Tag Archives: champions league

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?

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

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?

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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

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

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

Tottenham v Stoke Preview

A huge game for Tottenham here as far as their Champions League aspirations are concerned. Three straight defeats in the Premier League have seen Tottenham’s grasp on third place slip to just one point and bitter rivals Arsenal are now within touching distance of taking the automatic qualifying place for themselves. Chelsea have also closed the gap to just four points and although Spurs looked to have things sewn up a few weeks ago, the picture is a very different one now.

The circumstances surrounding the abandonment of Saturday’s FA Cup quarter final is bound to have some kind of affect on the players but hopefully the positive news regarding Fabrice Muamba in the last couple of days will have gone some way to easing the mental state of the Spurs squad.

While Tottenham might not be on their worst run of the season, they have still only lost one of their last six home games while Stoke have just one win and five defeats from their last six games on the road. Spurs also have a very good record against Stoke in the Premier League, having won five of the last six encounters between the two clubs.

Tottenham v Stoke Head to Head
Tottenham Wins 40
Stoke Wins 23
Draws 18

Last Season
Tottenham 3-2 Stoke

Current Form (Last Six Games)
Tottenham WDWLLL
Stoke LLLWWL

If you fancy a wager on the match, you should check out the Bet365 App and the Mobile Betting Guide.

The Slightly Later Than Scheduled Festive Reflection

Jermain Defoe Blonde

So, it feels pretty good to be a Spurs fan at the moment right?! Six points off City with a game in hand and possibly even more satisfying, six points in front of Arsenal with that same game in hand. I’m looking forward to the FA Cup this weekend and I’m hoping we will make short work of Cheltenham even if most of the first eleven are given what would be a well overdue rest. I do have a soft spot for Cheltenham because of the amazing racing entertainment the town provides me with in March but their football team, not so much.

Even the bookies are starting to take our league form seriously as you can now see quotes as short as 8/1 for Tottenham to win this season’s title. I still personally think we have to much to do to overhaul Man City and I’m sure Utd will bounce back after two straight defeats but what has really impressed me this season is our winning mentality. The game against West Brom this past Tuesday night really illustrates that fact. Roy Hodgson had a few injuries to key players and basically set up his team to take a point. They were very hard to break down and until Sisqo scored, it was looking like being one of those nights. In season’s gone by, that is the sort of game we would have ended up losing through a lack of concentration or determination but Harry now appears to have the players instilled with a belief that they can win every game, no matter the circumstances.

Some fans were saying the point against Swansea was a disappointing result but I definitely would have taken a draw before the game. Only one team has managed to go to the Liberty Stadium and win this season and when you consider it was our third game in quick succession, avoiding defeat was a good result. The performance against Norwich was sublime and Gareth Bale showed once again why he is one of the very best players in the Premier League. While one of the positives of us not being involved in the Champions League this season is our excellent domestic form, Bale not being able to show what he is capable of against the European elite is certainly a negative.

Now the January transfer window is upon us, I expect to see Spurs linked with the usual infinite fictional targets. Samba and Cahill are the most realistic names for me but with Dawson apparently set to start against Cheltenham, our centre back injury problems are easing slightly. A number of my close friends are Millwall fans, so it’s nice to see a couple of our younger players being loaned to the Lions. Hopefully it will be a win win situation, with Ryan Mason and Harry Kane getting some much needed first team action, while also helping Millwall stay in the Championship.

This could well be the key month as far as our title hopes are concerned. Homes games against Everton, Wolves and Wigan with a trip to Man City in there for good measure. City have tough Cup games against Man Utd and Liverpool which could well work in our favour. Is January 2012 going to be the month when Tottenham actually sit on top the Premier League? I bloody hope so!

If players were valued in inches

£27m would be a decent offer for Luka Modric. The fact is they are not, and that sort of price still isn’t enough for our top commodity. It might seem foolish to call any player priceless, but that’s what Modric is to most Tottenham Hotspur fans. Harry Redknapp described the earlier £22m offer as a joke. I didn’t find it all that amusing and the improved one is still not making me laugh very much.

I understand why he’s tempted by the move to West London. Chelsea are very likely to be challenging in both the Premier League and the Champions League next season. Spurs definitely won’t be doing one of those and are unlikely to be doing the other either. The problem biggest problem I have with this situation is selling your best player to a team you are trying to close the gap on is a massive mistake. The fact the Premier League is now arguably the biggest league in the world means these sorts of transfers will happen more and more often. We have already seen how Arsenal are struggling to hold onto their stars even though they did qualify for the Champions League.

With the reports of Michael Essien being unavailable for up to six months due to a knee injury, Chelsea are even more likely to keep coming back until they get their man. Modric is probably going to official request a transfer soon enough and that will make the club’s position pretty impossible. I like that we are showing resolve and not just rolling over but when a player decides they want to move, it’s pretty pointless trying to force them to stay.

At what is likely to be the peak of his career, a player like Luka Modric should be competing at the highest level possible and winning major honours. It’s just unfortunate for us Spurs fans that he probably won’t be able to do that while playing at the Lane.

Could we fare better than Arsenal?

So, the dream has become a reality and Spurs have made it to the Quarter Finals of the Champions League. After being three nil down against those pesky Young Boys in the first qualifying round, Harry Redknapp and his European soldiers are now just four games away from the final of Europe’s biggest football competition.

While the away leg at the San Siro was an assured professional performance the likes I haven’t seen from a Tottenham side before, Wednesday’s home game was an uncomfortable ninety minutes where our players dug in, defended well and secured their passage into the last eight.

Jermain Defoe’s big talk at the start of the season about Tottenham progressing further than the Gunners in the Champions League no longer sounds so stupid. The question now is can they fare any better than Arsenal against the Catalan Giants? Should we draw them in the quarter finals, I won’t be too despondent. While I think it will be a near impossible task over two legs against Barca, anything is possible in football. We have the players to hit them on the break with better effect than Arsenal could manage. Lennon and Bale give us an outlet that Arsenal didn’t have.

While avoiding Barcelona in the next round would be preferable, no side left in the competition is going to be an easy touch. Admittedly Milan aren’t as good as they once were but they are no mugs. Spurs have proven they can mix it with the best sides in European football and appear to have the confidence to take on any team. Our league form may have suffered a little as the results against Blackpool and Wolves illustrate but I’m willing to swallow it if it means this European adventure can continue for a bit longer…

Absolute
I’ll be on Ian Wright’s show on Absolute Radio sometime between five and six tomorrow if anyone wants to hear me talk more nonsense about Spurs!