July 31, 2011

A few thoughts on Brighton vs Spurs

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I was really impressed by Brighton’s new “AMEX” stadium, which is designed nicely to fit into the valley, and seems the perfect size for a club of Brighton’s stature. Getting there was easy too – free train travel from the main Brighton station for those with a match ticket, and a 10 minute run up the line to Falmer. I could also have got a bus from the city centre (again free).

Spurs sent out a strong side, lining up in the standard 4-4-1-1/4-2-3-1 (depending on how you look at it!).

Friedel
Corluka Dawson Kaboul Assou-Ekotto
Lennon Jenas Livermore Bale
van der Vaart
Pavlyuchenko

The home side, managed by Gus Poyet, played a 4-4-2:

Ankergren
Calderon Dunk Greer Painter
Sparrow Dicker Bridcutt LuaLua
Barnes Mackail-Smith

My thoughts on the game:

  • A very good work-out against a technically decent and well organised Brighton team. Most of our players now have a full 90 minutes behind them.
  • A real shame that Modric wasn’t involved – supposedly he has been ill. I’m sure many people are reading a lot more into it than I care to!
  • Also a shame that van der Vaart went off injured in the first half; it did look like he just took a heavy knock when challenging for the ball, so I don’t think it’s too much to worry about.
  • There were not really any particularly stunning performances, but it was the best I have seen Livermore play, and he nearly scored with a lovely strike from distance that beat the keeper easily and rattled the bar.
  • In the first half, nearly all of our good moments came when Pavlyuchenko made a trademark run into the channel to drag a centre back out – he did this well at times, and his lay-offs were decent (setting up a couple of players for efforts on goal). In the second half he didn’t do this nearly as much – whether he was tired, lazy, or instructed otherwise, I’m not sure.
  • Defoe may as well not have been on the pitch – he certainly didn’t seem to me to be a striker trying to play himself back into form.
  • Bale and Lennon both had their moments, but Bale often had two or three players to contend with, and got some very rough treatment at times (one tackle in particular was really nasty). Lennon didn’t seem to want to go on the outside of the full-back – I often notice that Lennon is like this when not playing at full intensity.
  • Our wingers occasionally swapped sides – our first goal came from Bale dancing down the right and crossing with the outside of his left foot, having found himself there from a corner. He then fed in Corluka from the right moments later for our second.
  • Kaboul didn’t cover himself in glory for the first goal – he was easily beaten by a dummy when he had come out quite a way with his man. This left us stretched – Dawson couldn’t stop Mackail-Smith getting the ball across, and Corluka was left with two men and didn’t have a chance to get across. Otherwise Kaboul and Dawson generally did well, and to me complement one another better than Dawson/Gallas.
  • The full backs were solid, calm and reliable – having said that, LuaLua was Brighton’s best player. Corluka generally sent him inside (which seemed logical) but, unfortunately, that was where he scored the equaliser from! Gomes will be disappointed to have been beaten at his near post, and was slow to get down to the shot.
  • Corluka should have had a penalty – he went over a challenge in the corner of the Brighton box, having beaten the Brighton player to the ball. The referee bottled it and gave a corner.
  • Both teams had some long spells of keep-ball, and we were very compact during Brighton’s periods of possession – this was a useful exercise in itself.
  • We at times played some neat one-touch football, with Jenas often involved; this is one of his main strengths. Jenas played a restricted, deeper-lying role and did OK.
  • Having been unable to get a ticket in the Spurs end, I sat in Brighton’s North Stand. It is always interesting to hear what opposition fans think of our players – general comments seemed to be that we had quality all over the pitch (for example, a few fans seemed surprised at how calm Assou-Ekotto was under pressure). Gomes was seen as a figure of fun and got lots of shouts of “dodgy keeper”, etc etc. Defoe seemed to be respected as a top player and they were surprised that he was only on the bench.
  • In my opinion it was absolutely ridiculous that our promising young players (Townsend, Carroll, Kane) were left sat on the bench and not used. Surely this is partly what friendlies are for?

