Match Preview, Tottenham vs Benfica. (1st Leg)

Match date & time: Thursday 13th March 2014. Kick off 8:05pm.

Competition: Europa League, round of 16 1st leg.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

TV: Live on ITV 1.

Here we go, the business end of the Europa League is here, the glamour ties start to appear and the task becomes incredibly difficult to juggle with our Premier League commitments, but this season’s Europa League campaign has been a sort of nice distraction from the Premier League, something to look forward to and it builds excitement amongst fans and gives opportunities for fans to get to White Hart Lane, who may not go very often. I really like the competition, and now the challenge of Benfica is something I smile while thinking about; hopefully we put up a real fight, and then continue, because a trophy would be bloody marvellous.

We have been terrible on the big occasions this season, with too many capitulations and 3+ goals thrashing in the games which we have to put in more effort and show more quality. The fans have been disappointed far too often and hopefully, after Sherwood laid into the players, we won’t see the players give up, and will see more desire and passion from the team, even if we go a goal down. I want to see fight. We lost 4-0 to Chelsea, with luck going against us, but it wasn’t good enough and this fixture against Benfica is the perfect opportunity for the players and Sherwood to show they care and they are winners, because we haven’t seen it. We have history up against Benfica, we played them in the European Cup semi-final 52 years in 1962, our first European campaign, and lost 4-3 on aggregate. We lost 3-1 at the Stadium of Light in Portugal, and in the second leg won 2-1, with Jimmy Greaves being disallowed a goal for offside which would have drawn the game level, but we bowed out of the competition after a brilliant tournament all those years ago. Now, we will hope to have revenge against Benfica, and hopefully we will do what the 1961/62 team couldn’t do, and get past them and go into the quarter finals of the Europa League. It’s going to be a very tough game.

Benfica are a Champions League standard team. They are the level which we want to be in the near future. If we want to get into the Champions League, we have to show we can beat sides with the calibre of Benfica, Portuguese giants. Benfica are unbeaten in 17 games, winning 15 of those games in all competitions, including wins up against Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League, and Porto in the Primeira Liga. That’s impressive. They are top of the Primeira Liga, clear by 7 points and winning their last 5, so you can already see what a difficult task we have in front of us. The team news for Benfica is that after injury, Oscar Cardozo is back in the frame and is likely to start. The Portuguese outfit has a number of threats; up front, just mentioned Oscar Cardozo is a brilliant striker, he’s big and a deadly finisher with 26 goals in 25 starts last season, but this season he has been injured and has only started 11 games, scoring 4 goals. Another important player is Nicolas Gaitan, the attacking midfielder has 5 goals and 6 assists in 28; with a lot of pace and creativity he could hurt us. Rodrigo is another, we were linked in the summer with the striker/winger, and he has had a great season with 11 goals in 26 appearances, pacey and a definite goal threat.

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The team news for Spurs is that Erik Lamela (thigh/back), Vlad Chiriches (back), Etienne Capoue (ankle) and Michael Dawson (hamstring) have been ruled out of the game, and all of those players will also be out for Sunday’s North London Derby too. Mousa Dembele missed the Chelsea game with a hamstring problem, and is set for a late fitness test to see if he can play against Benfica, if not, he’ll be back for the Arsenal game on Sunday. Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose are back in contention after injuries and are likely to play a part in the game, two massive boosts, with Eriksen’s creativity being missed heavily and Danny’s offensive contributions on the left being lacked in his absence, too. Defensively, this game is crucial to our hopes of continuing to the quarter finals, we must contain Benfica’s attack, so I think we have to play our strongest back four, with Walker on the right, Vertonghen and Kaboul at centre back, along with Danny Rose at left back and Hugo Lloris in goal; this gives us our best chance of a clean sheet, playing Sandro would help defensively too. We are into the part of the competition where resting our best players will not see us through, and so the players will have to deal with the increase of games, and show desire to win in every game. Offensively, I think Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor will start upfront together; they are a partnership in working progress, and Ade drops back into midfield anyway so I don’t think we’d miss the extra midfielder too much with a 4-4-2.

Match facts provided by the Europa League.

– Tottenham have played ten games against Portuguese sides in UEFA competition, with the record W7 D1 L2 (W5 D0 L0 at home).

– Benfica have played 32 games against English clubs in UEFA competition, most recently last season’s UEFA Europa League final in Amsterdam, which they lost 2-1 to Chelsea FC. Their record in those games is W10 D5 L17.

– Spurs are unbeaten in 11 European home games (W9 D2) since a 2-1 loss to PAOK FC in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League group stage.

– Spurs beat FC Internazionale Milano on away goals at this stage of last season’s UEFA Europa League to reach the quarter-finals, where they lost out to FC Basel on penalties.

– After entering the round of 32 from the UEFA Champions League group stage, Benfica are aiming to reach the final for the second successive season.

– Tottenham (1972, 1984) are one of six previous UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League winners left in the competition along with Sevilla (2006, 2007), Valencia CF (2004), SSC Napoli (1989), FC Porto (2003, 2011) and Juventus (1977, 1990, 1993).

There is nothing better than a European night at White Hart Lane, especially against a massive club like Benfica are. Hopefully the players are as pumped as us fans are, and can put on a performance! Let’s get a win to hold us in good stead for the second leg! COYS!!

My predicted/preferred team to face Benfica at the Lane:
4-4-2
Lloris
Walker – Kaboul – Vertonghen – Rose
Townsend – Bentaleb – Sandro – Eriksen
Soldado – Adebayor.

