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Swanning Around

Swanning Around

Tottenham are in desperate need of a big result. Back to back defeats at the hands of Monaco and Chelsea have dealt a serious blow to Spurs’ season, and while there is still a long way to go, a return to form prior to the all-important Christmas period is crucial. The victory over Manchester City aside, Mauricio Pochettino’s men are yet to hit the heights of last term, and I feel as though the unbeaten tag Spurs had in the league until last week was covering up a number of flaws. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a squad capable of challenging for the title, but the level of desire among the players appears to have dropped slightly, while the sloppy mistakes have most definitely increased. Spurs are still in a relatively healthy position of fifth in the Premier League table, the recent defeat at Stamford Bridge has left the club seven points off the top of the table and a victory this Saturday against a resurgent Swansea side is key.

The Champions League exit was unfortunate but expected by myself and the majority of Tottenham fans I have conversed with. Wembley was never going to work. This is a very young group of players with little to no Champions League experience. Critic can use the wages argument as much as they like, but expecting the team to be able to perform to the same levels in an alien environment was ludicrous. Having the home CL games at Wembley handicapped us massively and although the players have to take responsibility for the prospect of Europa league or possibly no European football for the remainder of the campaign, so do the hierarchy at the football club. We can take some positive from these group games however, should Tottenham manage to finish top four this term, the experience will have done the squad some good and this might well pay off at Wembley come next season.

Harry Kane signed a new long term deal at the club this week, the timing of which could really not have been any better. The presence of the Tottenham talisman makes this team so much stronger. Apart from the threat he provides in front of goal, Kane’s positive influence in the dressing room is particularly important. Mauricio Pochettino was critical of his players following the Monaco result, and did get an improved display as a result against Chelsea, even though Tottenham still can away defeated. Swansea gained a much needed win over relegation rivals Crystal Palace last weekend, but their defensive frailties were till apparent for all to see. I strongly fancy Tottenham Hotspur to put on a real show come 3pm Saturday and get back to winning ways in convincing fashion.

Leverlosing?

Leverlosing?

Tottenham return to Wembley this Wednesday evening for a crucial Champions League encounter with Bayer Leverkusen. The two sides fought out a 0-0 draw a fortnight ago in Germany, a match which was dominated for the most part by Bayer Leverkusen. It could be argued that Spurs were fortunate to come away with a point, but Mauricio Pochettino’s side defended well and still have the opportunity of qualifying for the latter stages of the competition. If Tottenham are going to achieve that, they will almost certainly need a positive result here against their German rivals, with Group E currently very finely balanced. Spurs are just a point in front of Leverkusen as things stand, but victory would increase that margin to four points, and make things very difficult indeed for Roger Schmidt’s men.

Having not been victorious since a 2-0 success over Manchester City on the 2nd of October, Tottenham Hotspur are desperate for a win. Tottenham haven’t played badly by any means during the past month, but they have been unable to turn their domination of matches into victories, drawing four and losing one of five games played. Goals have been at a premium, with Vincent Janssen only able to find the back of the net if it is from the penalty spot. Harry Kane is very close to a return, but is likely to be saved for the Arsenal game on Sunday, and Toby Alderweireld is also not quite ready to slot back into the Spurs eleven following injury. Mauricio Pochettino has assembled a squad which has plenty of strength in depth, but the players that have come in aren’t really firing on all cylinders.

A big positive for Spurs is the fact that Bayern Leverkusen aren’t the best when on the road, and this should be a very different match to the one which took place at the BayArena recently. The flip side of that is the fact that this encounter will be taking place at Wembley Stadium, and Tottenham didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory during their opening Champions League clash there with Monaco. While there was plenty of support for the so called home side, Tottenham definitely did not look as though they felt at home. Where the match taking place at White Hart Lane, I would agree with the bookies assessment of making Spurs around the even money mark, even with a few injuries to contend with. With Wembley as the venue however, Tottenham’s chances of all three points are reduced. Not many club sides get the opportunity to play at the home of English football, and it no doubt incentivises the teams Spurs are facing. I’m expecting another tight nervy affair, and the result really could go either way on Wednesday night.

Spurs’ True Chances of Success This Season

Spurs’ True Chances of Success This Season

Tottenham will be fighting on four fronts during their 2014/15 campaign with the Premier League, Europa League, League Cup and FA Cup all on the agenda for Mauricio Pochettino’s men. Daniel Levy appointed the Argentinian with a main objective of returning to the top four of the Premier League in mind. To me, that looks a very tall order as Tottenham’s last result against Liverpool clearly shows, they are still some way off the very best sides in the country. bet365 have put Spurs in at odds of 3/1 to finish in the top four this season but that does not appeal to me as a value bet at this stage. I realise that things could change once the top teams have Champions League fixtures to cope with, but it could be argued that Tottenham’s Europa League travels are going to be just as demanding.