My “in-game” tweets in chronological order in case they are of interest:

Early corners for Brighton culminate in an effort from Lua Lua (I think!). Saved and scrambled away.
Another half chance for the home side – ball cleared to edge of box but fired wide.
1-0, deserved. Tap in after good cross. Ashley Barnes the scorer.
Lennon shoots wide after smart one-two with Pav. Lennon probably our brightest player so far.
Livermore smashes one off the bar after link up with Pav, who has moved well so far. Livermore growing into the game after nervy start.
Spurs were starting to dominate but Brighton have just played nearly five minutes of solid keep-ball, culminating in two corners.
Friedel palms Lua Lua effort out and Assou-Ekotto tidies up.
VDV off injured.
VDV picked up a knock from a heavy fall early on. Seemed like he’d run it off but Defoe has just replaced him.
Bale danced down the right, beyond two players & crossed with the outside of his left. Not sure if Kaboul or a defender got the vital touch.
It looped up beyond the keeper either way. Corluka makes it 2-1 getting forward and slotting inside near post.
Not a great half from Spurs – fairly compact but not much cutting edge. Lennon doesn’t want to go down the outside. Jenas/Livermore not got enough creativity between them. VDV injury hopefully not too serious. On the plus side, a terrific work out.
For Brighton, Lua Lua very lively and Mackail-Smith causing a few probs when taking up position between Dawson & Corluka.
Corluka did very well for his goal – beat Greer easily and tucked inside near post. Keeper should really have done better.
Tempting fate to say I backed 3-1 at 14.5 on Betfair?
Gomes getting the treatment from the home crowd…
Nice one touch move from Spurs – Jenas & Pav setting up Bale, but it goes wide. Massive pen shout – Corluka fouled by Lua Lua. Not given.
2-2, Lua Lua fires low into near post from distance. Gomes slow down but a great hit.
Bale has just been absolutely scythed down. Shocker.
He’s up and OK but I can see Townsend replacing him.
Nightmare at the back for Brighton and Livermore tucks it into an empty net.
Not the most exciting second half! Livermore prob stand out player, best I’ve seen him play.

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July 29, 2011

Spurs finish 5th in the Milk Cup – including highlights

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Last week a Tottenham Hotspur U17 squad participated in the Milk Cup, a yearly tournament held in Northern Ireland. The tournament finished on Friday, with Spurs finishing in fifth place – a respectable position for such a young side.

Mon 25 Jul (at Showgrounds, Limavaday) Otago (New Zealand) U17s 0-4 Tottenham Hotspur U17s
Scorers: Ball 2, Oduwa, OG

Grainger
Michael-Precil Gardiner Modeste Ward
McEvoy Smith Champion Ball Lameiras
Zapata-Caicedo

Subs:

Sonupe for Michael-Precil
Ogilvie for Ward
Akindayini for Zapata-Caidedo
Oduwa for McEvoy

Spurs site report
Highlights – 5:39 in

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Tue 26 Jul (at Riada Stadium, Ballymoney) Co. Farmanagh U17s 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur U17s
Scorer: McEvoy 2

Priestley,
Lyons-Foster Modeste Ogilvie Ward
Maguraushe Champion Ball Oduwa Sanoupe
Zapata-Caidedo

Subs

Michel-Precil for Lyons-Foster, 36,
McEvoy for Maguraushe, 36.
Smith for Sanoupe, 36.
Lameiras for Oduwa, 54.
Akindayini for Zapata-Caidedo, 68.

Spurs site report
Highlights – 5:41 in

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Wed 27 Jul (at Showgrounds, Ballymena) South Coast Strikers U17s 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur U17s
Scorer: Lameiras (pen)

Grainger
Ward Ogilvie Michel-Precil Gardiner
Champion Ball Smith McEvoy Lameires
Zapata-Caicedo

Subs

Sonupe for Ball, 52.
Oduwa for Zapata-Caicedo, 55.
Modeste for Gardiner, 58.
Lyons-Foster for Smith, 62.
Akindayini Michel-Precil, 67.

Highlights – 5:23 in
Spurs site report

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Thu 28 Jul (at Broughshane) Tottenham Hotspur U17s 4-3 Cherry Orchard U17s
Scorers: Lameiras, OG, Gardiner, Akindayini

Grainger
Lyons-Foster Gardiner Modeste Ogilvie
McEvoy Sonupe Lameiras Ball Oduwa
Akinayluni

Subs:

Zapata-Caicedo for Sonupe, 43.
Ward for Oduwa, 43.
Michael-Percil for Akindayini, 53.
Smith for McEvoy, 57.

