April 25, 2010

Spurs loanee update 25/04/10

Currently we have the following players out on loan:

Jon ObikaMillwall
David Button – Shrewsbury Town
Adam Smith – Torquay United
Adel TaarabtQPR
Steven Caulker – Yeovil Town
Mirko Ranieri – Ipswich Town (U18s)
Giovani dos Santos – Galatasaray
Jamie O’Hara – Portsmouth
Kyle NaughtonMiddlesborough
Alan Hutton – Sunderland
Robbie Keane – Celtic

Now returned from loan:

Adam Smith – Wycombe Wanderers
Ben Alnwick – Norwich City
Lee Butcher – Grays Athletic
Dean ParrettAldershot Town
David Button – Crewe Alexandra
Sam Cox – Cheltenham Town
Danny Rose – Peterborough
Lee Butcher – Leyton Orient
Oscar JanssonExeter City
Sam Cox – Histon
Jake Livermore – Derby County
Andros Townsend – Leyton Orient
Calum Butcher – Barnet
Jamie O’Hara – Portsmouth
John BostockBrentford
Troy Archibald-HenvilleExeter City (now joined Exeter permanently)
Kyle Walker – Sheffield United
Sam Cox – Torquay United
Jake LivermorePeterborough United
Andros Townsend – MK Dons
Ryan Mason – Yeovil Town

Jonathan Obika isn’t getting too much action for Millwall, with their strikers (Morison, Batt and Harris) all in decent form, and the team winning.

After his goal in the game against Yeovil (goal on around 1:10), Kenny Jackett singled him out for some praise:

“It was good to see Jon get his goal. He is a good finisher and his goal-per-game ratio is good.”

He has now made 11 sub appearances for Millwall, scoring twice. His other goal – 1:20 in. He comes short for the ball initially, and then sweeps in with a nice finish at the near post.

David Button has had a promising spell at Shrewsbury, keeping nine clean sheets for them (twelve all season) in 26 appearances.

Paul Simpson’s praised Button in the local press this week:

“Dave Button’s played a huge part in it, as have all the back five,” said Prostar chief Simpson.

“We’ve had a lot of situations where the opposition have got in behind us but Dave’s stood up really strong.

“Three clean sheets is a great achievement and now we want to make it four and then five.”

Simpson insisted he had been delighted with the impact of the big England under-20 international since drafting him in on loan from White Hart Lane in November.

“I think Dave’s a hell of a good goalkeeper,” he said. “He’s a good size, he’s a real presence in the 18 yard box and he’s an excellent kicker which is a big part of a keeper’s game now.

“He’s been much more positive over the last month or two as Dave Timmins has been drumming into him the need to get on the front foot, and we’re seeing the benefit of that.

“Whether or not he’s going to get in at Tottenham over the next year or two, I don’t really know, but he’s got a great chance from what I’ve seen.

“He’s done himself no harm at all coming here and he’s had a run of games which has done him the world of good.

“He’s grown in confidence and I would imagine there will be clubs at a higher level who will want to take him next year.”

Adam Smith is supposedly unofficially back at Spurs, after losing his place in the Torquay United team. It’s a shame for Adam, as he was a regular for them earlier in the season, was popular with the fans, and has made 16 appearances for them in total. It will be interesting to see whether we hang on to him and try to get him out on loan again next year.

Adel Taarabt came off injured in QPR’s win against Watford in midweek, and therefore missed this weekend’s match. He is still having a mixed time – drawing interesting comment from Neil Warnock:

“Adel, I don’t know what you do with Adel really,” Warnock told Sky Sports News.

“I play a system for him really and I don’t think you can do that in the Premiership.

I think he’ll probably leave Spurs in the summer, if it’s not us, it will be somewhere else.

“He’s got a tremendous gift if you can find the right place for him. He’s done well for me and I’d like to keep him, but I think finances will dictate that.”

Warnock, who left Crystal Palace to take charge of QPR last month, is expecting a summer of rebuilding following the club’s fight against relegation.

He added: “I’ll be looking at all the situations and if I don’t think they are going to be in the squad next year I will try and move players on.

“That’s always the case and the whole club needs a bit of a look at.”

And this just a few weeks after these comments:

“Adel has tremendous skill. I said if he played well today he could have a few days off.

“He is shooting off to catch a train. I think he is going to France, I can’t tell with him. He is a rogue.”

He is seen as a Marmite player on the QPR forums – this thread is worth a read.

