Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gareth Bale - best winger in the world?

After struggling to get any playing time in his first years as a Spurs player, Bale quickly emerged as one of the key players in the squad known for his powerful runs down the left flank. Major breakthrough for Bale came when Assou-Ekotto got injured, so Harry had to use Bale as a left back. It was quickly becoming obvious that Bale's biggest qualities are mostly attacking ones. He was soon deployed to the left midfielder position with Modric moving to the inside.

He enjoyed great partnership with Modric, who supplied him with balls down the flank as Bale would beat all the right backs in front of him to assist Crouch mostly with his sharp low balls. Most notable performances are surely two games against, then, European and Italian champions, Inter, where Bale scored a hat-trick in the first game at Milan with Tottenham playing with just 10 players on the pitch. Even though he scored 3 goals, his game of career came when Inter came to London. It was then when the whole world heard of this rampaging Welshman who destroyed the worlds best full back Maicon. Simply destroyed him. Spurs won the game 3:1, mostly thanks to Bale's brilliance and they went on as group winners.

Form then dropped suddenly and everyone quickly became critical of Bale, claiming the Welshman just had his day against Inter, and had no real quality whatsoever. Whole Tottenham team played the second part of season badly, which resulted in missing out of Champions League this season and getting knocked out of CL by Real Madrid trashing us 4:0.

But this season, whole team started playing well, getting the best start in 50 years. Star of the season by many so far would be Parker, someone would even say Modric, but in my opinion, Bale was vital for all of the success. He has been superb, creating chances and scoring goals. Last term, he seemed like a player with only one dribble, where he knocks the ball past opponents and just runs past them. Worked most of the time, but it was very predictable. So predictable that Phil Jones, arguably one of the slowest fullbacks in EPL managed to stop him throughout the game. Now Bale looks like a world class player that is always able to find a solution. He's a great dribbler, his physical qualities are as good as ever, and he seems mentally stronger. All in all, improvement is quite obvious and there is no doubt that every team in this world would love to have him in his squad. So far he remains loyal to Spurs, lets just hope that remains the case.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cole's handball cancels out Adebayor's opener

Spurs started the game well by constantly pressuring Chelsea defence until they scored a goal with Bale making his typical run and crossing low for Adebayor. Ball just went past Cech and landed on Adebayor's foot to give Spurs the lead.

Domination continued, but Chelsea had a few chances of their own. In 23' minute, after a clear handball by Ashley Cole, he assisted Sturridge in front of a goal while the players were expecting referee Webb to signal for a handball. Even though the ref was in a perfect position to spot the obvious handball, he did nothing and Chelsea equalized. Moments after Drogba showed his class by beating Tottenham defenders but was unlucky to see his shot smash the post.

After that, Spurs took control of the possession and made a lot of chances, but Chelsea played good defence, particularly Terry and Ferreira, who earlier replaced injured Ivanovic. I expected Bale to win the duel against Ferreira, but the Portuguese did quite well against Welshman, who was probably the best player on Tottenham side alongside King and Sandro.

Some might say that the result was fair, with both teams preforming at their best, but looking at the stats, I can't help but feel that Tottenham might have gotten a better result here, seeing as how dominant they were in possession.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lennon out of derby game against Chelsea, Bale and Defoe fighting for fitness

Tomorrow might be our season defining games against the arch-rivals Chelsea. In the last 2 games, form has dipped down a bit, but Chelsea can't be happy with their displays, particularly against Wigan where they drew 1:1 against a team fighting to avoid relegation.

Lennon picked up a hamstring injury against Sunderland last weekend in the 1:0 win at home, and it looks like he'll be missing for 2-3 weeks, which could prompt Van der Vaart to the position of a right midfielder, while Defoe might start the match alongside Adebayor. Bale is also recovering from the ankle injury, Defoe and him missed last game, but are both expected to return against Chelsea. King is expected to play a part in this game, but his knee problems might prevent him from playing full match.

Concerning the Chelsea, they don't have as many injury problems, but Terry seems to have picked up a slight injury in the training and is in doubt, just like David Luiz. This could see Ivanovic move to the center back position, while Bosingwa gets the heads up on the right flank. This would be great news for Bale, who had a hard time last couple of games against Ivanovic, who was superior defensively, but I expect Bale to dominate Bosingwa, player who certainly didn't build his reputation with defensive play.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Defoe on his way out?

Euro 2012 is getting closer and many English players are anticipating the prospect of being selected by the manager Capello. Rooney will most certainly make the cut after his ban was appealed and reduced to two games.

But who will go alongside him? There are many candidates like Defoe, Bent, Sturridge, Zamora and I would never rule out Heskey, though he's a long shot.

Defoe has shown some fine form recently, though he's not been favored by Harry in the starting lineup. Clearly he was getting frustrated, at the age of 29, you would expect to get regular opportunities to pay, yet Defoe remains benched in favor of Adebayor and Van der Vaart.

Now Defoe has made it clear that he will wait no more. With January transfer window coming up, Defoe has set up ultimatum - play me or lose me.

There is no doubt he's a great striker with a great sense for goal, but can he really make the first eleven squad? Adebayor has been in great form, and you just can't bench someone like Van der Vaart. So what lies in future of Jermain? Few clubs have made interest in him during the summer, but he stayed in Spurs. But things are different now, he needs playing time if he's to win that spot for Euro 2012. QPR are considered favorites to snap him up in January, with Sunderland monitoring his situation.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sloppy play, but 3 points are 3 points

Sunderland has been struggling throughout the season and have been considered underachievers so far. I was hoping their poor form could continue for the game against Tottenham, but I was surprised with their display.

Once again, Tottenham's first half was abysmal, with poor displays from Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Adebayor in particular. Sunderland were no doubt a better side in the first half and they almost got the lead when Richardson was all alone in front of the goal, but couldn't get the final touch on the ball delivered by Larsson.

First half ended with 0:0 and I was outraged with teams display. They seemed unmotivated and movement was just horrible. Yet again, Harry did his wonders in the dressing room and you could really see the new side on the pitch in the second half. In 61st minute, Van der Vaart played a perfect pass to Pavlyuchenko, who was awful till that moment, when he converted this chance into a goal.

It was then when things took the turn for the better for Spurs, Assou-Ekotto was superb on the left flank with Modric cutting more into the middle, which created a lot of space for Cameroonian. Sandro displayed yet another great defensive performance in the middle of the park with his great tackles and aggression and Adebayor was maybe the best player in the finishing moments of the game. He has shown some great movement and technique to preserve the ball in some vital moments.

All in all, I'm satisfied, seeing how odds were against Spurs, but is this kind of game enough to compete with Chelsea on Thursday? I don't think so. Hopefully, Bale will be fit and I think Defoe might be given a chance, at least from the bench. His exclusion today was perhaps the biggest surprise. Perhaps Harry was angered by Defoe's statement that he will leave the club if he doesn't start more EPL games.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Meet Stoke City - team with 5 goalkeepers and a butcher named Ryan

Yes, I know the game was 2 days ago, but I had my problems. Finals on my college...

Anyway, getting to a point, Spurs have dropped 3 points against Stoke and yet again I almost punched a hole in my screen while watching the game.

The way Stoke City plays is a shame for all of EPL. There were literally 4-5 handballs in their 16 yard box and not once did the referee point to the spot. I mean, you'd have to be literally a blind man to miss it all. First of all, goal that gave Stoke City the lead, clear handball by Peter Crouch. Did the linesman signal it? Of course not.

Though I agree Stoke deserved the lead at the break, because Spurs just couldn't match their aggressive play, in the second half, Tottenham deserved much, much more than they got.

There was a given penalty when Modric was brought down, simply because there was no question about it. Even the Stoke City players wouldn't protest, except for the crowd, but there you have it. Stoke City supporters took any chance to 'boo' their opposition, especially Modric, thinking Spurs didn't deserve that penalty.

As the game marched on, Stoke formed a 10-men defence, while Spurs began pushing forward, but whenever they made a chance, Shawcross would simply make a foul that ref would miss and it went on and on and on... just like every other game.

Shawcross was the one that broke the leg of Ramsey in two places, making him unavailable for almost a whole season for Arsenal. Did he get suspended? Of course not. Why? Because FA is a joke! He's out there, doing it again, just like his fellow long lost brother Nigel de Jong. Players like that make me sick. They're everything that's wrong with football, and were it up to me, they'd never play again.

So the game went on, Spurs continued attacking and creating chances, most notably when the ball struck Huth, I think, on the goal line, he defended with his hands. Yeah, I'm not even joking, protests began, but Stoke City man Chris Foy wouldn't hear of it. Action continued as Adebayor got the ball 2 yards on side, scoring a goal only to be judged offside by the linesman.