Spurs site report

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Fri 29 Jul (at Showgrounds, Coleraine) Tottenham Hotspur U17s 1-1 South Coast Strikers U17s (Spurs won 4-2 on penalties)
Scorer: Ball

Grainger
Michel-Percil Gardiner Modeste Ogilvie
McEvoy Champion Lameiras Ward Ball
Zapate-Caidedo

Subs

Akindayini for Zapata-Caicedo, 51.
Oduwa for McEvoy, 57.

Spurs site report

Squad (“Premier” section rules stipulate that you can only include players born on or after 1 January 1994):

1 Billy Granger
2 Grant Ward
3 Ruben Lameiras
4 Dominic Ball
5 Kodi Lyons-Foster
6 Oliver Modeste
7 Frederick Champion
8 Emmanuel Sonupe
9 Victor Zapata-Caidedo
10 Leeroy Maguraushe
11 Kenneth McEvoy
12 Daniel Akindayiuni
13 Liam Priestly
14 Samuel Smith
15 Thomas Gardiner
16 Roman Percil
17 Kolade Nathan Oduwa
18 Connor Ogilvie

Spurs tend to select younger players for these tournaments where possible, and left out a number of players with more experience who would have been eligible. The likes of James Yeboah, Ronnie Hawkins, Lee Angol, Shaquille Coulthirst, Alex McQueen, and Laste Dombaxe would all have qualified for the tournament, but instead a number of under 16 players were used, with only one second year (Freddy Champion) included in the squad.

I have had the pleasure of reading some Milk Cup match reports from the author of the Spurs On This Day blog – he is hoping to get these posted over the course of the next week, so make sure that you check back if you are interested in our young players.

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July 27, 2011

Spurs in the Milk Cup – including highlights

Follow me on Twitter – @WindyCOYS.

A Tottenham Hotspur U17 squad is currently participating in the Milk Cup, a yearly tournament held in Northern Ireland.

Squad (“Premier” section rules stipulate that you can only include players born on or after 1 January 1994):

1 Billy Granger
2 Grant Ward
3 Ruben Lameiras
4 Dominic Ball
5 Kodi Lyons-Foster
6 Oliver Modeste
7 Frederick Champion
8 Emmanuel Sonupe
9 Victor Zapata-Caidedo
10 Leeroy Maguraushe
11 Kenneth McEvoy
12 Daniel Akindayiuni
13 Liam Priestly
14 Samuel Smith
15 Thomas Gardiner
16 Roman Percil
17 Kolade Nathan Oduwa
18 Connor Ogilvie

Champion is the only second year player involved, although a few of the other players have played for our U18 side. Kenneth McEvoy is one of the players to watch out for – a pacy striker who can also play on the wing. He should get plenty of matches for our U18s in the coming year.

Fixtures/results:

Mon 25 Jul (at Showgrounds, Limavaday) Otago (New Zealand) U17s 0-4 Tottenham Hotspur U17s
Scorers: Ball 2, Oduwa, OG

NB: The formation is a best guess.

Granger
Michael-Precil Modeste Gardiner Ward
McEvoy Smith Champion Ball Lameiras
Zapata-Caicedo

Subs:
Sonupe for Michael-Precil
Ogilvie for Ward
Akindayini for Zapata-Caicedo
Oduwa for McEvoy

Spurs site report
Highlights – 5:39 in

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Tue 26 Jul (at Riada Stadium, Ballymoney) Co. Farmanagh U17s 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur U17s

Scorer: McEvoy 2

Highlights – 5:41 in

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Wed 27 Jul (at Showgrounds, Ballymena) South Coast Strikers U17s vs Tottenham Hotspur U17s

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July 22, 2011

Introducing the "Spurs XI" – including Ceballos & Coulibaly

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Pre-season has already started but, at least for UK-based fans, the easily accessible matches begin on Saturday at Barnet, where a Spurs XI will turn out for Lee Harrison’s testemonial. The same Spurs XI squad then play MK Dons on Tuesday, followed by Leyton Orient on Friday, before the full team christen Brighton’s new stadium a week tomorrow (I will be there but unfortunately sat in the Brighton end!).

For those who do not know too much about the players that will be playing for the Spurs XI, here’s a little bit about them.

