Tag Archives: Preview

Newcastle United vs Tottenham Hotspur: Preview

14 Oct

Barclays Premier League
Date: 16 October 2011 Kick-off: 16:00
Venue: White Hart Lane (London)
TV:
Radio:

You might have, but probably didn’t notice that I haven’t blogged on here for over 2 weeks, which means I wrote nothing about our game against Arsenal. For posterity, I may go back and do-so, if I can find a way of backdating posts. I did start to, but a few things got in the way. Firstly, my PC is burgered (i.e. about as good at accessing the internet as a burger.) secondly, I was so busy at work I barely had a lunch break and thirdly, I got a bit superstitious about it. I was at the Arsenal game though and saw us beat them in the flesh for the first time ever, which was nice! But I also got a bit frustrated with the whole blogging thing, so I thought a break would be useful. Had I remembered there were international fixtures, I suppose I could have waited for that! Anyway, boring bit over, on to the game.

Bogey team

Newcastle seem to be one of those teams who, despite largely finishing below us in the league (apart from a few seasons in the mid-nineties), we have never been able to beat convincingly. I can remember a 6-1 in the depths of history along with a string of home losses, which I have to admit I do find a little confusing. We seem to have even less luck at St. James’ Park and having broken our previous winless streaks against Arsenal and Chelsea it’d be nice to think we could carry on with another decent result on Tyneside.

4 wins in a row

All of a sudden, after an appalling start we are one of the form teams in the league with 4 wins on the bounce proving a better recent record than any other side. If we win again we will equal our best winning streak in Premier League history and move equal on points with Newcastle, currently in 4th, although we’ll need to score more than 4 to move ahead of them on goal difference.

Newcastle are a bit of a surprise package this season

Newcastle are a team who got a bit of a rep for playing buccaneering footie under Kevin Keegan, when he disappeared a steady decline set in, culminating in relegation to the Championship a couple of years ago. ‘Clipboard Chris’ Hughton steered them back into the Premier League with a record points total and unbeaten home record before he was given no money to improve the team and sacked for… well, not actually very much wrong really. Alan Pardew was appointed with a decent salary and a ridiculously long contract to consternation from football fans across the country. What’s interesting though is he hasn’t actually done too badly. Last season his side continued to achieve at about the same level as under Chris Hughton despite losing Andy Carroll and being forced to field Shola ‘Oh, so you actually wanted me to hit the barn door’ Ameobi and Leon Best.

This season, Newcastle somehow have the meanest defence in the Premier League. They’ve yet to play any of the really big guns, which helps, but it’s not bad going. Coloccini and Taylor are good centre backs. They have a bit more depth in midfield with Tiote still kicking people and Cabaye looking like a decent signing. All in all I actually think, as much as I hate to say it, that Pardew has been doing a good job. They won’t finish 4th, as much as they might be enjoying their position so far, but I’ll stick my neck out and say they won’t finish below 10th either.

Stuff I think about Newcastle

  • I wonder if they will ever try swapping from old-school barcode shirts to those new ones which you use with your mobile phone.
  • Fabricio Coloccini has the coolest hair in all the world… Except when Benny has a ‘fro.
  • Do Geordies not have jobs, or does the city just shut down when the fans decide to protest?
  • If Mike Ashley was the chairman on my club I’d either have shot him, or myself by now (probably) and I am a pretty placid guy, so as far as I am concerned every Newcastle fan, even the fat ones with their shirts off, are saints.

Spurs’ Team News

You heard it here last…:

Injuries: Vedran Ćorluka, Niko Kranjčar, Michael Dawson, Steven Pienaar, Tom Huddlestone, William Gallas.

Doubtful/Possible: Aaron Lennon, Emmanuel Adebayor, Sandro, Rafael van der Vaart.

Newcastle’s Team News

Injuries:

Doubtful:

Prediction

Newcastle are one of those teams you have to beat if you want to be Top 4. They are decent, but in reality we should prove that we are a level above them. They have some decent players and a good team overall, but I am going to go for a 2-1 victory. Al, my oft quoted barcode housemate fancies a 1-1 for this one, which is a very real possibility if we’re missing Adebayor, or don’t manage to reach top gear.

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Tottenham Hotspur vs Shamrock Rovers: Preview

29 Sep

Europa League LogoEuropa League, Group A
Date: 29 September 2011 Kick-off: 20:05
Venue: White Hart Lane (London)
TV:
Radio:

You’d be forgiven for forgetting that we have a game tonight, with el verdadero clásico… or el clásico del norte de Londres as the Spanish will surely come to know it, on Sunday. Even Harry, in today’s pre-match press conference said, when asked about the weekend: “Have I got one eye on the derby? I’ve got two eyes on that.”

Harry’s team selections have made it clear that the Europa League is not high on our list of priorities, with the ‘Thursday Night, Channel 5’ chants particularly relevant to us tonight, it’s clear that a team with Champions League ambitions could largely do without the 800 additional games the latest UEFA Cup format provides; and that’s not even counting the knockout stages.

The Europa League will prove invaluable though, I am absolutely sure of it. Yes, it means extra fixtures, but it not only provides games to young talents like Tom Carroll (increasingly hyped as a rising star) and others, a benefit I have mentioned more than once previously, but it also gives these lads exposure to European competition. That is playing against unfamiliar clubs and styles of football after long flights and with increasing levels of pressure. If we do ever find ourselves consistently achieving Champions League football, this experience will offer those players a leg up which so many youngsters don’t get.