Tim Sherwood’s pre Benfica press conference:

Match Review, Tromsø vs Tottenham.

Match: Thursday 28th November 2013.

Result: Tromsø 0-2 Tottenham.

Tottenham goals: OG Caucevic 63′, Mousa Dembele 76′.

A good result, in extremely difficult conditions with the snow, we confirm our place at the top of group K ahead of Anzhi, Sheriff and Tromsø with one game to spare. Job done. Youngsters to play against Anzhi now. Frustration once again in the first half, we created minimal chances and couldn’t find the net, while being shaky in possession and at the back, giving a way too many chances to the Norwegian outfit. The conditions weren’t good, far from it, but the performance has to be better against a team that were relegated from the Norwegian League earlier this month. After the break, it continued to be very difficult for us to break down what was an organised Tromsø side at the back, Soldado being isolated again, not getting the crosses or passes he deserved, although his movement and desire must improve, got to be more active. In the 63rd minute, we finally broke the deadlock through a Sigurdsson free kick that was drilled into the mixer, and at first glance looked to be tucked in by Vlad Chiriches, but in fact it was an own goal from Caucevic that gave us the lead, and that spurred us on to victory in the end. Some great link up play with Sigurdsson and Dembele 12 minutes later put Mousa through and he finished the chance expertly to put us 2-0 up, and secure the points, his first goal of the season and his third in a Spurs shirt.

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The players need to play better than this if we want to avoid another 6-0 thrashing by the other team in Manchester on Sunday, that’s for sure. Even if this wasn’t our first 11, the players out there are more than capable to play better than what they showed in Norway, Soldado needs to be more lively, stop complaining, take the gloves off and make some bloody runs, while his suppliers need to get the ball into the box, I don’t know whether AVB is telling them to cut in, or they just don’t have the confidence in themselves, but it’s frustrating and it is costing us dearly. Our problems are offensively, defensively we can cope, and in midfield we keep possession well and move the ball around, but it’s not enough, we need more penetration and a player that can make things happen *Bale*, the players need to step up and make themselves that player, whether that is Lamela or Townsend I don’t care, they need to be much more influential. Our best player was Mousa Dembele, my man of the match as he kept the ball well and moved it quickly to people who can make things happen; in the end, he took things into his own hands and scored a brilliant goal, while coming close to a second also. Hopefully Mousa starts against Manchester United on Sunday. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Vlad Chiriches were also good, with Gylfi getting two good assists and Vlad being solid in defence alongside an unsteady Michael Dawson.

Although it was poor, we are through, we did get a clean sheet and we’re winners of group K, winning every game. Can’t complain too much. Our next game is a big’un, Manchester United, the Champions, at White Hart Lane on Sunday 1st December, we need to bounce back, a win is important, a performance is even bigger. Our next Europa League game is our last in Group K, against Anzhi on Thursday 12th December. COYS!!

My player ratings for the team that faced Tromsø at the Alfhiem Stadion:
Friedel – 7 – Solid when called upon, and a clean sheet, couldn’t ask for more.
Naughton – 3 – Honestly don’t understand how Kyle became a professional, not good at all.
Dawson – 4 – Expect more from the big man, very slow, clumsy and couldn’t deal with Tromsø, which doesn’t make for good reading.
Chiriches – 7 – Good performance, made things happen from the back, and some good defensive play.
Fryers – 6 – Just come back from injury, decent performance, always improving.
Capoue – 6 – Sloppy at times, but good to have him back as an option after his good start to his career.
Dembele – 8 – Man of the Match. Good performance, on the ball very comfortable, great goal too.
Townsend – 7 – Made some chances and took a few shots, one of our Beter players for sure.
Sigurdsson – 7 – Two assists and worked very hard, good to see him in the centre for once!
Chadli – 5 – Feel for Nacer, made some openings but didn’t look confident going past players, just come back from injury though.
Soldado – 4 – Needs to be more active, make more runs and score some goals. Come on Bobby!!

Match highlights of our 2-0 win over Tromsø:

Match Preview, Tottenham vs Newcastle United.

Match: Sunday 10th November 2013. Kick off 12:30pm.

Premier League

After securing our place in the Europa League knock-out stages, we get back into Premier League action with what is going to be a difficult game against the boys from up North, Newcastle. Our League form on paper has been brilliant, except that major slip up to West Ham at the Lane, we’ve got the points we wanted to pick up, sitting in the place we want to be, the top four level on points with second place Chelsea. Last time out we got a point at Goodison Park against Everton, a difficult fixture that anything but a loss was perceived a good result, it was a good performance, except up top, defensively we were sublime and I was happy with what I saw overall from the team. Every single one of our home fixtures I believe we can get a result, always have as a Spurs fan, hopefully I always will, against the Geordies I feel no different, three points is needed to stay at the top end of the table and continue to put pressure on the league leaders Arsenal, and that’s what I believe we will do. It’s not going to be a walk in the park by any means, but with our defensive displays I think we can nullify their threat of Loic Remy and Ben Arfa, and going forward we can cause some problems as they have been shaky at points this season at the back.

Newcastle haven’t had a bad start to the season, but they’ve been very inconsistent, one week they’re beating Chelsea, the next they’re losing to Sunderland, their season stinks of mid-table to me, and I’m sure they’d be content with that. They sit in 9th place coming into the game, with 14 pts, 6 points off Spurs in 4th and only 3 points off Manchester United in 8th, it’s very tight in the top half, small margins between the top 10. Their main threat is Loic Remy, after 8 apperances he has a very impressive 6 goals and 1 assist, he’s been Newcastle’s go-to-guy, not only is he scoring goals, he’s scoring important ones, winning goals and winning performances, no wonder why we were slightly interested in the summer, a great loan deal for the Toon. Newcastle have good players, possibly more individuals than team players, Yohan Cabaye and Ben Arfa have proved their quality in the Premier League for a few years now, and they are players who could easily play at the top. We have to stop them if we want to go on to win the game.

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Our attacking play has been the most disappointing part of our season, we haven’t clicked up top, even though we have players who are known for scoring and creating goals. We need to give it time, but it is frustrating, every game we just want the team to push that little extra in attack, maybe sacrificing our defensive stability. One player I’d love to see start is Erik Lamela, after his stunning performance in midweek it seems the right time to throw him into Premier League action, when a player like Lamela has found confidence, surely you don’t stick him on the bench; a switch to the left for Andros Townsend is something I’d like to see too, the two players switching in the wings could be the formula to success. Roberto Soldado needs more service, and that is majorly up to the number 10 and the wingers, he’s a striker that thrives on crosses and one-on-one opportunities, so we really need to model our game around what gets him goals; Eriksen or Holtby has been the debate for a while now, Eriksen losing his place to Holtby because of Eriksen’s ‘poor’ form and Holtby’s emergence in the Europa League, I expect Holtby to regain his place, but I do want him to be a little more attacking in his play. Eriksen needs more time to settle, just like Lamela, this is a new country and a new style for the Dane, I’m certain he’ll come good and be a key player for us this season. Danny Rose, Nacer Chadli, Zeki Fryers and Emmanuel Adebayor are out of the game through injury, while Hugo Lloris, Kyle Naughton and Etienne Capoue are all available for the game. Sandro is also a doubt with a hamstring injury he picked up against Everton.

A difficult game in prospect, but one we have to win to keep in touching distance of the top, no slip ups please Spurs. The game is being shown live on Sky Sports 1 from 11:30am, as an early kick off. You can be sure to find a stream from me on twitter, as well as match updates, pictures and videos. Follow me @AddictedtoSpurs! COYS!!

Stats ahead of the game provided by FourFourTwo

– Tottenham have only lost 1 of their last 7 league games against Newcastle, after losing each of their previous 6.

– Newcastle have won 6 Premier League games at White Hart Lane; they have only won more at Villa Park (8) and St James’ Park of course.

– Spurs have kept a clean sheet in each of their last 3 games; the only team to record 4 in a row this season at Southampton.

– Newcastle are the only team outside of the bottom three to have conceded more than 10 goals away from home this season (11).

– None of the 33 Premier League goals Newcastle have scored in 2013 has been through an Englishman.

– Tottenham have only scored 34 goals in 24 league home games under Andre Villas Boas.

– Spurs have won 6 of their last 8 home league games (D1 L1).

– Tottenham have won 7 of their last 9 home matches against middle-third teams.

– Spurs have lost just once to Newcastle since 2009, winning their last 4 home meetings.

– Including all competitions, Spurs have kept twice as many clean sheets as any other Premier League team.

– The Geordies have conceded second half goals in 16 of their 20 away games.

– Spurs have scored after the break in 13 of their last 20 at home.

My preferred team to face Newcastle at White Hart Lane:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Walker – Dawson – Chiriches – Vertonghen
Paulinho – Dembele
Lamela – Holtby – Townsend
Soldado

AVB ahead of the game against Newcastle:

Match Preview, Everton vs Tottenham.

Match: Sunday 3rd November 2013. Kick off 1:30pm. Live on Sky Sports 1 from 12:30pm.

Premier League

An exciting game in prospect, two teams who are fighting to get top four, both having very good starts to the season. Last time out in the Premier League, we scraped past a very resilient Hull City side at White Hart Lane 1-0, an uninspiring performance to say the least, but another three points and clean sheet that sits us in fourth place with nine games gone. We then faced up against Hull again in Capital One Cup, drawing 2-2 after extra time, winning 8-7 on penalties, another poor performance, but it wasn’t our first team, although a strong team, there was 8 changes from the game against Hull in the PL. It’s a very different proposition on Sunday, Everton will be playing a totally different game to that of Hull, more expansive, so you can expect a more open game, hopefully this gives more space to our creative players, and gives Soldado some more chances up front. Away from home we’ve been impressive, hopefully we can continue our great results at Goodison, but it’ll be a very difficult game for sure.

Everton have extremely talented individual players, with the players coming together to create a team able to challenge for the top four. I think the Toffees lack depth in their squad so will find it difficult later on in the season when injuries could strike, but their team can challenge any other team in the top six. They have started the season on fire, being the only team that is unbeaten at home in the League, sitting in sixth place, level on points with fifth place Southampton, two points ahead of Manchester City in seventh and four points ahead of the Champions Manchester United. They sit only one point behind Spurs in fourth, so it’s going to be a very interesting game! Their main threat is no doubt Romelu Lukaku, the big Belgian has had a stunning start to his Everton loan period from Chelsea, scoring five goals in five apperances, it’s going to be a miracle if we can stop him. Other than Lukaku, Everton have former Spur Steven Pienaar, Kevin Mirallas and Leighton Baines to help provide creativity and goals. Very tough game indeed!

