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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.

Things feel a bit stale

For a couple of months now, it seems thing have gone a bit, for want of a better word, stale. Blackpool and Fulham aside, results have still been good overall but we just seem to lack both killer instinct in front of goal as well as a bit of spark. I can’t quite put my finger on it because everyone is playing well still and we are creating chances but something is lacking.

Van Der Vaart has certainly gone off the boil in recent weeks and he was the one giving us that energy boost and that bit of world class magic. He still doesn’t look fully fit to me and that’s likely why he’s hauled off quite so often. I can’t knock Modric and his play in midfield has been exceptional but his goal return this season is poor. That’s not to say he’s doing anything wrong, if the strikers were hitting the back of the net it wouldn’t be a problem.

I’ve been saying this for a long while, even before the season got underway and I still think we need a world class out and out goal scorer. The problem is, there aren’t many of them around. I’m not sure whether it’s because the way the game is played has changed slightly in the last five or ten years or just the quality of strikers has dropped, but you don’t seem to get your twenty five, thirty goal a season men like you used to. I think Defoe isn’t far off world class on his day and is a top Premiership striker but his inconsistency is becoming an issue. Although Pavlyuchenko is a bit of an enigma, I’d be tempted to give him a little run in the side. Not that I think he’s on Defoe’s level, but just to offer us something different and freshen it up a bit.

It could be that I’m taking too much of a short term view and things will suddenly spark into life again in the next few weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising anyone and this season has already proved way beyond anything I could imagine, it’s just a little frustrating dropping points that we are more than capable of picking up. This is especially when a top four finish is so crucial to the continued progress and development of Tottenham, and it seems as though the 4th spot is very much there for the taking.

Maybe the Champions League furore has taken the edge off our league form slightly but if that is the case, what the players need to realise is that they won’t be playing in it next season unless they start picking up some points. Even Liverpool aren’t out of the Top 4 battle after their recent good form. I feel like Wigan is a must win game for us now, the problem is I’m not sure it’s a game we will win with a trip to Madrid on everyone’s mind just a few days later…

Tottenham second biggest spenders in Premiership

Guest Writer
This post is written by guest blogger Kampanart Wong from Footy Shirts 4 U. We are always happy to have guest contributions, if you are passionate about Spurs and have something to talk about, drop us a line using our contact form.

Spurs have went through a complete rebuilding process of the team, and have spent £150 million in transfers over the last 16 months meaning that they have out spent the whole of the Premiership, including the top 4, apart from big spending Manchester City.

Even with this huge financial outlay Spurs were still able to announce a pre-tax profit for the year ending in June 2009, largely due to the sale of Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov.

It is clear that this is a huge amount of money but Spurs have signed a lot of players for the money and strengthened key positions for the team including the strike force with Crouch and Defoe being two of the top strikers in the Premiership just now. Robbie Keane was also resigned for the club and although we have yet to see him at his best he is still a top player and one of the key players in a Spurs football shirt.

Spurs at the moment are reaping the rewards of their financial expenditure as they are currently sitting 4th in the Premiership and in line to get a Champions League spot but there is along way to go in the season yet.

After the announcement of pre-tax profits Daniel Levy not only showed his delight at the quality of players that Spurs have at the club but also on the future plans for the team.

“We have made significant progress in delivering on our long-term vision for the club.

“We have always had three key priorities and you will have heard them oft repeated – investment in the first team, a new training centre and an increased capacity, state-of-the-art new stadium.

“We have assembled what we believe to be one of the most talented squads we have had during our time in the Premier League, the ground is being turned and pitches laid for the new training centre at Bulls Cross in Enfield and we have submitted a planning application for a stunning new stadium on a site next to our existing stadium.”

Everything is looking bright at the moment and if we can maintain the form we have shown in the early part of the season then we will have Champions League football to look forward to next season.

Written by Kampanart Wong, a sports editor who blogs about cheap football jerseys

Pompey

While they have some very average players (including a few of our cast offs), almost anything can happen in tomorrow’s game against Portsmouth. Although Harry might get some love from his old fans, I’d expect Spurs to be on the receiving end of a seriously hostile reception.

The Portsmouth fans could really carry their players through 90mins and with their win at Wolves, the return of Avram Grant and the arrival of Ali Al Faraj, the players and the club as a whole are bound to be in a much more positive frame of mind than they were a few weeks ago.

