Tottenham welcomed Huddersfield Town to their new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at the weekend, and sent the home crowd home very happy indeed with a 4-0 win over the Premier League’s bottom side. The performance was as impressive as one may expect of a side with Spurs’ quality, though goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was barely troubled throughout the game. He was only called into action in the dying stages to keep a free-kick from Huddersfield’s Juninho Bacuna out of the net, but otherwise it was a great showing all round. The star, however, was easily Spurs midfielder Lucas Moura. Victor Wanyama opened the scoring on 24 minutes, but Moura scored just three minutes later when he was played in by Moussa Sissoko – and never looked back.
With just a few games left in the Premier League campaign, things are starting to take shape and will continue to do so with this weekend’s round of matches. There is no Friday night fixture this week, but instead we have a big card of games on Saturday with three coming on Sunday and one on Monday evening, with games every day next week except for Thursday as matches in hand are played. Man City taking on Tottenham in Saturday’s lunchtime kickoff looks to be the biggest game of the weekend, but there are plenty of games in store to keep us guessing. Bournemouth host relegated Fulham hoping to build on their impressive 5-0 win at Brighton last weekend, while Newcastle host Southampton in Saturday’s late game. Let’s go for a 4-3-3 here!
With the Premier League now very much entering the business end of the season, and with just a few matches remaining to decide the respective fates of several teams, there was a full schedule of games in England’s top-flight this past weekend. Once again, the spread of fixtures was great with Newcastle winning at Leicester on Friday night, six games taking place on Saturday, title challengers Man City and Liverpool winning their respective games on Sunday and Arsenal travelling to Watford on Monday. Results this weekend meant that both City and Liverpool are guaranteed to finish first and second in either combination. With that in mind, let’s take a look and see which players performed the best in their position, using a 4-3-3 formation.
This weeks club ownership focuses on Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur who have had quite a successful season when one thinks that the London club have brought in no new players.
When some clubs are spending staggering amounts of money in the summer window, somehow the days, weeks and months rolled on with Tottenham not dipping into the transfer market. Chairman Daniel Levy knew that the clubs new stadium was going to cost much more than anticipated and purse strings had to be tightened.
The predictions were already in for the season that Tottenham would do poorly in the Champions League and that they had no chance of winning the Premier League and that they wouldn’t even be able to challenge for a top 4 position.
What compounded everything for the club was the news that they would have to play their home games at Wembley Stadium with the redevelopment and in the end brand new stadium on the site of their old stadium. Delays were fraught with frustration and when it seemed that the club would be moving into their new stadium by the end of the year that was delayed once more.
But still the players like Harry Kane and Dele Alli and the terrific Son Heung-Min stepped up, the whole team did and in doing so have done manager Mauricio Pochettino proud. Tottenham may not win any trophies this season but they have done themselves proud.
At the time of writing the club have one foot in the semi-finals of the Champions League after beating Manchester City 1-0 in the 1st leg quarter final tie. The match is far from over but the club have given themselves a chance.
In the league Tottenham have been 3rd for most of the season and competitive at that. They have slipped up in recent weeks but despite injuries to Kane and Alli they continued to win games, and they have continued to upset teams who have spent much more than them.
Levy and Pochettino had a plan, true it was risky but they both realised that they had the squad to cope with this season. Of course having a no transfer budget plan is football suicide in the long run, but instead of spending £100m upwards this season the club have held back in order to go into a fresh season in their new stadium and have one would hope a good budget and deals for next season.
It should be an interesting summer at Tottenham and if the club can hold onto their best players and buy 3-4 ones that they really need then next season could be the one where Pochettino breaks his duck for the club. Of course let’s not forget that they are still in the Champions League and if they get past City they could face either Juventus or Ajax in the semi’s for a mind dazzling final. Now that would be something.