Harry has also said we’re going to try to get as far as we can in ever competition. Whilst the most cynical will suggest these are platitudes, comments encouraged by the club’s board, designed simply to keep Investec, our cup sponsor, from keeling over in disbelief that they have paid a fortune for a spot on a shirt which will only be worn a couple of times throughout the whole season. I personally think he’d love to pick up some silverware, particularly if he buggers of to manage England at the end of the season and whilst the Premier League will always be a priority, I still think he’ll put out a team he thinks is capable of winning.

When the draw was made and we saw how far we’d have to travel, knowign that one of our trips would only be as far as Dublin was music to the ears of both the club and the fans. I wouldn’t mind betting that we were high on the list of clubs that Shamrock Rovers were hoping to face this season too, so there’s a bit of romance that you just don’t get from playing the likes of NK Maribor or Wisła Kraków. The final injection of interest comes from Rohan Ricketts, our former Right Winger and young player of the year under Glenn Hoddle. His story has also been well documented of late, so I won’t go into it again, but I certainly thought he had something when he was at Spurs and his steady decline since has been sad to see. It’s interesting that his fortunes and those of someone like Aaron Lennon have been so different given the similarity of their early time with Spurs.

We should win this game

It goes without saying that Shamrock Rovers will not provide the type of test offered by the likes of Inter Milan or Werder Bremen last season. Of course we will have limited experience on the pitch, but the likes of Carroll, Ryan Fredricks and Harry Kane have shown potential thus far and that’s without even mentioning lads like Jake Livermore.

Not the most important game of the season, so far…

The old clichés seem to be invading either my mind or my fingers, despite the fact I hate them so. The latest one is ‘never look beyond your next game’. It makes so much sense and usually seems to be trotted out in the game before a big cup final, but it seems like its relevance needs to be considered now.

I am not entirely comfortable with Harry’s admission he is only thinking about Sunday’s game, no matter how much more important it is. Behind closed doors, fine, but we have people paying to watch tonight’s game and 11 players out on the pitch. If the likes of Pav, Gio or Rose are playing, they don’t want to be left feeling like they are only worthy of playing in games Harry considers to be a dead rubber, regardless of the accuracy of that.

Things I think about Shamrock Rovers

  • They look a bit like Celtic with those green and white hooped shirts, don’t they? That’s a bit of a co-inkydink.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo made his Real Madrid debut against Shamrock? That’s kinda cool.

Spurs’ Team News

It goes without saying that the big boy won’t be playing to night but even so, it might be worth reminding you that although many are unlikely to feature, we definitely won’t be seeing Rafa van der Vaart or Brad Friedel, neither of whom are registered for the Europa League squad. Also, although he’s not officially injured Ledley King is also guaranteed not to feature, with both the timing of the game and relative importance (or lack of) ruling him and his fragile knee out.

On the plus side, Aaron Lennon is now fit and likely to play, with this game providing the ideal opportunity to attain some match fitness, the same goes for Danny Rose and Steven Pienaar, both of whom could also start.

Injured: Michael Dawson, William Gallas, Tom Huddlestone.

Shamrock’s Team News

Ricketts aside, I am not ashamed to admit that once again my footballing knowledge doesn’t stretch as far as the minor European Leagues, so BBC, I am sorry I am stealing your informations again. (by that I mean, thank you please for being a useful and valuable source of information, without which I’d look even more thicker!)

Doubtful: Craig Sives, Ken Oman

Prediction

It may only be our boys, but after being unlucky not to beat PAOK (apparently), I fancy them to go out hungry to prove themselves as capable. These boys will, regardless of their age, fancy themselves for more first team action this season and will want to show it. That and a reasonable home crowd (thanks to Season Ticket eligibility) makes me think we’ll get a decent 4-0 victory.

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Wigan Athletic vs Tottenham Hotspur: Preview

23 Sep

Barclays Premier League
Date: 24 September 2011 Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: DW Stadium (Wigan)

It’s nice to have another Saturday 3 o-clock kick off, although it is away again.

I’m having trouble getting genuinely excited about this game, Wigan are just one of those teams I think maybe even their own fans aren’t particularly excited about.

9-1 again? Not on last season’s evidence

Obviously a couple of years ago we achieved one of our most famous results in recent history against Wigan, indeed it has also gone down in history as the second highest Premier League scoreline ever. The game was incredible, in that at half time, we were just 1-0 up, a pretty typical scoreline for any match. We went on to score 8 in the second half, Jermain Defoe took his tally for the game to 5, equalling the Premier League’s record and Wigan were smashed, earning their consolation goal from a blatant Scharner hand ball.

We shouldn’t expect the same again. Last season, seeking vengeance, they beat us 1-0 at home and held us to a 0 – 0 draw at the DW. We are away again, but Wigan, without such fire in their bellies will hopefully be an easier proposition. I’d be happy with any scoreline which involves Spurs scoring more goals than them, whether that’s 9-1 or 1-0.

Which team will turn up this weekend?

Having started so poorly, perhaps we will finally become a side of consistency. To be brutally honest, if we lose against Manchester City, United and Chelsea and win every other game this season I would be more than happy, and that, to me would be consistent for a side aiming to finish behind those clubs. Obviously life doesn’t work that way, but as long as we are only really losing to the teams we expect to finish above us, we’ll get that 4th spot. The question is, were the hammerings against United and City more about them, or us? Our heads dropped and we’ve still not won a game in this (admittedly young) season in which we have gone behind. Last season that was our strength, goals against serving to fire us into action. whilst I hope we don’t need that type of catalyst this season, we need to respond the right way when we do concede.

