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Can Spurs Become True Title Contenders On Saturday?

Can Spurs Become True Title Contenders On Saturday?

I saw a stat on Twitter earlier which I quickly passed on to my WhatsApp group, which is full of Gooners, Chelsea and Millwall fans. Basically, they all hate Spurs.

@BBCSport: Spurs have conceded the fewest of any team in Europe’s top five leagues so far this season.

I was quickly shot down, ‘You’ve played Cardiff and Palace and a load of teams with made up names that aren’t even proper football clubs in the Europa League.’

While that all may be true, Tottenham have started the season in impression fashion. The defeat at Arsenal, a game which arguably came too soon for this new group of players, is the only blip on Spurs record thus far this campaign. With Arsenal sitting top of the table, it doesn’t seem like such a terrible loss, albeit a painful blow for any Spurs fan to take.

So this Saturday at 12:45pm we kick off against Chelsea. This is the first time that I can remember the top online bookmakers putting Spurs in as favourites for a match against the Blues. Tottenham have a woeful overall record against Chelsea in the last couple of decades but, things have certainly improved in recent times with the home side having lost just five of the last fourteen encounters.

Although Chelsea returned to winning ways against Fulham last time, they aren’t exactly on fire. Jose Mourinho’s men have scored just six goals in their opening five matches which is their joint-lowest return at this stage during the last eighteen years. Admittedly, they are only two points off Tottenham and Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table and a win at White Hart Lane would see them reach the helm at least temporarily.

This could be one of the defining games of Tottenham’s season and Andre Villas-Boas career as a manager. No matter what he is telling the media in the run up to this game, victory over Mourinho and his former club Chelsea would mean everything to him. Spurs have had a number of false dawns before but this is for me the best squad of players we have had since the Premier League began. Whatever the result, I just hope the players go out there with no fear and play with the freedom, passion and ruthlessness they have shown in recent weeks.

Can it still be done?!

Can it still be done?!

One of the worst feelings in football is having to rely on another team doing you a favour in a game you’re not involved in. That’s exactly what we need from Newcastle this weekend as our nervous battle for a Champions League place reaches its conclusion. Tottenham have what is arguably the easier fixture on paper as they face Sunderland at White Hart Lane, while bitter rivals Arsenal travel to the Sports Direct Arena to take on Newcastle. Should both London sides manage to secure three points in their respective games, it will be Arsenal and not Tottenham competing in the 2013/14 Champions League.

The bookmakers have Spurs as the strong 3/10 favourites for their match against Sunderland. Arsenal are put in at a best price of 4/7. If you’re having a bet this weekend, you can check out available odds at Topbet.eu. Everything points to both of the Champions League hopefuls getting the job done against their Northern opponents, with both Sunderland and Newcastle having nothing to play for after they managed to avoid the dreaded relegation zone. Arsenal are long odds on favourites to take this season’s final Champions League spot and only the brave will be backing Spurs as things stand.

Following the unfair way in which Tottenham Hotspur missed out on Europe’s elite competition last season, it would be awful for Andre Villas-Boas side if they one against end up in the Europa League. The financial implications are one thing, Gareth Bale moving on is another and possibly most important of all, Spurs qualifying would mean Arsenal do not! In a way, Tottenham only have themselves to blame. A top four finish looked to be in the bag following the excellent 2-1 victory over the Gunners back in March, but poor results since, particularly at home, mean that Arsenal fans are more the more likely to be bragging come Sunday evening. I’ll live in hope until just before 6pm that day, but confident I am not.

Have the PFA Awards Sealed Gareth Bale’s Exit?

Have the PFA Awards Sealed Gareth Bale’s Exit?

Gareth Bale achieved an amazing PFA double last night when landing both the Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards. He becomes only the third player to win both accolades in the same season, and the first since Christiano Ronaldo in 2007. With Spurs’ chances of playing Champions League football next season still hanging in the balance, will the Welsh wonder now be on his way out of White Hart Lane?

Not since Ronaldo at Manchester United has the Premier League seen a player with such impact and who can turn games so quickly, something I’m sure In play betting punters will have benefited from this season. I’ve lost count of the number of games that Bale has rescued for Tottenham during this campaign and to lose a player of this calibre could really hurt the progress of the club for years to come.