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We need big performances from the team on Sunday, defensively, it will be our biggest test away from home, so concentration levels have got to be as high as possible, no mistakes, otherwise we will get punished. Andros Townsend has been a big player for us this season, and we need him to be on top form again as he faces up against one of the best left backs in the League, Leighton Baines. A tasty battle between the two English team mates. Massive game for our creative force, including Townsend, they need to create more opportunities for Soldado who has been starved of service, so Eriksen or Holtby, whoever starts, needs to up their game! Aaron Lennon needs to use his pace and width to our advantage, and get to the byline and get crosses into the box, and that’s the same with Townsend, switching wings and making it difficult for the full backs is what I want to see. Moving the ball quickly is key in this game, we’ve been too slow so far this season, so getting the ball to our creative players more quickly on the counter is important. Our best player at this, in my opinion, is Capoue, he breaks up the play superbly and his passing is very good, he’s back from injury, and I’d like him to start this game. Danny Rose is still out with injury, so Vertonghen will be needed at left back, which is disappointing, but Jan is more than capable. Nacer Chadli, Zeki Fryers and Emmanuel Adebayor are also out of the game, with Kyle Naughton a doubt. Andros Townsend is fit after his heavy fall against Hull, and Younes Kaboul and Capoue are available, although Younes isn’t expected to play as he played 120 minutes in the Capital One Cup. Paulinho played 120 mins also against Hull, and looked absolutely shattered during the game, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rested.

Match Stats and Facts provided by FourFourTwo

– Everton have taken 28 points from their last 10 Premier League home games.

– Tottenham have won four games by one goal to nil in the Premier League this season, equalling their total from last season.

– Tottenham lost only two of their first 15 Premier League games at Goodison Park but have won none of the last six (D3 L3).

– Spurs last scored more than twice at Goodison Park in a league game back in August 1984 (W 4-1). They have played 28 games there since.

– Andros Townsend has had 22 shots from outside the box this season, only one fewer than Hull City have in total.

– Spurs have scored more penalties than any other side in the top-flight this season (3).

– No player has assisted more Premier League goals than Kevin Mirallas (4) this season.

– Tottenham have played more long passes than any Premier League side this season (557).

– Everton have made more last-man tackles (7) than any other side.

– Tottenham are yet to concede a goal to a non-London side in the Premier League this season.

My preferred team to face Everton at Goodison Park in the Premier League:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Walker – Dawson – Chiriches – Vertonghen
Dembele – Capoue
Townsend – Holtby – Lennon
Soldado

A big game! You can follow my twitter, @AddictedtoSpurs, for updates during the game, videos of the goals, and pictures. Let’s get revenge on Halloween after our horror show last year against Everton. COYS!!

Andre Villas Boas ahead of our game with Everton:

What is Tottenham’s best 11?

Tottenham’s squad is undoubtedly one of the strongest and deepest in the Premier League, the amount of international regulars we have throughout the entire squad is staggering and holds us in good stead for the rest of this season and beyond, but what is the best starting 11 that can be put out in our biggest and most important games? It’s a difficult choice that will most likely differ in choice from one person to the next, but here is my choice and my reasons for picking them in my 11:

Formation

Early on in pre season it looked as though a change of style could occur, and we could go to a 4-3-3 formation, similar to Porto when AVB was in charge, but the addition of Eriksen who plays in the hole and also Lewis Holtby, means that we have stuck with the 4-2-3-1 formation, which adds more guile and creativity to the team than the 4-3-3. An easy choice. 4-2-3-1.

GK – Hugo Lloris

Most likely the easiest choice I have to make in the line-up. One of the best ‘keepers the Premier League has to offer. Fits our style of play with the high-line perfectly with his pace, agility and sharpness. Saved us numerous times so far this season, our nailed on number 1.

RB – Kyle Walker

Kyle certainly has his critics. Defensively he can be vulnerable, and his positioning is quite poor for a right back, but he is the best we have in the position and is still learning the game at 23. He will continue to improve defensively. Offensively, I think Walker is a real asset to the team, given the freedom to attack the right flank he can create for the team and cause threat to the opposition. Hopefully he improves more as the season continues.

RCB – Younes Kaboul

I think Younes is a quality centre back, who fits in with the way AVB plays. Pace, power and defensive composure. Two seasons ago he was arguably our best player, a rock at the back. Sadly, Kaboul really struggles with injuries, wether he can recover fully from these injuries is a definite question mark. I really hope he can, because if he becomes fit again, he will in my opinion start alongside Jan Vertonghen. While Younes isn’t fit, club captain Michael Dawson should get the nod.

LCB – Jan Vertonghen

Another easy decision. Vertonghen has cemented his place in our starting 11 from more-or-less day one. Commonly known as ‘Super Jan’, he performs consistently as one of the best centre backs in the league. On the ball he plays like a midfielder, off the ball, he plays like a world class defender, certainly one of our best players. Sometimes can be caught a little flat footed, but that’d be a very harsh judgement from myself.

LB – Danny Rose

Danny Rose proved himself in the Premier League with Sunderland on loan last season, being awarded player of the year. He’s come back, and he’s been very solid. An unsung hero so far this season. Offensively he has been good, but I’ve been disappointed with his final ball, hopefully it improves as he continues the season. Where I’ve been very impressed with Danny is defensively. Some picked him out as a ‘defensive liability’, but I don’t think this is the case at all. Sometimes he can be caught out while pushing up the pitch, but not too often as Jan Vertonghen is usually there to cover. When he is in defensive situations, he deals with them very well, he’s also made some extremely important blocks so far! Hopefully he continues his good form when he comes back into the team.