At slightly bigger odds of 10/3, to win a major trophy is a more attractive bet as far as I’m concerned. Both the League and FA Cups, and to a lesser extent the Europa League, are within Tottenham’s capabilities given a bit of luck with draws and such like. I would imagine that Pochettino will be taking the Europa League extremely seriously, with the winners now receiving a spot in the following season’s Champions League. While there are a number of matches involved, it’s a very winnable competition for a team such as Tottenham. On paper at least, there are probably only a couple of sides taking part who have a squad to match Tottenham’s and as long as none of the real big guns drop out of the Champions league at an early stage, Spurs should have a solid chance of making the latter stages. Tottenham can also be backed at 16/1 to lift the trophy which isn’t the worst bet in the world.

I believe the realistic target for Tottenham Hotspur in the premier League this season is a top six finish, and the bookies clearly agree. bet365 make us odds on at 2/5 to end the campaign within the first six places in the league and given a bit of improvement throughout the season under Pochettino, that’s achievable. Finally, the top goalscorer market would appear to be very competitive with Costa, Falcao and Aguero just a few of the likely candidates for that honour. Tottenham’s best hope would appear to be Sheyi Emmanuel Adebayor who can be backed at 33/1. However, Adebayor will likely be representing Togo at the African Cup of Nations which means he will miss a number of league games. I think he could have a small each way chance even with his international commitments, but nothing more.

Here is a round-up of the various Tottenham Specials available at bet365

To Win a Major Trophy – 10/3

To Finish in Top 4 – 3/1

To Finish in Top 6 – 2/5

Adebayor Premier League Top Scorer – 33/1

To Win Europa League – 16/1

Click here to visit bet365 and get a deposit bonus of £200!

Still a Long Way to go

Still a Long Way to go

Although Tottenham bossed possession during Sunday’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool, the home side never really looked like they were going to get anything from the match. One shot on target against Liverpool’s eight tells the story and a goal from Raheem Sterling after eight minutes quickly killed the feel good factor generated from the win over QPR just seven days previous. Two goals better than last year you might say but results such as this are still a reminder that Spurs are very likely to be fighting for 6th place in the Premier league and nothing more. Had Mario Balotelli been more clinical in front of goal, this result could have turned embarrassing, and Mauricio Pochettino now has two weeks to reenergise his troops for a tricky trip to Sunderland.

With Liverpool having come to White Hart Lane off the back of a disappointing result at Manchester City, I expected Brendan Rodgers to set them up not to lose and give this new Tottenham side plenty of respect. How wrong I was. Liverpool were very positive from the outset and gained reward with the early goal which meant that Tottenham had to chase the game, and were constantly vulnerable to their opponents rapid counter attacks. Spurs’ first four results under Pochettino were positive however and at least the new manager can draw on this when working with the players over the next couple of weeks between their international commitments.

The slightly depressing realisation for me following Sunday’s result was that Spurs are basically going to finish no better than sixth in the Premier League for the foreseeable future. Manchester United have spent a serious amount of money in the transfer window, and it’s very difficult to see them not forcing their way back into the top four this season with such an array of talent at Luis van Gaal’s disposal. Chelsea and Manchester City are shoe-ins and the Liverpool result illustrates that we are still a long way behind them also. Does this mean we are in a fight with Arsenal and Everton for 5th? I hate to say it but the Gunners squad looks good enough to secure 5th spot at worst. Realistically, 6th or even 7th is the likely finishing spot for Tottenham this season and it is going to be very difficult for us to improve on that anytime soon without massive investment, no matter who is manager. It is a long shot, but Spurs’ best chance of playing Champions League football again may well come via the Europa League, as winning that competition looks less challenging than breaking back into the Premier League’s elite.

Swansea City v Tottenham Hotspur Preview

Swansea City v Tottenham Hotspur Preview

This weekend will see an in-form Tottenham Hotspur side travel to Wales to take on Michael Laudrup’s Swansea City. The Swans are arguably a better team than their recent results suggest but they are in need of some Premier League points to put a bit of distance between themselves and the relegation zone. Things are really tight at the foot of the table and there are only six points separating Hull in tenth spot and Crystal Palace at the bottom. It will make for an exciting climax to the season, but could also cause a side to get sucked into the battle unexpectedly.

It’s also tight at the top of the Premier League, particularly amongst the clubs that look to be in a battle for the fourth and final Champions League spot. A lot could change between now and the end of the campaign, but it would appear that Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham and Man Utd going to be fighting for a European place rather than the title. Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal are beginning to draw clear of the chasing pack and I expect that trend to continue.

