Tomorrow night, Sheffield United host Tottenham Hotspur for the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi finals. Despite leading from an Andros Townsend penalty, us as fans can’t help but feel that we need more than a 1-0 aggregate score to cermet our place in the final. Here is what the squad need to do in order to beat Sheffield tomorrow night. Use the page numbers to navigate!
Tottenham face Sheffield United in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final, and after observing Sheffield’s League One clash with MK Dons, I have picked out two key players for Tottenham, and two key players for the Blades.
Spurs grabbed another late winner against Sunderland at White Hart Lane to win 2-1. Mauricio Pochettino could make changes to the side that faced Sunderland, although I wouldn’t be too surprised if he keeps the foundations of the team that started against Sunderland. Sheffield United fell to a 1-0 defeat to MK Dons on Saturday.
Tottenham have recently been linked with a move for PSG youngster Adrien Rabiot, and with us being unsure of his style of play and his ability, FreshSpurs specifically watched him when he played ninety minutes last Saturday in PSG’s 4-2 loss away at Bastia, where Rabiot was given ninety minutes.
The nineteen year-old has a pretty good match away at Bastia, and he grew into the game as it went on, with the holding midfielder looking solid in the opening stages, but gave away a couple or needless free-kicks, and have the ball away a couple of times in the middle of the park.
His first real action came on the nineteenth minute when he made a vital clearance before any Bastia players could pounce. Just a minute later, Rabiot was up the other end of the pitch, extending the visitors’ lead.
PSG pressed the ball, and won it back as a result, Rabiot played a quick pass and continued his run, eventually latching onto a loose ball, only needing only one touch to slide the ball the bottom corner.
It then became apparent that he seemed a more confident player after his goal, and he looked to be a very good link between the defence and the midfield. However, I feel that he could work on turning with the ball with confidence, in order to open up a lot more options for himself when he receives the ball.
Rabiot was also very good holding a positive position in midfield when his side were in possession, giving players the option to play a little pass inside when needed. However, I feel that he drifted out of position off the ball a couple of times, caught ball-watching a little bit perhaps. These are minor things as players were back to cover him more often than not.
Despite these little improvements I have suggested, I feel that Rabiot is a very good player for his age, and would be a good fit for Tottenham, as he can hold his position in midfield well, and push forward too, and he offers the right balance between the two. Time is also on his side.
Although I think he is a very good player, do we not already have the type of player he is at the club. He is similar to Ryan Mason in the way that he can pose a threat going forward, and is also solid where he is deployed in midfield.
A six-month loan does not sound particularly appealing to me either. I think we would have to make this deal permanent if we are going to have anything to do with Rabiot. If we do not sell to make room for the midfielder, we risk having a massive midfield overload.
My final verdict is that Rabiot is a very talented player that can pose a threat going forward, as well as staying solid in the midfield. He could possibly work on minimising the amount of silly mistakes that are currently dispersed in his game. However, I do not think that the deal is right for Spurs, unless we sign him permanently, or make the deal permanent in the summer.
One player who’s contributions this season have gone slightly under the radar but have been critical in Tottenham’s recent improvements, with his goals moving us up to 5th in the Premier League has been Nacer Chadli. The extraordinary improvement from last season to this season is a just reward for the patience shown in him, something which was not a given in the wake of his difficult first season in England.
Throughout his first season in England he struggled to stick himself into the first-team on a regular basis, he was utilised on the left on the right, in a holding role and it seemed he wouldn’t make himself a success, but one game last season showed that there was potential in him. Away at Benfica late last season it was evident that Chadli was beginning to find his feet at Tottenham. The way he attacked from the central role showed that if managed right he could become a very good player for Spurs.
Even though most Spurs supporters expected him to be sold or only be a bit-time player this season, Pochettino made his mark early on in our first home game of the season against QPR when he started Nacer. And Chadli’s brace duly repaid the faith placed upon him in the 4-0 defeat of the Hoops served to reiterate his eye for goal, but the new found self-belief in his game shows what patience and the right management can achieve.
The sparkling implementation of his football philosophy in its fullest, most entertaining version yet is genuine cause for optimism, though. Especially against one of the top-four sides Spurs had been unable to get the better of for a good 18 months. Even as the north Londoners struggled to find a cohesive attacking identity, Chadli has proved one of their more reliable performers. He gave them the lead at Arsenal, was instrumental in a much-needed win over Southampton and helped instigate their successful comeback against Aston Villa.
