For lovers of the chicken badge of Tottenham Hotspur FC
Author: Flat Oeuf
A blog dedicated to aficionados of the chicken badge of Tottenham Hotspur FC, unashamedly revelling in the agony and ecstasy of every moment of every game....no matter who finds themselves fortunate enough, in any given season, to be the stewards, manager or players of the best club in the world. COYFS!
Morning All, here’s a good thread (with some assumptions, of course) on THE STATEMENT and why it doesn’t quite add up. The author has run through various media reports etc chronologically, building a timeline of events. Added to this was the Telegraph report (16 July) whilst HK was still on England duty saying that his England colleagues ‘believed he may not turn up to training’ – either a very accurate shot in the dark, or the result of some pre-briefing.
My take is that the key to all the problems is the supposed ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’, and the very different interpretations that each party could read into it, in the absence of anything concrete being added, in writing, to the actual 6 year(!) contract he signed.
Kane (and his team) naively thought that a big bid, or a decent bid or whatever the words being used actually were, came in then he would be ‘allowed to leave’. For wantaway Harry, £100m fits that description. But can you imagine Levy, the consummate negotiator, even verbally agreeing to an agreement that leaves him in a position not to be able to maximise the return of his biggest asset?
More likely is that Levy used words like the ‘right’ bid – and this is where the interpretations diverge. To Levy, Kane is worth at least another 30, 40, 50 (?) million more than £100m. To be fair that’s a helluva lot of extra money, especially when compared tot he financial hit we’ve taken over the last few years (no CL, Pandemic).
So more fool Harry for sending his brother in to bat against a wily operator like Levy and not expecting googlies, bouncers and yorkers to come down the pitch at him at a later date.
I’m not as emotional about Harry’s ‘betrayal’ as some. In the end, footballers do what they believe is in their best interests, just like the rest of us. I rather see him as a bit hapless and badly advised. I was happy for him to leave before as I believed it would help our rebuild in the long run. I’m also ok if he stays, as I believe he’ll knuckle back down.
Potter’s managerial style sheds light on a lot of Brighton’s strengths and weaknesses this season. Known to play an unconventional and progressive style of football, Potter is always asking more from his team. The underlying, most fundamental facet of his philosophy is adaptability. When he was at Swansea, Potter played ten different formations and the team ended up playing the most passes per 90 minutes in the Championship.
Something similar can be seen with Brighton too. Unlike other lower half teams, they believe in keeping the ball and trying to create fluidly from back to front. It’s pretty evident that the players have had intense training with regards to staying composed on the ball and looking for more forward passes as and when they have the chance to. Potter’s side have shown glimpses of this in a few games this season, namely ones against Manchester City and Leeds United. Although it has yet to excel, the signs seem to be convincingly positive.
As an adaptive coach, Potter likes to set up his team so as to match the opposition. Seemingly, in their last three league matches, Brighton have played a 3-4-1-2, a 4-1-2-1-2 and a 3-4-3 formation respectively.
Having said that, Brighton usually tend to use a flexible 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formation, with their wing-backs playing a crucial role in both attack and defense. Out of possession, they defend in a 5-2-3, with the wing-backs dropping alongside the central defenders to provide defensive cover. If the back five stay disciplined and in position, it becomes almost impossible for the opposition to penetrate them.
The reason why Brighton still end up conceding can be traced down to momentary lapses of concentration at the back. If their wing-backs get caught high up, it exposes the centre backs because the opposition can create chances in the time the wing-backs take to recover. This season, they have also been unfortunate at times with injuries to the likes of captain Lewis Dunk and Tariq Lamptey. Their absences have impacted them adversely, leading to a concession of more goals.
Espírito Santo is among a select group of managers who can effectively adapt their style depending on the opponent. It’s exactly why the top dogs find them difficult to take on. Remember, they bundled Liverpool out of the FA Cup.
Nuno’s system worked wonders in the Championship last season – they seemed a step too good for that League all year… It has continued to carry Wolves through the top tier.
The 45-year-old tactician favours the 3-5-2 formation. It gives Wolves solidity at the back with three centre-halves vigilantly guarding the backdoor and two wingbacks shuttling down the flanks. In midfield, Wolves are thick as thieves, marshalled by the intelligent Moutinho, who by the way is a stellar signing, alongside fellow Portuguese Ruben Neves. Not the point here, but who else notices the increasing number of Portuguese nationals in that Wolves team?
Nuno has somehow managed to build a strong partnership between his top two strikers – Diogo Jota and Jimenez have produced a combined 18 League goals this term. They’ve helped each other to the Wanderers last three League goals.
