Tag Archives: liverpool

Ferry Cross the Mersey

Spurs face Liverpool tonight in what has the potential to be a thrilling encounter at White Hart Lane. Spurs are coming off the back of a very impressive performance when beating West Ham on Sunday and should be full of confidence coming into this encounter. Liverpool should also come into the match in positive mood as they are now on a run of eight games unbeaten following a very slow start to the season.

Andre Villas Boas has been under a tremendous amount of pressure since his arrival at Tottenham and three league defeats on the trot certainly didn’t do anything to alleviate that. The results against Arsenal and Man City were unfortunate but excusable, it was the defeat at the hands of Wigan on home soil that really hurt the home fans. Spurs haven’t quite hit the heights at the Lane thus far during this campaign but did look to be approaching somewhere near their best with Sunday’s victory over the Hammers.

Brendan Rodgers is in a similar position to Villas Boas in that they are both at clubs with huge expectations and are both going to struggle to deliver the Champions League football that their fans crave so desperately. Things did look pretty dire for Liverpool at the beginning of the season with no wins in their first five league games but things have steadily improved under the former Swansea coach. They are undefeated since losing to Manchester United at the back end of September and it’s going to take a good Tottenham performance for that to change.

Tottenham are still without Scott Parker, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Younes Kaboul due to their long term injuries, while Emmanuel Adebayor continues his suspension. The good news for the home side is that Sandro has been passed as fit to play after being stretchered off against West Ham. He’s a crucial part of the Spurs midfield and could be the difference maker at White Hart Lane this evening. Liverpool have no serious injury concerns.

This is an important game for Andre Villas-Boas’ men. They face trips to Fulham and Everton in their next two games so three points here are much needed. If Spurs can reproduce the form they showed in their most recent win, I think it should go the way of the home side, and a 1-0 score line would not surprise me. Check out CarbonSports Sportsbook before betting on tonight’s big match.

Will Joe Cole tip the balance?

Joe ColeA few days ago, I wrote an article discussing the online betting for next season’s Premier League title. I found it puzzling that Liverpool were a significantly shorter price than Tottenham going on last season’s form, coupled with the uncertainty surrounding the future of their star players. Gerrard was to be joining Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid and Torres was also allegedly keen to move, that is if anyone is brave enough to risk millions of pounds on a player that looks to have serious issues if his World Cup performances are anything to go by.

I genuinely thought Joe Cole would end up at Tottenham this summer. If the internet and newspapers are to believed, Spurs offer of wages was the lowest of his suitors, and significantly lower than those Liverpool where willing to pay. The way I see it, Liverpool were willing to pay over the odds for a player like Joe Cole as a statement of intent. They are not in the Champions League currently, have appointed a very talented but arguably low profile manager and looked like a club in serious regression last season. Cole’s signing not only shows they are still able to attract players of world class

All this being said, I don’t think it’s the end of the world that Spurs missed out on Cole. We already have a wealth of talent in midfield and paying 100k a week or more for a player in his late 20s who has a very poor injury record probably wasn’t the right move for us in hindsight. I think he was a lot more important for Liverpool than he was for Tottenham.

Do I think Cole’s move to Liverpool will propel them to mount a challenge for the Premier League title this coming season? Not a chance. Do I think he will tip the balance in their favour over Spurs where the battle for a top 4 spot is concerned? I doubt it, but I fully expect them to be better than last season. The only problem for them is, Spurs will be too!

Have the bookies made an error?

LedleyI was having a look at the betting for next season’s Premier League today and although the bookies normally aren’t far wrong, I feel the prices are a little off the mark. While I don’t for a second expect Tottenham to be winning the league, I am confused as to how they can be 40/1 shots with Man City as short as 9/2 and Liverpool as short as 11/1.

Man City’s spending power is phenomenal and they have added some serious talent to their squad this summer with the likes of Boateng, Toure and Silva joining an already excellent group of players. The problem for them is I don’t see Mancini as the man to get these players to gel or control their egos and settle the unrest when their start to the campaign isn’t as phenomenal as everyone is expecting. I think they could well end up in a similar position to last season.