As this Tottenham side has continued to develop, Chadli has helped ensure their heads do not go too often below water. Now they are looking like a genuine top-four-bothering prospect with hopes of maybe even winning a cup, the 25-year-old is in prime position to be involved. Chadli, as much as anyone, will understand that new projects take time. He is an example why we would all be smarter for having more patience with them.
We have come a long way since the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino in the summer. As soon as that Argentine started his project at Spurs, I knew that he could make a difference. I knew he was the one to take Tottenham Hotspur forward as a club, and look how far we have come. A long way in my view. Some others may think differently as we occupy that famous 5th position that has been associated with Tottenham in recent times, and it looks as if Pochettino is on a mission to change this.
Firstly from pre-season, and his time at Southampton, we saw the style of football he was going to try and play at our club, and I will get my first negative out of the way early on in the piece. I will say that at the beginning of the season this plan wasn’t executed to the highest of standards, and sometimes we were beaten at our own game. I think back to the home game against Liverpool as a prime example. We were pressed high up the pitch, forcing errors from the back line. That led to a disappointing 0-3 defeat and brought most fans back down to Earth after the impressive 4-1 victory over QPR a week before.
However, I can see many positives since the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino. He has used the youth system at Spurs to great effect, with the introduction of Ryan Mason and Harry Kane into the first team. These two players have fitted fantastically into the team, and I have been full of praise for the young English talent that is Ryan Mason since his introduction. Nabil Bentaleb has retained his place in the starting line-up since his introduction last year under Tim Sherwood.
The same goes for Harry Kane, who has lit up White Hart Lane since the start of the season. When I look at him now, I remember being in attendance at White Hart Lane when Kane came on as a substitute, and forced the game against Hull in the Capital One Cup to go to penalties. The ball fell at the feet of the striker, and instead of lashing the ball wildly over the bar, the youngster slotted the ball into the bottom corner with a neat finish like he had practiced that same scenario for weeks.
The striker – destined for a place in the England squad – has also taken to the Mauricio Pochettino style of play, winning the ball back in midfield on numerous occasions, and then wasting no time at all in getting the team onto the front foot, whether that be with a swift pass to open up the defence or a darting run, weaving in and out of defenders.
Another positive is the fitness of the squad. Not only have we won a number of games in the final minutes, but we have shown overall fitness, not just in the actual games, but also when fixtures have been tightly packed. This is something I felt we have struggled with in previous seasons.
Pochettino’s favourite subject appears to be a winning mentality. This is an atmosphere I am sure that he has created inside the Tottenham dressing room. It is almost impossible to judge this, but from what I have seen on the pitch, I am sure that the winning mentality is there. The fitness aspect has helped with this mentality.
The final thing that I would like to say, is that I am delighted with how we have approached the big games this season. I will start with the game away at Manchester City for example. Although we came out losers via a 4-1 scoreline, I thought that certain refereeing decisions went against us, but if we leave that aside and look at the performance itself, I was very pleased.
I thought we showed great character to come back from an early setback despite dominating the first ten minutes was a very good effort. We matched the Manchester side for just under an hour, looking very dangerous on the break, and actually had a penalty to level the scores up at 2-2. You cannot blame the players for starting to lose a bit of belief after falling 3-1 down at the Etihad Stadium after putting in such a good performance for an hour. Please don’t get me wrong! We didn’t set the world alight with that performance, but I felt that it was a massive improvement on what we have seen under previous managers such as AVB.
I will take Chelsea as another example. First of all, you would have to say that it was very disappointing to have as much possession as we did, and not score at all. However, we were very quick out of the blocks, and Harry Kane had two decent chances to fire us ahead, one of which hit the bar. Unfortunately, it was defensive errors that saw Chelsea pull away from us, but nevertheless I was pleased, we weren’t really as bad as the scoreline suggested.
Back in September, we picked up a draw against Arsenal in the North London derby. The approach that we took was a positive one. Arsenal did not the best of days in an attacking sense, and looked dangerous on the break, like at Manchester City. Admittedly, we had chances to win the game in the first half, but a second half goal from Nacer Chadli fired us ahead, only for it to be cancelled out by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
On the topic of big games, I have to finish with the New Year’s Day win over Chelsea. Like at City, we showed character, (alright, Harry Kane showed character) to come from a goal down and equalise on the half-hour mark. We then built on this and stormed into a 3-1 lead at half-time. We all know what happened after that! In that game, I thought we were clinical, and didn’t squander many, if any, chances that fell our way. That will create a great atmosphere in the dressing room, and we can enter the return fixtures against these teams with great confidence, knowing that we are capable of it, and most importantly, we CAN do it!