Ten Hag predominantly uses a 4-2-3-1 formation, having used this in 84.5% of games over the last two seasons, however, a 4-3-3 has also been used on occasion.
With an overall win percentage of 73.27% and an overall goal difference of +192 from 101games as Ajax manager. It is fair to say ten Hag’s philosophy has created an Ajax side that are a successful attacking outfit.
Ajax build up patiently from the back with both centre-backs and a pivot creating a triangle, and engaging in a variety of interchanges between them as well as rotating positionally to build play and help break the initial press. This back three encourage the opposition to push forward and engage, opening up spaces in more attacking areas for them to play into. It is often the case in the Eredivisie where Ajax face sides operating defensively in a low block, so ten Hag looks to bring this forward. They are used to having large periods of possession in the Eredivisie, and have averaged 64.3% of possession in domestic games so far this season – a league-high, as well as making 582 passes per game.
Both Lukaku and De Bruyne have criticized the tactical shape Belgium has taken in the past. After drawing against Mexico in 2017, De Bruyne decided to speak out publicly:
“Mexico were tactically better,” De Bruyne said. “As long as there is no good tactical system we face difficulties. It’s a pity we have not yet found a solution. We are playing a very defensive system, but our team is filled with many attacking players.”
Lukaku has also said he would prefer a more direct style of football as well. Martinez has explained his system saying they like to be fluid from a 5-3-2 to a 3-4-3 system as it “helps the front players have with Kevin, Hazard, and Lukaku.”
Martinez is known for his possession style of play with a mind for attack, citing inspiration from Johan Cruyff. His time at both Wigan and Swansea was hyper-focused on ball retention, at times bordering on conservative. Martinez has gone full seasons never dipping below 50% ball retention. Harry Winks would be thrilled.
So, Oeufers, who is your preferred candidate for our real world situation (Levy, Paratici, current squad, lack of funds etc etc)…and why?
With Wasdan off duty tonight (huge respect and thanks to him for bloeugin throughout this season), it behoeufs me to try to cobble something together. It’s been a while, so do be gentle – or just skip this bit and start commenting.
What a week, eh?
From dwindling hope in the run-up to the Everton game…to absolutely none after it…to a classic Spurs fan’s glimmer as Wet Spam, Liverpool and Chelsea all drop points…to a raging torrent as Mourninho gets the tin tack. Top 4 is back on! Well, at least until tonight. But I’ll take a sunny Wednesday with the dastardly Super League on the back burner. How much worse than the new dastardly Champions League is it, by the way?
Anyway, back to Southampton at home, a tie with banana-skin not so much ‘written all over it‘, as indelibly tattooed deep into our psyche when we’re in a position to give us half a chance of putting pressure on those around us. But…but. Now we have Sir Ryan of Mason at the helm, a nice guy, Spurs through and through, who’s already ruled out any joshing from his previous teammates (“There won’t be banter between me and the lads.”). Could he do the unthinkable and give us the kind of bounce that only Jump4Joy Bouncy Castles could hope for in their dreams?
For me it’s implausible. These players have been so psychologically damaged by 4 years of being nearly-men under Poch, followed by the worst of Mourinho’s psy-ops, that they will stutter again at the first sight of a goal threat. I’m sure Ryan will be looking to insert Bale and Dele back in the team asap and “get us on the front foot” but scoring goals is not really my concern (even without Kaneinho). It’s what happens when a team like Southampton break into the open space we’ve left behind as the New Buccaneering Spurs™️. Walker-Peters careering down the flank. Che Adams, or just as bad, Danny Ings in the middle. Or both. Ward-Prowse able to deliver the kind of dead-ball Eriksen can only dream of. Bednarek or Vestegaard to swat Toby/Eric/Davinson out of the way. Stuff of nightmares.
After that cold bath, let me put another scenario. Ryan Mason has actually been at the Club throughout this period coaching the U17s, U18s, U23s. He either knows these 1st team players or in passing around Hotspur Way. He can lean on Harry and PEH for some ideas as to how best to set up. He can’t reasonably expect to coach anything new in 48 hours. All he needs to do is pick an attacking side, give them his trust and belief and have them run araaand a bit. Bale and Dele looked great together when given the chance. Sonny is due a proper bit of form…
And so to selections. My take is that we have 2 attacking full backs and Davies & Doherty are injured anyway. So play to their strengths. If we’re doing that we need to be solid in front of the defence but not so much so that we don’t have any creativity in midfield (ie not 2 DMs). This is the team I would like to see play (with PEH told to shield the Back 4):
Well that was a great night. There’s little better than watching a very accomplished performance in Europe with fellow Oeufers.