Real Madrid are being touted as the favourites to land Gareth Bale’s signature, with the bookies installing the Spanish giants at odds of 6/4. Madrid have endured a tough season, lying a long way behind Barcelona in the race for the title and looking likely to exit the Champions League at the semi final stage. A marquee signing the quality of Bale would go a long way to appeasing the disgruntled fans and he’d definitely be a great addition to their squad.

Daniel Levy isn’t likely to let his prize asset leave on the cheap as his previous negotiations with player sales demonstrate. Transfer fees around the £100m mark have been mentioned and any offer around that kind of figure would definitely be hard to refuse. I’m obviously still hopefully Andre Villas-Boas men can win their remaining fixtures and secure a top four finish but I still don’t believe that will guarantee that Bale will begin next season in a Tottenham shirt.

Not the Spurs of Old

Not the Spurs of Old

I thought that was going to be the most painful result of the season thus far. To hammer the league leaders like that and come away with nothing from the game would have been extremely hard to take. While the first half was a bit more even, Spurs absolutely dominated Sir Alex Ferguson’s men in the second and although it looked as if it would be another setback for Tottenham in their bid to become one of the established big four, that turned out not to be the case.

Admittedly, Manchester United have been leaking goals this season. I doubt that their approach to games is ‘if you score three, we’ll get four’ but that seems to be the way a number of their matches are working out. This was not the case at White Hart Lane yesterday. Their game plan was undoubtedly to nullify Tottenham’s biggest threats keeping the ball and squeezing the midfield when losing possession. This worked up to a point early in the game and Robin Van Persie’s goal was textbook but those eleven players could not stop Tottenham from having the bulk of the game.

The introduction of Tom Huddlestone reminded me of the online Super Bowl XLVII betting I’d been looking at earlier in the day rather than make me think he’d be a game changer for us. For anyone interested in the upcoming NFL showpiece on 3rd February, you can get plenty of Superbowl 2013 information online. While the injury to Sandro is very disappointing, it was fantastic to see Scott Parker back in the fold and I don’t think you could ask for a much better replacement.

Two tough away fixtures await Andre Villas Boas men in the coming weeks but going on this performance, we should approach those matches in a positive frame of mind and continue the push for Champions League football next season. In seasons gone by, I’d never expect Tottenham to have enough about them to come back from 1-0 down against Utd, but I genuinely believe things are changing and the best is yet to come from this young side.

Ferry Cross the Mersey

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.

Tottenham v Aston Villa Preview

Tottenham v Aston Villa Preview

Tottenham go into this home encounter against Aston Villa off the back of a slightly disappointing result in Greece against Panathinaikos. Their second Europa League game of the season ended all square at 1-1, but Spurs had taken the lead thanks to a headed goal from the returning Michael Dawson. The Premiership odds for the Villa clash sees Tottenham installed as the red hot 4/9 favourites with Paddy Power. The Irish bookmaker have Aston Villa at the 13/2 mark, while the draw is 10/3.

Striker Emmanuel Adebayor could well make his return to the Tottenham side after recovering from injury. Andre Villas Boas was rumoured to prefer other attacking options but it looks as though injury has curtailed Adebayor’s chances under the new manager thus far.

Aston Villa did manage to beat reining Premier League champions Manchester City in the Capital One Cup recently, but they were unable to see off West Brom at home in the league last time. They have a return of five points from their six games played and their away form in the league doesn’t particularly inspire confidence, the 4-1 defeat at Southampton a case in point.

While it will be difficult following the euphoria of victory at Old Trafford, I fancy Spurs to take all three points. However, it definitely won’t be a walkover against Paul Lambert’s well organised side who seem to be improving under his management. A 2-1 scoreline would be the most likely outcome for me, see the Spurs betting page for full odds on this game.

Teams:

Tottenham (from): Lloris, Friedel, Gomes, Cudicini, Smith, Gallas, Dawson, Walker, Vertonghen, Caulker, Falque, Huddlestone, Mason, Bale, Lennon, Sandro, Dembele, Dempsey, Sigurdsson, Carroll, Townsend, Defoe, Adebayor, Obika.

Aston Villa (from): Guzan, Given, Lowton, Bennett, Lichaj, Clark, Vlaar, Baker, Herd, El Ahmadi, Westwood, Bannan, Delph, Holman, N’Zogbia, Bent, Agbonlahor, Benteke, Bowery, Weimann, Burke, Johnson, Williams.