Lil’ Mal heading our way?

There’s a reason Barca paid £36m for Malcom. Just because he hasn’t made it in half a season, doesn’t mean he’s become a crap player. What’s not to like? He can dribble, pass and he’s got a great long-range shot on him, plus he likes to get stuck in. On top of all of that he looks like he’s got a good attitude: a bit ‘umble an all that.

Word is that he might be available on a loan, with a view to a permanent in the summer. Now I hear you shouting that we really need a top CM, all the more so now that Moussa has moved on but….but….Poch can easily slide Dele or CE a bit further back to accommodate a firecracker like this one. The only possible downside is he looks a bit Moura-ish.

Having said that, with Kaneinho out we could revert to using Nando a bit more, which would require more balls in the box. Lil’ Mal can play as AM or as a winger, so fits the bill.

I think we’ll be bringing in at least one reinforcement this January. I know you all have your favourites, but who do you actually think it WILL be?

So, what is the answer to life, the universe, and everything Hotspurs?

 

I posted previously that I, as have others would not object to seeing either Tripps or Davies, or even both being replaced, and as controversial as it sounds, even Rose. My mad ramblings was initially going to be a more considered response to my previous thoughts about our fullback situation, and as such was intended to be just another comment on the last bloeug.

Not anymore. Mwahaha…

We have a very good team who on their day can beat anyone, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. We are now regularly competing at the highest level, and in doing so our expectation as fans has been raised accordingly. The majority of our squad has been together for several years now, and in that time they have provided great memories and taken us on a journey that I doubt any of us were expecting. In my opinion (the only one that counts..) the team needs freshening up, I understand the argument that the team are settled, this is very true but, it is possible to be too settled as well. New signings should not be viewed by the players as a negative, resulting in their positions in the team being threatened, quite the opposite, it can help foster new positive challenges for the squad, and something I believe our players would actually welcome. For me the challenge our club now faces is a difficult but not insurmountable one. Considering the level we are now competing at, does the squad really need a host of ‘very good’ players or is it time to focused our efforts on trying to sign one or two exceptional players.

So then, back to that old chestnut, our fullbacks: I’m not entirely sold on the virtues of Davies or Trippier, not because of the utd result (other results are available), on any other day we would have won that game by a considerable margin. Neither are blessed with pace which doesn’t help when playing a high line, Davies is the better defender, but offensively his contribution is negligible, Trippier on the other hand is better offensively (to a point), but is often found wanting when it comes to his defensive duties. The fullback positions in modern football are now more important than ever to how teams aim to create space and chances in the attacking third, ideally you would hope to have players proficient in both roles i.e. attack and defence, do Tripps and Davies tick those boxes? No not for me. These though are the fine margins we now have to consider, given the quality of the team as a whole.

Another vital position we are about to have a vacancy for is deep midfield. We are about to lose Dembele (sadly) who under Poch has been an exceptional player for us, I know some think he could have done better i.e. scoring goals but, his role in the team has been to act as the conduit between defence and attack. Dembele provided defensive cover when needed, and also a platform which allowed us to initiate our attack from a deep midfield position, that he has done over the years with aplomb. So where do we (the club) look next to fill that void, a very good player, or an exceptional player? For me it would be the latter, partly because it’s a vital position within the team, it also shows the players, the fans, and also other potential future signings that we really do have ambitions to compete at the highest level and win silverware. I appreciate we are not as wealthy as the other clubs we compete with, and I am not advocating a wholesale change in the clubs transfer policy to spend as they do, rather, I see it as a case of less is more, why buy 3 good players when one exceptional player may be all we need.

I may use the term ‘exceptional player’ but I’m not daft enough (yet) to think we can sign who ever we want, that is simply not the case. I do however believe we can and should be able to attract the best young talent, especially when we consider what we have in our favour, we compete at the highest level, have one of the best managers around, and who’s reputation is based partly on giving young players a chance. I am aware that we have to be mindful of certain constraints such as the quota on foreign players, and yes we have a very good academy (which I think is great), but if the chance arises to sign the odd exceptional foreign player, then I say go ferret,

So does the idea of signing top young talent really stack up when we have a giant Lilywhite elephant to pay for? With the cost of the new stadium it goes without saying the club is going to have to be financially prudent, spending vast sums of money on players is not an option, but as far as I can ascertain it is not the ‘financial’ the millstone around the clubs neck that everyone purports it to be. As it stands the debt is I believe currently around £550m, with an interest rate on that debt at 2.5 – 3%, so that equates to about half an hour with FoF on a Friday night, or roughly £15-20m per annum. I do not believe this figure is prohibitive to the club signing players, definitely not, but what will be a key factor in how the club moves forward financially, is that it will need to remain financially healthy for the next 5 years in order to be in a favourable position to refinance the debt at that point. Do I think these financial constraints should hold us back? No. The money available nowadays compared to when Arsenal built their little oddity are vastly different. What we have to do is box clever, cleverer than all the rest, and that is something I’m absolutely sure we can do.

The End.

Other notable publications by this author include:                                                         Five go mad in Broadmoor

 

Spurs, Salford and ABU

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They say you should always support your home town team. I do, and it’s Salford Red Devils, the local  professional rugby league team.

However, when it comes to supporting my local football team, I decided to take a road less-travelled for northerners and began supporting the mighty Spurs instead of Manchester United, who were situated no more than three miles down the road from where I was born and raised.

As an 8-year old in the pre-mass sports media age, I admit to having no knowledge of any other football team than Man Utd before the FA Cup 4th round results were read out on the radio one Saturday tea-time in February 1967. Utd were beaten surprisingly 2-1 at home by second division Norwich City that day and I now needed a new team to follow for the rest of the cup competition.

My dad suggested Tottenham Hotspur to me, apparently for no other reason than he’d been impressed by a certain Alf Ramsey, who he’d seen playing fullback for Spurs at Bolton Wanderers some years earlier.  By the time Spurs beat Chelsea 2-1 a few months later in the ‘67 Cup Final, I was a committed fan who spent hour upon hour scribbling the cockerel and ball logo on any available scrap paper or notebook, in the same way that I later tried perfecting my signature for my very first  cheque book.

My interest in football generally, and Spurs in particular, began when  there was no such thing as Sky Sports, social media, bloeugs, or even regular TV football for that matter! Consequently, I rarely saw Spurs on the telly and only got to read match reports when they played local teams. Things were so bad  I was often found scouring the ‘Manchester Football Pink’ on Saturday evenings for any random reference to my beloved club in obscure sections of the paper, such as readers’ questions, etc.