Goalkeepers

Ben Alnwick (24) – probably one of the better known players in the Spurs XI, Alnwick signed a contract extension this summer, which surprised a few people (including myself). Having made just three starts for Spurs since joining in 2006/7, and failing to impress in any of those, it was widely expected that he would move on. However, he and fellow goalkeeper David Button seem to be sharing the Spurs XI number one jersey this summer. From the highlights I saw of the game against Nottingham Forest, he made some very decent saves, but I personally don’t regard him as a future first-team player.

David Button (22) – having played 29 games for Plymouth Argyle last season, David will be looking for experience at a higher level over the coming season so, like a number of the other players, will see these friendlies as a “shop window” opportunity. David is a decent all-rounder who probably needs to work most on commanding his box, but he does seem to be making genuine year-on-year progress, which can only be a good thing.

Defender (!)

Nathan Byrne (19) – the only recognised defender in the squad list published by the Barnet website! Byrne is a versatile player who is probably most comfortable at right back. He played seven times on loan at Brentford last year (where he was mainly used on the right wing) and will be looking to get back out on loan again over the coming year. Nathan is an energetic and reliable performer – a good athlete who likes to get forward to support the attack.

Midfielders

John Bostock (19) – a well-known name, and one often used to illustrate how bad Spurs are at bringing through young players. In truth, he was over hyped from a young age and perhaps should have stayed at Crystal Palace, where he was getting the occasional game at the age of 16. Bostock has good technique, and strikes a ball well, but in my opinion still lacks decision-making and it is difficult to know where to best fit him into a team. It will be interesting to see in which position he plays in pre-season.

Thomas Carroll (19) – another good technician, and a player who likes to keep the ball (which I always admire). Tom prefers to play centrally but has often filled in on the left and even at left back, which is a possibility again with the lack of recognised defenders. I like him best in a deep lying midfield role, where he can keep things ticking over.

Ryan Fredericks (18) – an exciting right winger who unfortunately missed a lot of last season due to injury. As a result of that injury he may not be ready for the Barnet game, but I suspect he may get an outing in one of the other matches. He signed a professional contract in the summer and will be looking to push on this season – hopefully securing a loan move in the process. Fredericks has good pace and a trick or two – he likes to beat defenders and get to the by-line. Definitely one to watch.

Jake Livermore (21) – a central midfield player who will more than likely play at centre-back in these pre-season friendlies due to a lack of natural defenders. In my opinion that could turn out to be a big positive for him, as I am unconvinced of his abilities as a midfield player. He is a physically strong presence in the team, though, and is one of the more experienced players, having played League One and Championship football.

Massimo Luongo (18) – signed in January, half-Australian/half-Indonesian central midfield player Luongo seems to have a bit of everything to his game. When I saw him against MK Dons for our U18s, I described him as follows – “Strong, composed, intelligent, rarely gives the ball away”. He stood out in that game, and Tim Sherwood singled him out for praise after the recent match against Brighton too. I think he is a player that we will be hearing a lot more of in the coming seasons.

Jake Nicholson (19) – a holding midfield player, and another one who may be asked to play at centre-back. Nicholson is positionally decent and is another that likes to keep the ball. I’ll be interested to hear how he does in the coming games, as this is probably a make or break season for him. He will be looking to impress in order to earn a loan move, as his loan to Finnish side MyPa was cut short.

Alex Pritchard (18) – an attacking midfield player who prefers to play centrally, but tends to start wide and drift inside. He showed a real eye for goal for the U18s last season, and seemed to be heavily involved in most of the best performances. A clever player who likes to play one-touch and knows how to arrive late in the box.

Cristian Ceballos (18) – previously at Barcelona, Ceballos joined us as a free agent less than a fortnight ago. He made his debut in the 3-1 win against Nottingham Forest, and was involved in the third goal. Adam Nathan (well worth a Twitter follow by the way!) saw that game, and described him as “exactly what you’d expect from a La Masia graduate-good touch, clever movement and always looking for the ball.”

Andros Townsend (20) – this is a big year for Andros, who ended the season with an outstanding run of performances for Millwall. Having made his Spurs debut (and scored!) against Charlton, he will surely be looking for more first team action in the early parts of the season – probably in Europa League games. There is every chance that he could play at left-back for these pre-season games (as he did against Forest), which will certainly not harm his development, but he is predominantly a winger.