With the January Transfer Window approaching fast, Mauricio Pochettino will no doubt be looking to offload some of the fringe players and recruit some new faces into White Hart Lane. So with that in mind, let’s have a look at some names that could be leaving White Hart Lane this January.
We have already seen eight players who could come through the door at Tottenham, but who exactly could be going the opposite direction? Here are seven players that could.
Despite Mauricio Pochettino stating in a recent press conference that no new players are going to be signing for Tottenham in the New Year, we still think that with new head of recruitment and analysis Paul Mitchell, we can still pull off some mid-season deals.
These players are all gathered from recent news reports claiming that they could join Tottenham in January. Some of these are likely and unlikely to happen, we will be rating the likelihood of these transfers taking place throughout the post.
Last night’s 4-0 Quarter-Final win over Newcastle was mesmerising to watch, it was energetic, positive and everything that Mauricio Pochettino wants to see. But I believe a large part of that was down to one player, who ironically wasn’t on the scoresheet, but had the most impact, our number ten, Christian Eriksen.
Erisken showed last night that not only is the role behind the striker his best position, but also, he has the ability to become one of the best players in the world if he continues to play regularly in that free role. Throughout this season he has often being left out on the left wing which negates a lot of his ability to impact games and be a creative threat in the final third of the pitch. This has been a source of constant irritation amongst Spurs fans, all of whom believe that Eriksen poses a goalscoring threat when he’s playing off the Centre-Forward.
Last night he was in that role and he excelled. He dictated the game from that position, he ran the midfield and his passing and quickness on the ball meant he controlled the pace of the game which was key in our superb display just 24 hours ago. It reminded me of when Luka Modric was at Spurs, how his ball movement and passing could run a game and dominate it.
That is the type of quality player that Eriksen has the talent to replicate or even go beyond if he develops his game sufficiently over time. People have yearned at Spurs for us to look for a replacement for Modric, well there’s no need, cause we have his replacement, and his name is Christian Eriksen.
Boy, how much can change in a week! This time last week, we were reacting and taking in the performance that our Tottenham put in against Everton in a 2-1 win. You may remember that we went behind due to a Kevin Mirallas wonder goal before we came from behind to claim all three points.
I also seem to remember that the fans were terrific, and watching on Sky Sports, I could hear the fans signing and getting behind the team for the whole ninety minutes, and even when we went behind, shouts of ‘Come on you Spurs’ and ‘Oh when the Spurs’ came from the stands, and when we completed the comeback, the crowd were buzzing.
The point I am trying to get across is that the players thrived on this atmosphere. It was noticeable. We moved the ball quicker and constantly looked a threat. Roberto Soldado got his goal and things were looking on the up. Then, the next set of fans that turned up at White Hart Lane were almost completely different. I am not going to say anymore than that about the atmosphere at White Hart Lane.
The players do not like this atmosphere, and yes, it was the wrong thing to say, but maybe Emmanuel Adebayor did have a point. The players will not play their best with the fans on their backs’ all of the time. This could even stop success at White Hart Lane. We face Newcastle in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup, and I really do worry about our performance, and I am hoping and praying that a good, supportive set of fans turn up on Wednesday 17th December. If we believe, we can win. So, to summarise, I just want all Tottenham fans that attend games to stick by the team, no matter how bad things are going, try to keep your frustration inside and back the team.
Our performance against Everton has been lauded by fans for intensity and passion and quality that hasn’t been displayed so far this season. Several players have been credited for it, Vertonghen, Lennon, Kane, Soldado amongst them, but one player who went unnoticed but in my view was a pivotal factor was Nabil Bentaleb.
We all remember that December day away at Southampton when Tim Sherwood brought him off the bench and he showed us that day, that he could handle himself at the elite level in England but many assumed that he was playing because Sherwood was making a point. Bentaleb throughout the 2nd half of the season got branded ‘Teacher’s Pet’ by many for the amount of trust that was placed upon him and when he departed at the end of the season, most felt that Bentaleb would plummet down the pecking order at Spurs.
But under Mauricio Pochettino he started the opening three Premier League games before being sidelined with injury, he came back into the side on Sunday against a front four of Eto’o, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku, people, myself included, that Bentaleb would be overrun against that line-up. But he controlled the pace of the game partnered with Ryan Mason and the two combined very neatly, Bentaleb sat back and held the ball well, allowing Mason to trek further upfield to create chances.
Nabil won every tackle in the midfield and looked as if he’s been playing in the Premier League for 10 years, showing such great maturity for a 20 year old, bet if he was English the media wouldn’t stop raving about him! Anyways it’s great to see such a young player thriving at our club and I hope he continues to grow from strength to strength with us for many years to come.