My actual first live football game was Manchester United versus Manchester City at Old Trafford in 1969. I remember City won 1-0, but my abiding memory is of standing next to some City fans who were discussing beating Spurs in the Cup Q/Final the previous weekend. As a Spurs-starved youngster, I hung on every word they had to say about the match and, more importantly, what they had to say about my team!

I can’t quite recall the first time I saw Spurs play, although it would have been at Old Trafford, and most probably we would have lost. I know for a fact, however, I was sitting in the Stretford End seats when George Best produced that sublime chip over Pat Jennings – in my direct line of vision – to record yet another win against us back in ‘71. For anyone not old enough to remember seeing it live, or on the Match of the Day opening sequences over the years, it can be viewed still on YouTube.

I do have vivid memories of my very first game at White Lane, which came in 1972, and once again involved my personal nemesis, Manchester United.

An older family friend booked us on the Inter-City Football Special, an innovative way of entertaining football fans going on big away games in the early ‘70s. In reality, it comprised no more than a cattle-truck added to the normal rolling stock, which meant that the travelling hooligans could enjoy drinking beer while being thrown about a designer-graffitied wagon with every twist and turn of the track, and every braking motion of the train. Great fun for some, I guess, but where on earth was the elf-n-safety??

The official pre-match entertainment was either forgettable or non-existent, but us Park Laners had a great laugh when a tall, gangly Utd fan dressed in denim jacket, half-mast denim jeans and obligatory bovver boots escaped from the Paxton Road and ran full-pelt towards our end. There was no way he could have got at us owing to the metal fence between us and the pitch, so instead he dived full-length, feet-first into the line of police waiting to apprehend him. How we all laughed. I bet the police had the last laugh, too, when they got him under the stand out of our view.

The match ended 1-1, with George Graham scoring for Utd and Martin Peters for us.

We bought fish and chips in a chippy in a small parade of shops near the ground after the game, and nearly missed the coach back to Euston station. I’ve often wondered where exactly the chippy was situated and I wonder if any of you guys can suggest where it might be. I very much doubt it was on the High Road, so maybe it was down a nearby side street.

As a teenager, my dad bought season tickets for my older brother and I at – yes, you’ve guessed it – Old Trafford.  I was a closet ABU fan, politely applauded ‘home’ goals while secretly willing on every visiting team. I can recall only one occasion when my mask slipped and, naturally, it occurred when Spurs came to town.  How could anyone be expected to sit on their hands as Martin Peters scored 1, then 2, then 3, and then a glorious 4th in a 4-1 demolition of the home team. The fans I sat with every second Saturday must have thought I’d taken leave of my senses, but I just couldn’t help myself.

My worst Man Utd related experience occurred on my younger brother’s stag day at Haydock races in 2001. As his best man, I was in charge of 27 Utd (and 1 City) fans on a day we were playing them at WHL.  As many of you will know, it started really well as we took a deserved 3-0 half-time lead. The 5 goal collapse in the second half turned the afternoon away from a focus on the horses to how can the life of the only available spurs fan be made as miserable as possible. To great cheers and merriment, the number of our hired corporation bus was changed to read ‘35’ for the return journey to Salford, and the misery continued well into the evening when even more Utd fans joined the stag party at a local pub. As a rabid Utd fan himself, my brother was more than happy to find more people seeking to speak to me rather than him at his special event!

I could go on, but I think I’ve said enough to convey how Manchester United are for me the mortal enemy, even more so than the Arse, the Chavs and the Spammers. As despicable as these London teams may be, they can never haunt me in the same way that Utd have done over the years.

Attending the 3-0 win at OT on the weekend of my 60th birthday in August provided some relief from regular family taunting, but we need another statement win on Sunday to continue putting their ‘bogey team’ status fully to bed.

In closing, they say that most people who switch football teams are nothing more than glory hunters.  Well, as all we Spurs fans know, the “Game is about Glory” and so I’m happy to admit to being guilty as charged!!

We’re Live!

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Another cup London derby, following ties against Watford, West Ham and Arsenal on the way to the semis. No easy route, for sure, though Chelsea’s hasn’t been too simple either, having beaten Liverpool, Derby and Bournemouth on the way.

What I wouldn’t give for the same performance as the last time we locked horns, from both sides. We gave them a footballing lesson at their place, quickly gaining a two goal lead via the mercurial Dele Alli and the chief One Of Our Own, before Son’s incredible run and dribble to make the lead three. If Luiz had at least made some kind of effort to not look incredibly useless in trying to stop him, it might have been considered as a goal of the season contender. Giroud got his obligatory consolation goal in the latter stages, as he always does against us. Let’s hope Luiz plays, and Giroud doesn’t.

Here’s our lot…..

Likey, likey.

COYS!!!!!!

Interesting Poch presser

https://www.skysports.com/watch/video/sports/football/11601417/pochettino-spurs-need-to-change-transfer-policy

I’m sure many of you have seen this clip by now, and doubtless the Bedwetters will be in full stream flowing a mixture of piss and vinegar at Levy and the Flat Earthers.

However, it won’t surprise you that there was one comment which I heard as being as strong as indication of Poch’s long-term commitment to the Club and his ‘project’ as one could possibly want:

“At the moment it’s fantastic, so far so good, but we’ll see if it’s enough to challenge and be consistent in the next five years operating this way, if we’re capable to fight with the big sides in the same way that we’ve fought in the last four or five years.”

There’s a lot more in this presser and some heartening stuff. It’s all here:

https://www.football.london/tottenham-hotspur-fc/fixtures-results/spurs-press-conference-live-mauricio-15639573

In short, he’s going nowhere.

The magic of the FA Cup under the lights

Plenty say that much of the gloss has been scuffed off the oldest football competition in the world, and it’s easy to understand why…but for the old romantics amongst us, there’s nothing quite like an FA Cup tie against lower league opposition to get the blood racing. Pitches like ploughed fields. Blood and thunder tackles. Players smeared head to toe in mud. Facials, massages and colonics.

In the absence of Dan-O giving us the lowdown of our encounters with mere Tranny Rovers, I’ll just say that this looks like a strongish side, with a weighty bench to boot.

Poch ain’t throwing this one, like he has all the previous competitions we’ve played in. No, Sireee. We’re in it to win it.

COYS!

Title Decider

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As we approach one of *the most important encounters in the history of mankind*, I thought it incumbent on this bloeugger to pose the important question that any sane, logical-thinking, rational human would ask:

Who is going to win this 2nd/3rd place play off decider?