Poch has learnt: He set us up in exactly the way you would want to frustrate a potentially dangerous side, even at 3-0 down. I was reminded of the Juve game where we naïvely tried to smash them off the park when all we needed was to defend a lead and wait for an opportunity to score again after we were 1-0 up. Having said that, we didn’t just defend in numbers. Everyone worked incredibly hard (both Eriksen and Sissoko covered over 11km).
We’re maturing and I’ll be happy whatever the draw. I don’t subscribe to the thinking that Porto or Roma (or Ajax 😮) would be an ‘easier’ draw. If pushed, I’d like to swerve Citeh, if anyone.
What with the news (from Poch himself) of the likelihood that our home tie will be at the NWHL, a creeping ‘What if’ feeling – the scourge of all Spurs fans – has begun to rise.
For now, I’ll just enjoy last night and a huge feeling of pride in the fact that we soundly beat one of this season’s form teams in Europe.
On the back of a painful series of dropped points against Burnley, Chelsea and those who must not be mentioned I thought it about time to look forward.
We have a lot to look forward to, a winnable tie against Dortmund for a place in the last eight of Europes Elite competition this week, a new stadium, maybe next month and the summer transfer window where I am confident we will see some new faces.
I believe Poch has a genuine dilemma with the squad, and I am not talking about the restrictions on foreign players nor the homegrown quota, which do undoubtedly cause making acquisitions more difficult. The dilemma is where do you find better players than we have for a price we can afford (both transfer fee and wages). If you look at our results over the past few years we have been one of the best teams in the PL. Second and third place finishes each year behind a different champion shows a good level of consistency at a high level of performance, we have had more than our fair share of cup semi-finals too. Close but no cigar as they say.
The reason for mentioning recent performance is to highlight that there aren’t many teams doing much better than us. I think in the last three or four years only Man City have accrued more points than us. That means other teams don’t have better players (on the whole) than we do (again not including City), which makes it hard to pick up talented players that are definitely going to make an impact. Sure each team has a star or two (like Zaha at Palace) but realistically we are not going to get players like him in.
Younger players doing well in the lower leagues has been a good source of players for us e.g. Dele but it can be hit and miss. A cases in point that has been discussed recently is that of Ryan Sessengon, Fulham’s wonder kid and the next Gareth Bale, all based on tearing up trees in the championship. Fast forward to today and the poor kid looks just like Bale did when he first joined Spurs and now he can’t even make Fulham’s first team on a regular basis. For every great hope there are many great failures.
So Poch’s dilemma that I speak of is whether to stick or twist. Last Summer ‘stick’ seemed to be a good idea. We had a young but maturing squad who had played some fantastic football in patches and looked like they were developing into world beaters (games against Madrid fall into that category) but of course, as young teams often are, they were not quite consistent enough against the very best teams to pick up silverware. I suspect Poch believed in this group and this group probably believed in themselves and once the post World cup lack of preparation syndrome was out of the way the boys started to fire on all cylinders (6-2 against Everton and a couple of other good thrashings given out around that time and the 3-0 against Dortmund).
Then it went a flat, very flat and last week Poch conceded that we were out of the title race and that is where the dilemma comes in because even if the group is maturing and even if they are getting better as a squad as they spend more time together, I think the belief that they can win the league has gone. Unless we win the Champions league (a long shot that even I don’t really expect – though we have a chance!) then I don’t see how the same group of guys sitting in the locker room in August can believe that they can win the league. They will need to see a couple of new faces that they believe are upgrades on what we had this season or they will be defeated before they start.
Belief has been one of Poch’s mantras, ‘anything is possible in football if you believe’. I don’t I believe that, but I do believe that winning isn’t possible if you don’t believe. The players are not stupid. They have seen the evidence of how far short they are (not very far it is after all ‘fine margins’) and how much progress they have made and can easily figure out if the gap is too big to close next season. In my opinion they would have to ignore reality to believe they could win the league next year, they say doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. So unless of course Poch’s can work his magic (he’s magic you know) and make them believe the new stadium is equivalent to a new signing (which I suppose it might be, after all look how we dominated in our last season at the Lane).
I’m not buying that however, because I think something else has to change if we are to win it all so sticking is not an option this Summer. Even if a couple of players that are really only a small upgrade in standard compared to the ones we already have come in – then the ability to believe, to have hope will be restored.