RCM – Paulinho

I’ve been very impressed with how Paulinho has settled into life at Spurs, he’s been one of the stand out players. Defensively he is strong and offensively, he’s even better! A true box to box midfielder that adds another goal threat to the team, but also a player who can pick a pass when needed. I believe he has to start, even with the fierce, and I mean FIERCE competition he is getting for his position from players like Capoue and Sandro.

LCM – Mousa Dembélé

My toughest decision in the team. Dembele, Sandro or Capoue. I was really tempted to put Sandro or Capoue in there, as they can add the defensive toughness to the team that Paulinho and Dembele possibly don’t have, certainly not like Capoue or Sandro do. Dembele makes us tick, I rate him very highly, his ability to glide past players and bring the ball out from defence to start attacks. To take him out could be a big mistake, but to leave him in could be a mistake in itself. Capoue has been phenomenal since coming in, and Sandro has been a rock for a while now. The toughest decision AVB will have to make is this one, in my opinion.

CAM – Christian Eriksen

Eriksen has been a great signing so far, bringing a creative touch to our powerful midfield. Controlled the game on his debut against Norwich and has already scored a beauty for us in the Europa League against Tromsø. It is still a tough decision to decide between Eriksen and Lewis Holtby. Both have been excellent so far this season, but Eriksen just tips it at the moment. Good competition for places in this area, with Erik Lamela able to play here as well.

RW – Erik Lamela

Erik hasn’t set the Premier League, or the Europa League by storm so far this season, and some may doubt his £30 million price tag, but I can assure you he will come good. 15 goals last season for AS Roma in Serie A, and at only 21, I truly believe he’ll be a star in the future. He hasn’t adapted to the physicality and pace of the Premier League just yet, and he also doesn’t speak English, but in time, when he does settle and maybe beef up a little, I believe he will gain his place in the Spurs side. The competition on the right flank is high, with the Premier League experienced Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend both fighting for the spot, but I think Erik will take it after he settles properly into the team.

LW – Andros Townsend

Having played right wing this season for both Spurs and England, it may be a bit of a surprise that I’ve placed him on the left. This would be my choice, to fit in two very very good wingers into the Spurs team, Lamela and Andros. Andros has lots of experience on the left, having started his career in the position, so I’d give him the left wing slot over Lamela. Townsend has shown he is very capable with both feet, he can come inside and shoot with his right, or have more of the option to go to the by-line and get a dangerous cross in. I believe this would get even more out of Townsend. He’s has a great start, hopefully he starts banging the goals in for Spurs like he has for England!

ST – Roberto Soldado

There is no doubt that Soldado has struggled to adapt to the Premier League’s pace and physicality, a bit like Erik Lamela. With only 2 goals in 7 games, which were from the penalty spot, it hasn’t been a great start for the Spaniard. It takes time, and I have faith in him to score the goals to help us reach the Champions League. His 24 goals last season in La Liga for Valencia show that he’s more than got it in his locker. His conversion rate in Spain was extraordinary, and when he finds his feet and gets the confidence back, I’m sure he’ll be banging them in for fun. His link up play has been excellent, despite not scoring, he’s made 11 chances for others in 7 games, which shows he helps us out in more ways than just goals.

Conclusion

It is very difficult to pick just 11 players, when the squad is so vast. Leaving out players like Sandro, Capoue, Sigurdsson, Chadli and Defoe is difficult, but it shows you the quality we have. I could name a second team quite easily, so the cup competitions should be quite an experience this season! It’s going to be a long season, and I think our squad will be right up there this season. Blips like against West Ham happen to the best teams, it’s how you respond that makes you a top team. COYS!!

Thanks for reading! What team would you play? Comment and SHARE!

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Match Preview, Tottenham vs West Ham.

Match: Sunday, 6th October 2013. Kick off, 4:00pm.

Premier League

Another London derby awaits us this weekend, our East London rivals West Ham visit the Lane. Every game in the Premier League is challenging and difficult, but this is a game we are more than expected to win, with the form we are in and the lack of form West Ham are in. We had to travel to Russia in the week, and got a relatively comfortable 2-0 win over Anzhi. A European hang over has been suggested, but with the squad depth we have, and the fitness levels of the players in the modern era being so high, I don’t see that as a possibility, hopefully we can get back to winning ways after our draw in another London derby against Chelsea. Getting a big win has to be the agenda, we haven’t scored three goals + in a Premier League game so far this season, hopefully we can get it against West Ham, would be extra sweet in a London derby.

West Ham do have good players, but scoring goals has been their downfall. With Andy Carroll a long time absentee, they don’t have that big threat in the air, and a goal scorer. Madibo Maiga has started up front for the Hammers, and he hasn’t impressed, having failed to score a goal this Premier League season so far, with our defensive record it appears this could be another game where he fails to hit the net. Mo Diame is a great player, a similar player to Mousa Dembele in midfield with his strength and ability on the ball, he could cause problems going forward, but the midfield battle can only be won by one team, surely that team is Spurs. Kevin Nolan is West Ham’s biggest goal threat, the attacking midfielder has shown that in his goalscoring record throughout his career, hopefully we can nullify his threat.