Liverpool are flying high but only one defeat from a full-on Bindipper implosion the likes of which we haven’t seen since, well, the last one. Klopp is the anointed one who shall not be criticised, because he’s such fun with his quirky teutonic accent and his rock ‘n’ rolliness and his sexy gang-pushing, or whatever it translates as. Additionally, Liverpool should have won every title since 89/90 but were cruelly robbed by everyone playing, sorry “being”, against them.

Citeh are the heirs apparent: the unbeatables, populated by the untouchables, led by the unmentionable. They totally deserve the title this year, because they won it last year. There’s no way they’re going to go backwards, because Lord Pep Almighty is a genius to whom we should all generously gregariously genuflect as that is what they merit. Except they’re  wobbling. They’ve got Second Album Syndrome.

Bearing in mind the above, whatever the result we win…although a draw will do nicely, fanks very mucho.

Leeky defence or Dragon slayers?

So Wolves was another thwump of a performance, and here Spurs are back among the also-rans again: I read one pithy comment that our title-tilt this year lasted just under a week, and an article with the title Bottlenham Bottlespur. Ho, ho, ho. What festive fun.

Personally, I’ve never 100% believed we have the depth of squad to win the title this season, but I do still believe that maybe, just maybe, we can. Running out of steam against a well-organised Wolves outfit in our fourth game in eleven days doesn’t really change that for me – how we react to this set-back against Cardiff on Tuesday will be more indicative of where we might eventually end up, and, perhaps even more so, the result between City and Dippers on Thursday.

If Dippers win that, I can’t see the title being won by anyone else. I’d love it if it was, as I hate them, hate them so much, but that would take one hell of a collapse from a team yet to lose a Premier League match this season.

If City can beat them, though, and we can beat Cardiff, we’ll be seven points behind the league leaders. The last time Dippers came close to winning the Prem, in 13-14, despite leading the table at Christmas, they were down to fourth after 24 games, eight points behind table-toppers and eventual also-rans Arsenal (who like to laugh at us for being bottle-jobs and choke-merchants?). Eight games later, the Dippers were back on top of the pile, with their destiny in their own hands, so they’ve proved it themselves that a seven-point gap can be overhauled at this stage of the season, even by a team that had finished the previous season 7th and would finish the following one 6th.

Any more results like the one against Wolves, though, and we’ll be more concerned with what’s happening directly beneath us than what’s going on over our heads. Such a disappointing performance, especially after that spell either side of Kane’s goal in the first half where we could – though not should, as the chances we had were far from clear-cut – have been a couple more goals to the good. The longer the game went on, however, the more likely the Wolves comeback seemed.

Although it’s an understandable opinion, I can’t agree that this one was mainly down to our full-backs, especially given Alli, Eriksen and Son had their poorest games for us in a while, Kane was well contained other than his brilliant turn and finish for his goal, and there were poor performances going on all over the pitch the longer the game went on. Although their equaliser came from a free header at a corner, the phase of play which led to that corner being conceded began with a terrible pass from Eriksen under little pressure high up the pitch, and from the moment that header hit the back of our net I felt the game had home-loss stamped all over it: If there were any tactical substitutions Poch could have made – such as swapping out Trippier and Davies with KWP and Rose – it probably needed to have happened around the fifty-minute mark at the latest to avoid what eventually went on, but we’ve beaten better teams than Wolves in the past with Trippier and Davies playing the whole game and Poch does love to rotate his full-backs, so even hindsight makes that a hard one to call.

Maybe the real issue this game highlighted is that we don’t have a proven game-plan to move to if Eriksen is having an off-day, and we can’t expect Eriksen to perform at his best every single time he takes to the pitch.

Anyway, call me a dumb-dumb, but I’m not about to start being over-harsh on a team and a manager who have just given us an away-win at Arsenal and eleven goals scored against Everton and Bournemouth. As has also been well commented in the press, this was our first defeat to a promoted side in something like thirty matches. It had to happen at some stage. It’s just so gutting it had to happen as soon as we found ourselves sitting pretty in second, and like this.

What I haven’t seen commented on quite so much (or, if it has been, I’ve missed it) is that by this time last season we’d dropped four points at ‘home’ to Swansea and West Brom, who would go on to be relegated, and would later go on to lose at West Brom. So far this season, home and away, we’ve beaten every team we’ve faced beneath Watford in ninth. For now, then, all that matters is maintaining this stat against Cardiff, who, by their own standards, are not having the worst of times considering most pundits would have had them nailed on as already relegated by Christmas. At home they’ve managed to beat Fulham, Brighton, Wolves and Saints since we slightly rode our luck to beat them 1-0 at Wembley back on 6th October, with Leicester and United being the only teams to beat them at the Stadiwm Dinas Caerdydd since then – and they’ve just repaid Leicester for that with a one-nil away win at The King Power: As with Wolves, we should beat them if we play to our potential. As with Wolves, they’ll be more than capable of turning us over if we don’t.

As for where we were this time last season, we’d just decimated Saints 5-2 at Wembley in the twentieth round of fixtures and were on our way to Swansea for a two-nil win. In terms of less recent history, this will only be our second league visit to Cardiff’s shiny new stadium, the last one coming on 22nd September 2013 and ending with a ninetieth minute Paulinho stab home from a Lamela cross. That one-nil win left us second in the table, two points above Dippers in fifth. Less than three months later, Dippers would beat us five-nil at The Lane and AVB would be sacked.

Prior to that, due to the differences in divisions, we only ever got to play at the old Ninian Park sporadically – a nil-nil second-division draw in 77 and a one-all draw in 62 being the most recent league games there. The season before that, 11th March 1961, though, and I only have to shut my eyes to imagine Bill Nicholson strolling into the away dressing room and looking around at Brown, Mackay, Dyson, Blanchflower, White, all those other great players, and considering saying something crass and flip and Fergie-like such as ‘Lads, it’s Cardiff’ before deciding he had more class as a person and Spurs had more class as a club and giving a proper team-talk.

Spurs, of course, being Spurs, lost that one 3-2.

Where Wolf in London?

