WindyCOYS http://windycoys.com Spurs Blog, often focussing on goal analysis & under 18/loan players Tue, 07 Apr 2015 19:47:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.4 Plan B or not Plan B… http://windycoys.com/2015/04/plan-b-or-not-plan-b/ http://windycoys.com/2015/04/plan-b-or-not-plan-b/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 18:17:26 +0000 http://windycoys.com/?p=2190 Before Mauricio Pochettino joined Tottenham Hotspur there were warnings from those who had watched him closely at Southampton that his one big failing was his inflexibility. It was so pleasing, then, to see him suspend his renowned pressing system for our match against Arsenal in September, so early in his reign. It demonstrated that, when required, he was able to change his tactics to suit the occasion. It put our minds at ease about that particular criticism.

On that day we were a compact unit that defended deep and soaked up pressure, with Younes Kaboul outstanding at the back in a system he was familiar and comfortable with. Six months later, against Burnley on Sunday, questions were rightly raised during and after the game as to why Pochettino didn’t make changes, albeit in-game changes on this occasion; to the personnel (sooner, at least), to the system, to the approach.

To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them?

It may be a little uncouth to use Hamlet’s famous soliloquy in which he ponders suicide in order to create a football analogy. And, on the surface, it seems that I’ve chosen the title of this particular blog on the basis of the rhyme. Actually, though, the subsequent lines fit well too.

There have been times when we have seen flaws in some of what Pochettino has attempted, and ‘taking Arms’ might well end the troubles. In, instead, retaining the status quo, the same problems that were prevalent earlier in the season have remained fairly close to surface, even during our good periods.

An example commonly used is that our full-backs have frequently been exposed – take your pick from any number of the following reasons as to why that might be the case:
– a lack of defensive work ethic from the player ahead of them.
– a lack of cover from central midfield.
– a lack of tactical nous.
– a lack of ability.
– some or all of the above.

Likewise, we’ve seen our central midfield walked through as if it were absent when teams have managed to break through our press – the problem being that when one element of the press fails, the whole thing tends to fail. Pochettino has not yet addressed either of these issues.

Pochettino famously began his career at Newell’s Old Boys and played under Marcelo Bielsa, from whom his managerial philosophies have stemmed. The excellent Michael Cox of Zonal Marking wrote of Bielsa:

“…he’s an ideologue and a purist, arguably too extreme and inflexible to be successful at the highest level, but a wonderful inspiration.”

It sometimes feels as though Pochettino is so determined that his way is the right way of playing that he is unable to adapt to circumstance. The Burnley match was a good example (though there have been others); at 0-0 and with barely a chance created for Spurs, it was a surprise to see the same eleven emerge from the tunnel. When they arranged themselves in the same way on the pitch, eyesbrows were raised. That Paulinho lasted the full ninety was deemed by most (myself included) as utterly inconceivable (albeit he was part of a team that helped to keep its first clean sheet since we played West Brom, another game in which he started). And not bringing on Townsend or Lamela sooner meant that we were unlikely to change the flow of the match.

Burnley’s game plan was to pen us in when we had possession, forcing us to play long balls forward, which they then dealt with easily. Or they’d press the deepest-lying midfield players to the extent where our back four just passed back and forth across the line, unable to find the feet of an occupied teammate in midfield. But in Townsend we had a player waiting in the wings (if you’ll excuse the pun) who offers the ability to run in behind defenders – who we could play long balls over the top to when penned in. Or even just ask to beat his man in tight spaces, get beyond the intense Burnley press, and try to make them change their own game to accommodate him. That ignores the fact that he scored for England in midweek, and so might have carried a little more oomph than usual. Pochettino waited too long to make the change, though, and Townsend ended up touching the ball just once in his eight minute cameo.

Our Head Coach could fairly cite a lack of options within the squad as part of the reason why he has not changed things up more readily. He only has four or five players outside of his favoured first eleven that he seemingly trusts. In fact, in this interview Southampton fan Connor Armstrong suggested the same had happened at their club; Connor said that he would attribute Pochettino’s inflexibility “to the fact that beyond 14 or maybe 15 players, Saints have very little by way of options.” On Sunday, Pochettino had enough options to change shape or personnel – he could have brought on Stambouli to free up Mason to break forward more, or he could have introduced Soldado to move to a system with two strikers. But perhaps his lack of flexibility is deliberate.

Earlier in the season – during Borussia Dortmund’s ‘crisis’ – I read this piece by Raphael Honigstein. Honigstein wrote:

“Schmidt and Klopp don’t believe in having a Plan B.

They’re exposed in that sense but they’re happy with that trade-off. Anyone who’s familiar with their respective bodies of work is aware that their ideas are fundamentally sound. But that’s only part of the job. Because their tactics are highly demanding, physically and mentally, of their players, they need to make sure that the players continue to buy into it.

As soon as one or two key figures start believing that the team would be better off with a less frenetic pace, they’d be finished as coaches. The great secret of Europe’s best coaches isn’t so much that they’re smarter than their peers but that they find ways to get their players to implement their ideas.”

Buy-in from each of the squad is vital, especially in a system such as Pochettino’s (or Bielsa’s) where each individual plays such a vital role. Of course, if Pochettino can mirror anything like Klopp’s successes we would be very happy to stick by him, even if he never tinkers, never changes a thing. And a fairer test will come next season, when he’s had a summer of working with Paul Mitchell, Rob Mackenzie and co to identify targets, as well as a pre-season of working with a squad made-up (hopefully) of players that not only buy into his system, but will stick with it during difficult periods.

But until then, I can’t help but feel that it’s important that Pochettino shows a little more flexibility – particularly in-game. If we are unable to impose our style on the opposition for whatever reason (be it fatigue, confidence or tactics) then something needs to change – either the players’ attitudes, the players themselves, or the system. I would be far more happy to see us play like we did against Arsenal, or the home game against Everton – using tactics that aren’t Bielsa-inspired, but that do get the result.

Pochettino and Klopp would argue, I’d guess, that that would show weakness; it would show that they are not fully committed to the system. But if the system is failing, it’s better to amend it or find one that does work, and then to explain to the players post-match what went wrong and why.

So we suffer the Leicester, the QPR and the Burnley of outrageous fortune, or we take arms against our own sea of troubles (in the form of an auxiliary midfielder, perhaps!) and end them.

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Spurs Academy – Torneo Internazionale U18 Bellinzona http://windycoys.com/2015/04/spurs-academy-torneo-internazionale-u18-bellinzona/ http://windycoys.com/2015/04/spurs-academy-torneo-internazionale-u18-bellinzona/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:28:42 +0000 http://windycoys.com/?p=2186 Our U18s are participating in ‘Torneo Internazionale U18 Bellinzona’ in Switzerland over the next few days. It’s a competition we’re familiar with – we actually won it in 2009. There were some familiar faces in the team that won the final against Sporting: Jansson, Smith, Nicholson (Ekim, 55), Cox, Butcher, Caulker, Byrne, Parrett, Oyenuga, Mason, Kasim (Kane, 65).

We are in Group A with Atletico Madrid (Spain), Team Ticino (Switzerland – a local team) and Lokomotiv Moscow (Russia).

Our schedule is as follows (local times shown):

Atletico Madrid – Thursday, 19:00
Team Ticino – Friday, 19:00
Lokomotiv Moscow – Saturday, 14:00

Group B consists of:

Inter Milan (Italy)
FC Midtjylland (Denmark)
SK Slavia Prague (Czech Republic)
Club Tijuana (Mexico)

We are taking an 18-man squad and are allowed to include three overage players. Matches are 60 minutes until the final, which is 80 minutes.

The official tournament website lists the following players, although there are 22 names, which contradicts with the 18-man squad mentioned on our official site. Given that Pritchard has been injured for most of the season, and Sonupe is on loan at St Mirren, I would guess that neither would be involved. Georgiou has also missed several weeks through injury, so he could be another that has not actually travelled.

Harry Voss
Thomas Glover
Kyle Walker-Peters
Christopher Paul
Joseph Muscatt
Anton Walkes
Christian Maghoma
Cameron Carter-Vickers
Luke Amos
Filip Lesniak
Charlie Owens
Charlie Hayford
Joseph Pritchard
Joshua Onomah
William Miller
Cy Goddard
Zenon Stylianides
Amani Daly
Emmanuel Sonope
Anthony Georgiou
Ismail Azzaoui
Ryan Loft

We’ve participated in many tournaments over the years and I tried a while ago to create a list – I’m sure this isn’t even close to compete, but it shows how far the Academy go to ensure our young players get every opportunity possible to test themselves against other types of teams.

January: Viareggio – Tuscany, Italy.
January: Nutifood Cup‏ – Vietnam.
February: Riga Cup (U16) – Latvia.
April: Spartak Cup (U17) – Moscow, Russia..
April: Torneo Internazionale – Bellizona, Switzerland.
April: Champions Trophy – Düsseldorf, Germany.
May: Tournoi de Football de Talence – Talence, France.
May: Le Tournoi International de Football de Monthey – Monthey, Switzerland.
May: Terborg Toernooi – Gelderland, Netherlands.
May: Volksbank Cup – Stemwede, Germany.
August: PSV Otten Cup – Eindhoven, Netherlands.
August: Santiago tournament, Spain.
August: Eurofoot – Oostduinkerke, Belgium.

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Finding Yedlin http://windycoys.com/2015/03/finding-yedlin/ http://windycoys.com/2015/03/finding-yedlin/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:35:50 +0000 http://windycoys.com/?p=2176 I’m getting asked a few times a week (normally when the U21s are about to play!) where DeAdre Yedlin is, so I thought I’d post this so I’ve got something to refer to when I’m telling people I don’t know where he is!

DeAndre made his debut for Spurs U21s in the 3-1 win against West Ham on 9th January. He played an hour at right-back in that match.

After the match Ugo Ehiogu said: “I thought it was quite tough for him today… the wind… he won’t be used to that. The pitch, although it looks flat, is quite bobbly and it took him a little while to come to terms with that. No injuries; I always say that on my watch. We got him through 60 minutes. Definitely stuff to work on but pleased he’s had a little taste. We’re going to have to give him a reasonable period of time to settle in and get used to everything and then you’ll see the real reason why the club signed him.”

Here’s the interview. He didn’t exactly sound enthused with the performance, but he also acknowledged that it’ll take time for him to adjust.

On 25th January, DeAndre went back to the US for friendlies against Chile and Panama (match against Panama was in California on Sunday, February 8). Details.

He picked up an injury – do check out that Reddit thread as it includes an excellent report on him in the thread by agentdcf.

Spurs said: “DeAndre started the game at right-back, but was forced off through injury 18 minutes from time.” They didn’t give any further detail.

In terms of U21 football, he missed the 0-0 vs Leicester on 26th January as he was away on international duty. He was presumably back in time for the following two matches – the 0-0 draw with Southampton on the 23rd February and the 4-0 win against Everton on the 2nd March.

We play Manchester United U21s tonight and Yedlin is not in the squad for the match.

It is assumed that he is considered part of the first team squad, and so would not be included in Under-21 matches.

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FA Youth Cup: Tottenham Hotspur U18s 2-0 Chelsea U18s, White Hart Lane http://windycoys.com/2015/03/fa-youth-cup-tottenham-hotspur-u18s-2-0-chelsea-u18s-white-hart-lane/ http://windycoys.com/2015/03/fa-youth-cup-tottenham-hotspur-u18s-2-0-chelsea-u18s-white-hart-lane/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 22:09:27 +0000 http://windycoys.com/?p=2168 Tom Glover (17)
Kyle Walker-Peters (17) Cameron Carter-Vickers (17) Christian Maghoma (17) Anton Walkes (18)
Charlie Owens (17) Luke Amos (18)
Zenon Stylianides (17) Josh Onomah (c) (17) Ismail Azzaoui (17)
Shayon Harrison (17)

Kazaiah Sterling (16) for Charlie Owens.
Marcus Edwards (16) for Ismail Azzaoui.

Joe Muscatt (17)
Alfie Whiteman (16)
Armani Daly (17)

I was unable to attend this match, but fortunately ITV4 broadcast the tie.

Spurs were without goalkeeper Harry Voss as well as winger Anthony Georgiou (who was missing through injury) and had to make changes to the line-up from the previous round.

Australian Tom Glover started in goal and Charlie Owens came into the centre of midfield after a string of good performances. Zenon Stylianides played on the right, with Josh Onomah behind Shayon Harrison.

Spurs kicked off and immediately Luke Amos got Kyle Walker-Peters free down the right, but Chelsea’s left back did well to get himself between man and ball and draw the foul.

Charlie Owens picked out Shayon Harrison for the first chance, but his low effort was straight at the goalkeeper, Collins, who saved at the expense of a corner.

At the other end, Tom Glover came out to sweep up as Solanke ran in behind. Solanke was the 2014 England Youth Player of the Year.

Chelsea wanted a penalty when Musonda drove forward and his attempted pass hit Walker-Peters’ arm, but the referee waved away protests. Maghoma then put an end to a Brown run with a strong challenge.

Azzaoui briefly switched over to the right and beat his man easily, before overhitting his cross significantly!

Some expert pressing from Spurs led to Chelsea struggling to play out from the back early on, with Maghoma and Carter-Vickers mopping up long balls well.

Onomah led a charge forward and fed Walkes, but his cross was easily blocked, and Owens was forced to concede a free-kick as Chelsea looked to counter.

“Get in the game, Josh”, McKenna instructed Onomah, as the game went a bit ‘cat and mouse’ as both teams played conservatively during a quiet spell.

Owens went down clutching his ankle, hurting himself in trying to tackle Musonda, who was too quick. He limped off to the touchline gingerly but was soon back on.

Tomori put in a bone-shaking challenge on Onomah, winning the ball but upsetting Josh who gave away a foul in trying to win it back.

Solanke cut in from the left but scuffed his shot well wide, before Dasilva was next to put in a tough challenge, going to ground and winning the ball from Harrison.

Walkes defended well when up against the talented Abraham, not letting him past when cutting in from the right.

Aina darted down Chelsea’s right and whipped across a fine cross which Abraham couldn’t get to on the stretch.

Azzaoui picked out Walker-Peters with a lovely low pass. He charged down the right and fed in a cross, but it was cleared relatively easily, with Harrison then unable to get on the end of an Amos ball.

Spurs went 1-0 up on 40 minutes. Onomah lost possession but won it back when a clearance ricocheted kindly into his path. He took a couple of strides forward and powered a low shot which crept under the Chelsea goalkeeper, Collins, who was clearly at fault.

Walker-Peters made a superb saving challenge on 44 minutes – the ball bobbled through to Solanke, but Walker-Peters came round on the cover to rescue Spurs.

Chelsea switched to a back four at the start of the second half, and immediately got on the front foot as a cross was cleared by Walkes straight onto Solanke but wide.

Azzaoui got into a great position on the left channel after a Stylianides pass, but he attempted a difficult ball to Harrison and it was intercepted.

Carter-Vickers did brilliantly to force Solanke wide after he’d beaten Mahoma, and when Solanke passed back to Brown, we got bodies around him.

On 55 minutes, Chelsea replaced Kyle Scott with Kasey Palmer. Spurs responded by replacing Owens with Kazaiah Sterling on 57 minutes. Sterling is still an Under-16 and had been at school today. He went up top with Harrison moving to the right. Stylianides dropped into midfield.

Almost immediately after the substitution, Glover saved well from a Solanke snapshot after Brown crossed well. The ball came back off Carter-Vickers before Glover pounced on it again. In crossing the ball, Brown was propelled over the advertising hoardings and took a nasty tumble. It wasn’t long before Brown limped off, replaced by Boga.

Onomah won a free kick on the left which was taken by Stylianides. His kick was nicely shaped into the near post, but Palmer got to it before Sterling, heading it up on the air, before Maghoma put the second ball well wide.

There was a big penalty appeal for Spurs, as Sterling was sent tumbling having been set through by a lovely scooped pass by Onomah.

Marcus Edwards replaced Ismail Azaoui on 74 minutes. He headed to the right with Harrison moving back to the centre and Sterling went out to the left.

Luke Amos picked up a yellow card for a late tackle on Kasey Palmer and hurt himself in the process.

Sterling and Edwards linked well to set Walker-Peters through on the right, but his cross was a little behind the intended target, Harrison, and two Chelsea defenders got in the way.

Spurs had another opportunity to break, but Edwards took a few touches too many and was dispossessed easily this time.

With ten minutes to go Carter-Vickers and then Glover defended superbly as Dasilva put in a couple of cross-shots, as Chelsea started to turn the screw. Glover’s low reflex save was impressive given how little he had had to do throughout the match.

Luke Amos showed fine composure once again in the middle of the pitch as Spurs tried to bring an element of calm back into the game.

Onomah found Harrison with a fine first time pass. He held onto the ball and intelligently won a free kick which was taken quickly. Edwards tried to work a yard in the box but was crowded out.

Walker-Peters put in a fantastic cross towards Sterling which was well defended by Aina in the six-yard box. That came after a lovely run and pass from Harrison.

Spurs made it 2-0 when Walkes dispossessed his man in midfield, the loose ball fell to Harrison who strode forward and timed his pass to Sterling who finished superbly with the outside of his right foot.

Then, Stylianides’ free-kick should have been cleared at the near post, but Colkett awkwardly hacked it behind for a corner, which Colkett cleared.

Carter-Vickers made a fine clearing header as Chelsea threatened on the counter, before Stylianides showed a burst of pace in midfield to win a free kick.

For Chelsea’s last clear cut chance, Boga ghosted into the box but kicked thin air as Carter-Vickers slid in.

Glover was glad to grasp a bouncing ball after he made a mess of his punch from a long throw-in, and it was all over minutes later – the whistle going as Harrison looked to break through having held the ball up well.

Glover 7 – didn’t have a great deal to do, and made a good reflex stop late on.
Walker-Peters 9 – a fantastic attacking first half performance and a solid defensive performance in the second. I say it all the time, but his balance is phenomenal.
Maghoma 7 – very solid performance from Christian, who also used the ball sensibly.
Carter-Vickers 9 – utterly dominant display with some fantastic positioning and also plenty of bravery.
Walkes 7 – did superbly for the second goal and was resolute throughout.
Amos 8 – another very tidy game in the middle of midfield. Disciplined, selfless, hard-working.
Owens 7 – some nice passing, a few tackles and got through plenty of work.
Stylianides 7 – not in his best position for some of the evening but gave a good account of himself.
Onomah 8 – after a relatively quiet first half, he came into his own in the second and showed his great close control and strength when breaking from midfield.
Azzaoui 6 – a quiet performance from one of our Youth Cup stars.
Harrison 7 – worked hard in two different roles, and timed his pass perfectly for Sterling’s goal.

Sterling – took his goal wonderfully and might have had a penalty too. He had been at school all day!
Edwards – made one lovely pass on the counter and made the wrong decision on another counter moments later.

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That Was the Week That Was http://windycoys.com/2015/03/that-was-the-week-that-was/ http://windycoys.com/2015/03/that-was-the-week-that-was/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:52:30 +0000 http://windycoys.com/?p=2152 Wembley Woes or an Arch of Ambition?

As Field Marshal Pochettino sent his troops off to the front line on Sunday (apologies, I couldn’t resist continuing my military analogy that I began on this week’s Fighting Cock podcast!) my optimism concealed a fear that we would be up against a wounded José Mourinho who would eke out a victory in whatever manner he could. My preferred team selection was identical to the team Mauricio Pochettino opted for, and a bursting hopefulness surged through me as the players took to the pitch.

But Mourinho’s vengeful cynicism was translated to his team and from early in the match they broke up play with tactical fouls – stopping moves before they had started – whilst drawing cheap free-kicks themselves from our players, waiting for the slightest contact before collapsing to the turf. Some of our players showed a fair amount of naivety and walked into this trap, giving Chelsea precisely what they wanted.

Of course, it wasn’t just a cynical Chelsea performance – it was a truly commendable defensive display in a season where Premier League defending has been oft-criticised. John Terry (*spits*) was dominant, ably assisted by Gary Cahill, and Kurt Zouma did a fine job as an auxiliary midfield player. Our wide players rarely got the better of César Azpilicueta and Branislav Ivanović, and Chelsea kept us at arm’s length for most of the game.

But things could have been different. Spurs dominated the first half, playing some neat football and controlling the tempo of the match. Nabil Bentaleb was at his suave best, with Ryan Mason a bundle of industry and (attempted) invention beside him. With little help from the band of players behind him, Harry Kane was forced to drop deep to try to create for himself. On one such occasion, he drove through a clutch of defenders and won a free-kick. Christian Eriksen – so vital a player for much of the season, but recently suffering from #formloss – curled a beautiful free-kick over the wall, but it left the crossbar shaking with Petr Čech seemingly beaten by the pace of the attempt.

Chelsea scored at just the right time – a scruffy goal from a Spurs perspective – and went in at the break to receive instructions on how to shut up shop. Mourinho masterminded the second half to perfection, and it was Chelsea who looked most likely to score again, looking a genuine threat on the counter. It was somewhat inevitable that they got their second but, once again, it came via a deflection, which was unfortunate for Spurs and Kyle Walker in particular.

It wasn’t just Chelsea who showed defensive resilience, and I want to take a moment to praise Eric Dier who, for me, was our best player. At just 21, and in his first season in the Premier League, he put in an outstanding performance. Diego Costa is a pig of a player. All elbows and mouth, he tries to get under the skin of his opponent from early on, doing anything he can to gain an advantage. Dier was calm and dealt with him consistently well. Costa eventually got the better of us for the second goal, but he needed a big stroke of luck to do so – he’d been kept quiet for the rest of the game. This performance from Dier – with many eyes on him – should be enough to ensure that he starts at centre-back for England in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in the Czech Republic this summer, an experience that will undoubtedly aid his development.

I left Wembley with a real sense of pride. Pride in our young team’s performance, and pride in our fans too. Post-match, Pochettino was keen to point out just how young the team was. He said: “The average age for my players was 23 and a half and for many players it was their first time at Wembley. It’s true that we will play a lot of finals in the next few years. I think we have a big future.”

Our fans were also fantastic, and out-sung our Chelsea counterparts for most of the match. It was a genuine delight when, after the opening Chelsea goal went in, a burst of ‘Everywhere we go…’ started up in my block.

Tuscan Travails

My trip to Florence was an experience. Florence is a beautiful city, with beautiful food and, fortunately for us, beautiful weather, particularly on the Friday. But, despite good backing for our team in a tough match, it didn’t click on the pitch, and not all of the players’ efforts matched up to those of our supporters.

Florence city centre

On arriving in Florence, it would have been rude not to order pizza for lunch. I went for the ‘Fiorentina’, which the waiter found amusing. After a couple of beers and a quick stop at our B&B, we headed off to the stadium.

Fiorentina pizza

Pre-match, my friend and I had agreed to record interviews for Spurs TV (23:10 here), meaning that we were at the Stadio Artemio Franchi for 16:45, over two hours prior to kick off.

Recording for Spurs TV

After the interview was finished, we began walking around to where we presumed we could enter the ground. We drew plenty of stares from Fiorentina fans, so we kept our mouths shut and hid our colours. As we approached the last block before a dividing fence, we realised that we were probably going to have to walk all the way back around the stadium – a steward confirmed as much. But after thirty minutes of walking back on ourselves, we met a bunch of Spurs fans walking towards us saying that there was no obvious way in around the other side either. We continued regardless and eventually came to a row of police officers, blocking off an entrance-way. We flashed our tickets, and walked through. Already the police vans were arriving behind them.

Stadio Artemio Franchi

We passed through two layers of security, and received two very thorough security checks (!) and entered the stadium. The first impression was that it was basic. The toilets were underground and pretty disgusting. There was no roof on our stand, and it felt “industrial”. Spurs had two sections, but there was a large sheet of Perspex between us, meaning that the atmosphere suffered throughout. We were so high in the stand that the strong wind became a factor, and we were freezing after a few minutes of being there. A small group of our fans stood on a concrete area to the front of the right-hand section and were noisy throughout, some not even stopping to look at the game! Unfortunately, because they were so far below us, the noise didn’t always carry and so the atmosphere felt sporadic and diluted.

Sunny day in Florence

The game itself was a crushing disappointment. I could understand the team selection, but would personally have played Harry Kane for the first sixty minutes. In spite of that, it felt like we were in control until Fazio’s sloppy pass led to the opener. Whilst this changed little in terms of what we needed to do in the match – we always needed to score at least once – it gave Fiorentina heart, and seemed to make us more desperate; we lost the sense of calm that we’d had prior to the goal.

Ice cream, Italian-style

Benji Stambouli and Ben Davies had good first halves, but rustiness and a lack of sharpness showed in the second, and Davies in particular had a tough time up against Mohamed Salah, who had switched sides. Eriksen had some flashes of good play, but was dispossessed five times – he was hindered by not having Kane to dovetail with. Roberto Soldado cut a troubled figure. The missed opportunity – where he tried to find Nacer Chadli – was obviously a huge error, but it was his lack of movement and effort that was particularly striking. Or not striking, that was the issue. He lacked desire and played like a man whose mind was elsewhere.

In the end we made it easy for Fiorentina to beat us – a real shame, especially since they’d changed shape at half-time in the first leg to make it difficult for us to beat them.

Beheadings are big here

Post-match, we expected a twenty minute wait, as had been advertised. After fifty minutes of being penned in behind large metal gates, with rain coming down heavier and heavier, the gates were opened. As we left this area, we were confronted with riot police – shields and batons at the ready – and numerous police cars and vans were parked along our route. As we got to the entrance-way where the line of police had been stood on the way in, we were told to board buses bound for the city centre. Our B&B was nearer the stadium than the centre, so we ignored the instruction and continued through the barricade, and saw no trouble (and barely another football fan!). We had a good dinner in a restaurant in which Fiorentina fans were also dining, and any interaction was friendly and calm.

Florence is a beautiful city, and Spurs’ performance didn’t do it justice. But the competition has been good for us, and we might not have the Harry Kane that we do were it not for this season’s Europa League. I look forward to hopefully being in the competition again next season, but I would understand if Pochettino used it to give more young players a chance.

Friday's lunch

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Contracts up in 2015 http://windycoys.com/2015/01/contracts-up-in-2015/ http://windycoys.com/2015/01/contracts-up-in-2015/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 10:26:55 +0000 http://windycoys.com/?p=2146 I thought this was worth documenting as it’s something that comes up regularly.

We have several first-team players with contracts expiring this summer:

Brad Friedel
Jordan Archer
Benoît Assou-Ekotto
Bongani Khumalo

We then have youngsters with unknown contract lengths who I suspect might be released if their deals are expiring:

Cristian Ceballos
Tomislav Gomelt
Rúben Lameiras
Aaron McEneff
Ken McEvoy
Alex McQueen
Jon Miles

Grant Hall might be included too, although the club could get a fee for him – he’s a relatively proven Championship player.

Daniel Akindayini is on the 3rd year of a scholarship and will surely be released.

Lloyd Ross is the only one of the second year scholars that I am adamant will be released – the following are borderline between being given professional contracts or offered a third year of their scholarship:

Anthony Georgiou
Cy Goddard
Shayon Harrison
Joe Pritchard – has had a serious injury.
Anton Walkes – 3 months ago I’d have had him on the ‘release’ list.

They have until the rest of the season to impress basically.

I gather the following have already signed professional contracts or received assurances:

Luke Amos
Ismail Azzaoui
Cameron Carter-Vickers
Christian Maghoma
Kyle Walker-Peters

This site is an excellent resource for contract info.

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Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Leicester City– some thoughts http://windycoys.com/2015/01/tottenham-hotspur-1-2-leicester-city-some-thoughts/ http://windycoys.com/2015/01/tottenham-hotspur-1-2-leicester-city-some-thoughts/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 13:33:12 +0000 http://windycoys.com/?p=2137 We were seven minutes plus stoppage time from progression in the FA Cup on Saturday before Leicester City started a comeback that culminated in a complete turn-around.

Spurs dominated possession in the first half without creating too many openings, whilst Leicester were happy to soak up pressure and counter – doing so effectively and creating good chances.

Andrej Kramarić had an opportunity to put Leicester 1-0 up, with Danny Rose failing to cover round despite having a good view of the forward. Michel Vorm’s save was exceptional – the sort that we have become accustomed to with Hugo Lloris in goal.

Kramarić chance

Leicester’s second chance summed up – for me – why Mousa Dembélé and Étienne Capoue are an ineffective central midfield combination from a defensive viewpoint.

Schlupp chance

In the above image, Jeff Schlupp has received the ball, brought it down and Vlad Chiricheș/Andros Townsend are approaching him. Neither Dembélé or Capoue are attempting to get into a defensive position to influence the game – presumably assuming that their team mates will deal with the situation.  I have long been of the opinion that neither has particularly good natural defensive instincts, and this is a good example of that. Younes Kaboul has to keep one eye on Leonardo Ulloa, who has played the pass and is now getting forward to support Schlupp and Kramarić.

Schlupp chance 2

As Schlupp cuts in, there’s a huge gap in the centre of our defence. Either Capoue should have tracked Ulloa, allowing Kaboul to go across to the ball, or one of Capoue / Dembélé should anticipate the potential danger and get into a position to stop Schlupp having a free shot on goal. Presented with the same scenario, I would expect that Stambouli would have provided a more effective barrier.

At the other end we struggled to break down a stubborn Leicester defence, with all three of our central midfield players content to pass sideways to the wingers and give them all of the responsibility of getting in behind the defence. Lamela and Townsend actually achieved on occasions, but having provided openings, Paulinho was guilty of wasting them. His finishing was allegedly an in-joke at Hotspur Way last season, where it was said that he put lots of balls over fences. Based on this display it is easy to see why. He lacked composure and technique and wasted three presentable chances – one going wide, one over, and one straight at the goalkeeper.

Mauricio Pochettino has made some useful substitutions this season, but on this occasion his decisions did not help the situation. At 1-0 and with Leicester gaining a foothold in the game, it had become clear that we were going to need a second goal to kill off the tie. Bringing Christian Eriksen on, then, was a logical move. Taking Townsend off, however, was not. Townsend was having some joy on the right and was looking capable of creating something, especially on the counter. It would have made more sense to take off Paulinho or Dembélé to allow Eriksen to scheme in behind Roberto Soldado. Instead, Eriksen was played on the left, with Lamela switching to the right, and the ineffective Paulinho continuing in the centre (I won’t refer to him as a number 10 as he doesn’t possess any of the qualities of the traditional 10!).

Emmanuel Adebayor then replaced Soldado, which felt a little odd, as Soldado had passed the ball quite well and had won the penalty with an excellent piece of control. Adebayor added more of an aerial threat – challenging for and winning headers, as opposed to jumping into the man and giving away free-kicks as Soldado tends to do – but he undoubtedly slowed down our attacking play. Harry Kane’s introduction for Dembélé after the equaliser was too little, too late – ideally he should have come on for Soldado or Paulinho at the same that Eriksen was introduced.

Vorm’s dreadful error at the end was not his first mistake of the game and, in truth, he was quite lucky to still be on the pitch. Replays showed that he took Kramarić’s back leg rather than the ball in the first half, which should have led to a penalty being awarded and probably to a red card being shown.

Overall it was a disappointing result made more disappointing by the other upsets – this presented a fantastic opportunity to progress in a third cup, and the boos at full-time illustrated the frustration having been in a controlling position.

Pochettino has had to manage his squad carefully to mitigate against fatigue creeping in, which can cause long-term injuries as well as limiting players’ effectiveness (as was so clearly visible against Crystal Palace). But, personally, I don’t feel that we can afford to leave out Eriksen, Harry Kane and Ryan Mason. With none of them in the team we lack a player who can consistently pass forward or open up a defence. My preference would have been to play one of Kane or Eriksen against Sheffield United and the other against Leicester. It will now be interesting to see the team selection on Wednesday – both should start and both should feel relatively fresh.

COYS

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24/01/15 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 1-2 Aston Villa U18s, Hotspur Way http://windycoys.com/2015/01/240115-tottenham-hotspur-u18s-1-2-aston-villa-u18s-hotspur-way/ http://windycoys.com/2015/01/240115-tottenham-hotspur-u18s-1-2-aston-villa-u18s-hotspur-way/#comments Sun, 25 Jan 2015 13:40:40 +0000 http://windycoys.com/?p=2133 Tom Glover (16)
Chris Paul (17) Luke Amos (17) Anton Walkes (17) Lloyd Ross (18)
Zenon Stylianides (17) Charlie Owens (17) (c)
Armani Daly (17) Marcus Edwards (16) Kazaiah Sterling (16)
Ryan Loft (17)

Subs:
Anthony Georgiou (17) for Lloyd Ross, 62.
Shayon Harrison (17) for Ryan Loft, 62.
Cy Goddard (17) for Armani Daly, 70.

Unused sub:
Tom McDermott (16)

Firstly, apologies for a slightly more brief report this time around. It was a very cold afternoon and I forgot my gloves – as a result, I can barely read my notes, and there are far less of them too! Secondly, to put this match into a bit of context: we were playing the second-placed team (before this match they were two points ahead of us having played two more games) and we were playing our second match in less than 48 hours. We made nine changes from the side that beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 in the FA Youth Cup, with just Anton Walkes and Luke Amos keeping their places.

Walkes and Amos – both of whom turn 18 in February – made up the most experienced element of the team, whilst Marcus Edwards (making his first start) and Kazaiah Sterling (making his second start) were promoted from the Under-16s.

We set up with a back four made up of four central midfielders, although Anton Walkes seems to now play at centre-back more than anywhere else, so perhaps it’s sensible to start thinking of that as his main position. Amos, Lloyd Ross and Chris Paul had all filled in in these positions before, but the full-backs did struggle pretty much throughout this match.

Former Spur Kodi Lyons-Foster was playing at centre-back for Villa, who had a front pairing of Rushian Hepburn-Murphy and Harry McKirdy – both of whom have consistently scored goals throughout the season so far. England Under-16 winger Andre Green lined up on the left with Swedish 16-year old Moustafa Zeidan on the right.

Spurs started off kicking into the strong wind and it was immediately clear that Villa’s game plan was to press high and trap us inside our ownhalf. The away side won two early corners – Tom Glover came to claim the second, but didn’t get near to the ball as the wind the conditions difficult.

Andre Green signalled his intentions after five minutes, beating Chris Paul and putting in a cross which Amos anticipated well and blocked. Spurs went up the other end and got some respite as Loft made the ball stick and went on a dribble which won a corner, but Owens’ kick was cleared. Edwards then showed his ability with some early touches, linking with Loft and feeding Sterling before Villa got on the attack again.

Green beat Paul for a second time, and this time the full-back absolutely scythed him down from behind, drawing a strong response from the Aston Villa bench. The referee did Paul a big favour and resisted the temptation to show a yellow card.

Villa took the lead minutes later – Owens (I think) made a loose pass, McKirdy picked up possession and came forward before getting a shot away. It hit the inside of the post, went back along the line, and seemed to go in off the unfortunate Luke Amos, who had got back onto the line to try to clear. The linesman flagged frantically to confirm that the ball had crossed the line.

Paul did well to chase down a high ball over his shoulder and come away with the ball, but Green came back at him and won it back – fortunately for Paul, Glover came out to smother as Green advanced into the box. A minute later and Green was beating Paul again but Glover got the ball out for a corner. Spurs didn’t organise quickly enough and a short corner created a shooting opportunity far too easily. Glover got down very smartly to save the low, deflected effort, before bellowing out to his team that he had told them about the space that the shot came in from.

Spurs made a rare foray into the Villa half – Stylianides broke forward and picked out Sterling, who used the ball intelligently to find Ross on the left. He fed a cross into Loft at the near post, but it was under-hit and Loft couldn’t come off the near post quickly enough to get to the flight of the ball.

On the other side, Armani Daly beat two men and won a throw, but it was feeling like a real struggle – having to use tricks to wriggle past two just to win a throw pretty much summed up how the first half had gone for Spurs.

25 minutes in Glover saved a stinging shot as Spurs started to get a little foothold and began to restrict Villa better.

Luke Amos went down after a poor challenge from McKirdy; the physio rushed on and there was a brief stoppage. Pretty much as soon as Amos was on, it was 2-0. Walkes’ clearance held up a little in the wind, Lyons-Foster helped it forward, and Hepburn-Murphy broke through between Walkes and Ross with a clear run on goal. Glover came out but perhaps would have been better off staying on his line, as the forward lifted it over his legs and into the unguarded next – an excellent finish.

Spurs had a little injustice 34 minutes in – Edwards got away from his man with some skill and was brought down from behind, but the referee did not even award him a free-kick. A few minutes later and Rory Hale was booked for dragging Daly back by his shirt as he looked to get in down the right.

Hepburn-Murphy made inroads down the right for another effort which won Villa a corner, before Edwards went on a run which opened Villa up. He fed Daly who had a shooting opportunity if he hit it first time, but he cut back – a tee-up for Edwards was on, but he dallied and the defender got a vital foot in.

The second half started with an early booking for Lloyd Ross as he tackled Zeidan but Spurs were far, far better from the off. Sterling beat his man on the outside and put in a left foot cross that was slightly too high for Loft. Loft returned the favour, crossing for Sterling, but this one was just over-hit too.

Stylianides volleyed inches wide from a Ross cross, before another cross towards Loft evaded him slightly on the stretch

Glover was called into action again, making a very good low stop to his right after Hepburn-Murphy had advanced on the left and had a crack.

Captain Charlie Owens made a bit of a mess of a free-kick after Edwards had been fouled, hitting it well over the bar from a decent position.

Spurs replaced Ross and Loft with Harrison and Georgiou – two of the best performers in Thursday night’s cup match – and they had an instant impact. Sterling did well out on the left, Georgiou overlapped from full-back and his cross fell to Stylianides. He found Harrison who turned neatly and finished well with his left foot.

Cy Goddard was introduced for Daly, and he and Edwards schemed away trying to create, but Villa were holding firm.

Edwards somehow kept the ball with the most audacious turn, which saw him on the ground swivelling and leaving defenders in his wake, before teeing up Sterling who himself turned well and got a shot away which right-back Ryan Strain blocked.

Villa had a rare breakaway from which Green fired across goal, but Georgiou was in command and helped it out for a corner.

I had to leave a bit early to get to White Hart Lane, but I’m told that Goddard and Sterling had half-chances but we were unable to get an equaliser.

It was a tough, tough match for what was effectively (at least at this stage in their careers) a second choice eleven, but I felt quite proud of the way that the players battled back in the second half. We beat Villa 1-0 earlier in the season with our first choice team, and I think we would have made it a double had we not had the Youth Cup match this week.