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Roberto Soldado has taken time to settle, he’s been in my opinion brilliant in his link up play, but he has lacked chances to show his finishing ability, against West Ham at White Hart Lane is a game in which I expect him to get chances, and I expect him to put them away. Pressure from Defoe has been big, so Roberto needs to step up and prove to the people who doubt him and prove me right that he is the man to lead the line for Spurs, and will score goals. I would start Soldado, and I think AVB would agree with me. Christian Eriksen has been great since coming in from Ajax, and this is a game I expect him to shine in again, hopefully he can create a profitable partnership with Soldado sooner rather than later. Gylfi Sigurdsson has been in great scoring form, his play from the left has been more than impressive, hopefully he can continue this form and help us to get the win at the Lane. I’d start Erik Lamela against West Ham, but Andros Townsend doesn’t deserve to be dropped after his impressive performance against Chelsea, I’m happy for Andros to be playing, but the time will come when Erik takes his place. Danny Rose, Etienne Capoue, Aaron Lennon, Younes Kaboul and Emmanuel Adebayor are not available, they should return to action after the international break (October 16th).

Match stats provided by Opta from tottenhamhotspur.com

– Spurs have won 15 and lost just two of their last 25 London derbies at home in the Barclays Premier League (D8).

– West Ham have fired in just 14 shots on target in the league this season. Spurs surpassed this tally in their third game of 2013-14.

– Tottenham have attempted more shots from open play than any other side in the Barclays Premier League this term (69).

– Only Roma’s Morgan De Sanctis (91%) has a better saves-to-shots ratio than Hugo Lloris (89%) of all regular goalkeepers in the top five European Leagues so far in 2013-14.

– Spurs’ players have touched the ball 159 times in the opposition box this season; more often than any other side.

– Tottenham have lost only one of their last 16 Premier League games at White Hart Lane (W11 D4).

– West Ham have won just 10 points in their last 10 Premier League London derbies (W3 D1 L6), losing the last four in a row.

My preferred/predicted team to face West Ham at White Hart Lane:
4-2-3-1
Lloris
Walker – Dawson – Chiriches – Vertonghen
Paulinho – Dembele
Townsend – Eriksen – Sigurdsson
Soldado

Squad Depth. The many ways we can play this season.

This article is to show you the force we possess in squad depth and how it will be a key factor in our battle for top four plus the cup competitions we are in.

During the summer transfer window we picked up 7 new players in Soldado, Lamela, Eriksen, Chadli, Chiriches, Paulinho and Capoue. Add to that Andros Townsend and Danny Rose returning to Spurs after Premier League loan spells.

Departures included Bale, Assou-Ekotto (loan), Tom Carroll (loan), Parker, Huddlestone, Livermore (loan), Dempsey and Caulker, excluding other youth loans.

As you can see, we replaced with quality while getting rid of players not up to ‘Tottenham standard’ (excluding Bale). All round a very successful transfer window, with the only massive blemish being Gareth Bale’s departure.

With all the new signings coming in, we have the ability to play different formations and execute something we desperately lacked last season. A plan B.

Two styles we can use for the new season, the main two in which AVB likes to play, are 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3. Both formations have a different impact for different scenarios which will help us to overcome tough obstacles this season, I believe.

With 4-2-3-1 we allow a playmaker, a number 10, to play and use creativity to support the striker, while two deeper midfielders hold and protect the back four, maybe taking turns to help out the attack, like a box to box midfielder. Wingers are obviously very effective in the Premier League and are key to supplying the striker with chances from wide areas and crosses. Possibly home fixtures at White Hart Lane most effective to use.

With 4-3-3 it is about the midfield three controlling the game and helping to start attacks, while also being ready to help defend opposition attacks. The wingers are offensive and aren’t relied on making too much of an attempt to help out the full-backs, this is again left to the midfield. Wingers again are key, as they need to be creating opportunities for the striker, the same as the 4-2-3-1 formation. Possibly most effective for tough away fixtures.

These are the styles in which we have the ability to play. Teams to use them, in my opinion:

4-3-3, first team.
Lloris
Walker – Kaboul – Vertonghen – Rose
Paulinho – Sandro – Eriksen
Lamela – Soldado – Townsend/Chadli

4-3-3, second team.
Friedel
Naughton – Dawson – Chiriches – Fryers
Holtby – Capoue – Dembele
Lennon – Adebayor/Defoe – Sigurdsson

4-2-3-1, first team.
Lloris
Walker – Kaboul – Vertonghen – Rose
Paulinho – Sandro
Lamela – Eriksen – Townsend/Chadli
Soldado

4-2-3-1, second team.
Friedel
Naughton – Dawson – Chriches – Fryers
Capoue – Dembele
Lennon – Holtby – Sigurdsson
Adebayor/Defoe

These are just examples of how our squad can adapt to the formations. To say we have two teams that we could quite easily put out (on paper) against some other teams in the Premier League and compete is brilliant! We’ve built and improved so much from last season on paper, it’s time to put it into action. The squad needs time to gel and work together and hopefully this won’t take too long, but when they do we’ll be a real force.

There are certainly some players that are in serious danger of losing their place in the side. The key players being Mousa Dembele and Aaron Lennon. I believe these players do have a lot to offer, but do they place ahead of players like Lamela, Paulinho, Sandro and Capoue? Not to mention the competition that Lennon has got from Townsend. These are problems for the players, but problems that AVB will more than welcome. All the players I’ve mentioned are top quality.

This season, success will be top four. That is the main target which MUST be achieved this year for the club to move on and hopefully challenge for the title in the coming seasons. The team, and more importantly the squad, we have is more than capable of achieving that, even with the stiff opposition we face from Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. We’ve got to concentrate on us and hopefully we come out on top. COYS!