There are rumours suggesting that we will want over £4m for him in the summer, and Sevilla have been strongly linked.

Steven Caulker continues to impress at Yeovil Town. He consistently does well in the Player of the Month polls on Yeovil fan-site Ciderspace, often winning them. He should comfortably win their Player of the Season award, and I’d imagine that he will either be sent to a Championship club, or be involved in our cup matches next year.

Unfortunately for Steven, arguably his worst game for Yeovil came in the defeat by Leeds, live in Sky Sports. He managed to keep Beckford quiet, but his man scored twice from set pieces, which will have disappointed him.

Interesting interview:

Over the course of the season with you playing week-in, week-out, how much do you think you’ve learned over the past six, seven, eight months?

SC: Massively, physically, technically and also on the mental side of things. You’re learning how to turn out game after game, whereas before if you were feeling tired you could just take a game out. But here, with the points at stake, you just have to be ready for it week-in, week-out.

Giovani dos Santos has been a regular for Galatasaray, playing alongside the likes of Elano, Harry Kewell, Lucas Neill and Milan Baros. In fact, it probably tells you a lot that Milan Baros has been free-scoring, and Lucas Neill is currently being viewed as one of their best players.

A fortnight ago, Milan Baros scored a hat-trick for them in a 4-1 win, with Lucas Neill getting the other goal. A report – there’s also a decent clip there. Giovani got an assist for Neill’s goal. Some of the defending is unbelievably bad.

I would imagine that he will be on his way in the summer, but we shall see.

Jamie O’Hara is currently sitting it out for Portsmouth with a back injury, but is hoping to be fit for the FA Cup final.

Portsmouth-Mad gave him 7/10 for his performance against Blackburn, and he also scored highest (7/10 again) after their Chelsea thrashing.

Before that, he scored a superb free-kick against Hull (Portsmouth-Mad gave him 8/10 that day).

Kyle Naughton‘s spell at Middlesborough hasn’t worked out as well as we’d have hoped, and I do wonder why we’ve left him there. He is currently struggling to get selected ahead of Justin Hoyte and, when he has been picked, it’s normally been as left-back cover in recent games.

Alan Hutton had a bit of a nightmare for Sunderland yesterday. He was sent off for an incident involving Altidore – I think he can feel slightly hard done-by, but he should also be embarrassed at his behaviour. Sending off incident at 5:18. Hutton throws the ball at Altidore, and then goes down like a sack of potatoes when Altidore “headbutts” him.
Although, frankly, Hutton could have been sent off for the tackle on 3:35, which is a shocker.
Also worth checking out his defending for the penalty incident, 3:50.

Steve Bruce’s comments on the sending off are worth a read:

Alan Hutton was a bit silly to throw the ball at Altidore’s back, but that wasn’t going to hurt him.

The letter of the law is apparently that if you throw the ball then it is a red card, but that, for me, doesn’t warrant the same punishment as a headbutt.

It’s a good job that Hutton managed to get out of the road as much as he did, but he has still ended up with a cut eye, a smashed nose and a chipped tooth.

He was close to having really serious facial injuries. In a way, he was lucky because it could have been far, far worse and he could have been in hospital now.

The last thing you want is somebody to headbutt you – that’s GBH, not a sending off.

However, on the whole, his loan move seems to have been a success, and Bruce is keen to keep him:

We’ll do our utmost. We’ve got to respect Tottenham and see if they want to sell him.

He’s been fantastic since he’s come here. He gives you so much going forward, so we’ll see what develops. I’d love to make it a permanent move if I could. He’s been excellent.

Robbie Keane has been named Celtic’s Player of the Year, and has now scored 13 goals (9 in the league).

Keane’s goals:
Vs Dunfermline: Keane’s penalty
Vs Aberdeen: Keane assist on 20 secs, and goal on 40 secs
Vs Dundee United: Keane’s goal
Vs Falkirk: Keane’s two goals
Vs Kilmarnock: Goal 1, goal 2, goal 3.
Vs St Johnstone: Keane’s penalty.
Vs Kilmarnock: Keane’s first goal, Keane’s second goal.
Vs Hibs: Keane’s penalty.
Vs Hibs: Robbie Keane’s goal.

In terms of players who are now back from loan, we played West Ham in a reserve friendly last week. The team that started was:

Alnwick
K Walker Caulker Livermore Smith
Townsend Parrett Jenas Rose
Mason
Bostock

Spurs report.
West Ham report

We won 5-2, with Andros Townsend scoring twice, and John Bostock, Steven Caulker and Adam Smith also getting on the scoresheet.

