoping Ings will be bringing his A game, as he can worry defenders and stretch the opposition with clever runs, as well as his more than decent ability on the ball, as well as off of it. Although Burnley don’t have an abundance of talent running through the veins of their squad, they have some decent players that can score goals and create opportunities – one of those players is George Boyd, who after being signed from Hull in the summer, has scored 2 goals and has been able to show his quality just off Danny Ings. Another offensive player, who managed to win the game for Burnley against Southampton, is former Brighton man Ashley Barnes. The versatile forward can score goals from the wings and from central positions, and after scoring 2 goals so far this season, he’ll be looking to add to his tally at the Lane. Those two Ashley Barnes goals have both been winners, so he’s been a valuable player for the Clarets in times of need.

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The team news for Tottenham is that Emmanuel Adebayor has returned and is in contention to play in this game, meaning that we have a fully fit squad to choose from for the first time this season and what seems to be many years! Despite his marmite persona, Emmanuel Adebayor, is an important option to have upfront for Tottenham. He’s a different type of striker to Harry Kane and Roberto Soldado; as he is completely accustomed to playing in the lone striker role and can hold the ball up with his strength and height. It’s a different type of striker to have, and one who when feeling good about himself can score all types of goals. I’m glad he’s back and hope he can have a good impact in our form.

There is no doubt in my mind that Christian Eriksen is set to become a World Class player. He’s not quite at that level yet, but he’s well on his way. He has the ability to win football games, with his creativity and goals, and now, after a slow start, he’s found his feet and will be an essential player to keep fit and inform for the rest of the season. Against Burnley, it’s important that he performs as we will need his eyes for a gap to breakdown what is expected to be a tight and well compact Burnley defence. His shots from outside the box and set pieces could well prove the difference as well. Nacer Chadli bagged his 7th goal of the season against Newcastle on Wednesday, and proved a constant threat to the Geordies – and he’s proving to be a very important player so far this season for Tottenham. He has the eye for goal, and it’s crucial that he keeps up this form and after returning from injury, recreates the performances that he was producing earlier in the season. Chadli is a player that I really like and I think he’ll pass the 10-15 goal Mark with ease this season, which is fantastic for a midfielder. Harry Kane currently has 19 goals in 26 appearances for club and country so far this season, and he’s been outstanding in not only his clinical finishing but his work rate and link up play too; he has the full package and I hope he can continue to develop in the way that he is, not only this season but in the future too. In midfield, Ryan Mason has looked fairly weary and hasn’t been as influential as his early season form, so personally I would rest him for Benjamin Stambouli, who I think has proved Pochettino that he is worthy of a start in the Premier League after his performance in the Cup competitions, and after his partnership with Nabil Bentaleb was so fruitful against Newcastle, it seems natural to keep the two together for this game. But, with the quality that we do have in the centre of midfield, I’d be happy to see Mousa Dembele, Bentaleb, Mason, Stambouli or Etienne Capoue start and I really wouldn’t react badly, I think we’ve got a good calibre of player in that position. Kyle Walker could be set for his first Premier League start at White Hart Lane this season, and I’m looking forward to seeing him bomb down that right hand side once again; he’s been sorely missed and will be essential to the balance of the side.

Match stats and facts provided by Opta:

– There have been 21 goals scored in the last four meetings in all competitions between Spurs and Burnley, with at least five in each game.

– Those last four meetings between Spurs and Burnley have all been home wins.

– There have been 55 goals in the last 12 meetings between Spurs and Burnley at White Hart Lane; an average of 4.6 per game.

– Tottenham have won three Premier League games that they have been behind in this season; only Chelsea have won as many.

– Spurs have won a league-high eight points from goals scored in the 85th minute or later in the Premier League this season.

– Burnley have played the highest proportion of passes long this season in the PL (20.4%).

– The Clarets have also made 30 more long throws than any other team in the PL this season (164, Tottenham are joint second on 134).

– This is only the eighth time that Spurs will play a Premier League game on a Saturday at 3pm since the start of last season (it’ll be their 55th PL game since Aug 2013 overall).

– Burnley have won just one point in their eight previous Premier League trips to London (D1 L7).

– The Clarets have failed to score in six of these previous eight Premier League away games in the capital.