Food for thought for AVB…

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Transfer Window Review Summer 2013.

Incomings.

Paulinho, 25 years old, £17 million, Central midfielder – We started off our summer spending by breaking our transfer record for Brazilian box-to-box midfielder Paulinho. The Corinthians hero became a nailed on target during the Confeds Cup and during that competition he gained massive praise and showed his worth of £17 million.

Nacer Chadli, 24 years old, £7 million, Winger – We continued our summer signings with FC Twente winger Nacer Chadli, he showed his desire to move to Spurs by turning down Swansea and Russian clubs. The transfer came out of nothing as most didn’t think we needed wingers, but he was brought in for a cut price for someone described as ‘the best in the Dutch league’, another Belgian too!

Roberto Soldado, 28 years old, £26 million, Striker – We broke our transfer record once again for Valencia and Spain striker Roberto Soldado. After all this time without a top striker and the pressure from the fans to spend big on one, Levy finally delivered a beauty. A proven goalscorer at Spurs, finally. The deal was long, but it got through in the end to everyone’s delight.

Etienne Capoue, 25 years old, £9 million, Defensive midfielder – Etienne came in out of the blue. We had all thought our midfield was full, but AVB believed we needed more depth and so we brought in the Toulouse and France ‘tank’ midfielder as a back up to Sandro. He may well surpass Sandro’s level as he has seriously impressed. He is very highly rated in France.

Vlad Chiriches, 23 years old, £8.5 million, Centre back – This transfer was more of a saga. Early in the window it looked most certainly off as the owner of Vlad’s now former club, Stuea Bucuresti cancelled the deal spectacularly. Later in the window, we continued to push for the Romanian international and pushed it through for a Romanian record £8.5 million. We were short at centre back so this was needed.

Erik Lamela, 21 years old, £30 million, Right winger – We smashed our transfer record once again in the summer window with the signing of Roma forward Erik Lamela. Another long and drawn out saga that needed our technical director Franco Baldini to be in top form to bring him in. Lamela is one of the brightest young stars in world football and so is a massive deal for us. The ‘next Gareth Bale’ already being mentioned.

Christian Eriksen, 21 years old, £11.5 million, Attacking midfielder – The lack of creativity was a certain concern amongst Spurs fans, we missed out on Willian who went to Chelsea and were lacking in chances, Eriksen was then brought in rather quickly for a bargain price of £11.5 million from Ajax. The Danish youngster has been on the radar of all the top clubs and has the potential to be a world class player.

Total Price of incoming players = £109 million.

Outgoings.

Steven Caulker, 21 year old centre back, £9 million to Cardiff. – Many fans thought this was a shock exit. The young and promising English centre back who had, had a decent first season at Spurs was sold in a relatively good deal for £9 million to Cardiff. Our centre backs were settled, but AVB may have saw the opportunity to sell a player wanting regular first team football and buy an arguably better player in Chiriches for a cheaper price. Good business I think.

Clint Dempsey, 30 year old attacking midfielder, £6 million to Seattle – The player that completely cut Spurs fans down the middle. Some fans loved him, some fans loathed him. A ‘panic buy’ on Deadline Day some may say. He gave us an okay season, but it was time to move on and we got our money back. He was replaced well too. Good luck to him in America.

Tom Huddlestone, 25 year old midfielder, £5 million to Hull City – Tommy has had a great few years at Spurs, but it was the right time for him to move on. He didn’t have the pace for our game. He wanted to move on for guaranteed game time, and this was something Hull could certainly give him. We got a decent amount of money for an injury prone player. Good signing for Hull and a good deal all round.

Scott Parker, 32 year old midfielder, £3 million to Fulham – Hard as nails. Proper old fashioned hard tackling midfielder. Not a player AVB really needs in his system. He wasn’t good enough on the ball for our game and can be classed as deadwood. Slightly small fee, but for a 32 year old, it’s an okay deal. We replaced him very well in Capoue. Fulham have a player who will give his all!

Gareth Bale, 24 year old forward, £86 million to Real Madrid – The deal of the summer. One that we didn’t want to go through. Our best player went to Real Madrid in a world record deal. It went on for a very long time and after being adamant he wouldn’t be going anywhere, the pressure from the player was too much and we had to let him go. Think we got a good price! Whether this is a good deal we’ll wait and see. We’ll miss him for sure.

Loans: Assou-Ekotto, QPR. Tom Carroll, loan. Adam Smith, Derby. Jake Livermore, Hull. Bongani Khumalo, Doncaster. Grant Hall, Swindon. Alex Pritchard, Swindon. Ryan Mason, Swindon.

Total price of outgoings = £109 million.

Summary.

We’ve had a stunning transfer window. We’ve spent a shed load of money on top quality and overall improved our squad into one that can challenge not only for the top four, but possibly for the title. We spent the most money in the Premier League this season, but in reality we’ve actually made a profit. I guess only Levy could do that.

High Point. – The last Friday of the transfer window must be the best moment of the window. We brought in Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Vlad Chiriches for £50 million. Truly great day.

Low Point. – The sale of Gareth Bale. Even though we may have known it was coming, it still hurt all the same. Our best player gone. We move on, but that wasn’t a good day by any means.

Surprise Incoming. – Erik Lamela. The pure calibre of the player made it a shock. To smash our transfer record for the third time in the window and bring in the perfect replacement for Bale.

Surprise player to stay. – I certainly thought Adebayor would leave us this window. He remains a Tottenham player and so will certainly have to up his game to challenge Soldado. Hopefully he can regain his old form.

Hopefully this transfer window holds us in good stead for the season ahead and puts us well up there! COYS!!

Match Preview, Arsenal vs Tottenham.

The North London Derby is a thing of beauty. The most exciting league game we are involved in all year. The ups and downs we’ve had with these games, the classics. It’s all just brilliant. Up there with the best derby’s in the world. The passion from the players, the passion from the fans, the awe that the neutrals look on in. I’ve experienced my fair share of North London Derby’s, you cry, you laugh, you scream, you celebrate. The emotion you go through is something special. Can’t wait to get stuck in once again. The tide is turning. Time to show them that North London is WHITE.

We’ve started this season really well. Two wins from two against Swansea and Crystal Palace. Hard fought victories for sure, but our first real test comes now. Arsenal at the Emirates. It’s the fixture that jumped up when the game’s were announced, and it’s now upon us. It’s going to be an extremely difficult game and a game that could go either way. It’s going to be end to end, nerve wracking and a great contest of two top notch teams. Even without signings, Arsenal are a very strong team, with some emerging talent. Aaron Ramsey has been great for them this season and is full of confidence, so he’ll be a threat for this match. The obvious threats of Walcott, Cazorla and Olivier Giroud. Defensively, I think we could take advantage. I’m really looking forward to a cracking game.

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We’ve signed three new players in Eriksen, Lamela and Chiriches this week and they are eligible to play against Arsenal, but after only one training session, they are unlikely to start. During the week we played very well against Tbilisi, and a lot of players impressed, most of all Lewis Holtby and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start. Soldado needs a goal that doesn’t come from the penalty spot, and so I hope tomorrow is the day! Haha. I think Lamela will make an impact from the bench, he is fully fit after training and having pre season with Roma. I think Capoue will start over Sandro, so I really hope he keeps his cool and plays how well he has in the previous games. Townsend doesn’t deserve to be dropped so I fully expect him to start again. Make a name for yourself Andros. I’d like to see Kaboul and Vertonghen start at the back, but I think Dawson will regain his place as Kaboul played in mid week. It’s going to be a brilliant game. It’s being shown live on Sky Sports with coverage starting at 3pm on Sunday 1st September. COYS!!

My preferred/predicted team to face Arsenal at the Emirates:
Lloris
Walker – Dawson – Vertonghen – Rose
Paulinho – Capoue – Dembele
Townsend – Soldado – Chadli

A new Superstar at Spurs. Erik Lamela.

Isn’t this just amazing? We had broken our transfer window twice already this window on Paulinho and Soldado, and now we’ve gone a done it again. Erik Lamela has joined Spurs in a huge £30 million deal from AS Roma. The 21 year old right winger from Argentina has signed a 5 year deal at the club, and he will be looking to make his debut in the massive occasion that is the North London Derby.

Gareth Bale is 99% sure to be leaving for Real Madrid in a world record deal, so Erik Lamela can be classed as Bale’s direct replacement. The two players are similar in the way they play. Power, pace, goals, assists and that decisive edge that can win you games in an instant. Lamela is in my eyes the perfect replacement for Bale, and the fact he is only 21 years of age, means he will continue to grow, and one day I believe he can surpass the ability of Gareth Bale.

Erik is such a quality player. He has many attributes that make him one of the most sought after and highly rated young players in the world. His dribbling, at such a young age, is some of the best in the world, he completed the most dribbles in the Serie A last season, and with players like El Shaarawy, Adem Ljajic, and Hernanes to name a few, that’s quite amazing . He’s very powerful in his dribbling, so he can burst through players, while keeping close control. It’s very good to watch. He also has the ability to change games quickly, with a goal or an assist. He saved Roma quite a bit last season.

Lamela scored 15 goals last season from the right side of an attacking trio. He also assisted 5 times. For a 21 year old, these stats are quite amazing. Erik is still quite a raw player, and has quite a way to go before he can be considered a complete player that he wants to become. His idol being his more than complete Argentine compatriot, Diego Maradona. He wants to emulate how good he became, and he has the potential to become as good as he wants. Hopefully he does it all with Spurs!

In Lamela’s first season in England, he will need time to settle into the pace of the game, as it is much more intense than in Italy, but I’m sure he can do this relatively quickly. An early goal in his Spurs career and I’m sure it’ll set up a great season for him. Big shout this from me, I’d tip him for player of the year if the odds are good. He’s a young player, so he’s got time on his side to fulfil his amazing potential. Who needs Bale anyway when you’ve got Lamela? That’s what I want to be saying come the end of the season. I expect big things from our record singing.

Lamela fits in perfectly to the style AVB plays. He likes big powerful players in his whole team, who are technically gifted, and competent on the ball. That’s the system Lamela played at Roma, so he can fit in well to AVB’s plans. Whether we play 4-3-3, or 4-2-3-1 is still unknown as we have yet to conclude our business. A front three of Townsend – Soldado – Lamela is really quite astonishing, and that’s missing out Lennon and Chadli!

There are still more signings to come this window, but we’ve done a great job so far in the market. Hopefully Erik settles in quickly and I’m sure he’ll be a fan favourite soon enough! 10-15 goals this season from Lamela with Soldado’s goals and we’ll (hopefully) be strolling into the top four.

Welcome, Lamela! COYS!

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