This game is the most important of the season… so far

All in all then, we just need to prove we are the team we think we are and get a decent result against Wigan. Against Wigan in the 9-1 game just about every attack seemed to end with a goal, we were rampant. We could have done something similar to Liverpool last week who were abject even with 11 men. Once they were down to 9, a cricket score looked possible. In fact, as harsh as it is, what better way to stick the boot in to the body and soul of one of our big rivals for Champions League qualification this season? Liverpool are not a club who lose big and we have been on the end of some tonkings against ruthless sides in the past, it’s early in the season, I genuinely don’t understand why the players decided to switch off for 20 minutes instead of going for the throat, with a 3 million unbroken pass sequence at one stage typifying our attitude.

The good news is Ledley King is available for his 3rd League game in a row this season. His return coming at the same time as Dawson’s injury is either a spooky co-incidence or indication Harry will only use him when he has to; either way, we’ve not conceded with Ledley on the field yet this season. However, in his presser today Harry has suggested that Pav is ‘playing up’ (not in so many words) and has reported in with a hamstring injury. Harry has reportedly said ‘Pav’s not in the team because the other 2 are doing better. He’s come in today and he’s got a hamstring injury.’ Obviously he’s not been in great form so far this season, but it’s not the kind of attitude or behaviour we need and not the kind of thing Harry loves. I don’t like the way Harry seems to assume every injury is a player being soft and sometimes seemingly forcing them to play through it, potentially making the situation worse, but if Pav’s being difficult, he’s better off out of the club than in, even if it leaves us light up front.

Stuff I think about Wigan

There is very little to say about the midlands club. They have started the season very well, but there is no doubt in the minds of most football followers that they will be one of the teams battling relegation come May next year.

My general views…

  • They are quite possibly the dullest team ever to grace the Premier League! I don’t mean their football, Roberto Martinez seems to be a stand up fellow who plays the game the right way, but I can think of absolutely nothing about this team to stir any kind of reaction from me. If you attached me to a heart rate monitor and put a Wigan game on in front of me I’d be flatlining by the end of it.

Spurs’ Team News

There are a few new injuries and illnesses, with a couple of players having already come back with Rafa playing the second half against Liverpool and Sandro 71 minutes at Stoke. The details of those unavailable are as follows: –

Injuries: William Gallas, Steven Pienaar, Danny Rose, Niko Kranjčar, Roman Pavlyuchenko.

Doubtful: Benoît Assou-Ekotto, Aaron Lennon.

Wigans Team News

Injuries: Hugo Rodallega, Steven Gohouri, Antolin Alcaraz.

Doubtful: Emmerson Boyce.

Prediction

So following some over-optimism at the start of the season and pessimism in the following two games, I think I have reached the middle ground of realism. I hope so, because otherwise I’ll be lost in the abstract world of impressionism, which is no use to anyone. So, I am going to go for a 3-1 Spurs victory. We are away, so perhaps I should say 1-3 for accuracy, but I’ll stick with listing the Spurs half of the score first for consistency.

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Stoke City vs Tottenham Hotspur: Preview

20 Sep

Carling CupCarling Cup – 3rd Round
Date: 20 September 2011 Kick-off: 19:45
Venue: Britannia Stadium (Stoke-on-Trent)
Radio:

The League Cup, or Carling Cup as it is currently known. What an interesting competition. Over the years teams have begun to deem this competition as something between an irritation and an irrelevance, which appeared to start with Arsene Wenger fielding his favourite little boys. We have seen clubs use the competition to blood youngsters and give a game to experienced players unable to get a game in the league. Despite the fact this competition has never had the glamour or romance of the F.A. Cup, it remains a sad fall from grace… or does it?

We have reached the stage now where the league is all important, the riches on offer are vast and the rewards for reaching the Champions League huge. Despite the squad limits now in place there are a number of younger and fringe players who struggle to get a game when the first 11 is fully fit. Whilst this is rare at Spurs, players like Bassong, Giovani and Pavlyuchenko may be called upon at important times to cover for suspended and injured players. Short of match fitness, these guys will probably not do us, or themselves any favours, meaning the Carling Cup is an ideal competition to get these guys some minutes. Gallas and Sandro, on their way back from injury, will also benefit from minutes on the pitch, without the pressure or risks associated with playing in the Premier League. Finally, those youngsters, many of whom have played in Europe’s equivalent of the Carling Cup (The Europa League) will also get the chance to add to their appearances in the Lilywhite.

It’s wrong to assume that it’s easy to win the thing. Whilst the early rounds are populated by sides big and small playing younger teams to protect their stars, once the competition reaches the final stages, the big guns will come out to play. For a club like Spurs it’s certainly a serious prospect. We can take advantage of weakened opposition and we know in a one-off game we can beat anyone, 2008 proved that and maintained our record of winning a trophy at least every 10 years which stretches back to 1951. The evidence is there, though, that despite not always showing the competition the highest level of respect in the early stages that big clubs often do win this competition. (Chelsea – ’05, ’08; Manchester United ’06, ’09, ’10; Spurs ’08), Birmingham bucked the trend last season beating Arsenal 2-1.