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And so we welcome Wolves to Wembley, only the fifth time the Molineux outfit have visited one of our home grounds in the Premier League era, where our White Hart Lane record against them reads won two, lost one, drawn one. Hopefully their first visit to play us at Wembley will see us chalk up our first ‘home’ win against them since 2010, with their last visit, in January 2012, ending in a 1-1 stalemate. Given they were relegated that season, it’s definitely one of the results in our history we can all shake our heads over and mutter ‘if only’: Had all else stayed the same, a victory in this fixture would have seen us finish third and Chelsea take Arsenal’s place in the following season’s CL: Who knows what sort of sliding-door moments that change in results might have led to – Redknapp staying on and building the dynasty he spoke of so eloquently (once the England job had been given to Hodgson), Modric being persuaded to stay, Hazard being persuaded to sign. Maybe, perhaps, an earlier ousting for Wenger, whose Arsenal team would again keep us out of the CL by a single point the following season.
No-one can know for sure. But, almost certainly, CL qualification that season would have seen Redknapp remain manager, so it’s maybe a thought which flashed through his mind as he was knocking back fish eye juice in the jungle last month. Or maybe his mind turned to the five-two stuffing Arsenal gave us five weeks later, the three-one home loss to United the following week, the one-all home draw against Stoke two weeks later, or the two-one home loss to Norwich in April as our lead over Arsenal was wasted away in a second half of the season run of results which also included draws away to Sunderland and Aston Villa and a two-one defeat to relegated QPR.
Mixed in amongst all this was a five-one drubbing by Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final. Even with Martin Atkinson’s eagerness to award Chelsea a goal that never was to make it two-nil early on in the second half, it’s understandable why Levy sat back at the end of that season and decided it was yet again time for a change.
And what a change those six or so years have eventually led to: Our highest three finishes of the Premier League era, three consecutive CL campaigns, consecutive participation in the knock-out phases for the first ever time, and, now, our best ever start to a Premier League season.
Even though we haven’t lifted a single trophy in any of these seasons, this is what I used to yearn for during the vast majority of the Scholar, Sugar and ENIC years: A team that was capable of playing attractive football, a team that was capable of beating anyone on its day, but, also, a team that rarely dropped points to teams it had no business dropping points to; a team where every single result begins to matter more and more as the season progresses, and not in terms of staving off relegation or battling Arsenal for fourth or in lifting the odd Carabo Cup, but in terms of maybe just maybe winning the league – a team where you could make a comment about us maybe just maybe winning the league and not feel slightly ridiculous, because, ahead of the Poch years, in my time as a match-going supporter, I’ve only really felt we were proper challengers once, in 84-85, when an early April two-one home defeat to eventual champions Everton effectively put us out of a race we would finally finish third in: Even that season, when we still had the bulk of the team that had won two FA Cups and the EUFA Cup to call on, we lost to Villa away and Arsenal and Ipswich at home around that defeat, and Watford beat us five one at The Lane the following month.
We’ve definitely had some great sides since then – my own favourite being the 86/87 one – but rarely for back-to-back seasons, and season-on-season improvements are usually because we were pap the previous year.
Not so this season, where we’re comparing our progress against our three best premier league finishes: In the two seasons we finished third, we had 34 and 35 points after nineteen games. In the season we finished second, we had 39.
So we’re presently six points better off than we were at the same stage of our best ever PL campaign, and 11 points better off than we were following games against equivalent opposition last season.
Premier league era-wise, we really have never had it so good for such a sustained period of time, and, even better – at least as far as this season’s concerned – our performances are now regularly catching the eye as much as our results, something that definitely wasn’t the case earlier on in the season.
If City have taught us one thing over the past few weeks, though, it’s that you can’t take anything for granted. Wolves might be having an inconsistent first season back in the big-time, but they’ve drawn with City and Arsenal at home, recently beaten Chelsea at Molineux, and, earlier on in the season, drawn with United away. At the tail end of November, though, in-between drawing with Arsenal and beating Chelsea, they lost at home to Huddersfield and away to Cardiff. In short, they’re having the same sort of season we used to regularly have.
Our visit to them on 3rd November was one of our more bizarre performances of the season: Wolves had a good goal wrongly chalked off before we carved out a commanding three-nil lead with a Kane goal in the 61st minute, only for some poor defensive choices leading to Foyth giving away two penalties on his full PL debut and a nervy end to the game. Our next game after that was the must-win Wembley game against PSV, which we did, and, since then, other than the PL visit to Arsenal, we’ve notched up seven straight league wins, qualified for the CL knockout stages, and put Arsenal out of the Carabo. If we play as well as we have been, how Wolves play against us shouldn’t really matter. But, treating Swansea at Wembley as the equivalent fixture last season, we drew this game nil-nil. We mustn’t take anything for granted. We must take it one game at a time. Because, right now, we’re the invisible third-horse in a two-horse title-race. One of those two teams is trying to become the first team to retain the title since Fergie’s United in 2008/09, and, arguably, is more likely to be judged on how they do in the Champions League than the Premier League. The other team is the only team in the past ten seasons to have been top at Christmas and not gone on to win the league, a trick they’ve managed to pull off twice, which, maybe, in the backs of their minds, will compound the fact they’ve reached several cup-finals under Klopp and lost each one.
As much as we have the same sort of ‘bottle-job’ tag hanging over us as the Dippers undoubtedly do, we have a settled team which has consistently performed better post-Christmas. We also have no real right to be where we are, considering the net-spend situation and the Wembley situation, which should mean our players feel less pressure. And I very much doubt we will see the sort of opposition capitulations in City’s and Liverpool’s remaining games – or opposition players coming out and openly saying they would rather either of those teams were champions over us – that we saw during the run-in with Leicester. So maybe, just maybe… but, as we all know, there have been so many maybe moments at Tottenham, and few of them have ended up well. Maybe this one will turn out the same. But, then again, maybe not, because City have shown any team can suffer a wobble. Liverpool may suffer one too.
If we can avoid a wobble against Wolves, then take things one game at a time, we’re going to be in the mix as we finally head home to The New Lane. Who would have thought that when the transfer window closed in the summer? Or in the vast majority of the last thirty-odd years? But, then, way back in 2011/12, when we found ourselves third behind the two Manchester clubs on forty-two points following nineteen games – and six points clear of Arsenal in fifth – who would have thought the season would end with a P45 for poor Harry? Poch, mate. Best watch your step.

This is no time for deck chairs on the beach.

 

Todays game is as important as any other (maybe more so), we’ll need to be on our game to ensure we get the result we all want, 3 luverly points!

I would love Bournemouth indoors to be another demolition job, we could very well do so but, this season those plucky seasiders haven’t been all that bad at all. They may not have had the best of times in recent games but Eddie Howe has done a decent job so far this season.

Provided we’re not hungover and bloated from our toffee turkey feast t’other day, we should have more than enough to get the job done. We all know the big games are important, but it’s a run of games like we have ahead of us where we need to show our credentials and stamp our authority on the opposition, put pressure on the teams above us, and take away any hope of catching us for the teams below.

COYS!!!!