Jesse Waller Lassen (18) – another pacey wide-man, Waller Lassen is a right-sided player who was a striker in his youth, but has even played at right-back for us. He’s not the biggest, but he is very quick, with good energy and an excellent work-rate. I will be interested to see how he performs.

Ryan Mason (20) – a converted number 10 who (to my frustration) now always seems to play in central midfield. Mason was absolutely prolific for our U18s playing just off a front man (usually Jon Obika), but seemed to get moved to central midfield when he went on loan to Yeovil, and also played there for Doncaster. I personally would like to see him used in the van der Vaart role, as his attacking abilities are his main strength. A player I really enjoy watching – great technique, good vision, and always tries to play the game the right way.

Forwards

Jonathan Obika (20) – this is a big season for Obika, who has signed a contract extension this summer. Another loan spell at Yeovil last season meant that he finished the season on a high, after facing disappointment elsewhere. A player who likes to play on the shoulder, and who has decent strength and pace on the turn, but does not seem to have been able to convert his excellent goal record at youth level to league football.

Kudus Oyenuga (18) – Kudus scored the third goal against Brighton on Tuesday, and will be looking to carry on scoring in order to win himself a loan move to a League One club. He is a powerful striker who chases everything and works hard for the team. However, he does have a tendency to hang on to the ball too long, and he needs to work on his link play.

Harry Kane (17) – another name familiar to many, primarily because there has been a buzz around him for about a year now. His scoring record at U18 level, especially for such a young player, was excellent. That came despite not always playing as a striker – in fact, he normally played as the link man. Not 18 until the end of the month, Kane already has five league goals (for Leyton Orient) to his name. A clever player with good touch and movement, he scored an impressive goal in the opening Spurs XI friendly against Nottingham Forest, lashing home from around 25 yards to get his second of the game.

Cameron Lancaster (18) – a player who has always been a little “under the radar”, mainly because he has been injured a lot over the last couple of years. A quick, clinical striker, Lancaster made four appearances for Dagenham & Redbridge last year, and will be looking for another loan move in the coming season.

Soulemayne “Soli” Coulibaly (16) – the new boy marked his debut with an equaliser as we came from behind to draw with Brighton on Tuesday. He also hit the post and drew a number of saves from the goalkeeper, with Sherwood saying of him “He has a one-track mind and that’s to go for goal, he gets the ball out of his feet and smashes it.” It’s important to remember that he is the same age as the players going into their first year of Academy football this year (Alex McQueen, Laste Dombaxe, etc), and we must be patient with him, despite his outstanding performance at the U17 World Cup.

Trialists

Milos Veljkovic – a central midfield player who was previously with FC Basel, Veljkovic played for us in the Copa Amsterdam, and I gather that he also spent time with the squad in Portugal.

Tasos Kantoutsis – a Greek trialist who seems to play at centre-back, and started for us in the game against Nottingham Forest.

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July 19, 2011

Souleymane Coulibaly scores on Spurs debut

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16 year old striker, Souleymane Coulibaly, signed after his impressive showings for Côte d’Ivoire in the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup, came off the bench to get his first Spurs goal as our young players held Brighton to a very creditable 2-2 draw in Portugal.

Again, I can’t be sure of the formation, but our team was:

Button
Byrne Livermore Nicholson Townsend
Pritchard Luongo Carroll Kane
Mason Obika

Subs: Soli, Waller-Lassen, Oyenuga, Milos Veljkovic (trialist)

Brighton’s line-up was not first choice, but certainly more experienced than ours:

Brezovan
Calderon Cook Hall Painter
Sparrow Bridcutt Smith LuaLua
Hoskins Agdestein

Subs: Poke (GK), Greer, Vincelot, Dicker, Buckley, Navarro, Mackail-Smith.

Spurs went 2-0 down (goals from Hoskins and Agdestein) but Andros Townsend’s long-range effort made it 2-1 at the break. “Soli” replaced Obika at half-time and scored from close range ten minutes into his debut to equalise. He was lively for the rest of the match, having a number of efforts on goal – the Brighton website described him as a “livewire”.

Spurs bossed the second half, but were unable to find a winner. Still, a draw and a win against Championship opposition is very impressive for our young development squad, managed in Portugal by Tim Sherwood and Les Ferdinand.

Brighton site report

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