Lets try and get through this and have a proper run at it

Obviously we won’t be fielding our strongest team here, but this is a trophy we can win, I want to see us have a good go at it. Given that last season was our ‘year ending in 1’ chance, which we didn’t take, it’s about time we started some new traditions. If we can win it playing the lads most of the way through that will be a great achievement.

Stoke might have 2 metre Peter up front, which is obviously not too much of a worry for us, perhaps more of a concern is if they decide to play the man Crouchaldinho has replaced, the significantly more effective Kenwyne Jones, who may be out to prove a point. Regardless, if he plays it will be great to see Jonathan Woodgate again, a player I was less happy to see leaving the Lane.

I don’t really care about the Carling Cup

If we go out I won’t be sad, it will ensure that we are not over-committed, particularly towards the end of this year and the start of next when everything starts to get serious. However, games = revenue and more importantly, as I have mentioned, it means the younger lads and others will get some games.

Stoke

Stoke’s tactics aren’t subtle, but they certainly are effective. We’ve dealt with Delap’s throws well in past games, but with a less experienced side on the pitch it will be interesting to see how we get on, regardless of which large/beanpole striker they play.

Spurs’ Team News

It looks like Sandro and William Gallas will each get a run out on their way back from injury, as will Rafa. In addition, Gomes, Bassong, Corluka and Pav all look like getting a game. It will be interesting to see which of the younger players will get a chance, although given performances so far Harry Kane and Tom Carroll both look like candidates and Livermore needs a game to keep up his momentum.

Injuries: Michael Dawson, Danny Rose, Steven Pienaar, Tom Huddlestone, Aaron Lennon.

Stokes Team News

Glancing at Stoke’s website and the BBC suggests Stoke do not have any injury worries.

Tom Soares, Danny Pugh and Michael Tonge were all omitted from Stoke’s Premier League squad, suggesting that they may get a run out in the Carling Cup.

Prediction

I’m not super optimistic about this game, but I am hopeful. I’m going to go for a 2-0 Spurs win, despite this being a difficult away game.

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Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool: Preview

17 Sep

Barclays Premier League
Date: 18 September 2011 Kick-off: 13:30
Venue: White Hart Lane (London)
TV:
Radio:

2 games played whilst I was out of the country, with a win and a good draw acheived, which begs the question… Why did I come back? Well, I had no choice, but with any luck the good form will continue. While I’m wishing for luck, perhaps the permanent sun and 35ºc temperatures I experienced over the same period will continue too.

No?

Fair enough.

I won’t bore you with how much it bothers me (my OCD again) that my last couple of posts didn’t contain the normal level of detail (score graphic, squad lists, player ratings etc.) because you will have neither noticed nor cared. Not only that, I haven’t even been able to write anything about the PAOK game, despite being in the same country as the game itself. As a bare minimum I might go back and put the scoreline/scorers graphic into the Wolves post.

Anyway, instead of shaking in the corner and muttering about trying to find a match download from Thursday night, we have a Premier League game to look forward to, a big one at that.

We beat them twice last season

Liverpool are a team with an unrivalled history. United (of the Manchester variety) have now surpassed their total number of league victories, yet still are unable to match the Scouser’s 5 European Cup victories. However, in a similar vein to our own great club, they have faltered in the Premier League era, particularly in recent years. Whilst their decline does not compare to our own, still acheiving top 4 almost every season until this decade, the sense is now that if we do not finish above them in the league, we have underachived.

Kenny is credited with carrying on the Liverpool tradition, signing a number of young English players, some of whom we might have liked ourselves. Indeed it compares with the spell in which we acquired the likes of Huddlestone, Lennon, Jenas and a smattering of other young English players. The difference is their signings come with reputations and huge fess which ours did not. Whether it is indeed ‘King’ Kenny or ‘Scattergun’ Comolli making the signings, they do appear to have strengthened. I can’t shake the feeling Roy Hodgson was harshly treated and never got the money that Kenny has had to spend, I also felt Dalglish was past it, but there is no doubt he has acheived a fantastic feat in guiding the club up the league last season.

Our record has been good against Liverpool in recent times, but they are much changed and the match will be a difficult one.

1-0-2

So we’ve won one and lost two thus far. With our victory coming against a Wolves team playing well and losses against the two Manchester clubs, I’m genuinely finsfing it hard to know what to expect against this Liverpool side. My heart, as ever, says that they are there for the taking. We are at home against a side with no genuine stars and some young players with much promise but limited experience, this is not a classic Liverpool team. However, we’ve not covered ourselves in glory thus far.

Adebayor and Scott Parker seem to have provided a noticable improvement in areas that needed it, although I’ve yet to actually see them in action. Hopefully together with some effort from Modric and maybe a decent game or two from our wingers will lead to a proper upturn in form.

This game is the most important of the season… so far

Perhaps worryingly, possibly encouragingly, we are actually doing better this season than we were in the last. Clearly not in terms of points vs games played, but in terms of points accumulated in corresponding fixtures, we are 2 points up. Statistics can tell you anything you want though, so to be honest, who cares until 38 games have been played?

What we do need though, is to prove that not changing our team means we have at least stood still as opposed to falling backwards compared with last season, that means acheiving our first home victory.

Stuff I think about Liverpool

So, Robbie Keane’s boyhood club, apparently.

