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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.

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!

Where do we go from here?

Does anyone else feel like Tottenham are stuck in limbo? Probably too good for the Europa League, not quite good enough for the Champions League. A situation that it appears impossible to free ourselves from. I’m not interested in the riches of Manchester City or Chelsea. I feel like any achievements they make mean very little as there are no real obstacles in either side’s way other than the impatience of their respective owners. It must be boring supporting sides with an unlimited budget. Or is it more boring being stuck in the Europa League for the foreseeable future?! I’m not sure.

Bring back the UEFA and Cup Winners Cups please. Straight up knockout competitions where teams play at their best rather than continual life sapping trips to Eastern Europe on a Thursday night. I realise there is a fair bit of revenue involved but I’m willing to do a fun run or a few boot sales to make up the shortfall. The majority of football fans whose teams aren’t involved in the Europa League have zero interest in it. For those whose teams are, it’s minimal at best until the latter stages.

I’m assuming Harry is going to treat the Premier League as our priority and the Europa League as a run out for players not seeing regular first team action. At least that’s what I’m hoping. Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham. They are the top six clubs in the country fighting for just four elite places. My problem is I now think that Liverpool are more likely than Tottenham to oust one of those first four mentioned. Is that the pessimist in me or the realist? I was surprised when we went to Anfield and turned them over at the end of the season, especially when the Pool had been in such good form. It could likely be my pessimistic outlook that garners these types of results for us so I should probably try and maintain it.

I suppose the forthcoming season was always going to be a little anti climactic following the euphoria of a Champions League campaign. I’m just not looking forward to it. More about hanging on to our stars than buying new ones coupled with the prospect of losing Harry Redknapp to England at the end of it. Am I missing some light at the end of this dark rather boring tunnel?!

Is our season over?

Five points behind Chelsea, six off Man City. We haven’t scored in our last three games, haven’t won in five. Since the 16th January, our strikers have only scored six goals between them. Worst of all, Tottenham are highly unlikely to be playing Champions League football next season. A heavy defeat in the Bernabeu on Tuesday night would really finish us off. Even the biggest optimist would struggle to see us winning the Champions League and I’m worried whether the players will have the motivation as well as the threat in front of goal to go to Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool and get results.

Admittedly, we have three home games coming up in the League against Stoke, Arsenal and West Brom. Maybe things will look very different after that, but the fact we couldn’t manage to beat any of the bottom three sides in our last three games doesn’t exactly inspire me with confidence.

Tottenham’s destiny is most certainly still in their own hands. On top of the games at the Lane, Spurs also have to go to Chelsea and Man City. Having dropped so many points in recent weeks, the likely scenario now is that we go into those games desperate for a result. Had we managed to beat a couple of the relegation candidates, the pressure would have been on Chelsea and City to win their home games.

There have been a number of stages this season where we have dropped off the pace a little and I’ve been worried we would struggle to get back in the hunt for a top four spot, but every time the lads have managed to get back involved. I certainly wouldn’t be having a bet on Spurs at the moment and I just don’t like the look of the little gap that’s developing or the fact Man City scored the same number of goals in one game as Spurs have managed in their last six…

Players Please

Tottenham TransfersSo where are these summer signings then?! I expected Tottenham to be very active in the transfer market by now but it just hasn’t happened. It sounds like Harry expected to get Joe Cole but I still thought we’d have three or four new squad members by now. Our boss was quoted in the press today talking about Man City’s resources, claiming fans would not care if ‘Saddam Hussein’ owned their club so long as he was pumping ridiculous amounts of money into it.

City’s spending power is incredible and eventually, I’m sure they will manage to buy the Premier League title and possible even the Champions League, but I believe we still have another season or two before the Abu Dhabi United Group complete their mission! Although it must be exciting times for City fans, I’d imagine it must also be a little tedious being able to basically go out and get anyone. As a fan you want success, but just buying it in that way makes very little appeal to me personally. If Spurs paid the type of transfer fee and wages that are being quoted for James Milner, I’d feel more than a little sick!