Let it flow let it flow let it flow …

This just in from someone:
I mean really is there anything better than watching your team jiving with the ball, in sync with the footie Gods?
The 6th goal epitomized the best of us without a sniff from the opposition in a glorious paradigm of our talent Kane on the end if a total team effort
I wouldn’t call it a shaky start but it wasn’t the best as we gave the werthers some opportunities to hurt us but it wasn’t long before we took control. We werthered the 30 second storm though and then took off….
Sissoko moving the ball out of defence with his usual power and into the final third was always good and seeing so many of his quality teammates buzzing around looking for the ball was exciting as you knew most were on especially as the game moved along.
Son looked right on, Dele in control, Eriksen, Kane… They were all showing up everywhere to the point that we ultimately looked like we had double the players Everton had. It was like water… It Flowed everywhere.
Trippier started a bit iffy but then hit a wonderful free kick…. Eriksen a sensational goal from a nice ball from Kane. It was all tremendous stuff enjoyed by all who truly love Tottenham. 6 beauties.
Flow is constant symmetry. The understanding and chemistry of players working together to create something of beauty that ends up with a result. The score is merely a marker.
Flow. It shakes the heart and soul.
We achieved such a height in this one. It’s something I cherished from the early 60’s and have waited for.
Guess who?

You want some, Grandad?

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So, other than the PL defeat to Arsenal, the fact the new stadium still isn’t open, the fact Poch is off to United or Real or only staying because he’s a limp and trophy-less bottle-job patsy, things are looking okay, just about, I suppose: We scraped a draw against Barca-B to limp into the knock-out stages of the CL, we just about scraped a win against Burnley to keep Chelsea in fourth for a week longer than anyone expected us to, and we fluked a couple of route one goals against Arsenal-lite to progress in a cup no-one is interested in unless Spurs fail to win it (in which case it suddenly morphs into a major trophy Poch is too much of a bottle-job-patsy to guide us to, and something else to beat Levy over the cranium with).

Although, as okayish as I grudgingly admit these flukey results have been, we could seriously have done without the two-legged semi against Chelsea, because, let’s face it (ignoring the fact the last times we’ve played them at theirs or ‘ours’ we’ve done them 3-1) they always stuff us. And, even if we do somehow fluke a win, we’ll only get stuffed in the final against City, which will demoralise us for the second leg of our CL tie against Dortmund which is going to happen a mere nine days later, so yeah, if you ask me, we’d have been better off losing to Arsenal or Barca or both. All this progression. It’s just papering over the cracks.

Seriously, despite the stadium delay, the lack of a pre-season, the lack of signings, the constant swirl of belittling and negative media bullshit, we’re third in the league, still in every cup competition we entered, and – definitely since the Chelsea game – have been creating a good number of chances per game and playing some lovely football (and I feel we’d steadily been improving in these respects for quite a few weeks before we took apart the unbeaten Chelsea).

And, with every passing week, we’re seeing more and more evidence that Poch has come on leaps and bounds in terms of rotating his squad and making in-game changes: Only the decision to rest Toby for the Arsenal PL game looks questionable, and even though that was a decision that obviously backfired, had Toby played in that game and not been available for subsequent games for any reason, we might not now be in the knock-out stages of the CL and five points clear of our selfie-loving immigrant neighbours, because he’s been as great as ever in all the games he’s played since. And there are still no guarantees playing Toby against Arsenal would have altered that result. As Taff pointed out on a previous bloeug, it’s not like we’ve never lost a game Toby has started in.

Elsewhere in the squad, Davies has upped his game at left-back and done a job for us in the middle when called upon. Skipp looked good in his full PL debut. Walker-Peters will not face sterner tests than he did against Barca and I felt he came through that okay, on the whole. Kane, as ever, is Kane, and Eriksen is Eriksen again after a slow start to the season: Son, too, has fully recovered from an understandable slow start. Even Rose seems to be getting back to his best. And Sissoko (if you turn away when you see he’s lining up to shoot) has continued his metamorphosis from whatever he was to whatever he is, with his performance against Barca underlining just how important he is becoming to us: Also, it was his willingness to attempt to run the ball between two defenders in Leicester’s box which created the space for Son to score the opener for us that night, with the move coming just a few moments after the excellent Dele Halli (™ – Antspurs) had caused havoc doing the same sort of thing on the opposite side of the Foxes area.

Gazzaniga looks an upgrade on Vorm, too, though two acts of distribution on Wednesday made me wonder if it was Hugo in a Gazzaniga suit. And, talking of Hugo, he’s been looking much more solid for us lately, which, maybe, is down to the fact Gazzaniga has put in strong performances each time he’s been handed the gloves, finally applying some pressure to our esteemed number one, who, for me, is still our number one and still one of the best in the league.

All in all, as far as this dumb-dumb’s concerned, it’s been a very enjoyable few weeks, and the best first half to a season I can remember since… since… well, I wouldn’t like to say, but definitely since Redknapp’s day. PL wise, the only team we’ve lost to who we shouldn’t really be losing to is Watford; that game – plus, maybe, the defeat to the Dippers, where I did take some solace from the fact we should have had a penalty at the death which might have won us an undeserved draw – is the only performance that’s left me totally stone cold; as unpleasant and deserved as the defeats to City and Arsenal were, we at least had a go in those games. We’ve beaten United and Spammers away and Chelsea at home. In the Carabo, we’ve beaten Spammers and Arsenal away (meaning, I think, Anfield is now the only major domestic ground Poch hasn’t led us to victory at – yet). In the CL, we’ve become one of something like only sixteen teams to ever qualify from their group having only one point from the opening three games, and, in all honesty, should have cavorted to second with an away draw against Inter and an away win against PSV, outcomes that were well within our grasp in both games. The defeat at Wembley to Barca was nothing to be ashamed of either, and other than Hugo’s howler and the score-line, I don’t see how most of our fans could not have enjoyed watching that game.
Our recent PL wins over Leicester and Burnley – games we lost and drew last year – also mean we’re now an impressive eleven points better off than we were following games against equivalent teams last season, and a still impressive eight points better off than we were after the same number of games, where we’d just defeated Stoke 5-2 and Brighton 2-0 in back-to-back ‘home’ fixtures and were seventh in the table behind Arsenal, Dippers, Burnley, Chelsea, and both of the Manchester massives. We were just about to head up to City for a 4-1 shellacking, though, which would leave us flailing helplessly 21 points in their wake in the miserable Manchester rain (don’t go up there, Poch – it’s all grey and dreary and wet (sorry, Northern Spur; only joking).