  • Why do players go there? Joining the club guarantees that your residence will be burgled on match day at least 42 times a season.
  • Why do players go there? They haven’t won anything in ages.
  • Why do players go there? They are managed by a slightly senile Scot who leaves at the first sign of success.
  • Why do players go there? It’s Liverpool for christ’s sakes? Have you been there? … Well I haven’t, because I hear it’s bloody awful!
  • They do actually have quite a decent anthem.
  • Their fans have a sense of humour.
  • If you plan on visiting Liverpool, maybe for the corresponding fixture, remove your hubcaps and, if possible, your car’s wheels prior to visiting in order to prevent them being stolen on arrival.

Spurs’ Team News

I can exclusively tell you… (It is an exclusive if you’ve not visited any other websites before this one):

Injuries: Aaron Lennon, Sandro, Michael Dawson, Danny Rose, Steven Pienaar, Tom Huddlestone, William Gallas.

Doubtful/Possible: Rafael van der Vaart, Ledley King.

Liverpool’s Team News

Injuries: Glen Johnson.

Doubtful: Steven Gerrard.

Prediction

I am still optimistic and I really think we should be beating Liverpool. However, I think they are going to come to the Lane with a point to prove and a point is exactly what I think they will come away with. Unfortunately I will have to agre with Lawron on the likely result, if not on the scoreline, opting, as I am, for a 2-2 draw.

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I don’t want to tempt fate by mentioning the Arsenal score, but I will leave you with this from Saturday’s football, which is a rather pleasant image, particularly for those of us who still have a soft spot for our former ‘keeper.

Paul Robinson Celebrates

PAOK Salonika vs Tottenham Hotspur: Preview

15 Sep

So still in Greece myself, what can I say about this match? Not much. Occurring some miles north of my current location; the departures lounge of Athens airport, the match will be as good as done by the time I land in the UK. From what I’ve seen, it looks like it will be men against boys. Hopefully the talent of our boys will show through. Good luck to them and back to normal service when I’m back!

P.s. look out for my other blog over the next week for loads on Athens.

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Tottenham Hotspur: Preview

9 Sep

Barclays Premier League
Date: 10 September 2011 Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Molineaux (Wolverhampton)

Look at that… a 3 o-clock kick-off, on a Saturday! The traditional kick-off time, so rare it seems for a Spurs game, is back! Unfortunately it’s not at White Hart Lane, for that we still have to wait until we meet Bolton on 3 December (that’s right, nearly 3 months away).

If any of you have read my blog more than once you may know I live with a guy called Alex and you may also know that he’s a Newcastle fan, which means he has a decent outside perspective on our club. He read both my preview of the City game and my subsequent review and said that I was both optimistic in the former and generous towards Spurs in the latter. He had only seen the second half of the City game (in which we were worse than awful) and accepted that every fan is optimistic pre-match, but I took his opinions graciously. He was wrong, but it’s ok; he’s had to watch Newcastle’s decline over the past 10-15 years. Of course I am going to be optimistic, apart from anything I don’t want to spend my life bitching about what is actually a good Spurs side, but…

The season hasn’t gone to plan so far, either on, or off the pitch and it seems Harry has been struck with the same curse that prevents any Spurs manager making it to three full seasons without drama. In fact it prevents most of them completing three full seasons at the club, full stop. I don’t really need to go over the things that have gone wrong, we all know, whether it’s the Modrić issue, the lack of any palpable transfer strategy or the poor showings against the two Manchester clubs, things are not rosy in the blue and white garden.

In reality they are both phenomenal teams, City especially with one of the most expensively assembled sides in history, but that doesn’t excuse our performances, particularly when playing at home. Things are getting serious now, so unfortunately, you won’t find much to laugh about in this pre-view.

Banker or Banana-skin?

Wolves and our matches against them sum up both Spurs’ progress and our flaws in recent seasons. In fact it is our matches against clubs like Wolves that define our Premier League existence since the whole circus began in ’91. Sometimes we turn up, we look like world-beaters and we win by a sometimes huge margin. However, all too often we get turned over, and last season it was our draws and losses against teams well into the lower half of the table which destroyed our hopes of a top 4 finish.

Most notably lacking in our first two games, in comparison with last season, was the fight that conceding seemed to instil in the side. We regularly went a goal down and like a wounded cat struck back, sometimes sealing victory in the closing stages of matches. Maybe it’s the quality of the opposition, maybe it was fielding a midfield far too fragile either to dominate in attack, or break up the play, but at no stage did a fight-back appear a genuine proposition after the first goal was conceded. That has to change, because unless we stop conceding entirely, we’re really going to be in trouble.

Mentality

It is our mentality which is the most important factor now. There is no doubt we have an exceptionally talented side and although they weren’t necessarily the players we were pining for, in Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor we have two players who have filled problem positions in our last two matches.

The good thing, from a mentality point of view, is that with two comprehensive defeats to our name (will ‘0 points from 2 matches’ become a Harry catchphrase? I think not!) we will hopefully not make the mistake of thinking this match is already won, a problem William Gallas confirmed towards the end of last season.

The bad thing is that 2 capitulations in the league so far means confidence may be fragile; Wolves scoring first could be disastrous.

It is time for Harry to prove that he really is the man manager his reputation suggests he is.

This game is the most important of the season… so far

If we don’t win this one, I honestly can’t see Harry making it to the end of the season as Spurs’ manager. I can’t envisage him being sacked this week, either way, but a loss would not only prove that a rot has set in, but it would serve to perpetuate any issues which may be affecting the club.

We may have played one fewer game than everyone else and the two best teams in the league, but a bad start is far more damaging to confidence than a bad spell during the season and, to my mind, harder to recover from. With this in mind there will be no better time than now to get 3 points on the board and make a solid move off the bottom of the table.

Unfortunately I think much (too much) will depend on if Luka Modrić turns up, both physically and mentally. He didn’t get his move, he’s definitely here until January, hopefully he will knuckle down, if only to prove to his prospective suitors (clubs who may value him highly, but evidently not as highly as his current employers; Luka, take note!) that he is both the man and the player people like Harry say he is.

Stuff I think about Wolves

There is very little to say about the midlands club. They have started the season very well, but there is no doubt in the minds of most football followers that they will be one of the teams battling relegation come May next year.

My general views…

  • Aren’t their kits all bright and shiny!

Spurs’ Team News

The club and the BBC, my usual sources for this stuff have yet to put up any information on player availability, perhaps I am just earlier than usual (it’s not often I beat others to the punch!) so I have taken our injury list from physioroom.com, probably the best source anyway!

Injuries: Rafael van der Vaart, Aaron Lennon, Ledley King, Steven Pienaar, Sandro, William Gallas, Danny Rose.

Wolves’ Team News

Injuries: Matt Jarvis, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Adlène Guedioura,  David Edwards, Steven Mouyokolo.

Prediction

I’ve been optimistic in my last two predictions and plumped for a draw on both occasions. I have to say, despite our appalling showing against Wolves this season, I want to give us the benefit of the doubt. Adebayor did really well when he got to Man City and with any luck Parker will stiffen the midfield, protecting Dawson and Kaboul whilst feeding Modrić and the wide men with simple balls. I’m going to give in to optimism once again and suggest 2-1 is not out of our reach.

1,163

Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City: Preview

27 Aug

Barclays Premier League
Date: 28 August 2011 Kick-off: 13:30
Venue: White Hart Lane (London)

This, already, is one of the biggest games of our season, following probably one of the most pointless against Hearts. Last week I was talking about our first game of the season against United, the most difficult game of the season away at Old Trafford. Since then we have signed two players, neither of which will play and watched our kids get held by Hearts. Now, with Manchester’s other club, coming to visit White Hart Lane and with no points on the board yet, it is now we will see what the boys from White Hart Lane are really made of.

A draw might just be the most likely result

Manchester City have really taken the concept of buying success to another level. The only team in the Premiership era to be relegated to the third tier of English Football and make their way up, the transformation at Manchester City has been one of the most dramatic ever witnessed. Roman Abramovic pumped his millions into Chelsea, but with the club already blessed with the likes of Zola and Hasselbaink the plastic West London club already had some presence, despite being on the cusp of a dramatic financial meltdown. However, City are a club which has won nothing for years until last season’s FA Cup triumph and the fact they now have one of the most expensively assembled and, admittedly, talented sides in the world is a reflection of the determination of a bunch of rich Arabians to prove that not only can you edit a team in Football Manager and give them untold wealth, but you can do so in real life too. I’d venture a guess that victory under such circumstances is equally hollow either way.

Last season we played this fixture on the first day of the season. Having done the double over City the previous season, despite their spending, this was seen as a winnable game. We outplayed Mercinary Manchester City comprehensively, but were pinned back to a 0-0 draw. It was generally seen as disappointing, despite the fact City not only went on to break into the top 4 themselves, they managed to snatch 3rd place from Arsenal.

This time around there is Aguero, Nasri, Dzeko and countless other players purchased over the last 12 months for an extortionate amount of money; presenting a very new challenge. However, we are at home and that counts for a lot, even against the best of teams.

This game is the most important of the season… so far

This game is important for both clubs, but I said it last week and I’ll say it now, no game is more important than this one. In many ways, no game is more important than the next one, but given each clubs’ stature, recent history and squad, this will be a major litmus test for both. City, or more importantly Man-kini, will give some clues as to whether they are willing or able to go away from home to a top side and play the time of attacking game they’ve shown this season. For Spurs it’s a chance to have a strong start at White Hart Lane and lay down a marker for the rest of the season.

Stuff I think about City

So, I do have some thoughts about City and, surprisingly, they aren’t *all* about the money.

My general views…

  • Why didn’t Carlos Tevez cut his hair off sooner? Admittedly he still looks like a Gremlin, but maybe about 10% less now.
  • Why does every player go there feel the need to say ‘it’s not about the money’? Lets be sensible, if your current club was willing and able to pay the money City offered, you’d probably stay. Whether it’s about the 6 figure weekly salary they are paying you, or the one they are using to lure someone else, it’s always about the fucking money you bunch of self serving, arrogant, deluded, hypocritical pricks.
  • What the fuck are those three stars still doing above their badge? How small time that you decide to have stars, commonly used in football to denote past glory, above your badge because they look cool. Get rid of them or you will always be small time.
  • How many strikers do you really need? When you had Santa Cruz and Jo you still wanted Tevez, now you have Tevez that doesn’t stop you signing Sergio Aguero. It’s not Pokemons, you do not need to catch them all.
  • Why, when I hate you so much, think everything about the club is plastic, hate your often not-sold-out stadium and the new Man City fans springing up, do you have to have the most classy looking shirts in the league? It just isn’t fair.
  • It was easy to hate Chelsea when they were the money-bags club, because their football was almost robotic. If the Italian male-one-piece-swimming-costume you have for a manager continues to have you playing the same brand of attacking football all season I might actually enjoy watching City. I don’t want to have to burn my eyes out with acid, please can you be boring again?
  • Adam Johnson. If you aren’t going to play him, can we has him? Pleeeease?