Tom Glover 6 – made some solid saves and was vocal throughout – not an easy day for a keeper with the wind being so strong. I felt he perhaps made the wrong decision for the second goal, but it’s easy to say that in hindsight.
Chris Paul 4 – Andre Green gave Paul an absolutely torrid time in the first half, and had it been a first team match he’d have been walking a tightrope as we would undoubtedly have been booked for an early challenge. Credit to him for coming out and improving as the match went on – he showed a lot of determination and perseverance, and won a few more of his battles.
Luke Amos 7 – despite not being the biggest (he’s tall but slim), Amos filled in admirably, exhibiting his ability to read the game, and putting himself on the line when necessary. His passing out from the back was vital for controlling possession in the second half.
Anton Walkes 7 – a calming presence at the back, but occasionally vulnerable to a ball over the top. Carried the ball out of defence with confidence and won plenty in the air.
Lloyd Ross 5 – he’s not a full-back and never will be, but he stuck to his task relatively well.
Zenon Stylianides 6 – struggled in the first half when we didn’t have the ball, but was good in the second, helping to control possession and break forward when necessary.
Charlie Owens 5 – as with Stylianides he was poor in the first half, but got a lot better as the game went on and as we had more of the ball.
Armani Daly 6 – was often left isolated and so struggled – not through a lack of trying, though. I think had he had a more natural right-back behind him, he’d have had far more success.
Marcus Edwards 7 – my first proper look at the much-hyped midfielder. The ball sticks to him, and he showed some glorious touches too – one in particular where he cushioned a pass first time to a teammate from a firm square ball from Sterling stood out. As he adapts to playing against more physical players he’s going to be a hugely important player in this team.
Kazaiah Sterling 6 – tried hard throughout but didn’t get much change from a good full-back (Liam Hailey). Looking forward to seeing more of him as there’s lots to admire in his game.
Ryan Loft 6 – the first half was very difficult for Loft, but he tried to make the ball stick and had some joy. He looked far better as we started to see more of the ball.

Anthony Georgiou 7 – came on in an unfamiliar left-back role and showed plenty of tenacity and attacking intent.
Shayon Harrison 7 – you can’t ask much more than coming off the bench and scoring!
Cy Goddard – was creative and lively off the bench.

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Josh Onomah – a profile http://windycoys.com/2015/01/josh-onomah-a-profile/ http://windycoys.com/2015/01/josh-onomah-a-profile/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 17:55:26 +0000 http://windycoys.com/?p=2121 17-year old Josh Onomah made his Tottenham Hotspur debut last night, coming off the bench to replace Andros Townsend on 76 minutes.

Tim Sherwood took Josh to Benfica with the first-team squad as a 16-year old, and the player was then also an unused substitute against Dnipropetrovsk in February, Beşiktaş in December and the first leg of the Burnley tie earlier this month. Born and raised in Enfield, he has been talked up by most who have seen him over the past two years – myself included.

He’s a central midfielder, and his main attributes are his dribbling, balance, pace, and strength. He’s strong in possession and hard to knock off the ball – the way that he bursts into gaps and dribbles in a natural, powerful way have earned him the nickname ‘Pogba-lite’ amongst some; the likeness is clear to see.

Josh joined Spurs as an Under-9, and has represented England at Under-16, 17 and 18 levels. He was a part of the England Under-17 squad that won the European Championships in May, 2013. It sometimes feels that when a young player gets picked for the national side at youth level, that they are subsequently kept in and around the set-up regardless of their progress or the progress of alternative options. However, with Onomah it feels natural that he will continue to represent England all the way to Under-21 level, and hopefully beyond.

Martin Lipton, the Daily Mirror journalist, named Onomah in his ‘How England might look in 2018 XI‘ back in July 2014, saying: “I’m backing Tottenham’s Joshua Onomah to fulfil his promise and come through.”

Onomah is so highly-rated internally that, despite technically being a second-year scholar, he has already signed a professional contract. This generally happens when the club wants to tie exceptional players down, and is quite a rare occurrence at Spurs.

I first saw Onomah as a 15-year old and it was immediately clear that he was immensely talented, although he was quite loose with some of his passing. There had appeared to be question marks over his temperament – I remember seeing him with a face like thunder after one match, with Academy Manager, John McDermott talking to him with his arm around his shoulder as he walked off the pitch. Talk around Hotspur Way was that he got frustrated quickly – whether that was frustration at his own performances, or frustration because he was better than his teammates, I’m unsure. Regardless, in May 2014, McDermott commented on his maturity and it seemed that he had really turned a corner in this respect:

“Another thing I’m pleased about is that he’s matured as a young man, not just on the football pitch, but off it. I’m really pleased with his overall development, not just his football development.”

His post-match interview yesterday was genuinely endearing – he looked so happy to have made his debut and spoke well about where he goes from here.

If you’d like more information on Josh, I recommend reading this fantastic profile from Reddit user RifleEyez.

And below are some more links which might be of interest.

Onomah song.
JOHN DELIGHTED WITH JOSH’S PROGRESS
A 9 vs 9 Under-18 match against QPR played behind closed doors from 2013 – Onomah is number 17. NB: Bentaleb scores after about 30 seconds! (EDIT: this has now been made private, apologies. I’ll leave the link here in case it returns.)
Chelsea U21s vs Tottenham Hotspur U21s – Onomah is wearing number 10.
Tottenham Hotspur U18s 2-3 Fulham 2-3 U18s, Onomah is wearing number 8 and scores after 3 minutes of the match.
Norwich City U21s 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur U21s, Onomah is wearing number 10.
Tottenham Hotspur U21s 2-1 West Ham U21s, Onomah is wearing number 10.

Some of my previous reports featuring Onomah:

25/08/12 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 3-4 Manchester United U18s, Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre
12/10/13 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 2-3 West Ham United U18s, Hotspur Way
23/11/13 Tottenham Hotspur U18s 4-2 Arsenal U18s, Hotspur Way

And some further links from RifleEyez:

Excellent bit of skill
England action vs Turkey. He’s number 8, with yellow boots.
England Under-17s vs Gibraltar, he’s number 10.
England Under-17s vs Holland. Onomah is number 8 again and scores the 2nd goal in the 74th minute.
England Under-17s vs Italy, Onomah is number 8.

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Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 Burnley – some thoughts http://windycoys.com/2015/01/tottenham-hotspur-4-2-burnley-some-thoughts/ http://windycoys.com/2015/01/tottenham-hotspur-4-2-burnley-some-thoughts/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 13:02:42 +0000 http://windycoys.com/?p=2111 On Wednesday night Spurs scored four goals without response for the second time in the space of a fortnight. On New Year’s Day, we went from 0-1 down to 4-1 up against Chelsea (finishing 5-3); this time we recovered from a more perilous 0-2 to win 4-2.