This time around we’re five points behind them and six points off Dippers, heading to Everton, who are eighth and seem to be having a bit of a mixed bag of things, with their last two home PL games seeing them draw with Watford and Newcastle, and their last two away games seeing them lose to City and – albeit unfortunately – Dippers. Slightly further back, though, they softened Chelsea up nicely for us with a nil-nil at The Bridge the weekend before we got to spank the third team out of three in this season’s title race for the second time this calendar year. Other than that, though, there’s no real scalps for the Toffees to boast of this season, and the Spammers one-threed them at Goodison following four hilarious defeats in Pellegrini’s first four games in charge.

Talking of Goodison, though, it’s yet another ground I rarely feel we do well at, but, again, recent history shows our record there isn’t too shabby, with Poch leading us to a one-nil win in his first season, nil-nil and one-one draws in his second and third seasons, and a none-too shabby three nil win in the fourth round of fixtures last season. With relatively straight-forward games for everyone around us – except, perhaps, Dipper’s becoming only the second top-six team to win at Wolves last night – a repeat of that points-return is the minimum required to help the team and the club keep on papering over the cracks. It’s a bit concerning how close Merseyside is to Manchester, though, so perhaps the club should insist that Poch doesn’t travel to this one: As anyone who’s not a confirmed dumb-dumb will (all too willingly) tell you, there’s not much chance he’ll bother to come back.

Delicious Dele by Shelfy

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Dedicated to Dele

Spurs don’t play for a couple of days so its a bit early for the pre match bloeug and with so many great comments post match on the last bloeug it hardly seemed worth recapping the foxes game, though an away victory against recent Premier League Champs and nouveaux bitter rivals surely does deserve some crowing by the Cockerel that out foxed the foxes.

However today’s offering is dedicated to Dele to mark the occasion of his fiftieth (yes 50th) goal for the mighty Totteringhams of Hotspurland. He’s the best player called Jermaine that we’ve had at Spurs since…. well he’s the best player called Jermaine we had and we’ve had some good runs and some not so good!

One of the greatest managers of all time (well certainly recent time) Sir Alex Ferguson said of Dele, in March 2016 and I quote:

“He is probably the best young midfielder I have seen in many years, probably going back as far as Gascoigne”

and more recently he reiterated his point by saying,

“This guy can be one of the best midfielders in Europe”,

I believe SAF had a good eye for young talent and his opinion on such matters should be highly valued.

The story of Dele as it is unfolding before our very eyes bares testimony to SAF’s prophecy. The landmark fiftieth goal in not much over 100 starts for Spurs speaks for itself in terms of goal scoring prowess but I think there is so much more to this young man than goal scoring.

Yesterday for example in the absence of Eriksen I watched as Dele produced a command performance. He seemed to take on more responsibility for bringing teammates into play, more passing and less flicks (though his little cameo in the box where he tricked his way through the foxes defense was sublime). Similarly against MK Dons when he was given the armband he produced a more mature performance than usual. In fact I think his trajectory has been toward more solid team play than previous seasons, hard graft as well as fancy footwork.

The game against Chelsea was a masterclass of man marking one of the best passers of the ball out of the game. It will hardly show up in stats and isn’t what he is known for but it was a huge part of why we won and something none of us (to my knowledge) had ever expected from him based on our comments and banter.

He is fast becoming a team leader and I think that shows more when he is the main man. Without Kane and Eriksen yesterday, Dele stepped up, showed leadership and maturity, took responsibility and was in my mind the key difference maker. He still was able to showcase some of his outrageous abilities, he still scored, he still made a number of penetrating darts into the box but in addition he involved his teammates more than usual and drove the side forward, in my opinion it was a more rounded performance than normal and more productive.

I love his attitude, I love that he cried in the locker room when he got sent off, I love some of his quotes, especially about competitiveness:

“I’d love to play for Spurs and play at White Hart Lane. It won’t be easy, and I’ll have fight for my place in the team, but I’ll work hard to do that”

“I have always had confidence in my ability; I knew I’d get a chance coming here. That’s one of the main reasons why I signed for Tottenham”.

“Steven Gerrard was someone I looked up to massively. I’d always try to copy him, right down to the boots he was wearing. It was his attitude on the pitch that stood out – you could really see how much he hated losing”

“Do you need an aggressive streak to thrive? You could say that. A lot of the great players have that mentality”.

“I’m not going to lie: I’m a competitive player. I think there’s no point playing football if you’re not competitive and you don’t want to win games”.

“Aggression is something that is a part of me, and I’m never going to take that out of my game”.

“I have made a few mistakes with my temper, I know. But I have learned from that”.

Of course its not all about aggression and competitiveness:

“I like to enjoy the game and to have fun and express myself as much as I can”

Sure we missed CE’s vision and range of incisive passing to a certain extent yesterday, and boy would I hate to see him leave, but in Dele I see a creative successor and/or complement to CE and as Dele’s game evolves and if the unthinkable should happen that CE decides the lure of the Spanish lucre is just too much to resist I think Dele will be able to fill the void.

A final thought: My daughter was a little disappointed in me, when I went to Wembley last month because I was supposed to take a sign saying ‘Dele, please marry my daughter’. She doesn’t know much about football other than:

Spurs are the greatest team in the world,

Harry Kane #10 the greatest striker on Earth plays for Spurs and England,

Son – he’s so cute he always looks happy,

Harry Winks he’s cute too, and

Dele – he’s my boyfriend, he just doesn’t know it yet.

What else does she need to know? What more does a father need to teach his girl?!

Through, not Threw

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So this is what happens when a Manager instils Belief in a squad.  Some of our fan base, including on here (Shelfy, others?) dared to dream or make predictions that we would get the result that we needed and things would pan out well in the other tie (or over the whole group), but…..but, these lads had to actually go out and do it on the night.  No giving up until the 90+ET minute.  Keep playing our game.  Calm.  Focussed.  Trusting teammates.

We started well.  First 5 minutes I remember thinking; “We’re up for this tonight” and then BAM!  Sucker punched again.  FFS! Another big game, another individual error gifting a tough opponent an early goal.  I’m not digging KWP out specifically, Dembele was on him in a flash, but the reality is that we too often cause our own problems in these games.  Luckily this time, we had the minerals, the BELIEF, to turn it round.

As the first half ebbed and flowed we rode our luck a little, whilst also creating our own chances.  Apart from the goal, I’d say it was honours even, without having looked at any stats at all.

Second half:  ‘We are Tottenham, we’re in the Camp Nou, and we are here to kick your collective arses.’

Moussa smashing around.

Danny Rose finally, FINALLY! looking like the player he used to be.  Taking on players and beating them.  So good to see.  If we can get Serge back and improving, and Rosey carrying on on this trajectory, we can have two properly effective wing/full backs with good enough back up for lesser games.  Harsh on Tripps and Davies but you suddenly see what we’ve been missing when our full backs are actually providing a threat.

