Match Preview, Tottenham vs Partizan Belgrade.

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

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

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

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

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

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

IMG_2901.JPG
The team news for Tottenham is that captain Younes Kaboul (knock), Emmanuel Adebayor (back), Nacer Chadli (knee), Andros Townsend (ankle), Danny Rose (Chest), Etienne Capoue (knock), Kyle Walker (match fitness) and Federico Fazio (suspended) won’t feature, while Nabil Bentaleb makes an overdue return to the squad after an ankle injury, thankfully. It’s a good thing we have a big squad, because I think any other team in the Europa League would struggle to field a competitive team with 8 first team absentees. The absences represent a chance for the fringe players to come in and make an impact. Pochettino has hinted at Paulinho, Vlad Chiriches and Aaron Lennon getting a chance after their performances from the bench away at Hull, and I would agree, I think they deserve a chance, and if Pochettino doesn’t reward good performances from the bench with starts, then we would have a problem in the squad – hopefully the fringe players deliver.

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

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

My predicted/preferred team to face Partizan at the Lane:
4-2-3-1
Vorm
Naughton – Dier – Chiriches – Davies
Paulinho – Stambouli
Lennon – Kane – Ceballos
Soldado.

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

Christian Eriksen speaks to the press ahead of Partizan:

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

Match Preview, Asteras Tripolis vs Tottenham.

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

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: Theodoros Kolokotronis Stadium.

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

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

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

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

IMG_2645.JPG
The team news for Tottenham is that many first team players have been left behind in London, those include Emmanuel Adebayor, Younes Kaboul, Aaron Lennon, Kyle Naughton & Brad Friedel, with Hugo Lloris (suspended), Nabil Bentaleb (ankle) and Kyle Walker (abdominal) forced to sit the game out.

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

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

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

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

Match Review, Tottenham vs Asteras Tripolis.

Match: Thursday 23rd October 2014.

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

Result: Tottenham 5-1 Asteras Tripolis.

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

Asteras GoalScorer: Barrales 89′.

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

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

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

IMG_2410.PNG
The team played well, it wasn’t perfect, and Asteras caused us problems at times but individually I think there were a lot of very promising performances. Erik Lamela played a very good game and scored two goals of extraordinary quality, but for me, Harry Kane took the man of the match award. A hat trick, but also his work off of the ball, ability to hold it up and play in his team mates. Harry is a much more well rounded player, who scores so many different types of goals than he is given credit for at times. It’s time for Kane to be given the chance to perform in the Premier League, he has earned the right; much more so both Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor, his goal rate is much better and I think his all round game is also better and probably more developed. His hunger for goals and for games impresses me immensely. Etienne Capoue was impressive once again, he’s developed so much so far this season, he has the ability to dictate games and dominate a midfield and he needs to do that more often in bigger games, he has all the tools to be a massive player for Tottenham. Ben Davies put in arguably his best performance so far in a Spurs shirt, he worked hard down the left flank, was involved heavily in crossing and creating but also assured on the ball and when under pressure defending, coped well. I hope he can continue to improve and push forward.

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

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

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

Match highlights from our 5-1 win:

Pochettino’s post match press conference:

Match Preview, Tottenham vs Besiktas.

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

Competition: Europa League Group C.

Venue: White Hart Lane.

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

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

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

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

IMG_2081.JPG
The team news for Tottenham is that Kyle Walker (pelvis) remains out, while Danny Rose (knock) and Etienne Capoue (knock) are doubts, and will probably be rested even if they are fit. The team will change, that’s for sure. Ben Davies, Nabil Bentaleb, Andros Townsend & Roberto Soldado look to be in line to feature and they need to perform as I’m sure Besiktas will put out a strong team away from home, putting in a strong performance.

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

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

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

Mauricio Pochettino pre match press conference: