Next week I will have the immense pleasure of seeing my beloved Tottenham Hotspur play live. While this will be the second time I see Tottenham, second time at Red Bull Arena in fact, this match will be very special for me as two of my favorite teams face off.
Spurs brought a fairly strong squad along for their U.S. tour. The only notable missing players besides Olympic players (Danny Rose, Steven Caulker, Gio dos Santos, Sandro) are injured Scotty Parker and hoping-to-be-transferred players Luka Modric and Steven Pienaar. Youth players like John Bostock, Massimo Luongo, Dean Parrett, Iago Falque and Souleymane Coulibaly are still in Europe training with Tottenham’s development squad.
We’ve seen in the past that Red Bulls’ head coach Hans Backe and his coaching staff play full strength teams during these mid-season international club friendly matches. Look for Thierry Henry to play 45 minutes against the team he tormented for so many seasons in the Premier League. Jermaine Jenas, Jermain Defoe, Tom Huddlestone, Aaron Lennon, Michael Dawson and Benoit Assou-Ekotto will all remember playing in those North London Derby slugfests against Henry’s Arsenal in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
It will be interesting to see how Tottenham lineup under new head coach Andre Villas-Boas. The prospect of seeing a true 4-3-3 at White Hart Lane has spurred much debate and discussion. This tour’s roster only includes two true strikers (Defoe and youngster Harry Kane), so it looks like a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 is in the cards. Recent signings Jan Vertonghen and Gylfi Sigurdsson are likely to slide right into the new look starting XI, as they did against the Los Angeles Galaxy this past Tuesday. Continue reading →
Recently the topic of ambition has come up in discussions I’ve had with regard to the three teams I follow; Rochester Rhinos, New York Red Bulls, and Tottenham Hotspur. As I consider myself first and foremost a fan of these teams, and a writer/blogger second, it’s important to me that the club feels the same way I do.
Rochester Rhinos just suffered a seven game winless streak and several fans voiced their frustrations with the “lack of ambition” of the 1999 U.S. Open Cup Champion. Up here in Rochester we are very proud of what our city’s team achieved in the late 90s and early 2000s, but that success is a double edged sword. The other side of the blade is that the Open Cup trophy and several league titles loom over our head. Continue reading →
I have been a Tottenham Hotspur fan for a number of years, now. My beloved Spurs have found pretty remarkable success playing in a 4-4-1-1 formation. While the team stuttered a bit through the 2010-2011 season, this past English Premier League season saw Tottenham go on a run of only one loss in 19 league games, dropping only 11 points out of 57 possible. This was due in large part to the production of Rafael van der Vaart, who scored 6 goals in a 5 game stretch in the fall. Van der Vaart excels when he plays in the hole behind a lone striker and in front of the two central midfielders. But because of his role, in order for van der Vaart to succeed, the team needs certain players in those positions around him. Without a target center forward in front of him and the combination of a deep playmaker and ball winner behind him, van der Vaart would not be free to play his game; popping up in space outside the 18 yard box to take precision shots or making the late arriving runs into the area.
During the offseason, on February 6, 2012 to be exact, the Rochester Rhinos announced that they had signed Scottish veteran attacker. Bringing nearly 15 years of professional experience from the Scottish Premier League and Major League Soccer, McManus was a very exciting acquisition for the team of my youth. While I initially pictured McManus as a poacher in the mold of Doug Miller, when the team began lining up a 4-4-1-1 during preseason I realized the Scotsman would be much more like a Rafa van der Vaart.
Both players operate as the link between midfield and striker, while filling the exact role of neither. They both brought a high level of experience to the teams they joined (van der Vaart did have those years at Real Madrid). And as the Dutchman has proven for Tottenham in the last two years, I believe they are both more than just a cog in the machine going forward. McManus had the opportunity to be the focal point of the Rhinos attack in 2012. Continue reading →
A goal in each half made sure Tottenham got all three points from Blackburn at the Lane. Blackburn never mounted a threat and could not even manage a single shot all game (first time since 2004 that a Premier League team failed to generate a single shot or chance in a league match) Tottenham controlled the game from the first minute when Lennon could have scored off a dangeous Modric cross. Then in the 8th, Sandro smacked a shot off the bar which typified the Brazilian’s inspired play today. In the 22th minute Lennon crossed from just inside the box and Bale headed off the bar before Blackburn’s centerback cleared off the line. Unfortunately for the relegation-threatened team, the clearance bobbled right to Adebayor who blocked off the Blackburn defense long enough for van der Vaart to pop in and jab the ball over the line. At the end of the half, Gallas headed onto the crossbar from a corner. After halftime was much of the same, with Tottenham pushing all 10 of their field players in the Blackburn half. In the 75th minute, Kyle Walker scored another memorable goal, this time a nearly perfect free kick goal from range.