Harry finding a way to influence the game, even if he was having an off-night in front of goal (involved in 16 goals in 16 CL games – 13 goals, 3 assists).  Dele classy as always.

Lamela and Moura on at just the right time.

All in all, a great night, one to remember and draw to confidence from.  We can take anyone on.  The Flat Oeufers, that is.

No fear.

Belief.

 

Shelfy’s Pre-Match Postulations

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Foxes and Chickens

Next stop the King Power where the Cockerels visit the Foxes; let’s hope our feathers don’t get ruffled.

I sometimes wonder if we Spurs fans would have a soft(er) spot for LCFC’s title winning team if it hadn’t been our boys doing the chasing? Would we take heart that perhaps one day we too could overcome the odds? That they pushed and pulled and generally cheated their way to the title would probably be all forgiven if it had been Arsenal that had stumbled at the last minute rather than us (not that we really stumbled until it was all over). To be fair it was due to Leicester that we were entertained by the game now known as the Battle of the Bridge. I imagine were it not for chasing them, that game would have been a tame affair and would be long since forgotten.

Back to the present day and LCFC have had a run of draws recently: Burnley, Brighton, Southampton and Fulham, punctuated by a 2 – 0 win against Watford. Their fans will will no doubt taunt ours with chants of ‘Tottenham Hotspur we’re waiting for you’ a little reminder and some salt in the old wound.

Our boys on the other hand have had a terrible run of form and it looks like the wheels have fallen off and the world is about to end. Long ago in the distant past there were wins against Inter and Chelsea but fresh in the mind is the horror show at the library. Even the ritual sacrificing of the Saints wasn’t enough to placate the naysayers especially as the victims had the temerity to mount a bit of a fight back even after all hope had been lost.

More “woe is us material” as injuries are mounting up, somehow proving how terrible our owner was not buying any new players last summer. The sick room is full to overflowing, when was it ever any different? The defense is sparsely manned, my goodness how we are missing young Davinson, and so with Juan Foyth being injured we might have to play Toby and Jan despite having a potentially season defining game a few days later against the giants from Spain.
At least the Foxes own talisman, Jamie Vardy, is also out but nevertheless they always offer a counterattacking threat. I can’t see us keeping a clean sheet so hopefully we will simply outscore them. Wouldn’t it be nice to go three nil up early in the second half and be able to coast through the rest of the game…. perhaps not!

Finally don’t forget the unusual kick off time, quarter of an hour early for some reason.

Saints or Sinners?

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Well, that thwump you all heard was probably the sound of us crashing back down to earth following the Chelsea and Inter results, as The Emirates proved an unhappy hunting ground for Spurs once again.
Two out of three, though – as Meatloaf once said – aint bad, especially when one of them was the most welcome mullering of Chelsea, and even the defeat to Arsenal was a step-up from last season’s woeful surrender.
And as both of the PL matches were defeats last season, it means we’re still better off now than we were after fourteen matches last year, where we followed up our glorious 4-1 strut over the Dippers by losing to Man U, one-nilling Palace at home, losing away at The Emirates, drawing at ‘home’ to the mighty West Brom and putting in another of last season’s least impressive performances at the King Power in a 2-1 defeat which could have been much, much worse.
All of which had us 7th in the table behind Burnley and Liverpool, four and five points behind Arsenal and Chelsea (who occupied fourth and third), spluttering in the wake of both clubs from Manchester, and perennially potless on 24 points.
Which, oddly enough, is exactly the same number of points we managed to gather last season in games against the same opposition we’ve faced so far this time around.
Now, of course, we’re on thirty points, fifth in the table, and not quite so far behind Chelsea and Arsenal. We’ve also cut the gap between City and ourselves from 16 to 8. Despite the popular conception that we’ve stood still or gone backwards, United are the ones who have really regressed, and only the Dippers have upped the ante, winning themselves an extra ten points than they’d managed this time last year:
Yet, like us up until the Chelsea performance, they too seem to be being tarred with the brush of not yet having clicked into gear.
Though, of course, following Sunday, there’ll be those claiming that what we did against Chelsea counts for nothing. There were some, even, claiming it counted for nothing before that – wind-up merchant Adrian Durham was wumming away early last week that Spurs beating Chelsea was nothing new and didn’t signal anything to get excited about, because, see, we beat them 5-3 at The Lane in 14/15 and then 2-0 at The Lane in 16/17, and won nada in each of those seasons. Which is fair comment, I suppose, if you’re determined to suck all the enjoyment from life. But it does mean the dumb-dumbs among us now have a stellar performance against a team that wandered into Wembley unbeaten to point at the next time someone tells us to stop enjoying ourselves because our football’s dull and we happily take a tummy-tickling anytime anyone half-decent turns up to play.
We weren’t too shabby against Inter, either, and can now head to Barca with our fate in our own hands – even if that fate does turn out to be getting slaughtered and dropping into the Ropey with Arsenal and Chelsea, at least it’s still in our own hands.
And talking of Arsenal, I drank just enough Peroni to feel oddly unbothered by what had gone on. And then, at some stage after full-time, staggered up TESCO express and bought me some more. Performance-wise, not great. Line-up wise, not great. Entertainment-wise, if we have to lose, even to Arsenal, let it be in matches like that: I love how up for it Arsenal’s players and fans are for our visits these days, because, let’s face it, there was a spell early on in the Wenger reign where it felt as if we were becoming a bit of an irrelevance to them. Not anymore. They wanted that, and wanted it badly, and could have been out of sight before the all-too-brief turn-around through Deir’s header and Kane’s penalty. After that, though, I thought we gave as good as we got for the rest of the first half and started the second half better than they did, only to pretty much evaporate as soon as they levelled again: Even though Son had a decent chance at 2-2, I just felt we were doomed to defeat as soon as they pulled level. I don’t know if it’s tiredness, tactics, Poch’s lack of in-game management and substitutions, whether they just bullied us out of it, but whatever it was, we were gone for the day. It was over: After recording three 1-1 draws in his first three matches in charge of us at The Emirates, it’s now two defeats on the trot. It would be nice to think we can do something about that in the quarter final on the 19th, but it wouldn’t shock me if an under-strength Spurs side find themselves up against Arsenal’s strongest possible side, in which case I hold out less than zero in terms of optimism and hope.
Long before we get to head to The Emirates again, though, it’s Southampton sans Sparky under the luminous arch, the fifth time Poch’s old side have come calling since Levy tempted him away almost as acrimoniously as he did Hoddle way back in 2001. It’s fair to say, as much as I love Hoddle and desperately wanted him to succeed as manager here, Poch’s tenure has seen us take greater strides towards where we all want to be: In the four seasons Hoddle was back at the club, we finished twelfth, ninth, tenth and fourteenth, although, of course, Hod was only fully responsible for the middle two campaigns: In the way it so often happens in football, Levy let Glenda go the day after a 3-1 home schooling by Saints, with James Beattie getting two of the goals.
As Hoddle rightly pointed out around the time he and Sherwood were publicly vying for the chance to take temporary charge following the Levying of AVB, the Tottenham he inherited from George Graham was a much weaker beast than the Spurs side Sherwood won control of in December 2013, both as a team and as a club. Personally, I’d have much rather have had Hoddle back for the rest of that season than Sherwood, and one of my major doubts about Poch being the right man for us was the fact Sherwood’s Spurs beat Poch’s Saints home and away that season, with Saints having led us in both matches. There was also an undercurrent of doubt from Saints fans which still have an air of validity today: Lack of in-game management, poor substitutions, disregard for cups. Still, though, even though I wouldn’t dismiss these criticisms about Poch and the Toby decision is up there with some of his strangest, I feel he’s the best manager we’ve had in my time as a match-going supporter, which dates back to Shreeves in 85, with Venables the only real challenger to that title: Poch has already matched and beaten Venables’ best league finishes with Spurs, though, and, hopefully, by the time he eventually leaves us, he’ll have learned a thing or two about playing his strongest eleven against our strongest opponents and overhauled Venables trophy-wise too.
As for his record against Saints, other than the penultimate game of the 15/16 season – where we followed the Battle of the Bridge with a tame 2-1 loss to them ahead of that spanking by Newcastle to gift Arsenal second – we’ve beaten them every time they’ve come calling, with last season’s Boxing Day 5-2 being the stand-out performance, and Kane’s hattrick enabling him to break all sorts of calendar-year scoring records.
And as for who we faced in this round of fixtures last year, it was away to Watford, where a Son leveller and a Sanchez sending off saw us hang on for a one-all draw in another subdued performance.
Obviously, the sacking of Sparky could put a slightly different skew on this one – potential caretaker manager / imminent new manager bounce – but if we want to be making top four and keeping some semblance of optimism ahead of Leicester on Saturday and Barca next week, that really can’t be allowed to happen. Other than their two-two draw against United on Saturday, they’ve lost by three goals to Liverpool and Chelsea and shipped six against City. Only a victory by three or more goals will allow the dumb-dumbs among us to confidently claim Arsenal was simply one high pressure game in too short a time-frame too many. A narrower victory, and the jury will be out. A draw or defeat will be the end of the world. Especially for me, because I’m travelling up to the game with two Saints season ticket holders: Anything less than a victory, and I’m skulking back home on my own.