Jamie O’Hara isn’t allowed to play which is probably a positive as far as we are concerned but David James is back after injury. Defoe is likely to play against his old side after recovering from injury and Ledley could also be back.

We have a good record against Portsmouth in recent times, having only lost once in nine games. On form, you’d be hard pressed to bet against a Tottenham victory but with all the history and the fact Pompey have some stability for the first time this season, it’s unlikely to be straightforward.

I’ll still go for Spurs to nick it but I can envisage a right old game tomorrow afternoon.

Crouch Starts Tonight and Woodgate

It doesn’t look as though Peter Crouch’s lack of games for Tottenham is affecting his World Cup chances an awful lot. Capello is starting the big man against Belarus tonight alongside Gabriel Agbonlahor in the absence of Wayne Rooney.

I’ve always expected Crouch to be in Capello’s World Cup squad because he gives the Italian options. When Crouch has started for Spurs this season he’s always delivered and I’d certainly fancy him to be on the score sheet tonight against an unspectacular Belarus side.

I’m not sure how this will effect Harry’s plans against Portsmouth at the weekend. I fancied him to start Defoe and Crouch against their old side but he may not be inclined to start Crouch again Saturday if he has a tough game tonight. That being said, Robbie Keane will also be in action for one half of the Republic of Ireland’s game against the Czech Republic.

A good bit of news on Jonathan Woodgate. He managed to come through a behind closed doors friendly unscathed yesterday so there is an outside chance he could be on the bench for Saturday’s game. I thought he’d be out for a lot longer to be honest so fingers crossed he can get back to full fitness as soon as possible, it will give the side a massive boost.

Disappointed but not despondent

It’s a shame but it’s not the end of the world. We were beaten by a better side on the day. While I would have hoped we could cope with Utd at the Lane the fact is we couldn’t on Saturday. It doesn’t mean we can’t.

It’s easy for me to make comment after the game and I’m not criticising Harry’s tactics but I was a little puzzled by his decision to shuffle the side and start Keane out of position rather than bring Kranjcar in as a like for like swap for Modric. I just felt we weren’t as balanced as we might have been but I doubt it would have changed the result in any case.

Man Utd seemed to thrive with ten men. I know some people dislike Rooney but you cannot argue with his ability and determination. Having a player of that quality in your side is priceless. Not only is he world class, he doesn’t stop working for 90 minutes. Utd had four maybe five world class players on that pitch, Tottenham probably had one and he can’t train. Lennon and Palacios have the potential to be world class but aren’t yet. Keane, Crouch and even Defoe arguably fall just slightly short.

The positive thing about the game was that we weren’t totally played off the park. We had plenty of chances and on another day, the result might have been different. Utd played at their best and we weren’t that far behind. We are still moving in the right direction. If you’d have told me at the start of the season after five games Spurs would have won them all except for a loss to Utd, I would certainly have taken that. We still have more points than Liverpool and Arsenal and sit in the top four.

I try not to get too carried away any time Spurs put a decent run of results together but it’s hard not to get excited. Equally, it’s hard not to get a bit down after a home defeat even when it is to a side of Manchester United’s brilliance. It’s important to take a long term view. We have had a great start to the season and this is just a set back. There is no reason we can’t go to Chelsea and get something out the game. The likely scenario is we will hold them until the 93rd minute and they will get a late winner but there is always a chance we can do the same.

Pleasantly Surprised

As much as I wasn’t particularly looking forward to last night’s England game, the one hope I had was that Aaron Lennon would step forward and stake a serious claim for a World Cup spot. That’s exactly what he did and in some style!

Lennon’s first half performance was superb. He created two of the goals, secured himself the man of the match accolade and very likely a place in Capello’s squad for the 2010 World Cup.

As expected, Emile Heskey kept his place in front of Defoe and you can’t really knock Fabio Capello for his decision. Heskey gives the side better balance than a Rooney Defoe partnership would do. Although Defoe deserves to start a game for England on current form, it doesn’t look like it will happen while Rooney and Heskey are both fit. That being said, Capello may experiment a bit more now England have qualified.

While Lennon and Defoe may be a little fatigued going into Saturday’s game against Man Utd, we couldn’t have hoped for a much more positive and confidence boosting outcome to their England duty. The 5-1 drubbing might not have done Kranjcar the world of good though!

Although it’s hard to see Roman Pavlyuchenko starting at the weekend, he also put in a productive shift at the Millennium Stadium against Wales. He started the game on the bench but was introduced after 70 minutes and scored in injury time. I’ll be more than happy if our unlucky Russian can play a similar role on Saturday!