If we don’t refresh at least a little, we may go backwards because I believe a part of what has propelled us forward and had us punching above our weight is the very same belief that Poch instilled in this group a couple of years ago. Without that belief then that little bit of extra effort to grab a late winner might dissipate and we could be right back to mid table obscurity.
Evening Gents & Spursy
Many apologies for the state of the bloeug. WordPress have come back and said it’s the Comments plug-in that is the issue because it hasn’t been updated for years. Trouble is, when it works it’s the best one out there so I don’t want to ditch it’s just yet.
I’ll continue to try and fix it but please bear with in the meantime.
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?
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:
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.
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.
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?!
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.
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.
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?
Next up Inter Milan, who are like Spurs sitting third in their domestic league and enjoying a decent run of form. They had a comfortable 3-0 win at the weekend against struggling Frosione, and based on the highlights I saw, didn’t really look too extended during the game, and even rested a few of their players.
Their game seems to be based on a 433 with the front 3 willing to press. The goals at the weekend came from winning the ball near halfway and pushing on fairly quickly. Though in fairness all of the goals were probably ones that a better opposition could and should have defended.
So what do we need? A win of course but not any old win, it needs to be better than the 2-1 reversal we suffered at their place. Just like in the knockout stages, away goals are important so a 1 nil to us or a two clear goal advantage is needed. Almost nothing else will do.
The Milanese know this of course and so they may treat us to an old fashioned Italian defensive masterclass, though honestly I don’t think they can bolt the door as tightly shut as Juventus and it seems more likely they will have a go and try and get the away goal. Poch and his backroom team will have done a darn better good of scouting them than the ten minutes of internet research I did and our boys should be ready for whatever tactics are thrown at them.
Our boys are in the midst of a busy period, eight thousand games in six days in December with an injury depleted squad, having just dispatched the Chavs and next up the Gooners what could be more exciting! The coaches will need to rotate carefully to make sure we don’t overplay a few stars and end up with an even busier physio.
How much rotation will Poch do? We used to be able to predict the likely starting eleven reasonably easy, after all we always rotated full backs and always started DESK as the front four, then play Moussa, no not Sissoko, the other one, Dembele every other game rotating him with Winks or Wanyama alongside the ever-present Dier.
Now we can’t rotate full backs because Trips and Rose are injured though I suppose KWP maybe given a shot. It is up front that a lot has changed with the emergence of Lucas and the reemergence of the very much invigorated Lamela. Can we really drop Son after Saturday for Lucas, can we find a spot for Lamela given his nous and experience against Italian teams? Dele has found some sparkling form and we know CE makes us tick. Hey its a good problem for Poch to have, and its a long time since we had such an abundance of riches up front.
So I don’t do predictions other than we will win – I always think we will win. I always have even during the dark days when we usually didn’t but I still thought we would. Will we win well enough? Will we be able to follow it up with a win against Barca in Spain or should I say the Basque country? If we beat Inter we will need to at least match their last group game result, and they have PSV who quite frankly were lucky to be on the same pitch as us (great game and thanks again Flatty for the ticket), so in all probability we will have to beat Barca as well or face Thursday night trips to far flung destinations.
Whatever the result I hope the fans get behind our boys from the first minute to the last and the boys on the pitch give us a glory glory night to remember.
Times have changed. After the defeats to Inter, then Barça, followed by the lame draw against PSV, the talk was of hoping we would come last in the Group and drop out of European competition altogether for the rest of the year. Solely on the basis of not christening NWHL with a Ropey League match, I saw the logic.
But since then, we’ve started playing a bit. We’ve exhibited some expansionism, demonstrated derrring-do, showcased some swashbuckling. We’ve become more Spurs and less spursy.
I never do predictions. They ruin the game for me. I’ve got enough nerves without thinking I’ve jinxed it. So Peter Predictor, what do you think? Are we going to show up or fizzle out?
What I do want is for us to go for it. I want us to try our hardest to qualify from the Group. All that ‘ditch it for this year’ nonsense is for losers. I was one of them off the back of our last 3 CL results, but now I’m a WINNER! Yeah!
After an impressive first season at White Hart Lane, the midfielder improved in 2015/16. He scored 18 goals and registered seven assists to cement himself as one of the world’s brightest young players.
But in 2017/18 he failed to hit the same heights and dropped back to the level of his debut season at Spurs. So what happened?
For a start, it’s worth mentioning that scoring nine and assisting ten goals – as he did last term and did the reverse in 2015/16 – is an impressive feat. Very few players manage it per season and there are four Premier League campaigns where nobody managed it at all.
