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Where do we go from here?

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?!

Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

I was hopeful Spurs would managed at least a win and a draw from our three away games on the spin but as it turns out, I’m reasonably satisfied with two more league points. The only disappointing part is we should have got all six!

As much time as I have for Everton, our class should have been enough to win yesterday’s game. They were missing a number of players and also had to travel abroad during the week. While it was a very entertaining encounter, we had numerous chances and far to much quality for a second string Everton side.

To be two goals to the good with only twelve minutes to go in the game and not win is simply not good enough. All credit to Everton for a battling performance but we cannot afford to drop points like that if we are to have even a remote chance of a top four finish.

I wasn’t too bothered about our Carling Cup exit. Although a victory over Man Utd at Old Trafford would have been great, Spurs have been there, done that as far as the trophy is concerned. I’m not saying we are better than the competition, but a place in the Champions League would mean so much more both from a reputation as well as a financial point of view. Most of the top teams use the League Cup as an opportunity to give their reserve and youth players some first team action. Maybe Tottenham should be doing the same now.

Not getting beat after going to both Villa and Goodison Park should make Spurs fans very happy, outplaying both sides and not winning either game will not.

I hope Wigan bounce back

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

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.

What can we realistically achieve this season?

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.

Injury Crisis or Opportunity?

Injury Crisis or Opportunity?

It seems like we are reverting back to the Spurs of a few years ago with awful luck where players getting injured is concerned. After losing Bassong and Ledley on Sunday, our defence is literally in pieces. Woodgate has no imminent return date and although Dawson isn’t too far away now, him leading the line is something I don’t want to think about.

There is no doubt about it, Tottenham are left without a commanding presence at the back with the current defensive injury list. There is no real centre half that is fit for that matter other than the vastly inexperienced Dorian Dervite. Corluka and or Hutton are able to play in the middle but it isn’t their preferred position. We do have options at full back but again there is nobody I would call dominant or a leader.

The only plus point is the fact this has happened prior to a run of somewhat easy games. I realise no games in the Premier League are easy, but if you have to blood some youngsters, I’d prefer to do it against Preston and Burnley rather than Man Utd and Chelsea. Hopefully Dawson, King and Bassong will all be back by the time we go to Bolton a week on Saturday. Kevin Davies will have a field day against a Spurs defence full of inexperience and players out of position.

I’m am holding out in the hope Alan Hutton will come into his own now he’s put some of his problems behind him. He settled with the agent that has been giving him grief since his move to Spurs this week and he has had a fair bit of time to get back to full fitness after his long term injury. Hutton has never really played to his full potential since he arrived at Tottenham. Admittedly, some of that has been down to injury but there has also been personal issues holding him back. Now is really his chance to show what he can do and win a regular first team place in Harry’s side.

Disappointed but not despondent

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

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!

I love beating West Ham

I love beating West Ham

I really do. Not all their fans are arseholes but from a lot of the stuff they came on here with last season, a large proportion are. I do have a lot of time for Zola and Clarke though and it must have been a tough game mentally for their players after the tragic Calum Davenport incident.

It wasn’t an impressive Tottenham performance as it was in our first two games of the season, but it was impressive if you are impressed by Spurs grinding out results, something we haven’t been able to do in seasons past. It’s also nice to see Aaron Lennon’s finishing improving. If he can just try and look up a little more before crossing and playing final balls he’d be priceless. He isn’t far off it now.

It will be interesting to see who starts against Doncaster in the Carling Cup 2nd Round match but you’d imagine most if not all the players that have been on the bench recently will be in the starting line up. It is a difficult one because I don’t think it’s a game you can take lightly but those players wanting to impress will likely make up for any lack of match sharpness.

I’m taking nothing for granted against Birmingham but it’s a game you’d expect us to win at home 9 times out of 10. Another victory would give us huge confidence going into the Man Utd game on the 12th September, followed by Chelsea away the following Sunday, the game that is obviously the bigger test. Ok, Utd will be no picnic but there is no reason to fear any team at the Lane these days. Going to the Bridge does get me a little scared!

Arsenal officially finished, let’s make a day of it

Arsenal officially finished, let’s make a day of it

St Tottering Day is a popular event for the Arsenal fans. It’s a day they celebrate when it becomes mathematically impossible for Tottenham to finish above them in the league.

I watched Chelsea take Arsenal apart yesterday and was seriously shocked to see the once mighty Gunners destroyed at the Emirates. They claimed they were unlucky against Man Utd last week but I think yesterday’s result well and truly confirmed that Arsenal are well and truly finished. Any team that ships seven goals at home in two games are in serious trouble. Spurs let in a grand total of zero against the same sides at the Lane this year.

Wenger took them to great heights but is no taking them downhill at an alarming rate through his stubbornness and outdated methods. When Harry Redknapp was going to play Hossam Ghaly and the fans reacted badly he took their opinions on board. If Wenger was in the same position, he would definitely not have reacted the same way. It’s that part of his personality that is making Arsenal a laughing stock.

It looks to me like he’s losing the dressing room. Robin Van Persie, a player who I thought would be key for them this season has now caught the famous Arsenal sulk and strut. It causes players to put in ten to fifteen percent effort each game and strut around the football pitch like they are a peacock. Former victims include Thierry Henry and Emmanuel Adebayor.

To celebrate this momentous occasion I think we should have our own day. The 10th May will now be known as St Arseing Day. On this special date each year we can rejoice safe in the knowledge there will forever be that unfortunate big blank space next to Arsenal’s previous achievements displayed round the Emirates Stadium.