A match in which we must continue our winning form, and end the home drought for a win in the Premier League. It’s a great opportunity to grab three points! The game isn’t televised, and I’ll be attending the game. But I’ll be sure to post a stream and update when I can on Twitter. Follow me there for it all: @AddictedToSpurs. COYS!!

My predicted team to face Burnley at the Lane:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Walker – Fazio – Vertonghen – Davies
Bentaleb – Stambouli
Lennon – Eriksen – Chadli
Kane.

Mauricio Pochettino’s pre Burnley press conference:

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 Preview, Swansea City vs Tottenham.

Match date & time: Sunday 14th December 2014. 4pm GMT KO.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: Liberty Stadium.

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

After 3 games without a win and without a goal, it’s crucial that we don’t let that drag on and come to the table at the Liberty Stadium against Swansea showing flair, pace and energy to try and get a result, and score some goals! The season so far has been very tough, with a lack of rhythm and consistency in our results and performances, and now we’re right in the thick of the Christmas period, it’s really important that we pick up our performances and get some results, otherwise we will find ourselves too far off the pace in the Premier League and, if we don’t find our performance level ahead of probably the biggest game of our season so far against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup Quarter Final at White Hart Lane. Getting to the final of that competition again would be fantastic, and to win it would be fabulous to say the least, but first we have to get past Newcastle on Wednesday, and have to focus on getting a result in Wales! Swansea are a well drilled, technically fantastic side, but if you look at previous results, they’ve all been in our favour and hopefully we can get a result once more against possibly the best Swansea side there has ever been! It’s unlikely to be a scrap, and Swansea will be looking to attack, keep the ball, and play to their strengths, and Tottenham love to do that to, on a good day, so we’ll be hoping to stop their rhythm, get hold of the ball and hit them on the counter attack. Our away form is good, and we’ll be hoping to take the full three points this Sunday afternoon, and what a big three points it would be.

Swansea have been great this season. Personally, I think they are one of the most entertaining teams to watch in the Premier League this season, and have picked up the results to back it up as well. They sit 8th, only 1 point ahead of ourselves in 10th – and it’s their home form that has been so brilliant this season, in their last 7 games in all competitions, they have not been beaten, winning 4 and drawing 3. With a win against Arsenal in there which really caught the eye. Despite that good home form, and the scrutiny Tottenham have been put under this season, we are only 1 point away from them, and a win at the Liberty can really make our season look more rosy! I really hope we can finally build and improve on the Everton result and bring that energy to our game once more, and make sure that our Europa League commitment doesn’t hinder our performance. In our last 5 games against Swansea, we have come out on top in every single one, being unbeaten in our last 6 games, and never beaten by them in Premier League history. Last time out, at the Liberty Stadium, we were able to beat the Swans 3-1, Emmanuel Adebayor getting a brace, and Chico Flores scoring an own goal – and Wilfried Bony scoring for Swansea. We’ll be hoping, in the absence of Adebayor, that another player will step up and steer us to victory!

The team news for Swansea is that Federico Fernandez (calf) will have a late fitness test ahead of the game, and is therefore a doubt. While goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański (suspended) is out of the game, and defender Neil Taylor returns from a one match ban. Everyone knows who Swansea’s key man is – Wilfried Bony is a phenomenon upfront, his finishing, hold up play and link up with his midfield is brilliant and he is a nightmare to contain for defenders and on his day, when the ball is at his feet and he gets the service either in behind the defenders or from crosses from the wing, he can win games for his side – and if we want any chance of taking the three points back to London, we will have to make sure Bony is frustrated and starved of service. The service that Bony will be hoping to get will be attempted to be provided by a familiar face; Gylfi Sigurdsson has been a revelation this season, and despite being a very decent player in his time at Tottenham, getting important goals, he never reached his full potential and didn’t do enough to secure a place in the starting line up, but his move to Swansea has reinvigorated his career and he has reached another level of performance, scoring goals, but more impressively, being the creative force for Swansea this season with 8 assists and 2 goals. Hopefully Sigurdsson won’t come back to haunt us this Sunday in Wales. Not only do Swansea have strength and technique, they have pace in abundance with their wingers. Jefferson Montero is quick, direct, and effective on the left hand side, and the Colombian has built up a real understanding of the Premier League and with his team mates and is starting to torment defenders, and our right back, whether Eric Dier, Kyle Walker, Kyle Naughton or Vlad Chiriches, will have to be on top of their game! On the other side, it’ll be either Wayne Routlegdge or Nathan Dyer, and either player will be very threatening, with both being able to provide goals and assists to the Swansea side, while stretching defences and getting in behind. It’s going to be a very tough afternoon, where we’ll need to be right on top of our game.