“I don’t feel we played badly, we created chances and we controlled the game,” said Pep Guardiola post Manchester City’s Champions League defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. Yes, perhaps the Premier League leaders did have 59% possession of the ball but with 10 shots at goal and just two on target, Tuesday night’s performance is just the latest that shows Manchester City aren’t just as clinical as they shown previously. Guardiola’s side have scored 23 fewer league goals this season and with just six Premier League games remaining, it’s unlikely they’ll beat last season’s EPL tally of 106. Continue reading
This weekend’s Premier League will see the season continuing to take shape as, with just a few games to go, there is still a wide open title race and only one relegation spot left to fill. Liverpool leapfrogged Man City back into top spot last weekend, but the Citizens have a game in hand – just how much of a say will Chelsea and Crystal Palace have on Sunday against the top two? Palace host City while Chelsea travel to Liverpool and so there could well be more twists and turns in this title race yet. Towards the bottom of the table, already-relegated Huddersfield and Fulham both have tricky fixtures, with the Terriers at Tottenham while Fulham host Everton. Let’s take on a 4-3-3 here and see which players will fancy their chances.
Tottenham oh Tottenham where do we start? Utterly superb this season and pound for pound arguably the best team in the Premier League over the past 2 years, but they have imploded over the last month with only a burst in the Champions League adding the gloss over the cracks.
It was only at the end of February that Spurs were looking like a title contender, at one point just 5 points separated them from Manchester City and Liverpool. Injuries came and so did the Asia Cup which saw Son having to play for South Korea and Harry Kane and Dele Alli got injured at the same time. But still Tottenham looked sharp and Kane did return much earlier than expected.
But Tottenham have gone from champions elect to not even knowing if they will be able to finish in the top 4. Last night Arsenal swallowed up 3rd a position that Tottenham had held for most of the season and a position that is the final automatic one for Champions League qualification (4th means a play off round)
Arsenal the great rival that were supposed to be in transition under new coach Unai Emery have just gone 2 points clear of Tottenham and anyway you look at it that must hurt for fans.
But this is what happens when your form is as bad as Tottenham’s- how bad? Well the club have not won in the league since February 10th and from the last possible 15 points they have won 1. But for such a brilliant team this next part is terrifying- on form Tottenham would be in 19th place.
It’s true that Tottenham have had some tough fixtures, namely having to play their rivals Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. But they have also played and lost to Burnley and Southampton in that time. Only their brilliant Champions League win has stopped the press getting the knives out as the team are now in the quarter finals, where they will play Manchester City in what should be a classic 2 legs.
But back to the league and the fact that Tottenham are in big trouble. They have not one but two teams after their 4th place in Manchester United and Chelsea. Let’s look at each clubs fixtures and determine who we think will not finish in the top 4.
We see Arsenal getting a further 16 points with a nice set of fixtures and that would make the Gunners finish on 79 points. Tottenham can get 16 also, and the club are really going to get a second wind playing at their brand new fantastic stadium, that would give them 77 points, and fall short of Arsenal.
Next is Manchester United and we can see the club getting 16 points also which would push them onto 77pts. And finally Chelsea we can see achieving 14 points which would give them a total of 74pts.
Looking at that it would come down to goal difference for United and Tottenham currently Tottenham have +24 to United’s +19. There really is all to play for as the heat has been turned up, but we see 4th place as more of a battle between Tottenham and United and both clubs not only have to win games but also have to score many goals.
When a weekend of Premier League action sees some unusually uniform results, it can be difficult to choose a “Game of the Weekend” from the bunch, and depends largely on your criteria. Perhaps Southampton’s 1-0 win at Brighton stands out for you, if for no other reason than it was the only game with less than two goals. If you are a fan of Crystal Palace or Leicester then no doubt you would have been pleased to see your beloved side record a home win, or maybe Everton fans could be the happiest as they won away from home with a clean sheet at West Ham – the only side other than Man City to do so. Of course, if a game could have more of an impact on the progressing season, there can surely be little argument that Liverpool taking on Spurs tops the bill.
Finally it has happened, Tottenham’s new ground has opened and it has been met by a sense of wonder and amazement.