In other news, a few of our young players have attended the Premier League exit trials, and Sam Cox has had a trial at Exeter City. I saw this on an Exeter forum


Sam Cox looked impressive, doing the best last ditch challenge ive ever seen in my life by sliding and heading the ball away… amazing

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April 25, 2010

Analysis of the goals conceded against Manchester United

One of those days? Possibly. The odd team selection didn’t help, in my opinion. Not only did we unnecessarily change a team that won well last week, but we ended up with a left-back looking ridiculously uncomfortable at right-back, and a central midfielder who clearly wasn’t match-sharp and who, as a result, was lacking in virtually every area of his game.

Giggs’ first goal.

Berbatov has the ball wide on the left for United, and beats Assou-Ekotto with ease.

Despite his attempts to pull him back (if you’re going to do it, do it properly!), Berbatov gets away, and wanders into the danger area.

Dawson holds him up, but Berbatov shows great awareness to play a back-heel perfectly into Evra’s path.

I can’t explain this. A rash tackle in the box with his wrong foot – I’d ask what he was thinking, but I think the issue is more that he wasn’t.

The referee’s view is partially obscured by Palacios, but it’s not a difficult decision to make.

Gomes goes the right way, and gets painfully close to keeping it out.

Absolute suicide, having looked relatively solid for nearly an hour.

Nani’s goal.

It’s 1-1 at Old Trafford, with only 10 minutes to go. Just keep it tight.
In fairness, it’s a slick move from United, but we could certainly defend it better.

Fletcher has the ball wide on the left. We’re relatively well-set to defend, although Assou-Ekotto (now back over on the left), has got himself caught higher up the pitch than Bale.

You can see from this angle that Bale is the deepest player on the left, with Crouch and Assou-Ekotto ahead of him. Macheda has dropped off, and neither our centre backs nor central midfielders have decided to deal with him.

Fletcher fizzes a ball in to Macheda’s feet. His first touch is good, and the movement off the ball means that he has an excellent option. Crouch, Modric and Assou-Ekotto are now out of the game if United are quick about it. Bale hasn’t tucked round nearly enough at this point.

King is caught between a rock and a hard place. Does he go to Macheda, or does he mark Nani? Unfortunately, if Bale had been switched on, it wouldn’t be an issue but, as it is, King is left with a real job on his hands.

Nani is quick, but he also has the advantage of a head-start when Macheda plays the ball into him.

Nani gets way from King easily on the turn and, with Bale no longer in the picture, he’s left with a great chance.

How about the finish though? Quite exquisite.

Giggs’ second goal.

As if we hadn’t seen enough mindless defending, Wilson wanted to get in on the act…

Nani picks the ball up and, with no options, drives at Dawson.

He turns Dawson inside and out, but with Palacios back on the cover, it looks as though we should be able to see the move out.

Nani’s forced wider than he’d have liked by Dawson, so it’s just a case of standing up and either getting the ball out for a corner, or waiting for him to try to force something.

Instead, Palacios tries to go through Nani to get the ball, putting his hands on his back. Nani’s not stupid – he is going wide, so he is happy to slow up and wait for the contact.

Nani feels the contact, and goes down.

Again, not a difficult decision for the referee, but a ludicrously soft penalty to give away.

Gomes goes the right way again but, like the first, Giggs puts it far enough in the corner, and with enough power to get it beyond him.

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April 24, 2010

Belief, bouncebackability, beating the big boys, and Bale.

Even if we don’t take 4th this season, the fact that we are arguably in pole position at this late stage is, to me, so, so impressive. I have been saying since the beginning and throughout the season that I fully expected us to end up 6th or 7th. This hadn’t changed until after the Chelsea game. A quite remarkable week of results. In fact, remove the Sunderland blip (and erase the memory, god we were poor that day) and we have done exceptionally well in the league since the away defeat at Wolves on February 10th, especially whilst juggling a cup run, and with injuries to key players:

Chelsea (H) – W 2-1
Arsenal (H) – W 2-1
Sunderland (A) – L 3-1
Portsmouth (H) – W 2-0
Stoke (A) – W 2-1
Blackburn (H) – W 3-1
Everton (H) – W 2-1
Wigan (A) – W 3-0

Seven wins in eight games….magnificent.

I wrote earlier in the season regarding our issues with “bouncing back” in games, and I still have concerns over our mental strength within games. That said, our ability to bounce back after poor results has markedly improved. No longer do we seem to slump for what seems like half a season. Instead, we bounced back after the Wolves defeat by thrashing Wigan. We bounced back after the semi-final defeat by beating two of our biggest rivals. Whether we have Redknapp, his coaching staff, or a little of both to thank for this new-found belief, I salute them – it’s been a long time coming.

Regardless of where we finish, this season has seen us take huge strides in the right direction. Not only have we “earned more points (61), conceded joint-fewest goals (33) & won more games (18) than in any Premier League season” (optajoe), but we’ve finally ended our “Big Three” hoodoo! Another opta stat: “During the “noughties” [Tottenham] won just three of their 61 league matches against Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd, but have now won two in the space of four days and face United on Saturday.”

All this whilst remembering last season, where we had how many points after how many games, Harry?

In all seriousness, we aren’t getting the attention that we deserve in the press. This is probably partially because Spurs fans have notoriously been seen as cocky, despite a poor PL record, and also because most people (wrongly) see the top 5 as our natural position, based purely on our recent spending. According to transferleague, we have the 4th highest net spend in the Premier League years. Of course, that doesn’t take into account that our wage bill is, for example, approximately half of Arsenal’s.

Our Premier League finishes to date have been:

08/09 8th
07/08 11th
06/07 5th
05/06 5th
04/05 9th
03/04 14th
02/03 10th
01/02 9th
00/01 12th
99/00 10th
98/99 11th
97/98 14th
96/97 10th
95/96 8th
94/95 7th
93/94 15th
92/93 8th

Quite remarkable that we have only finished in the Premier League’s top 6 three times, only qualified for Europe three times, and are still seen as expected to finish in these sorts of positions. Wherever we finish this year, we should not underestimate Redknapp’s achievements.

Finally, a special mention to Gareth Bale. With Lennon out, a number of players have stepped up to the plate and shown glimpses of their ability – Modric , Kranjcar, and even Bentley have, in fits and starts, allowed us to cope without Lennon. But nobody has stepped up to quite the same extent as Gareth Bale.

I think most Spurs fans knew that he was talented and hoped that one day he would come good, be it at left back or left midfield (still the debate rumbles on). But I don’t think that anyone could have predicted the impact that he has had. I don’t think it’s over-egging it to say that he has almost single-handedly won us points, and he has been an absolute pleasure to watch.

That said, I submitted my Player of the Year vote this week, and opted for Michael Dawson – an absolute rock for us who should, without a shadow of a doubt, be travelling to South Africa this summer. To think that anyone believes that Matthew Upson is a better player than him is quite worrying.

I pray that our form continues against United today – some points at Old Trafford would be an unexpected delight. COME ON YOU SPURS!

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April 18, 2010

Analysis of the goal conceded against Chelsea, and some thoughts on the game

What a difference a week makes. Absolutely battered by Sunderland where, let’s be honest, it could have been six. Beaten at Wembley, albeit with luck against us. Yet we come back to beat two of the current top three. Even more impressive when you take our recent record against them into account:


Optajoe: Can Tottenham continue to be a spanner in the works for the current “Big Three” sides? During the “noughties” they won just three of their 61 league matches against Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd, but have now won two in the space of four days and face United on Saturday.

Yesterday’s performance against Chelsea was incredible. Now, I don’t for a minute think that Chelsea were anywhere near their best – the space they afforded us was unexpected to say the least. But the way we took them apart was magnificent, and we could have won far more comfortably had Mr Pavlyuchenko had his shooting boots on.

I analysed all three goals in the Arsenal game, but in this article I’m going to focus solely on the Chelsea goal, as ours were a bit more straightforward.

Lampard’s goal.

The ball is slid wide to Ballack and, aside from the fact that we’re not quick out to meet him, we’re fairly well set, with Kaboul tucked in, Bentley in a decent defensive position, and Huddlestone sat in front of the defence.

Assou-Ekotto comes out to meet Ballack, but he still has time and space to deliver. Yet, at this point, it seems that he has no-one to deliver to.

This is what Chelsea, and Lampard in particular, are all about. Ballack just feeds a ball into that area – behind the defence, and in front of the goalkeeper. Between the previous image and this one, Lampard has got on his bike. He has left Huddlestone, who passes him on to Kaboul -fairly standard.

But Lampard has the momentum, whereas Kaboul is caught on his heels.

Lampard slides to meet the cross (which, by the way, is a beauty).

Gomes has no chance.