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The team news for Tottenham is that Emmanuel Adebayor (personal reasons) is out of the game, and Kyle Naughton (heel) is a doubt for the game. But, other than that, we have a full squad to choose from, with Kyle Walker fully recovered from his abdominal injury and in the squad, and the players rested for the Besiktas tie back in contention. Those include Ryan Mason, Harry Kane, Nabil Bentaleb, Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Eric Dier. It’s so important, being in the Winter period, to have a healthy and hungry squad to choose from, and with the full squad to pick from, it’s important we can take advantage. Mauricio Pochettino needs to find his first choice starting 11 and stick with it, because that will lead to much needed consistency!

Harry Kane, after a phenomenal season so far, has hit his first dry spell of the season, not scoring in four games – but, he has played really well in each game and worked ever so hard for the side. He got a much needed rest in midweek, and should now come back fresh and hungry to drive Tottenham to victory, and hopefully get on the score sheet once again! There are some tough decisions for Mauicio Pochettino, with the midweek game, whether to throw Kyle Walker back into the Premier League after completing 75 minutes against Besiktas. Personally, I would put him into the game as he says he feels ‘perfect’ and he’d be the best equipped to deal with the pace of Jefferson Montero. Nacer Chadli has been one of our players of the season so far, but after an injury, his flow has been disrupted, and his performance level has dropped. Now, he’ll be hoping to get a consistent run in the team and find his goalscoring form once again – it’s crucial for us that he does, because goals from midfield for us are vital. Defensively, we will want to build a consistent and solid back four, and with Walker at right back, Fazio and Vertonghen look to be building a very good centre back partnership together, with strength and composure, and hopefully the understanding between them grows and they become even stronger, with Ben Davies, returning to his former club, at left back, who has been very good at left back recently. Hopefully, the whole team comes together and we can find our form once again away from home.

Match stats and facts provided by Opta:

– Wilfried Bony has 19 goals in the Premier League in 2014, more than any other player.

– Ivorian striker Bony has netted seven times in his last nine Premier League appearances.

– Spurs have lost none of the six Barclays Premier League games against Swansea and have won the last five in a row.

– This will be Tottenham’s 32nd Premier League game on a Sunday since the start of last season, more than any other side.

– Emmanuel Adebayor has scored four goals in five Premier League games against Swansea.

– Gylfi Sigurdsson made 58 appearances in two PL seasons for Spurs, scoring eight goals and assisting four more. In two spells with Swansea he has played 33 PL games scoring nine and setting up 11 more.

– Jan Vertonghen has scored in two of his three Premier League games against Swansea.

– Swansea have now thrown away 16 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season; more than any other team and with those points would be top of the table.

– 21 points after 15 matches is Spurs’ lowest haul in the Premier League since the 2008-09 season (15 points).

– Tottenham have conceded six goals in the opening 15 minutes of matches this season, more than any other club.

– Swansea are the only side yet to concede a goal in the opening 15 minutes of a Premier League game this season.

Every game is a big game, but some are more important than others. And we need to get a result after three games without one. Starting well, getting a goal and staying compact defensively is crucial – hopefully we can do that! The game is live on Sky Sports 1, but I’ll be providing match updates, photos, videos and much more from my Twitter account here – @AddictedToSpurs – give me a follow! Let’s get back to winning ways! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Swansea at the Liberty:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Walker – Fazio – Vertonghen – Davies
Bentaleb – Mason
Lennon – Eriksen – Chadli
Kane.

Pochettino reacts to Besiktas loss and says focus now on Swansea:

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:
4-2-3-1
Vorm
Walker – Chiriches – Dier – Rose
Stambouli – Dembele
Lennon – Chadli – Townsend
Soldado.

Match Preview, Hull City vs Tottenham.

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

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: The KC Stadium.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match stats & facts provided by Opta:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Review, Aston Villa vs Tottenham.

Match: Sunday 2nd November 2014.

Competition: Premier League.

Venue: Villa Park.

Result: Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham.

Aston Villa GoalScorer: Weimann 16′.

Tottenham GoalScorers: Chadli 84′, Kane 90′.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mauricio Pochettino’s post match reaction: