Category Archives: Spurs Match Previews

Transfers, Hearts and Manchester City

It seems that the sun is setting on Wilson Palacios Spurs career this evening with widespread reports of talks being held with Stoke City. We’ve come a long way as a club since his arrival and no more proof of that was needed as the second half progressed at Old Trafford on Monday night. Pre Palacios we had that sort of concession a lot away from home and he was the man who stemmed the tide upon arrival.  

Anyone who was present at his debut game against Arsenal will surely never forget that performance. He was awesome. All over the pitch, committed to every tackle a real revelation from what had gone before him – certainly for a considerable time. Yet tragedy was in store for Wilson when his brother’s body was discovered some 18 months after his kidnap. Thankfully few of us will have to deal with that horrendous news and quite how he got himself together to get back onto the pitch once more is little short of inspirational.

It’s true to say his game has suffered and his form has never reached its early heights but the knowledge that his ability at the game he loves led to the kidnap and ultimate murder of a loved one must pass through his mind about every five minutes with one question. Why me?

For a short period it looked like he would be a Spurs legend but his contribution in this zero to hero team should not be overestimated in future years and I wish him well for the future.

Alan Hutton may also be the subject of a bid from Aston Villa as his former Rangers manager looks to replace Luke Young who has left for QPR. Another player who was quick out of the blocks upon joining Spurs he looked good until a collision with the perimeter wall led to a knee injury. Since then he and Charlie have tussled for the shirt both offering a different dimension to the side. But with Kyle Walker in the England squad it is important that we give him games so Hutton looks the most likely to move on. 

Having secured Adebayor on loan for the season West Ham confirmed on Friday that talks were ongoing between the clubs for Scott Parker with maybe a cash plus player being offered to meet the Hammers £8M valuation. This would appear to end the Diarra story and having clearly demonstrated on Monday that he was needed (with Sandro currently injured) the Parker deal comes back to the table. 

I didn’t think we needed him with the volume of midfield players we have on our books but with current injuries and some reluctance on others part to perform change is needed and Parker should improve things if he plays like he did last season.

The problem is how do we shift some of the spent talent that resides within our remaining midfielders? The Chairman maybe needs to take a reality pill on some of his valuations to reduce the wage bill. We have players who are attracting interest but we don’t necessarily want to sell Modric and Crouch. Yet the ones Harry is told to clear first appear to be priced far too extravagantly to attract suitors and this has got to change.

Moving onto the Hearts game. Drab, half hearted, one paced, sloppy and uncommitted were words that came to mind. And that was only Tom Huddlestone’s performance. This was one of the most disappointing games I have seen at White Hart Lane and those of us who went are certainly entitled to a voucher towards the next tie for we certainly paid too much to watch what was on offer.

With the tie standing at 5-0 from the first leg we knew that Harry Kane was going to play. Unfortunately he saw little of the ball and when he did it was in wide positions. He also missed a penalty but most Spurs players do that so no need to feel hard done by. 

I felt we started with too many youngsters. Whilst I appreciate Man City come to town this Sunday and we did not want to risk injury I do think you start the best team, win the game and then make substitutions. Doing it the other way round leads to stars coming on when behind and its then difficult for them to turn the game. 

Don’t get me wrong they all tried hard but for all our possession we didn’t do much with it and by the end there weren’t many of us left. What we got was a practice match which Hearts competed in well and they rattled the bar in the first half. Their fans were fantastic, enthusiastic throughout to a man even though they had no chance of going through. The best bit of the night was seeing Dave McKay on the pitch at half time though if he had suited up he could probably have won the game for the side he chose to play for. 

Tommy annoyed me. Here was a chance for him to put on a super performance to say to Harry “here I am” but very little worked for him. His passes lacked the required aggression to hit the right spot and he didn’t take the role of the senior professional as he should have in creating the openings. He should have been raising the tempo a little but it just never happened and we lost our way. 

When Kranjcar came on in the second half things improved a little but that just showed how wide of the mark Pav can be. Of the youngsters Townsend started in lively fashion but failed to stay on his feet enough and his insistence in running the line every time provided little opportunity for Carrol to show what he could do.       

The Europa League is a trophy that we can win so I do hope that we deal with our home group games better than we did this one!

And so to our home game against Manchester City. It appears that Modric may be over his “injury” and if he is to stay he needs to start playing before the season passes us by. This will be a tough game and whoever plays in midfield needs to recognise that they are the first line of defence. If they fail to get a foot in or chase back when a move breaks down we will lose the game without question but if they stick to the task with the required vigour there is no doubt that we can take the three points.

I’m looking for Lennon to link up with Defoe on the break and this could represent our best chance of goals from open play. All too often our wing play produces little for without Crouch we’ve had little to aim at. Whilst this might be changing it’s not soon enough for tomorrow’s game so ball to feet will be important and it’s the early ball that will count. 

I’m also hoping that Rafa will only shoot from sensible positions and maybe get the length of his corners and free kicks right. It helps. 

City have started this season as they finished last and are a powerful side. Silva plays a similar role to that of Modric and Toure has so much power going forward. They’ve more forwards than we have midfielders so it could be any of 5 who might feature. By loaning us Adebayor and continuing to pay more than half of his wages they believe they can win every game so we need to be on our guard. 

 It promises to be a fascinating game, let’s hope for three points.     

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Good finish essential: Tottenham V Birmingham preview

Assuming that the World hasn’t come to an end by 16.00 tomorrow Spurs will take on Birmingham City at White Hart Lane to determine whether we will finish fifth or Birmingham get relegated. After last weeks excellent performance this should be a home win but as we’ve seen many times this season it is difficult to predict results.

What we really did not need is a side fighting for its Premier League survival with a European place at stake. Irrespective of whether we want the Europa League or not we should always be aiming to win our home games and final league table positions prize money is at stake.

Last weekend we saw some dismal laps of honour following difficult results and we need to make sure our own circumstances are different. We should be able to do that but we have had trouble with Birmingham before when Larsson lashed in a winner from distance on Alex McLeish’s first game in charge.

Their form is reminiscent of our own after winning the Carling Cup. We put in some dreadful performances and whilst I cannot speak for Birmingham they have not collected the points haul they would have expected since their big day. Yet they are in the Europa League and no doubt delighted to be there.

For us it represents an element of disappointment after this season’s Champions League yet when we won the Carling Cup we were delighted to make Europe. We certainly have the squad to get through the group stages and after this season’s exploits should see it as a competition we can win. But without a win we are not assured of qualification.

I’ve seen a tweet from Rafa suggesting that he will not be fit for this match and that may mean a lack of goal threat. During the week Jermain Defoe has been bleating in the press about his lack of playing time and suggesting he might look elsewhere. This was countered by Harry suggesting that his form has not been good enough. Harry is right, its great to work hard and look good in training but it is on the big stage where it counts.

To be fair to JD he did get injured when he was flying at the beginning of the season and has struggled to fit in since. I think we need him next year and if Rafa is unfit he must get the nod for tomorrows game ahead of Pav who I fancy has started his last game for Spurs.

I was delighted to read that Benny is fit to play; not because Danny Rose has done anything wrong (he hasn’t) but because he has had such a good season culminating in him picking up a supporters club award today. He deserves to be fit to take the warm reception that is due to him for he has done enough to win over even the biggest sceptic this term.

Also winners were Luka Modric – player of the season – and Gareth Bale – best goal away at Stoke – and Luka will lead the midfield once more tomorrow. I fancy a partnership with Sandro in central midfield with Luka pushing forward and the young Brazilian holding the line. From there Lennon will play on the right maybe ahead of Alan Hutton who is also fit again. That might just be to remind other teams who have forgotten Alan following his injury.

Whether Ledley will be fit enough to continue at centre back remains to be seen but if he is not it is more likely to be the groin rather than the knee to keep him out. Billy Gallas has also recovered and may partner Michael Dawson at the back in front of Carlo Cudicini who must continue after two decent performances. There is also an outside chance that Woodgate might make the bench having returned to training last week.

The question is who plays out left. For me I would start Niko Kranjcar but I would expect Harry to go with Steven Pienaar if he is available. He is carrying a groin injury so Niko could play and might even score in his last appearance leaving us typically dumfounded by transfer movements once more.

So to a team for this final match of the 2010/11 season:

                            Cuducini
       Hutton   Gallas     Dawson     Ekotto
Lennon       Sandro     Modric        Kranjcar
                 Defoe              Crouch

Prediction: Like other grounds around the league this is a cup final type game with an early goal only encouraging the opponents on. I am hopeful that we come out unscathed with a 2-0 victory.

The final countdown: Man City V Spurs preview

Final games before cup finals can be strange affairs and often minds can be on other things. But maybe the FA Cup final no longer holds its place in the World Football calendar for these players from foreign shores with the Champions League taking it place. 

Twas not the case for a certain Argentinean 30 years ago but it was his compatriot for whom the two games are best remembered. The intervening years have not been kind to City and Saturday sees them return to Wembley to take on the physical Stoke City side that put Arsenal to the sword this weekend.

A game against Spurs will not be the warm up they fancy and if we play well we may fatigue them for the onslaught they will face come Saturday. We now know the Bale injury is serious and that he will not feature again till pre season. Whilst we would want him to play it may well be better for him to be fully fit for next season for he has looked at sorts since his return to the side. 

Our problem is that Bale is not the only injury worry. Both Modric and Crouch are doubts and we are already without Ekotto and Huddlestone. With Bale missing Lennon must start the match. Rumour suggests that Harry is frustrated by Aaron’s ability to follow instruction and a lack of desire to get down to the by-line before putting in a cross. 

Against Chelsea he struggled, as did Bale, to shed his man and get a run going but when he appeared against Blackpool the game began to turn in our favour and we had balance and a much needed extra gear. For me Lennon has been one of our better players this season and I feel we miss something when he does not start. 

A reason for this is the need to find a place for Van Der Vaart. Having started as a front runner he has dropped into midfield as we have tried to accommodate two front men in a fruitless hunt for goals. At first Rafa was scoring for fun, happy to stick up front utilising assists from Crouch but when he became a marked man he took to dropping deep and trying to be part of the build up. 

Whilst it has been great to watch this build up the team’s goals have dried up leaving us draw a majority of games rather than win them. Not all his fault as the forwards failed to convert the opportunities presented to them.

On our day we match any team for enterprising build up but all too often we end up continually switching play rather than ending up hitting the net. A lack of height in the side or a lack of aerial ability has often caused us problems and without Crouch Bale has been the only go to player from defence. That’s too much responsibility for a young player having to learn to live with multiple markers. 

It also begs the question about having wide players and getting around the back if you cannot benefit from the resulting cross. In many ways this must make us easy to defend against as you block the middle to prevent as many shots as possible but allow us space on the flanks hoping you can cut out the low cross when it comes across.

We also have to accept that we have not put in sufficient tackles when we don’t have the ball to protect our back four, particularly away from home. I think that this accounts for our poor points total in the hot bed of football that is the North West and the reason why we can be overrun in games there. Sandro has learnt since the Bolton game what is required and since he has replaced Huddlestone again we have seen a more competitive approach.

He has to be in with a massive shout for Young Player of the Season and as he improves with each game we have much to look forward to from him next season. Without him, for all of our skill and improvisation we look like the pre Palacios team that allowed others to dictate to us. 

So can we stop Manchester City dictating to us? A good start will be essential and this weekends games showed how the best laid plans can get ripped up as Fulham and Chelsea both conceded inside a minute. Therefore questions such as do we put Jenas in alongside Sandro and push Luka out wide to offer a greater competitive element? It’s either that or Niko out left with Modric inside for me. 

Up front we’ve done to death the problems we face for the next three games so we have to hope that a serious option exists to fix that in the summer. And so to a team:

                              Cudicini

     Kaboul      Gallas      Dawson      Rose

Lennon      Sandro          Jenas         Modric

                    Van Der Vaart

                           Defoe

Prediction: In this game a draw would be a decent result but if we can get off to a good start and keep the ball anything is possible.