There were many other occasions where Stoke players used their hands to defend, and I don't mean Sorensen, I mean players.

The best part was when Kaboul went to the referee to tell him about the handball, not raising his voice, not using any curse words, just to make it clear to Foy how much he robbed his team, man of the game Chris pulls out a yellow card on Kaboul. Unbelievable! Moments after that, Kaboul commits a foul on the other side of the half, merely pushes Stoke City player and gets second yellow!

But wait, it gets better... why FA is a joke, you might ask yourself. Well, after a horrific display from this man calling himself the EPL referee, FA will take absolutely no action against him, allowing him to continue with his job next weekend on the Fulham - Bolton match. Fulham and Bolton fans, I'd say brace yourselves.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ajax captain Vertonghen edges closer to Spurs

£10M rated Belgium international is apparently one step closer to Spurs, as they're making him their top target for the next transfer period.

Jan Vertonghen is a long-term target for Tottenham and now that Ajax is out of the Champions League, it looks increasingly likely that they could let go of their prized asset in the January. Vertonghen has attracted a lot of interest in the past two years, with him being linked to such teams as Arsenal, Man City, Inter, Liverpool and even European Champions Barcelona.

His contract expires in 2013, which means that his price will only go down.

Cahill has been also a target for Redknapp, but it looks as though he's about to join Chelsea, who already have great defence, in my opinion, but will be looking for a bargain, seeing as how Cahill will only be having 6 months left on his contract with Bolton in January.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Great Run Continues

Even though they practically got kicked out of Europe last Wednesday, they came back strong against woeful Bolton. It took only 7 minutes for Spurs to take the lead, with Bale getting a touch on Modric's corner.

10 minutes after that, Cahill lost the ball trying to dribble with no cover behind, he lost it and made a foul which saw him receive a red card. There were a lot of protests from Bolton players claiming that he wasn't the last defender, but Cahill didn't say a word. The moment I saw replay, it became clear that the correct decision has been made.

You can pretty much imagine what happens afterwards. Spurs began pushing forward, creating chance after chance, but experienced Finland goalkeeper Jaaskelainen managed to deny then a two-goal lead, that is, until 50th minute when Lennon scored a goal from inside the box.

Spurs continued with their dominant display, with Modric bossing the midfield along with Parker, and Bale terrorizing Bolton defence, but Bolton keeper was simply outstanding today. Defoe later scored 3rd, similar situation to the first goal scored by Bale, only this time, Bale's deflection from the corner landed on Defoe's foot about 1 yard away from the goal.

It could have been 7:0, but thanks to Jaaskelainen, Bolton "survived" with their dignity intact... sort of.

This makes 31 points from the last 11 games for Spurs and the next game is away from home at Stoke City against a team that has not been at its best lately, losing 4 out of 5 matches.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tottenham preparing £7M bid for Hoilett

Tottenham is stepping up their interest in Blackburn's out-of-contract player Hoilett, who has only 7 months left in the club. Blackburn are one of the under-achieving clubs in the EPL right now and they're being tipped to get relegated.

Canadian winger David 'Junior' Hoilett has been a bright spot on a lousy season Blackburn endured so far, but he's reluctant to sign a new contract, which has put many clubs on alert, and Spurs are considered to be the favorites to snap up this explosive striker, who can also be deployed as a winger.

He has also attracted interest from Newcastle and Stoke City, and Spurs will surely face a battle in January to sign him.

This news brings to motion Kranjcar's situation at the club. Currently, the Croat is injured, but it is known that he doesn't have a guaranteed place in Harry's squad. He was expected to leave the club last summer, but Tottenham's high evaluation put off any potential suitors. Roma are now in pole position to sign the attacking midfielder and it is expected that he will be let go for the similar sum the club plans to invest in Hoilett.

Miserable Spurs out of Europa League

As soon as Spurs beat Liverpool in last seasons 5th place decider, everyone felt it wasn't really a fight worth fighting for. Europe League has a low reputation and few teams take it seriously.

Harry announced that Tottenham will be focusing on Premier League and that 4th spot for the Champions League, which is, of course, the most prestigious competition on club level. So, Spurs got into Europa League games basically with their reserves and youngsters like Corluka, Bassong, Pienaar, Pavlyuchenko and Carroll, Livermore, Kane, Rose, Fredericks, etc.