Top piece of play from Chelsea, one of the few moments of quality that they showed in the match. You can almost accept conceding from these sorts of moves, as it is a excellent ball, and impressive desire from Lampard. However, Chelsea created so little throughout the rest of the game – mainly thanks to another wonderful team performance. Our defensive shape over the last two games has been very impressive – we look compact and organised.

It could be argued that our hand has almost been forced by Palacios’ suspension but, for me, Huddlestone has been exceptional in the holding role – I must admit that I didn’t think he had it in him. We all know that, given time and space, he is a devastating passer of the ball, and also a player that keeps the ball moving well. However, his last two displays have been reminiscent of Carrick, who played that role so well for us. Where Palacios likes to get close to players, Huddlestone (and Modric to an extent) have instead just positioned themselves to limit the options. Both Arsenal and Chelsea really struggled to break us down as a result. I wouldn’t change that for the United match.

Full marks too to the full-backs and wingers, who have all also played an underrated role in the last two wins. In fact, everyone has played a part, not least Redknapp, who has out-thought two of the best tacticians in world football. Remarkable.

Closing thought – only two of the players that started yesterday (Bassong and Kaboul) weren’t signed by a Director of Football. Maybe there was merit in that system after all?

Follow me on Twitter: @WindyCOYS.

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April 15, 2010

Analysis of the goals scored and conceded against Arsenal

Like many other Spurs fans, I’m sure, I’ve had a pretty good day today.
It had been far, far too long.

As an aside, before I launch into my analysis of the goals, I’d say that Redknapp’s Sun column is worth a read today.

It’s good to see Huddlestone get a special mention – I thought he was exceptional in a slightly unfamiliar role on Wednesday evening, but not many seem to have picked up on his performance.

He played the holding role, and was so disciplined and clever throughout the game. When Modric and Palacios have played together, they’ve both been here, there and everywhere. With Huddlestone in there, Modric could wander, safe in the knowledge that Tom had his back. Now, I don’t think that Huddlestone is, therefore, a better bet as the more defensive-minded midfield player, but I think that the emphasis has to be on the partnership.

If only he could weigh in with a few more goals, I think he would get the chance for England that he probably deserves.

Rose’s goal.

Spurs prepare to take a corner – I think we will have fancied our chances from corners, as Almunia isn’t particularly good on crosses, and Arsenal were also missing Gallas and Song.

As it happens, Almunia actually gets quite good distance on his punch. However, he then falls over rather dramatically…

As Almunia scrambles to his feet, he bumps into a defender (possibly Campbell), and this stops him retreating to his line quickly. Rose claims that he was initially going to bring the ball down, but decided to strike it first time at the last minute.

His technique is spot on. Will he ever strike a ball better?

Almunia simply can’t scramble back quick enough, and it goes in just over his head.

I loved Alan Parry’s “WHAAAAT A GOOOOOAL!” commentary!

Bale’s goal.

Bale’s goal couldn’t have come at a better time – straight after the restart.

A long ball finds Defoe wide on the left. He actually mis-controls it, as it hits his heel and bounces off, which probably does us a favour.

Instead of trying to run in behind, he holds the ball up really well.

Assou-Ekotto makes an excellent run, which takes some of the emphasis off Bale, who is now looking to move in behind the centre back.

Whether Defoe is just feeding this into an area or intentionally looking for Bale is regardless – it’s a tremendous ball.

Perfectly weighted for Bale to stroll on to it, safely onside, due to Sagna’s absolute ineptitude.

It looks as though he needs to take it round Almunia and finish with his right.

But isn’t that a calm finish with his left? Great move, great finish.

Bendtner’s goal.

We could have done without the nervous last five minutes!!

Robin van Persie made a huge difference, coming on against some tired legs. Here, he has dropped off, and holds the ball up on the edge of the area. Modric probably isn’t close enough, and Dawson and King should perhaps be a little more aware of Bendtner’s position, as they have left Assou-Ekotto to deal with him. Having said that, Assou-Ekotto could probably have stepped up and played Walcott offside.

It’s a nicely-weighted pass for Walcott, who still has quite a bit to do. Bendtner’s in an offside position, but isn’t active.

All those bodies back mean that Walcott’s pass has to be inch perfect. In fairness, he gets it absolutely spot on.

Bedntner bundles the ball home, and leaves us with a tense finale.

However, we needn’t have worried, as a certain someone had, I would imagine, the best twenty minute performance of his life. Exceptional….

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