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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 Are on Their Way to Wembley….

Spurs Are on Their Way to Wembley….

….to play their first Champions League fixture since 2011. Tottenham’s third place finish in the Premier League last season meant the end of Thursday night football for the time being at least, and Spurs will now be in action on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, taking part in Europe’s elite football competition. Mauricio Pochettino’s men come into tonight’s clash with Monaco off the back of an impressive display away at Stoke this past weekend, a game where they ran out 4-0 victors. Spurs have begun the new season in relatively positive fashion, and have a return of eight points from their four games played thus far, meaning they currently sit in fifth spot in the Premier League table.

Harry Kane got off the mark at the Britannia Stadium, and that will hopefully do last season’s Golden Boot winner a boost in terms of confidence. Kane has looked rather lethargic in recent times, thanks in part to being involved in the pathetic national side. Harry will no doubt want to make an impact in the Champions League, and it would be no surprise to see him get on the scoresheet tonight. Mauricio Pochettino will no doubt be delighted to have Moussa Dembele back at his disposal, the talented midfielder having been banned since an altercation with Diego Costa at the back end of last term. That match against Chelsea appeared to have a real negative effect on the Tottenham squad, and impacted on the final few games of the season, which culminated in an embarrassing 5-1 defeat at the hands of Newcastle. The return of Dembele should finally put those demons to rest, and the Belgian international can play a crucial role in Spurs’ bid for glory this term.

The odds compilers at bet365 make Tottenham Hotspur the 4/5 favourites to win this CL encounter with Monaco, the French outfit are available at the 4/1 mark, while the draw is on offer at odds of 27/10. Although Spurs were comfortable 4-1 winners when the two sides met in the Europa League last December, there are different factors to consider this time around. How Tottenham are going to cope playing at Wembley for one? While the North London outfit will definitely have the bulk of the crowd support, there will likely also be a number of neutrals in attendance, with cheap tickets having been on offer for the past few weeks. I’d expect a lot of Monaco fans to also make the short journey across the water, so the Wembley atmosphere certainly won’t mirror that of White Hart Lane. That being said, I still fancy Tottenham to get their 2016/17 Champions League campaign off to a winning start, and the 4/5 available at bet365 makes a fair bit of appeal.

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Will Euro 2016 Help or Hinder Tottenham Hotspur?

Will Euro 2016 Help or Hinder Tottenham Hotspur?

While it may be difficult to keep in mind following the final day debacle at St James Park, Tottenham Hotspur did have an excellent 2015/16 Premier League campaign. Mauricio Pochettino was able to get the very best out of his players, and they arguably overachieved when you consider the resources available at clubs such as Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea, sides who all finished below Spurs in the table. While new signings were made by the Argentinian manager, it was his ability to nurture and get improvement from the existing playing staff which really helped Tottenham’s consistency and ultimately achieve a top three Premier League finish. This success has had the knock on effect of a number of Spurs players being picked for their national squads for the European Championship, and it will be interesting to see whether this has a positive or negative effect on Tottenham Hotspur come next season.

A total of eleven Tottenham players will be taking part in the 2016 UEFA European Championship, second only to Liverpool who have twelve players heading to France. While some of these men will have been regulars when it comes to international football, there are a few who have never before experienced the rigours of a major championship. Five of the eleven are in Roy Hodgson’s England squad, none of whom have taken part in a tournament of such magnitude as yet. While this experience may be of huge benefit for Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane prior to their Champions League debuts next term, it could also have a detrimental effect. We have seen a number of players who don’t get some kind of break during the summer months struggling for form during the following campaign, and if England do progress to the latter stages of the competition, Pochettino may need to be selective with both training methods and team selection in the early part of the new season.

Admittedly, the famous five in the England squad are all young men, and that is clearly a positive in terms of the number of games they are able to manage during the course of a season. As a Spurs fan, I think my biggest concern would be over the condition of Harry Kane. The star striker always gives 110% on the field, and has looked exhausted in the latter stages at times as a result – the 1-1 draw with Russia a case in point. Having played 101 games for Spurs of the past two seasons, Kane surely needs a few weeks respite before being thrown back into the tough training methods now employed at Tottenham. The Belgian trio of Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele are more experienced at this level, but injuries are again a worry, particularly where Vertonghen and Dembele are concerned. Ben Davies and Kevin Wimmer are more squad players used in rotation by Pochettino, and goalkeepers are definitely at less risk of burn out, so as long as Hugo Lloris arrives back at the Lane in one piece, I’ll be happy!

The overall picture as far as the number of Tottenham Hotspur players involved at Euro 2016 is a positive one, I just hope that they are eased back into domestic football next term. It will certainly be interesting to see how these Spurs players fair for the remainder of the tournament, and it is fantastic that the club have this level of representation at such a prestigious international tournament.

A Disappointing Draw

A Disappointing Draw

Although dominating the ninety minutes of play, Tottenham were unable to come away from the Stadium of Light with all three points. I felt it was important for us not to lose this game on the back of the Liverpool result but after being in front twice, it’s a real shame we were unable to hang on for the win. These are definitely the type of match that Spurs need to be winning if a slightly ambitious push for the top four is to be realised, and we can only hope that all this talk of a takeover was not a contributory factor to the slight lack of concentration that cost us here. Jonathan Goldstein and the Cain Hoy Group’s interest could come to nothing but they would at least appear to possess the necessary financial clout.

Sunderland are the draw specialists thus far this season but there was certainly nothing boring about the match in Wearside. Two goals inside the first five minutes illustrated both sides desire and it was only a Harry Kane own goal which prevented us from coming back to North London with another victory. These things happen in football, but it’s an unfortunate twist of fate for a player who needs his confidence building rather than being knocked. I’m hoping that Harry will feature against Partizan Belgrade in midweek and get on the scores heet to quickly put this behind him.

Tottenham now have three very winnable games in succession, but only one of those are in the Premier League which is a home game against West Bromwich Albion. West Brom are yet to win and were soundly beaten at home by Everton today which indicates that we should have too much for them at White Hart Lane. The most interesting game of the three might well be the League Cup clash with the Stuart Pearce managed Nottingham Forest who are sure to arrive at the Lane in confident mood following some excellent performances in the Championship. You can see the odds at allpro for that particular clash.

I can’t say I’m not slightly disappointed by the draw with Sunderland but we have a point more than Arsenal and will be facing them at the end of the month. If we can go into that game off the back of a win over West Brom then I’d be hopefully that Poch and his men can go to the Emirates with a positive attitude and at least give a committed and passionate account.