They started with a draw against PAOK away from home, which wasn't a big surprise, PAOK has a solid reputation as one of the best football clubs from Greece, but then Tottenham managed to beat Shamrock Rovers at home, which was expected by everyone, and another win came against Rubin at home. With 7 points out of three games, everyone saw Spurs in the second leg.

Then came supposedly the toughest game Spurs had to play, Rubin away in cold Russia. Again, with reserves and youngsters, nobody was making them favorites, and Rubin managed to win the game by 1:0.

So, 4 games, 7 points, not to bad? All that's left is PAOK at home and Shamrock away. Surely everyone expected 2 wins for Spurs, but Greeks came with a surprise, taking the lead very quickly by taking advantage of some poor defending from Gallas and Bassong. Shortly after that, Corluka was caught out of position and PAOK hit Spurs from the counter-attack to double their lead. Disaster for lilywhites.

After some sloppy attacking play from Spurs reserves and Modric, they managed to get a shot on the goal which was deflected by a 17-year old Stafylids, who then saved a goal with his hand. On purpose? Hard to tell. My guess is not, but the referee saw it otherwise. Teenager was shown no mercy. Red card and a penalty for Spurs. Everything turned around so quickly after Modric scored a penalty and looked like Spurs could turn it around with extra player on the pitch. But they seemed highly unmotivated, waiting as long as 80' to make a real chance for them when Defoe scored a goal which was later cancelled due to the tackle Defoe made previously. Very controversial part of the game. Why wouldn't the ref stop the play right away, but then wait for Spurs to score a goal and only then signal a foul.

Spurs continued attacking afterwards, but it clearly wasn't enough to earn them a goal with Greeks having a lot of luck defending themselves. Now they're the leaders of the group with 11 points, right behind them is Rubin with 10, while Spurs are on the 3rd spot with 7 points they earned in the first three games. Rubin has a goal difference of 10:4, while Spurs have 5:4. Only way Spurs are able to get through is for PAOK to beat Rubin at home and Spurs to beat Shamrock away and will have to that with few extra goals in order to have a better goal difference than Rubin. Mission impossible, much?

Nonetheless, Tottenham now has plenty of time to focus on whats really important. Keeping the good form in EPL going. Last season similar things happened. Spurs started of well in domestic league, also did well in CL, and then the form suddenly dropped. They got trashed by Real Madrid 4:0 and made a poor run in EPL, allowing Man City to get ahead and to grab their 4th and then Arsenal's 3rd spot. Lets just hope Harry has learned his lesson and has a trick up his sleeve when the bad form comes, which is certain to hit us at some point.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How vital Modric actually is for Spurs

Last game Spurs played against WBA, Modric was missing from the team sheet. There were no news day before that he could miss the game, so I was a bit surprised to see the lineup without him. Redknapp later confirmed Luka was out with a cold, so he decided to let him off.

Tottenham played an abysmal first half with WBA controlling most of the game and winning the midfield battle, even though Spurs had both Parker and Sandro in the middle. It was clear that something was missing, someone to be more precise.

Modric was much needed in the middle during the first half, as Spurs struggled to make any chances. Luckily, Lennon made a great run and earned a penalty which saw Spurs go into the dressing room tied 1:1.

In the second half, Parker took the responsibility of a playmaker and Spurs somehow managed to bag to goals at the end of the game.

Throughout the whole game, I must say, Spurs just weren't the better side and the only reason they won was pure luck and a great individual class shown by Defoe. When playing Aston Villa week before, Spurs dominated the game and result could have been 5:0 easily, but a 2:0 is always a satisfying result. The reason Tottenham was able to dominate the game was the domination in midfield, clearly due to the workrate from both Modric and Parker, but it appears as Modric was vital for Spurs that game, with his technique and great ball control. Honestly, when have you seen him loose a ball? If he can't play it to anyone, he can easily dribble pass the opponents and always looks to find the best solution, and it seems as lately he improved his shooting. Remember the screamer against Liverpool in the 4:0 thrashing at White Hart Lane? He started it off with a brilliant right-foot effort from more than 20 yards.

How right was Levy not to let him go, and I'm hoping he'll sign a new deal soon which will see him earn 100,000 pounds a week, a sum a player of his caliber clearly deserves.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Another scalp for Spurs

Tottenham had a tough game facing WBA away from home with both Van der Vaart (hamstring) and Modric (virus) out of the game.