Can we prep for Utd in a day?

With a number of players not returning to training until Friday, it means we only have one day to prepare for Saturday’s crunch clash with Manchester United. Harry Redknapp isn’t happy about this situation;

“I have no idea in my head of what team I will be able to play against United because of these internationals and because many of them won’t be back at the club until next Friday. They are returning from all over the world.”

Obviously, Utd are in the same boat but their squad is arguably better equipped to deal with any injuries or fatigue that the players pick up during the International break. With Modric already out, we can’t afford to have any more players get injured or not be at their peak for that matter against a Utd side sure to be buoyed by victory over Arsenal.

Redknapp is suggesting teams shouldn’t play until the following Saturday when players return from International duty to give them a week to recover. I can understand his point but I very much doubt the powers that be would consider his proposal and I also can’t see any way it would be possible, especially in a World Cup year. They struggle to fit all the fixtures in now as things stand now.

As much as I miss the Premiership action during the summer break, I don’t think the players get enough time off. If there were two weeks between League games after each International get-together, it would have to impact negatively on the length of time off for both players and coaching staff in the summer.

With Keane and Defoe being in the thick of things both on and off the pitch for their respective countries this week, they are likely to be slightly drained both physically and mentally. On a positive note however, their confidence will be high after both scoring at the weekend. If they can carry this into Saturday’s game, hopefully adrenaline can do the rest.

Anyone else hate Internationals?

These International breaks drive me mad. Settling down in front of the racing and Soccer Saturday just isn’t the same without some Premiership action, specifically without Spurs.

I really have very little interest where International football is concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I support England in their matches but I just don’t have the same passion for them as I did when I was younger. The period under McLaren where most of the players looked like they couldn’t give a feck was the final nail in the coffin for me.

While it’s nice to see the Spurs players doing well for their countries, I just don’t have any enthusiasm for it unless there is a major tournament going on and I’m generally just worried about one of our players returning from duty with a nasty injury.

Probably the only thing I am interested to see is whether or not Aaron Lennon can take his improved form for Tottenham onto the International stage. He’s certainly good enough to be a permanent fixture in the England side and his distribution should only get better from here on in. I’d imagine Capello will give him at least a half so lets hope he takes his chance.

Defoe seems to be the player everyone is talking about in the build up to the game after his brace against the Dutch and his superb form for Tottenham at the start of the season. I’m not having a pop at him but I think he’s that type of player that thrives on the attention and I’ll be surprised if Jermain doesn’t get himself on the score sheet again.

Doncaster, Defoe, Dream Team and D-Day

I wasn’t too interested in last night’s International so went and played some golf very badly in a thunderstorm instead. I wished I’d stayed at home to see little Defoe’s brace. From the highlights, it looked as though England made some silly mistakes but showed very good fight and team spirit to pull it back and come out the game with a 2-2 draw. I’m delighted Jermain made the most of his chance and it should give him a lot of confidence going into Sunday’s match. I know a lot of you will disagree but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Defoe start Sunday’s game on the bench because he could have a huge impact in the latter part of the game if things are as tight as I expect them to be.

Not the easiest draw for our opening Carling Cup fixture with an away trip to Doncaster but it could have been worse. Sean O’Driscoll’s side play some nice football and it should be a very entertaining game. They have started the season with a point at Watford and a win away at Notts County in the first round of the Carling Cup. We should have too much for them even at the Keepmoat Stadium and I’m sure Harry must have this trophy in mind as a realistic target again.

With Liverpool only a few of days away now, my nerves and excitement are increasing in equal measures. The pessimist in me says I’d be happy with a draw but I can honestly see the game going either way. If we play to our potential, there is no reason why we can’t take all 3 points. Tottenham’s front line is certainly stronger than Liverpool’s now and the fact we have a number of options will make it difficult for their defenders. The negative for us is the fact it’s a new partnership at the back with Bassong and King. They will have their work cut out keeping Fernando Torres at bay but knowing we have goals in us should give them the confidence to play a composed and solid game.

Our Fantasy League for this season in association with Expert Betting Advice is open for business. It always gets a lot of participants and it would be nice to get a few more Spurs fans on board. Should be a good crack.

Go here to register:

http://fantasy.premierleague.com/

Once you have chosen your team, click on leagues then enter the following code to join the EBA League:

534369-119079