Spurs’ Team News

 

I think we can expect to see Friedel back in goal, Modrić also looks set to play, which is great news if he is willing to give it 100%. Is it too much to wish to see him put away his first hat-trick and kiss the badge before shitting on a Chelsea shirt? Yup, I thought so. Kyle Walker is back from his illness too, which means we could well see him start at Right Back in an effort to combat City’s speedy attackers.

Adebadger

Adebadger: Not eligible to play

Injuries: Peter Crouch, Ledley King, William Gallas, Sandro, Wilson Palacios, Steven Pienaar and Danny Rose.

Adebadger will be unavailable against the club who ultimately own him.

No mention of Bentley or Giovani, but again, I can’t see them playing.

Man City’s Team News

Injuries: Nigel De Jong.

Samir Nasri might well make his debut, but through the rest of your side, just take your pick. Any combination of Balotelli, Aguero, Dzeko, Tevez, Silva, Nasri, Johnson, Bellamy (lol, ok, I know, perhaps not, but he’s still there) could make up their attack. Thank god De Jong won’t be out to maim or kill Gareth Bale though.

Prediction

The reality is, which this is a game we can win City are strong, confident and have not played mid-week. You have to fancy a goal or two from their attack, although with Lescott still in their defence, you have to consider this area the most suspect area and hope that the Spurs strike-force can conjure something, especially if Modric fancies showing he’s a big boy. I’m going to go for 2-2, but in reality it could go either way.

1,144

Tottenham Hotspur vs Heart of Midlothian: Preview

25 Aug

Europa League Playoff – 2nd Leg
Date: 25 August 2011 Kick-off: 19:45
Venue: White Hart Lane (London)

This may very well be the easiest match preview I have to write all season. We are by far the better team in this match up and go into the game 5 goals to the good… Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

What all this means is that Harry has the luxury of leaving out some of the more important players and letting us see a few of our much heralded youth team play in a competitive match.

We should win this game

Harry mentioned in a recent press conference that we’d be likely to see Harry Kane, Andros Townsend and Tom Carroll play. Harry Kane is the player who excites me the most, his goal scoring record in our pseudo reserve team is second to none and he looks like he could be a really exciting player. We’ve seen it all before with Lee Barnard, but I really think if this lad can step up it will be fantastic. Andros Townsend is obviously quick although raw and with Tom Carroll we have a lad who has been praised a lot, but who I don’t know a great deal about.

The most important thing though is making sure that we don’t just stick a group of boys and unfit second string players out there. As much as I think Giovani Dos Santos and David Bentley have the ability to be proper Spurs players, if their heads aren’t in the game (I don’t know either’s state of mind) then it will do more harm than good to have them strolling around the pitch.

Harry Kane (Left)

So if we can see Harry Kane up front with someone like Rafa, at least for a half, and see how he gets on playing with real quality, perhaps the lad will earn himself a spot on our bench rather than in a league 1 side’s first team. I’d also like to finally have an excuse to sell Crouch, even if ‘Arry does love the only human/daddy-long-legs crossbreed ever released into the wild.

We’re through anyway!

Obviously we’re not strictly through to the next round yet, but I can’t see us giving up a 5 goal deficit. The thing is though, even if the stadium isn’t full to capacity (although it should be close, since it’s one of the Season Ticket games), lots of people have spent lots of money being there. With that in mind, we still need to go out there and put on a show. Maybe we won’t score 5 goals again and maybe it’s an opportunity to give Gomes another shot, or even Carlo, but I’ll be a bit miffed if we don’t take our opportunity to really express ourselves.

Spurs’ Team News

Predictably Luka Modrić is a doubt with his niggling injuries… and the fact Harry seems to keep suggesting he’s somehow become mentally retarded which seems to mean he can’t kick a white round object any more, but lets not dwell on the little man. Tom Huddlestone is also doubtful. I rather hope we don’t see him tonight as I think it’d be completely unnecessary to aggravate an ongoing injury in a game like this.

Injuries: Ledley King, William Gallas, Danny Rose, Wilson Palacios, Sandro and Steven Pienaar

Jenas is back in the frame and I’d put money on him starting in the centre of midfield.

Provisional Squad (BBC): Gomes, Friedel, Cudicini, Bale, Kaboul, Bassong, Dawson, Corluka, Walker, Assou-Ekotto, Townsend, Huddlestone, Lennon, Van der Vaart, Kranjčar, Modric, Livermore, Pavlyuchenko, Defoe, Crouch, Kane, Carroll.

Hearts’ Team News

Hearts’ manager has suggested that he will be making wholesale changes to his team (8 in all). As we established this time last week, the first team was lost on me, so I have no idea whether this will make much difference, although I imagine he is, sensibly, protecting his regulars for a gruelling season North of the border in which expectations from his lunatic chairman remain intense. No doubt the previous loss was a knock to the confidence too, so this exercise should protect bodies and souls.

Provisional squad (BBC): Kello, Hamill, Grainger, Jonsson, Webster, Black, C Elliott, Driver, Templeton, Obua, Sutton, Stevenson, McGowan, Novikovas, Skacel, Smith, Zaliukas, Robinson, MacDonald, Novikovas, Mrowiec.