So for Alli to get close not once, not twice, but three times in a row, at such a young age, shows what kind of a talent he is. But let’s investigate that drop-off…
The drop-off and a change in role
So why did Alli’s goal output halve from 2016/17 to 2017/18? Basically, he stopped hitting the target as much.
His rate of shots which tested the opposition goalkeeper dropped from 47 per cent to 25 per cent between the two seasons.
The number of chances he was getting per game stayed roughly the same – as well as the quality of them – it’s just that he lost that special ability to find the back of the net.
In terms of his all-round game, Alli played similarly in the two years, as seen by hisFootball Whispersplayer persona radar, which looks at how a team or person’s plays stylistically.
But the current campaign, one which has been disrupted by a persistent hamstring injury, is going slightly differently.
Alli hasn’t claimed an assist this term and the numbers suggest that, when he returns to the side, that is unlikely to change anytime soon.
The amount of shots he’s setting up has dropped from 1.6 per 90 minutes last season to 0.5 per 90. Instead, the 22-year-old seems to have taken on extra responsibility in attack and in defence, leaving out the creativity in the middle.
Alli’s defensive activity has absolutelyleapedthis season, more than double what it has been in the past two campaigns with 4.96 tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes.
His touches inside the opposition box have also jumped, from just under five per 90 minutes in those previous years but nearly seven per 90 this campaign. He’s even receiving more passes inside the box thanHarry Kane.
It’s a curious role and not one many players are probably tasked with which, in turn is perhaps why the public enthusiasm around him has died. How are we supposed to measure success in this role that we’ve not really seen before?
The fact that he’s making fewer shot assists and not taking any more shots than last season, despite getting more touches in the opponents’ box, doesn’t seem like a sign of success.
He’s still an important part of Mauricio Pochettino’s side moving the ball up the pitch, but Alli is one of the players where end product is supposed to come from.
With Kane struggling earlier in the season, Spurs fans could reasonably have hoped that the 22-year-old would step up and fill some of that void.
But whether Alli gets back to the eye-catching heights of the past few years, 2016/17 in particular, will depend on whether Pochettino continues to play him in this role.
Such a heavy defensive responsibility, be it relentless pressing or more conventional defensive work, won’t make attacking end product any easier to come by.
But defending is a thankless task, for the most part, and perhaps we should all recognise the task that the midfielder has had to perform this season.
There’s still a lot of time in the campaign and his career for Alli to get back to his best. He’s shown that he can do it before and, if given the opportunity, he’ll be able to do it again.
We have become the team that grinds out results…until we don’t.
Our PL “Best Ever Start” masks a slightly different picture, when we start looking across all competitions this season.
Out of our 7 victories in the PL this year, I would say that only those against Manchester United (our finest result) plus Fulham and Huddersfield (2 goal margins) have been comfortable victories, and the last two are debatable as “comfortable”.
Otherwise, we have squeezed past the other 5 by a solitary goal and, for all of the possession, could have conceded and left with 1 point instead of 3.
When you add in the Cups, it looks worse. Inter turned us over from a winning position. Barça beat us fairly soundly if you tally up all of the ‘what ifs’. It took us penalties to get past Watford. Last night we salvaged a draw from what looked like a routine victory.
My point here is that we have been scraping by…but that relying on other teams rolling over or ‘that bit of luck’ is not going to carry us very far in the Premier League, the FA Cup or even the Milk Cup (pick your favourite for us to “focus on”), let alone the Champions League.
We all know the possible reasons why we haven’t hit our straps as yet – and they are absolutely valid. Fatigue, injuries, international duty etc etc. Not easy to balance and continue to keep staying in touch.
However. However. Last night’s performance and result points to a pattern of our own making in which we go ahead, look like we’re going to really press home the advantage with a second or third goal…and then, in the name of controlling the game or whatever, we allow the intensity to drop at what looks like a pivotal moment and we concede. We invite the opposition back into the game.
I’m all for high possession stats but they have to equal a threat. If the other team sense that they’re safe to have a go, then have a go they will. This is a subliminal message we send out time and again.
We did invite pressure last season too, but it was more about not converting chances. This time round we’re not creating the chances in anything like as much quantity or quality.
Again, back to the reasons why. We’re going to have to hope that Dele and Jan bring a lot back to this team because, as things stand, we don’t have much room for manoeuvre in the ‘luck’ stakes. A few percentage points drop in performance will translate to wins becoming draws and draws becoming losses.
That’s what I see with what I’m watching so far this season.