Lack of creativity sure was quite visible in first half and result at half time could have been worse for Spurs, but thanks to a great run from Lennon, Adebayor managed to score after missing a penalty to cancel out Mulumbu's 10' opener.

In the second half, Spurs began to attack more and Defoe scored a beauty short before the end of the match to provide Spurs yet another victory. In the last minute, Bale was in WBA's 16 yard box for the 3rd time and this time he decided to assist the ball to Adebayor, who scored with a deflection from the keeper to settle the score at 1:3 for Spurs.

Another brace from Adebayor, though he was lucky to score both goals, while the real hero of this match was certainly Defoe, who has shown Capello that he may count on him for the Euro 2012. Could Defoe be coming into these games extra motivated to claim a place in English Euro Cup side? He sure does seem a lot better than he was last season, lets just hope he continues down this path, and Spurs might not need a striker in January after all.

Redknapp himself said he was displeased with first half, but he had a talk with the players and turned it around in the second, apparently.

Spurs sure did look a lot better in the second half with Parker being more involved in attack. With no Modric, Spurs had to rely on Parker as a playmaker today, and I  must say, he did a magnificent job out there. So far, Parker has been a ball winning midfielder for the team and he's been nothing short of a pure success since joining on deadline day. When I saw the line up, it was clear that Parker was going to have more attacking duties. Since I haven't seen him much in attack, I was a bit skeptical about Harry's decision, since he had Pienaar left on the bench, but Parker sure did prove me wrong. He showed some great technique, creativity, and what surprised me the most, pace. Had great runs through the middle and some fine passes on the flanks, though his shots weren't quite successful.

Lennon and Bale spent most of the second half on opposite sides to what they usually play. Lennon was on the left and Bale was on the right. I must say that Bale seems to be losing pace, he's not as quick as he used to be, but sure has improved some of his qualities. Lennon had some fine runs as well, proving he's an important player for the club.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sandro situation

I have to say I'm a bit surprised with Sandro's position at the club. He had an amazing season last term for Spurs, but now faces bench in favor of Scott Parker.

Nobody can argue that Parker has been nothing short of a success for the club, but when Real Madrid came looking for Sandro in summer, Spurs slapped a price tag of 35M euros on him, making it clear they have no intention of selling him. So what is the plan for Sandro now? I don't think there's a team in Premier League where Parker wouldn't get the starting place, seeing as how he's a regular at Capello's English side, but a place for a player like Sandro must be found, at least in some rotation, or maybe an even better option would be to send him on a loan.

Who are Spurs looking to bring in this winter?

Spurs have been a bit modest in their last 2-3 transfer windows, with only few bargain signings, not splashing out a lot, and it seems as January won't be any different.

Two main targets for January will surely be Junior Hoilett from Blackburn and Gary Cahill from Bolton, both having only 6 months remaining on their contracts. Spurs will be looking for new bargains, but there have been talks about a long-term target Leandro Damiao from Internacional, though his price tag is putting Spurs off at the moment, with Brazilian side asking for an eye-watering 40M euros, equivalent of 34M pounds. Surely Levy won't spend that much on a player who has not been proven in Europe and I agree, why waste all that money on him? Though a new striker is needed, Adebayor has gotten of to a good start, but seeing as Defoe is on a brink of an exit, as is Pavlyuchenko, Spurs will need more firepower up front, since Crouch and Keane both left in the summer for Stoke City and LA Galaxy respectively.

Will Tottenham's great run continue after WBA match?

Tottenham Hotspur are a guest team at West Brom Albion on Saturday 15:00 Greenwich time, and are made favorites for this match at odds on their side (1.9), though it is known that Spurs are always having a tough time outside of White Hart Lane.

New signings Parker and Adebayor have been in a magnificent form since joining the side in summer, with Ade scoring 2 goals against Aston Villa at home last Monday to provide Spurs yet another victory to push them to 3rd place of EPL.

Form has been great throughout the team, with Kaboul making a real step forward as a much needed central defender. Also, I'd like to point out that Lennon really impressed me last game with his willingness in attack, he seems more motivated this term and I really hope to see the old Lennon back on Spurs. Form of Spurs stars Bale and Modric is unquestionable, though I'm not satisfied with last performance Van der Vaart put in, not sure if its formation, but he seemed out of form last game. Hopefully, Redknapp will find a solution for him, but at the moment, Defoe seems like a better option in attack in my opinion.