‘There’s still value in the transfer market, but you’ve got to be a genius. You’ve got to go and find somebody, but top players, they want top wages. That’s your problem.’

While Redknapp does have a point with regard to the transfer market being a tougher place to unearth bargains than it has been in years gone by, it’s not impossible. If anyone can come up with a couple of gems for fair money, it’s Harry. I think wages are an issue but there is a balance you have to find where that issue is concerned. The club have that balance about right at
the moment.

It just doesn’t feel normal being a Spurs fan this Summer. Champions League football and not being linked with every player under the sun while buying and selling lots of others. Maybe this is the new Tottenham, a more settled and stable one hopefully. That being said, two or three new faces before we kick off our campaign proper would be very welcome.

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…

What a day to be a Spurs fan

After our disappointing FA Cup Semi Final exit at the hands of Portsmouth, I don’t think anyone could have predicted that Tottenham would bounce back in such dramatic fashion. With our run of fixtures, I honestly thought a top 4 finish was very unlikely, but after two incredible victories, Spurs are now favourites to take the last Champions League spot.

Being the pessimist that I am, I’m still expecting something to go wrong somewhere! Obviously the big one looks to be on May 5th at the City of Manchester Stadium but I think Bolton at home in two Saturday’s time could be key. The best I can see us getting at Old Trafford this weekend is a draw, and even that is unlikely. Man City go to Arsenal for Saturday’s late kick off in a match where we need a favour from the Gunners. I know a number of their supporters would rather lose than help Spurs out, but Wenger will be seething after losing to both Tottenham and especially Wigan, and will expect a serious reaction from his players.

All credit to Harry Redknapp. While opposition supporters continue to knock our gaffer, their can be no denying his ability as a manager. We are now just a point away from our best ever Premier League total and it is no small coincidence that Redknapp achieved the same feat with both West Ham and Portsmouth. Maybe he owed Pompey one and maybe we were never destined to reach this year’s FA Cup Final. However, maybe we are destined to upset the Liverpool’s and Man City’s of the world instead.

If we are going to finally achieve reach the Holy Grail of Europe’s elite competition, I don’t think we will ever get a better opportunity than we have now. Man City are likely to be even better next season, improve year on year and keep spending year on year until they find success. I also can’t see Liverpool’s decline continuing beyond next season. This is our chance, the majority of our squad are ready for the next step and they way they have performed this week tell me they could cope with the top teams from around the globe.

The way we knocked the ball around and completely dominated Chelsea was a pleasure to watch. If we can take that new found confidence into the game against Manchester Utd, who knows what might happen.

Is the honeymoon period officially over?

Harry can’t do a lot wrong as far as most Spurs supporters I speak to are concerned. He’s improved the squad, team morale and our league position massively since he took over. Almost 14 months ago, Tottenham looked doomed. Since then, Redknapp has been considered a hero amongst the Spurs faithful. Saturday was the first time I’ve heard more than a handful of people questioning his credentials.

The defeat to Stoke was one of those days, getting turned over by a second string Utd in the Cup was a shame, dropping two points at Everton from a strong position was very disappointing but losing at home to Wolves is unacceptable. It’s no going putting nine past Wigan if we can’t break down teams like Wolves and Stoke. On a more positive note, it was nice to see Modric back and hopefully he’ll be back in the starting line up before too long.

Wednesday’s match against City now takes on extra significance. I think a draw is the most likely outcome but we really can’t afford to lose another home game. Slightly worrying is the fact I’m sure it was a Wednesday night I was sitting with my Granddad watching a Tottenham v Man City game where Tottenham were 3-0 up at half time but still lost. Anybody remember that one?!

For me, the top four dream is looking less and less likely as the season goes on. I know we are still in touch but can you imagine us going to Old Trafford and winning 1-0 like Villa did? I can’t see it happening anytime soon personally. I don’t want to sound too downbeat because I’m quite happy with a top 6 finish which I think is our realistic target this season. We don’t yet have the mental toughness to match the big sides in the Premiership and until we do, a Champions League place will have to wait.

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.