With this win, Tottenham leapfrogs Newcastle into fourth place on virtue of goal differential. Arsenal is third with 66 points, Spurs are on fourth with 62 but 20 goal differential. Newcastle also has 62 points but has only built up a plus 7 goal differential. Chelsea is breathing down Spurs’ collective neck on 61 points with 23 goal differential. Continue reading →
The first point to make about the weekend is that this NLD match meant much more to Arsenal than it did to Tottenham. Tottenham were riding high in third place while Arsenal were reeling from an exit out of the FA Cup and an impending exit from the Champions League.
There has been a transition process underway in North London for the last two seasons. I would argue that now that transition is completed. It’s not that Arsenal are a better team than Tottenham this season, only true Gooners in all their delusion would argue that. It is not that “Class is Permanent,” as the Emirates faithful seem to believe. I think that it is precisely because Tottenham are a better team now than Arsenal that they let this match slip away from them. Continue reading →
On Saturday, Spurs traveled to play West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns. WBA isn’t necessarily a good team, sitting in the middle of the Premier League table, but they do have a few attacking options. Tottenham are certainly riding high, winning 8 of 9 unbeaten going into the match.
Shane Long has pace that always put pressure on our center back pairing of Ledley King and Younes Kaboul. Kyle Walker also struggled defensively and could have given away a penalty or two. As odd as it is to say given his track record in the past, Benoit Assou-Ekotto was the most consistent player defensively for Spurs and sent a number of dangerous crosses into the box at the opposite end.
Luka Modric traveled with the team, but was sent home from the team’s hotel with illness. That meant first of all that he couldn’t push up the field into van der Vaart’s role, but also that he couldn’t hold his position. Sandro came into midfield to pair for Scott Parker while Defoe partnered Adebayor in a 4-4-2. Two hard tackling midfielders meant that Tottenham had no substantive possession in the middle of the park. Continue reading →
Today Tottenham Hotspur traveled to Kazan to take on FC Rubin Kazan in Europa League action. Spurs entered the day on 7 points, with PAOK on 5, Rubin Kazan on 4 and Shamrock Rovers rounding out Group A with 0 points. In the parallel game of the group, PAOK defeated Rovers 2-1 in Greece which was the expected outcome. This meant that Spurs would have to get a result in Russia to keep pace at the top of the group. Continue reading →
Tottenham Hotspur, Red Bull New York, and Club América were all in action today. Let’s start with the good; Spurs began their match against Q.P.R. strongly and applied pressure from the outset. Bale’s first goal was a result of beautiful movement and seamless passes. Across the Atlantic in Red Bull Arena, we were not treated to such a show in the final third. The Red Bulls were hosting the regular season champion Los Angeles Galaxy but the first leg of MLS’s marquee match-up failed to produce the promised goals. Going south of the border, Club América hosted DaMarcus Beasley and Puebla FC. Even in front of 80,000 aguila faithful, América did not provide the quality of play expected of them.
Rafael van der Vaart celebrates his first goal against Blackburn.
Rafael van der Vaart scored twice, once in each half, to lead Tottenham to victory over Blackburn at Ewood Park on Sunday. This weekend was a tumultuous matchday across Europe (Milan coming back from 3-0 down to beat Lecce) but especially in England where QPR defeated Chelsea and Manchester City demolished their crosstown rivals in what Sir Alex Ferguson described as “the worst result in my history, ever.” Somewhere tucked in between all the drama of the week 9 in the Premier League, Tottenham travelled to face Blackburn Rovers who are struggling at the bottom of the table despite seemingly playing up to par with their opponents. Continue reading →
Thursday at home against Rubin Kazan was a match that Tottenham needed to win to maintain dominance in their Europa League group. Harry Redknapp sent out Gomes; Walker, Bassong, Livermore, Rose; Lennon, Carroll, Sandro, Giovani; Defoe, Pavlyuchenko; in a 4-4-2 formation. Pavlyuchenko scored the only goal of the game and Gomes made a number of big saves to keep the score at 1-0. In the second half, Assou-Ekotto, Kaboul and Modric subbed in to shore up the game. Even with the additions, Rubin Kazan pressed Tottenham for the whole match.
Redknapp ran out a starting 11 that included two regular first team players; Walker and Defoe. Both Sandro and Aaron Lennon have been recovering from injury and neither was 100% fit. Going forward, it was obvious that this group of players did not have experience playing together as players constantly made errant passes and mistimed runs. Tottenham had to absorb a great deal of pressure from the Russian side in both halves without creating much going the other way. This was surely a performance that Spurs would like to forget despite squeezing out the result. After all, The Game Is About Glory, not just getting the result after 90 minutes.
I’m looking forward to seeing Bale, Modric, Parker, van der Vaart, and Adebayor tear into the Blackburn Rovers defense on Sunday. We need a good strong win at Ewood Park to boost the team after a poor performance against Rubin Kazan and a tough draw last weekend away to Newcastle.