Are Liverpool suddenly going to be a successful side under Roy Hodgson? They looked awful at times last season and it’s going to take them time to rebuild. Torres appears to be in a very bad way if the world cup is anything to go by. Carragher isn’t half the player he was a few years ago and Gerrard turns it on when he’s in the mood. This is assuming Torres and Gerrard are staying.

Now onto the 40/1 outsiders! Admittedly, one good season does not a great club make, but there is just as much reason to believe we can continue our progression under Harry Redknapp as there is we will resume the battle for 7th and 8th place. I don’t feel like last season was a fluke. Our home form has been solid for a number of years now and we have finally mastered the art of picking up points on the road. The possibility of a Champions League campaign will test the squad, but we have the strength in depth now to be able to change the personnel from game to game and still be a force in the Premiership.

The betting for the top 4 sees us 6th best behind Chelsea, Utd, City, Arsenal and Liverpool. I seem to remember us being given a similar chance at the start of last season. History has a habit of repeating itself…

I hope Wigan bounce back

As wonderful as our nine goal victory was on Sunday, spare a thought for Wigan. As I said last week, I was not surprised to see a big score line but it was thanks in part to Wigan’s style of play.

As difficult as it must have been for Wigan fans to swallow, I hope they give Martinez time to finish the good job he’s started. I know they have been on the end of a few hidings but they play attractive football. The Premier League would be very boring if all the lesser sides played like Stoke. He’s a good young manager and comes across very well.

As for Tottenham, maybe we still have a mental block when it comes to the big teams. We cannot continue to put on scintillating performances against the majority of opponents at the Lane and then give limp displays like we did against Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea. I know two of those games were away from home and injuries played a part but the contrast is too great.

Harry has done wonders since his arrival but his previous sides have always been able to turn over the likes of Utd and Arsenal, sides that had no where near the strength in depth the current Spurs squad has. Maybe things will look different come the end of the season.

With Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City and Villa all dropping points this past weekend, our top 4 push is still going along nicely and the 9-1 win will have done wonders for both confidence and morale. It couldn’t have come at a better time with 3 away games on the trot coming up, all against tough sides. I’d take 1 win, 1 draw and 1 defeat if I’m honest, as long as the win is against Utd!

Wigan could be a corker

Back to some real football this weekend with the return of the Premiership and the arrival of Wigan at White Hart Lane. It’s just a shame we have to wait till Sunday! I’ll be at the O2 for the tennis unfortunately, but I’m hopeful of arriving home to a positive result and lots of goals.

It’s another one of those games that on paper, you’d fully expect Tottenham to win. Wigan are a good side who try and play the right way, but I’d imagine that will play into our hands. The home games where Spurs have struggled have generally been against teams that keep it tight. Allow our players space and time at the Lane and they will deliver.

The League table makes for interesting reading at the moment. I feel like we have been on a bad run of results of late but we still sit in 4th. If you’d have told me that after 12 games we would be just 3pts behind Man Utd, I would have been more than happy. Just as long as you hadn’t told me how well Arsenal would be playing!

Admittedly, Villa, Man City and Liverpool are all snapping at our heels but there is 5pts between us and the side that lie in 8th place, Sunderland. With Liverpool and Man City facing each other and Villa having to go to the fortress at Burnley, a win against Wigan will likely give us a bit of breathing space.

I’m going for an exciting encounter with lots of goals. I’ll plump for 4-2 Spurs with a Titus Bramble brace, one goal for each side.

Slippery Stoke

As I do with most home games against any teams outside the top few teams in the Premier League, I’d expect victory for Spurs against Stoke. Tony Pulis has done wonders firstly to get his club into the league and secondly, turning them into a formidable top flight side.

While Stoke are renowned for their home form, they have also been a lot more solid on the road this season than they were last. Other than the 4-0 drubbing at Liverpool in their first away outing of the season, Stoke have managed to three draws and a win from their four away fixtures since.

It seems like Pulis has decided to take a negative approach to away games and who can blame him? With the winning habit they have at home, just a few points on the road will ensure Stoke’s Premier League survival sooner rather than later.