Considering an indifferent first half of the season for Spurs, the fact that they sit just eight points off top spot is pretty satisfying for me as a Tottenham fan. Although Tim Sherwood has seen his side get knocked out of both domestic cup competitions, they are unbeaten in the league thus far under his guidance. What may cost Tottenham when it comes to the Champions League places is their poor goal difference following a number of big defeats during the Andre Villas-Boas reign. Their last away game saw Spurs win at Old Trafford by two goals to one, a scoreline which Swansea also won by at Old Trafford in the FA Cup recently.

Spurs are favourites this weekend to continue their fine run of form under Tim Sherwood, according to sports bookmaker bwin. Tottenham can be backed at odds of 2.3, Swansea are priced at 3.1, while the draw is available at 3.2. While they are worthy favourites on recent form, I don’t think this will be a walkover for the away side and the draw looks the most likely result for me.

Could Bale sale end Champions League hopes before season starts?

Could Bale sale end Champions League hopes before season starts?

The summer transfer window looks like being a pretty painful one for Tottenham fans. Endless speculation about the future of Gareth Bale is something we and manager Andre Villas Boas could do without, especially as we’re trying to push into the top four and make the Champions League. Having missed out on the final day of the season, AVB should know what’s needed to improve.

Bale-ing out?
He’s our star player, and one that the biggest clubs on the planet have shown an interest in bringing, but where is Bale likely to go? The smart money says that Real Madrid, bolstered by the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti as new manager, could be his new club. However, if he is to leave, it should be for a price tag in the region of £80m, although Real want to do a cash plus players deal.

While the money would be good (assuming it all gets spent on a replacement and on other areas such as attack and defence), we would be losing someone who changed so many games. Fortunately, there may be a chance that he might stay for at least another season, especially if Real, Barcelona or any other interested team fail to meet our asking price.

A distant dream
Without Bale, it can be hard to see us challenging for a Europa League spot, never mind the top four. Despite the uncertainty over his future at White Hart Lane, according to Ladbrokes, we’re a 19/10 shot to qualify for the Champions League next season. Should we make it, we’ll need to do more than just keep hold of our beloved Welsh talisman.

Our main problem last season was lack of goals up front. When he did play, Jermain Defoe was useful, but Emmanuel Adebayor was as erratic as ever. A big-name striker such as Alvaro Negredo from Sevilla or even Roberto Soldado from Valencia might do the trick. Basically, anyone who can help reduce the massive burden on Bale if he stays.

In the more likely event of his departure, we will need a more than adequate replacement to fill his boots. Paulinho, the Brazil midfielder has been linked with us, but the reported £17m price tag coupled with rumoured interest from Real Madrid may see him head to the Spanish capital instead. Alternatively, we could actually follow up our interest in Leandro Damiao!

We need something from Man City

We need something from Man City

The race for fourth place isn’t over till it’s over. Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea fans have all been guilty of premature celebrations as far as securing one of the elite positions behind the two Manchester clubs is concerned. The bookies are still divided on who they believe will land a Champions League spot as this review of sportsinteraction sportsbook demonstrates. Before this weekend’s round of fixtures, Spurs are the outsiders of the three sides at odds of 11/8 to finish in the top four, but a victory over Manchester City would likely have the constantly fluctuating prices change once again. Are Andre Villas-Boas men up to this task?

This is arguably a terrible time for Tottenham to be facing the reining Premier League champions. City have won eight of their last nine games and although they look to have left their title challenge too late, are the form team in the league currently. Conversely, Spurs have managed just the one win in seven games and the side that were pushing Man City hard for second place are now in a real battle for fourth. Not qualifying for Europe’s premier competition could see Tottenham lose the likes of Gareth Bale as a whole host of clubs will be making a move for the Welshman come the summer.

One good piece of news for the home side is the fact that Bale could return to action this weekend following a two week spell out through injury. Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe may also feature which for me, could well tip the balance firmly in Spurs’ favour. While City do have a great record against Tottenham having won the last four encounters, the returning players might well be the boost that Villas-Boas and his squad need to take all three points. Arsenal and Chelsea both have tricky looking away games this weekend and hopefully things will look a little rosier come Sunday evening.

If you’re having a punt on this weekend’s Premier League action, you can get detailed sportsbook reviews at Top Betting Reviews.

Is the Europa League actually a good thing for Spurs?

Is the Europa League actually a good thing for Spurs?

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I’ve always felt the Europa League is a bit of a nonsense competition. Having to fly out to various distant parts of Europe to play in the cold on a Thursday night must have a negative effect on Premier League results. The taste of Champions League action probably hasn’t helped and neither did the fact we finished fourth last season only to be cruelly denied another tilt at that elite contest. Seeing Real Madrid and Manchester City play out that classic last night also reminded me exactly what we are missing out on as Tottenham fans.

I do feel that in our current situation, the Europa League could well be a positive thing. Our squad is extremely healthy at the moment and a number of top players are sitting on the bench getting very little game time. While playing in this competition may not keep them all happy, it will maintain their match fitness and also give Andre Villas-Boas the opportunity to assess their talents on the pitch. With Defoe in fine form, it might be a while before Adebayor and Dempsey get a start in the current system so I’d expect them both to play a part in the Europa League.

Andre Villas-Boas also appears to have a strong passion for the Europa League. As Porto manager, Villas-Boas became the youngest ever manager to win a European competition when his team took the 2010–11 Europa League. Although the Premier League and a top four finish will be the manager’s priority, he will also be keen for his new side to do well in this competition, beginning with Lazio this Thursday night. Villas-Boas has been quoted in the press this week saying that he ‘wants to do something special’ in this season’s Europa League and sounds very keen on winning the trophy for a second time.

I expect Spurs to have a successful European campaign this season and while it may not be the Champions League, I think we will be in for some exciting Thursday evenings over the coming months.

Tottenham v Chelsea FA Cup Semi Final Preview

Tottenham v Chelsea FA Cup Semi Final Preview

A huge game for both clubs here as Tottenham and Chelsea battle it out at Wembley for a place in this season’s FA Cup final. Neither some comes into the match in outstanding form but Chelsea should arguably be the favourites when you consider Tottenham have only managed one victory in their last seven league games and looked woeful in the defeat at the hands of Norwich City on Monday. Will Harry Redknapp be able to pick his players up and get them playing the brand of football that was so engaging earlier in the campaign?

I was at the game on Monday and it was painful viewing. We did have opportunities and enough of the ball to have at least got a point but we just weren’t at the races. I really thought we had turned the corner after the results against Bolton, Swansea and Sunderland but this was nothing like the Tottenham that was mounting a realistic challenge for the title just a few months ago. Maybe some of the players had their minds on this upcoming semi final encounter, maybe they are jaded after a long season, or maybe this is the same old Tottenham we have know for the past couple of decades, flattering to deceive.

The one thing that may work in Tottenham’s favour is the fact Chelsea have a massive game at Stamford Bridge against Barcelona just a few days after this match. I’m not saying they will be looking past us but the thought of facing Messi and co with a Champions League final place at stake will likely be a lot more important to the majority of their squad than the FA Cup. None of them are going to want to get injured and this could well prove all important in what is likely to be a tight and nervy contest.

As far as a bet on the game goes, I’d struggle to part with my hard earned cash to back Tottenham on their current run but if I had to have a wager, it would be backing Spurs to win inside the ninety minutes.

Chelsea v Tottenham Preview

Chelsea v Tottenham Preview

Saturday’s live lunchtime kick off on Sky Sports is the match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. With both sides in the running for a Champions League place this season, this could be a very important result as far as a top four finish is concerned. The upcoming European Championships could be in the backs of some players minds and could be having a negative affect on some while encouraging others to play well to try and force their way into the final squads. The Euro 2012 odds are sure to change on the back of these performances. Until recently, Tottenham were certainly in the driving seat being well clear in third place and even making a brief challenge for second spot, but following just three bad results in a row, the top of the table now has a completely different complexion to it.

Although there isn’t much between the two sides as far as their last six games are concerned with Chelsea having taken 8 points to Tottenham’s 7, the Blues definitely come into this match with the upper hand. Chelsea have won two of their last three Premier League games but also have momentum from victories in the Champions League and the FA Cup where striker Fernando Torres rediscovered his scoring touch. If Torres can continue to find the net for the remainder f the season, it will be like having a new signing for Chelsea. Spurs on the other hand look a bit flat and have lost their last three league games. The difficult FA Cup clash with Bolton this past weekend certainly won’t have helped matters.

Spurs do have a chance to pick themselves up on Wednesday night with a home game against Stoke City, while Chelsea travel to the fortress that is the Etihad Stadium to take on Manchester City. Depending on those two games, there could be a very different feel to Saturday’s match as a win for Spurs and a defeat for Chelsea would give the Tottenham a seven point cushion. As things stand currently however, Chelsea are the strong favourites to take all three points. The Blues were victorious in this fixture by two goals to one last season, and a similar result would not surprise me. I’m hoping Spurs can surprise though and get their season back on track.

Chelsea v Tottenham Head to Head
Chelsea Wins 60
Tottenham Wins 49
Draws 35

Last Season
Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham

Current Form (Last Six Games)
Chelsea DDLWLW
Tottenham WDWLLL