Burnley rested three key players – Danny Ings, George Boyd and Ashley Barnes, whilst we rested six in Hugo Lloris, Kyle Walker, Federico Fazio, Harry Kane, Nacer Chadli and Christian Eriksen. Burnley’s fast start was somewhat exaggerated by two early goals, but they punished some poor defending well. The defending for Marvin Sordell’s opener was particularly shambolic.

Marvin Sordell breaks through

Having not having seen a replay from a different angle, it’s difficult to try to explain what was happening here. Younes Kaboul was up-field – I can only think that he was trying to play offside – but with Jan Vertonghen already too deep to allow this, one has to question the lack of organisation and communication, and that surely comes down to captain Kaboul. This could be explained (if not excused), perhaps, by the fact that Kaboul and Vertonghen haven’t played together since the 2nd November.

The second goal came after seven minutes. Benji Stambouli committed a needless foul, allowing free-kick specialist Ross Wallace to step up. His kick deflected off Roberto Soldado leaving Michel Vorm helpless.

The home crowd – assisted by this match being attended by the 1882 movement – roared Tottenham on, and they stepped up immediately. Andros Townsend made inroads on the right, and inverted-wingered the ball in for Soldado to flick on. Paulinho did superbly to get the ball down quickly and turned neatly to volley home.

From there it almost felt inevitable that Spurs would win – an unusual feeling for Spurs fans – and I think that the optimistic atmosphere in the stadium had a lot to do with it.

The positivity in the stands, though, was not always matched by positivity on the pitch.

Kaboul vs Vertonghen

After another miscommunication, Vertonghen turned to shout at Kaboul – who had, again, attempted to play offside – and got a whole load of verbal right back. The crowd responded by chanting Vertonghen’s name, a show of support triggered by a combination of factors: rumours about Kaboul’s falling-out with other members of the squad, his lack of emotion on the bench when we’ve scored goals in recent weeks, and the fact that he had been totally inept in this match until that point.

The slanging match continued for a good few seconds and was followed up later by a similar falling out between Kaboul and Vorm. It is clear that all is not well, and Kaboul leaving during the transfer window seems inevitable (so long as there’s a taker).

Kaboul struggled to cope with Sam Vokes’ strength and movement, but Spurs looked good going forward in much of the rest of the half. As halftime approached, Paulinho nicked the ball in midfield and launched a counter. He was cynically fouled, but Soldado picked up the pieces and fed Townsend. He carried the ball before feeding in a perfect cross for Soldado, who somehow hit the bar. The miss was so bad that the BBC even made a separate video dedicated to it. His reaction was to drop to his knees in despair – Stambouli ran over to quite literally comfort him, so broken that he is. But it’s well worth noting that he also continued to get unwavering support from the stands (“Viva Soldado, viva Soldado, he came from sunny Spain to play with Harry Kane, viva Soldado”) – I don’t think there are many players in the squad for whom there is so much genuine goodwill.

Fortunately for Soldado, his blushes were spared by a Capoue thunderbolt just two minutes later. Ben Davies crossed, Paulinho missed his kick, and the ball sat up nicely for a volley that nearly broke the net.

Just three minutes into the second half, stand-in right back Vlad Chiricheș won a corner, and then got on the end of it at the back post to bundle it home – it actually seemed to hit his arm, but I don’t think he knew a great deal about it.

When Danny Rose scored a fourth three minutes later (to make it three goals in a five minute spell) it felt like we might go on to get a few more, but 4-2 was how it stayed. Rose’s goal deserves praise – for the beautiful pass by Stambouli, perfectly flighted into the path of Soldado; for Rose’s fantastically aggressive run into the six-yard box; and for Soldado’s inch-perfect cross.

Nacer Chadli replaced Rose on the left, and made an excellent cameo – at one point putting Reid (I think) on his backside with his dribbling and close control.

The game did somewhat peter out, but was memorable for Josh Onomah, coming on to make his Tottenham Hotspur debut. I’ll be publishing a short profile of Onomah later, so keep an eye out. Onomah already has a song, which has followed him through the age groups. At a previous 1882 event – an Under-18 match – James Welham came up with the ultra-inventive ‘Do do do do do ONOMAH do do do do ONOMAH do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do!’ to the tune of ‘Mahna Mahna’ from The Muppet Show. It’s since followed him from Under-18 level to Under-21 level and now the first team… a proud moment for James as well as Josh! Onomah made some good touches and passes in tight areas, but didn’t really get to show off his terrific dribbling ability.

Vorm – had no chance with either goal, and looked relatively quick off his line, which was something I’d been concerned about after recent appearances.
Chiricheș – aside from one suicidal pass in the first half, he defended well, was a decent attacking outlet and, of course, scored the goal to put us 3-2 up. I enjoyed a short burst of my song for him – “strolling up the pitch is super Vlad Chiricheș, do do do, do do do do do”…
Kaboul – this was not a good return for Kaboul. He struggled with Vokes (Chiricheș had to repeatedly come across to cover) and was arguing with his own teammates.
Vertonghen – after a shaky start alongside Kaboul, he put in a very assured performance.
Davies – clearly a better defender than Rose, but doesn’t quite offer the same forward thrust. That said, his pass selection in the final third is consistently good, and it was his cross that led to Capoue’s leveller.
Stambouli – had a very busy game and worked hard throughout. There are some signs of him starting to settle.
Capoue – like others, he had a shaky start where Burnley were winning a lot of second balls in his zone, but he improved and was very controlled in the second half. His goal was a beauty!
Townsend – a constant threat and a constant outlet. Ben Mee gave him too much space, and he took advantage over and over again.
Paulinho – better, as Andy Townsend would say! I tweeted at half-time that he was ‘busy but imperfect’ and I think that sums him up. He frequently runs with the ball into areas of the pitch which he then struggles to get out of, but I think we have to just accept his limitations and appreciate his few strengths: first-time flicks and knowing when to arrive in the box. He took his goal superbly.
Rose – he actually started his career as an attacking central midfielder and then became a left winger, but his timing was slightly off in an attacking sense. His arrivals at the back post were generally a little *too* late, but he did marvellously for his goal, making a fantastic, aggressive surge into the six-yard box and pointing to where he wanted the ball played.
Soldado – some relatively good link up play, a nice flicked header for Paulinho’s goal, a wonderful cross for Rose’s goal, but his match will be remembered for *that* miss. Viva Soldado.

Chadli – a genuinely exciting cameo in which he looked a real threat. “Nacer is a dolphin, Nacer is a dolphin, la la la la, la la la la…”.
Onomah – I was so excited to see him get on to make his debut – I hope it’s the first of many appearances. Look out for a short profile which I’ll be publishing later.
Dier – it was good to see him back for the first time since the 6th December, nine games ago.

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