The problem with taking this approach at the Lane is Spurs ability to score freely. We always come out the blocks with all guns blazing at home and an early goal completely ruins a lock down game plan for the opposition. The longer the game goes without a Tottenham goal, the better for Stoke. They are always dangerous of nicking something from set pieces and we will need to be solid defensively.

This is a key game for Spurs prior to the Arsenal next weekend and for me it’s the sort of game that suits us. I’d fancy a 3-0 or 3-1 score line that can keep us up with the pace at the top of the table and ensure that confidence is high before going to the Emirates.

What can we realistically achieve this season?

After seven games, things all look very rosy. I certainly would have taken 15pts and 4th place in the table at this stage if you had asked me at the start of the season. We can’t stop scoring and our only defeats have been to arguably the best two sides in the country. We are certainly improving and very much going the right way under Harry but for me there are still five teams in the league that are better than us and I don’t see what we can do about that.

It isn’t a term I like to use because it annoys me when pundits keeping banging on about it, but the fact is I don’t think we can break into the top four this season or any season in the foreseeable future for that matter. It’s probably too early to be making judgements like that especially when we are playing so well but if you look at the teams that are likely to fill the places this season, they just have too much about them.

Man City are nowhere near the finished article, but are already playing as well as anyone in the Premiership. They are only going to get better and I’ll be shocked if they don’t break into the top five this season, third or forth place would not surprise me either. Obviously, Man Utd and Chelsea aren’t going to finish outside the first three positions so our only chance is to displace two of Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City.

While Spurs don’t have the distraction of European football and can concentration on the Premier League, we will still fall just short. The defeats against Chelsea and Man Utd have shown our players don’t quite yet have the mental toughness I thought they did. To concede three goals in both games is a sign of a slight lack of belief rather than ability. I know we have been brushing lesser teams aside with ease but I worry we won’t pick up enough points against teams like Everton, Villa and even Sunderland.

Sixth spot and a cup semi final would be a good season as far as I’m concerned and that is more or less what I think we will end up with. Whether Harry can unearth enough in the transfer market to improve Tottenham past these achievements in future seasons is unlikely. Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea are untouchable and while I’d like to think Arsenal and Liverpool are on the downgrade, form so far this season suggests they aren’t.

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.

The Fear Factor

Tottenham are probably better equipped to beat Manchester United tomorrow than they have been at any point in the last ten years. I have no doubt Spurs are more than capable of beating Utd at White Hart Lane on Saturday and I think they just might.

Personnel aside, the difference between the current Tottenham squad and those of years gone by is belief. This current crop of players actually believe they can beat anyone. We may have had our ups and downs over the last few years, and some players have come and gone and come again, but the fear that used to mean we could never get anywhere against the top four clubs in the country has now gone.

On current form, Spurs should be the favourites going into this game. Based on history and reputation they are not, but if you look at the actual results and analyse the performances on the pitch so far this season, Spurs have outperformed Utd. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing Man U off and it’s asking a lot for Spurs to continue the 100% record against the current Premier League Champions, but as far as I’m concerned, there is a very good chance of us doing just that.

The two games this season that have really stood out for me have been the first and the last. Think back to when Liverpool were awarded their penalty. The Tottenham sides of years gone by would have fallen apart at that point and very likely lost the match. The current side didn’t panic, took the game by the scruff of the neck and got another goal to ensure the three points.

A similar story could have unfolded against Birmingham. A goal around the 75min mark for the visitors would often have seen past Spurs sides get nervy and concede a scrappy late goal to lose the game. Instead, we kept going and found a winner. While you can say it wasn’t a great performance, in my eyes it was. The difference between the top four Premier League sides and us in the past has been our inability to win games that we might not have dominated or even deserved to win on the balance of play. We now seem to have overcome this failure.

Under Harry, Tottenham play with a new confidence and the fear factor that has been holding us back for so long appears to have almost disappeared completely. Obviously the quality players he’s added to the squad have helped, but the mental aspect of the game is just as important. Win, lose or draw tomorrow, I’m just happy in the knowledge that the players on the pitch believe they can do it.

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