The Tottenham youth side tested out at the ground at the weekend and a legends line up will face a legends line up of Inter Milan next weekend. These matches are needed in order for the stadium to be granted a safety certificate.
There is no doubt that a new era has begun for Tottenham and you could see the relief on manager Mauricio Pochettino’s face and also of course on Daniel Levy, the Tottenham owner. Here was a stadium that was supposed to be ready by the beginning of the season and delays have meant that the club have had to play games at Wembley Stadium. Whilst it is true that Tottenham responded well at their temporary home, there is no place quite like home.
And that is what makes this new stadium so special, forget what Arsenal did with the Emirates. This new stadium is on the same site as the very original which makes it extra special and will warm fans hearts. It looks spectacular and holds 62,000 fans, and it is of course state of the art. Comfort for fans is a priority and special refreshment bars mean that thousands of pints of beer can be dispensed within minutes, nothing has been left to chance!
But the real beauty in presenting the new stadium is a new era of hope for the club. Pochettino has shown the fans the potential of this current team and while they are yet to win a trophy under the Argentinian they have pulled off some terrific results and surely as a club are playing the best football Tottenham fans have seen in a generation.
The key for the club will be transfer budgets and keeping their best players. One believes that the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli will be going nowhere soon given the big move into the stadium and wanting to be a part of the new era. But the club who somehow went through the season buying no players will need to dip into the transfer market if they want to stay competitive and indeed move up to the next level.
Tottenham should take note that rivals Arsenal did struggle after moving into their new stadium at least in terms of finding cash to buy players. In the first two seasons at their new ground the Gunners spent just £40m, and there is the fear that Tottenham’s budget could be crippled somewhat by stadium costs. But Levy has commented in the past that this will not be an issue, we wait and see.
Tottenham’s first scheduled match at their new stadium will be against Crystal Palace on April 3rd which is a Wednesday evening game. The week after that they will play Manchester City in a mouth watering Champions League first leg. Could the fact the club have moved into this fantastic stadium make all the difference? Watch this space. What is sure is that exciting times lie ahead for this famous London club.
How football has changed when certain managers and one of them being Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino admitted recently that finishing in a top 4 place was more important than trophies, but is that true? And why has this developed?
Make no mistake there are plenty of other managers who feel the same way about the top 4. The top four at least in England has become important because it is a gateway of course to play in the Champions League. Of course it is in fact the top 3 who automatically qualify for the Champions League. The team who finish 4th have to play in a special play off in order to get into the competition proper. But English teams have always achieved that.
It does seem rather odd though that some teams would prefer a top 4 place and not an FA Cup or League Cup win. For the bigger teams still winning domestic cups is important and let’s not forget that 90% of wins in the FA Cup over the past 25 years have come from the very best teams in England- Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City. Sure the teams and players want to jump higher but winning is winning and keeps players in a good mental state.
Other teams who usually finish mid table have been guilty of not playing their strongest sides in the hopes of, what? Rare has it been to see one of these teams finish in a top 4 place. Leicester of course did it in 2016 when they won the league and Everton did it a decade ago, but it still remains a rare feat.
But has football come to when certain teams are not 100% into the domestic cup competitions? It’s not as if there is 10 different trophies up for grabs each season. There are 4, and for the teams outside the top six there is just realistically 2 each season- these teams should be and need to be going for victory all of the time.
Instead teams seem to be saving themselves for a top 4 place and the irony cannot be lost on anyone, because they are trying to qualify simply to be in another cup competition.
Arsenal did it for years, albeit they did win a few FA Cups in Arsene Wenger’s last years but it feels as though the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea might seem happy to act that way too. Surely this is short changing the fans who really do want that day out at Wembley and to experience and win a cup final.
Alas like most things in life it comes down to money, and the Champions League has plenty of it, and of course exposure and TV rights will play its part. But the big clubs have the big budgets and good squads and really should be going for everything once the season kicks off. Making choices and putting all of your eggs in one basket rarely works out.