Prediction

As before I’d like to see us score a decent number of goals. Players like Harry Kane have something to prove and to see him on the scoresheet would be enough to keep me happy. I’m going to plump for 3-0 in our favour, although they might pinch one.

747

Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur: Preview

22 Aug

Barclays Premier League
Date: 22 August 2011 Kick-off: 20:00
Venue: Old Trafford (Manchester)

So I’ve done a match preview once before, which means I have made a rod for my own back, because now I feel like I need to do another one! I am a bit late to the party again, I have already had a cursory glance at a couple… One was a stat-bag, full of factual information, the other was an epic (even longer than my posts) which I couldn’t be bothered to read. One thing this tells me is, it doesn’t really matter how well you write, some people can’t be bothered to read a long post. (Note to self, make blog shorter). Secondly, I am probably wasting my time as I am not adding much to the party other than my opinion, but then I suppose that’s half of the point of being here.

Anyway, I’ll try and follow the same format as last time and maybe I will have a bit of consistency. (Plus I am a bit attached to the idea of making everything look the same. I admit this is a bit OCD related).

Oh and I am still open to the idea of someone having a regular slot here, it’d help me out muchly!

We probably won’t win this game

However, I said last week that we should hammer Hearts and we did, so I don’t want to jinx it. We all know about our luck at Old Trafford. Whether it’s Nani being a dick or Roy Carroll spilling the ball over his goal-line you just know those dodgy decisions from the lino would always favour United. In fact Fergie said he expects De Gea to get more protection from the referee in this game because he was playing at home, that feels very much like an admission that Fergie expects refereeing favouritism at Old Trafford. Even if we all know it to be true anyway, I’ve never actually heard him come out and say it quite so bluntly before.

With a few injuries at the back for United, they feel a bit vulnerable to me, we have injuries of our own, but theirs seem to be to important players in a critical area of the pitch. Despite the heading I actually think we have a chance of winning this, in reality though, the referee, whoever it may be, (or more importantly the linesman) will inevitably ensure that it cannot happen.

I accidentally came across a stat which I will share, just this once mind you. Last season in 19 home league games, they acheived 18 wins and a draw. Between that and 22ish years without a win at Old Trafford we are looking for a miracle. The bookies are less sure though. Spurs are 5-1 for the win, just as we were 5-1 to win by 3 or more goals at Hearts. Somehow I think the Hearts bet is the better value of the two.

This game is the most important of the season… so far

It’s the first game of our season, so it stands to reason, it has to be the most important. However, if we look back to the Jol and Ramos years, particularly those in which they lost their jobs, both were hamstrung by the same problem. Despite having relative success in the years previous (Ramos bringing us a pot and Jol achieving consecutive 5th placed finishes) in the years of their demise both sufffered from exceptionally poor starts to the season. Whilst this can be attributed to difficult early fixtures, or any number of other factors; the fact the season is 2 games in and we’ve yet to put point on the board is not good. On the plus side, we’ve not played yet, but when your first game is away against Manchester United, you might easily add to the games played column without infuencing the more important stat on the other side of the table. As a result, it’s imperative that we use the momentum and positivity the Hearts result has generated to have a strong game at Old Trafford. Even a point here would be a good result. Admittedly if we do get a point it’ll probably be after we’ve dominated and taken a 1-0 lead to the 91st minute, when United get awarded a penalty for a dive by Nani a yard outside the penalty area, but sod it, I’d take a draw now if it’s offered.

Stuff I think about United

I’d love to have written some thoughts about Hearts, but I’ve barely heard of any of their players before, so it’d have been a waste of time. (How sad it is that I feel the need to explain the addition of a paragraph, simply because I didn’t include it in my last preview, despite the fact you probably never read the last one!).

My general views…

  • Why does Mohammed Al Fayed have a statue of Nani outside Craven Cottage?
  • Why is Berbatov still at the club when he was the top scorer last season and still isn’t valued?
  • Is Fergie trying to model his nose on the United Shirt?
  • Despite the fact they don’t have the best team in the league, they’re still gonna bloody win it and it drives me nuts. Better them than the various shades of blue plastic now populating the upper echelons of the league though.

Spurs’ Team News

Once again, I will provide you with what I am able to glean from the official website and the BBC… (These sources said Tom Huddlestone was injured before Hearts and he came on as a sub, so don’t take it as gospel!)

Injuries: William Gallas, Ledley King, Alan Hutton, Luka Modric (apparently), Steven Pienaar, Wilson Palacios and Sandro.

Doubtful: Peter Crouch, Jermaine Jenas

Once again, no squad has been provided by Spurs, but I imagine it resembles that taken to Hearts. No mention has been made of David Bentley either, which is a shame, because with us short in midfield, he could be handy.

Man Utd’s Team News

Injuries: Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Rafael, Michael Owen and Javier Hernandez.

Patrice Evra is back in the side and it seems we’ll see a central defensive partnership of Johnny Evans and Phil Jones.

Prediction

Obviously we can hope and pray and I really do think we’re capable of winning, but so are so many teams that come away from Old Trafford with little or nothing to show for their efforts. I am going to optimisticly plump for a 1-1 draw, although we could see 2-2, or perhaps 3-2 in United’s favour. Lawro has predictably predicted 2-1 in favour of United.

1,109 words, not what I was aiming for after commenting on the need for shorter posts!

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