SHELFY’s N.L.D. Bloeug

SHELFY WRITES:

Going Inter the Library with Momentum

Last up Inter at Wembley. The result? Never in doubt. Our boys outplayed, outfought, out scored and now have an outside chance of progressing in the CL, their destiny back in their own hands. (I love that word… Destiny), Winning that game was probably even more important than just keeping our CL hopes alive, much more important than that; it provided a confidence boost, rather than a feeling of deflation, a momentum boost as we are on a good solid unbeaten run.

Next up Arsenal, the result, shouldn’t be in doubt. Our boys can outplay, outfight, outmuscle, outrun and outscore Arsenal and give themselves an outside chance of winning the league, their destiny (that word agin but now in my best Darth Vader voice) is to be a force to be reckoned with, champions in the making. I don’t even mind if some of the dark side, dark arts are used in this game, whatever it takes (sorry Unk).

So which Spurs will show up? The ones who ran their hearts out against Inter or the ones who played too much like fancy Dans and blew a lead a few weeks earlier against Inter (and Watford, and PSV away). Being a derby my money, which is admittedly a scarce commodity, is on the former.

I think we all expect a game of blood and thunder. Blood for sure if Coco Lamela is playing; thunder, well I haven’t looked at the weather forecast. I am sure both sets of players will be ‘well up for it’ because a slow start could be a disaster.

They have momentum too, a long unbeaten run going, but really apart from the draw with Scousehampton who have they played? Leicester, Palace, Bournemouth, Wolves and a bunch of second tier European clubs, and they even haven’t won all of those games. I think they will be confident to begin with, but the stuffing could be quickly knocked out of them if we bully them like I think we can. We will need to do that anyway to win, like Poch says our boys need to be warriors, winning their duels needs to be a matter of honor.

So the busy period starts, who can the coach rest?

Lloris, not likely and really no need. He has been playing a lot better recently and his distribution in particular has improved. I like that he sprinkles in a lot more long balls for HK to fight for rather than poncing about with it at the back.

Aurrier and Davies, not likely as Trips is injured and though Rose has ‘form’ in this game he may not be fit enough to start, midweek next may be a better time for his reintroduction, though Poch surprised us all (and our Danny) last year by playing him against Madrid.

Will Jan and Toby form the central defensive partnership? I think so. Jan is famed for his ability as a natural athlete, to be able to run all day, so I think the young gun Juan will have to wait for the midweek game for his next start.

Sissoko, isn’t he undroppable right now? Who ever thought they would read that?

Winks – sadly I think he will be rested and the bigger lads will play, enter Dier, not too shabby a replacement for this type of game

Up front I can’t see anything other than the DESK starting this game. D, E and S are relatively fresh having had time out due to injuries and K, well he isn’t sitting this one out unless hell freezes over.

Maybe Son gets rested and used as an impact sub and one of Lucas or Lamela starts. I wouldn’t mind either way, all three bring plenty of positives.

Tactically I think we will be back to our normal formation 4231 with Dele in a freer role than he was against the racist scum. Arsenal haven’t had a dangerous deep lying playmaker since Fabregas took the Russian oil money so need to man mark like he did against Georgie Porgie.

Just 4 more hours until the early kick off. Anticipation anyone? Exited much?

NWHL is here!

My spirits are raised. Our best players are back in the fold and we’re playing some great football again. And the morning after last week’s glorious demolition of Chelsea I took a stroll around our spectacular new home. Since my last gallery here a lot has changed, all of it beautiful to echo the beautiful football. The attention to detail around the ground is exceptional and I think any of you lucky enough to get down here when we play will be well pleased. It was grey day so the shots aren’t as vibrant as I would have liked, but enjoy the slideshow!

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I normally only buy the home shirts but I love this one so much that I made an exception and strolled into the new mahoosive shop and snaffled one for a mere £xx.xx.

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COYS!

Oh, and before I go, get a load of this!
Fan Familiarisation Event

It’s close, so close…