Tom Huddelstone

Hull City Complete £5m Deal for Tottenham Midfielder Tom Huddlestone

Tom HuddelstoneThe newly promoted Hull City have made a big capture this summer as they sealed the signature of Tottenham midfielder Tom Huddlestone. The 26 year-old signed a three-year deal with Hull City for a transfer fee of £5m. Having struggled to establish himself a regular starting role under André VIllas-Boas, Huddlestone will look to play a key role in a club where the competition might be easier to deal with.

Huddlestone did indeed face stones in his path at the White Hart Lane, as injuries hindered his progress and the talents fighting for the same playing minutes saw the Englishman sit on the bench more than he had hoped to.  A move became increasingly likely as the summer went on. Huddelstone himself commented the situation that eventually caused him to leave:

“It’s been a frustrating couple of years at Tottenham whether it was because of injuries or team selection. Hopefully I can come here, cement my place in the starting 11, and do well for the club.”

To a player Huddlestone’s quality, a move from Tottenham to the recently promoted Hull City might not seem like the most tempting option, and there seemed to be no way the deal could happen, but the willingness to play a key role was certainly a factor in the player’s decision. Huddlestone also revealed that a chat with his new manager Steve Bruce was an important component in the making of his decision:

“I had a chance to speak to Steve Bruce and I liked his ideas, his role for me within the team, and what he wants the team to do and the way he wants them to play. He wants me to get on ball as much as possible and give me licence to get forward as well. Once I had spoken to him, my mind was made up.”

For manager Steve Bruce, Huddlestone is likely to become an important puzzle piece this season. Coming from Tottenham, the midfielder adds immediate quality in the Hull side and also brings in a boost of experience. ”He is a quality player. He’s got something we’ve been wanting to bring into the club for a long time now… the ability to pass the ball the way he can. There’s not many, left-footed or right-footed, who can pass a ball as well as Tom,” Steve Bruce stated.

article-0-1B714456000005DC-442_634x470Indeed, Huddlestone brings an aspect of stability to Hull’s midfield, and being not only a great passer but also a hard-working defense-man when needed, Huddlestone brings in versatility. He’s capable of playing in basically any midfield role, which allows Bruce tactical flexibility within his squad. Steve Bruce also hopes that the midfielder’s new role in his new club will see him get a new chance in the England national team: “He’s still young enough, he’s played for England before. Let’s hope playing for us week in, week out can get him back in there [the national team] and if we can help him along the way, that’s terrific.”

Huddlestone himself is well aware of facing high expectations in his new club, but is confident that it is something he can deal with: “The expectations will be there but it’s something I’ve had before. It was on a different scale when I went to Tottenham, but I was a  young lad where people expected a lot. I’m old enough and experienced enough to deal with it”, Huddlestone assured. “I put more pressure on myself than anyone else will and that’s to make sure I do well, show people what I’m all about”, he continued.

Once compared to the legend Franz Beckenbauer, Huddlestone’s career has went downhill in more recent years as he only made 11 starts for Tottenham during his last two seasons at White Hart Lane. With a key-role in store for him in his new club, he will look to return to the form of the 2009-10 season when he was the focal point in Tottenham’s midfield and made his national team debut under Fabio Capello.

Since then, the player has been very unlucky with injuries, as he’s struggled with several ankle problems that have hindered his progress. A chance at Hull City represents a fresh start for him, and although it remains uncertain whether he will ever get back to being the player he was before his injury problems, the regular playing time with the Tigers is unlikely to do any harm.

Hull City’s squad is currently filled with lots of young, hungry players, and some experience has been added this summer, with Huddlestone being their biggest signing. Not only is Huddlestone a quality player, but also someone whose big match experience will be priceless for the newly promoted club. The club is still likely to have to fight for its survival in the Premier League, but the addition of Huddlestone might just be the individual component that puts them ahead in that survival battle.

Written by Jen Evelyn

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Cardiff City Complete £8.5m Signing of Tottenham Defender Steven Caulker

Steven CaulkerCardiff City broke their transfer fee record and boosted their chances of survival in the Premier League with the signing of Steven Caulker from Tottenham Hotspur. The England international signed for a fee of £8.5m, breaking the record set by Andreas Cornelius earlier in the window. It is clear Vincent Tan is resting on his laurels of making some big money signings.

Last time Steven Caulker was in Wales he enjoyed a very successful loan spell at Swansea in a season that consolidated their place in the Premier League and his place in the England Under-21 team. His success at Swansea prompted Andres Villas-Boas to trust him as a regular for Tottenham, and in the 2012-13 season, he made 28 appearances in all competitions for Tottenham.

However, with Matthew Dawson and Jan Vertonghen as permanent fixtures in the Tottenham side, Caulker needed first team football. Cardiff boss Malky Mackay praised his willingness to move away from the comfort of Tottenham and said he encourages other players to follow Caulker’s example:

“To be part of a squad is a very good thing and at the time you are loathed to leave because it has a comfort blanket associated with it. You are wrapped in it, you have been there and you know it.”

“To actually step out and go and further your career is a brave decision. It is something that I would commend players for when they do it. You see a situation in football when they leave a club and it is unexpected. When it is for the reasons of playing football regularly then I think that is a brave decision. It shows that a player has maturity attached to them and where they see their career going.”

Cardiff City had an “air tight” defense last season, conceding only 45 goals in 46 games, the least in the Championship. Steven Caulker’s capture will of course add more consistency to the defense as the squad take on the English top-flight for the first time since 1962. However, it could drive a couple of players out.

Highly rated youngster Ben Nugent has been loaned out to Brentford until January. The 2012-13 Cardiff City young player of the year made 14 league appearances in a season in which he established himself as an accomplished Championship defender. Ben Turner may also find himself surplus to requirements next season. The former England Under-19 international quickly established himself as a Cardiff City regular after joining from Coventry in 2011.

Steven CaulkerThe move to Cardiff City may boost Caulker’s chances of making the England team on a regular basis. His one and only cap came in a 4-2 defeat to Sweden, where he played 74 minutes and scored before being substituted with England winning 2-1. Steven Caulker felt the move would boost his England chances:

“My aim is to get back in the England squad, and if you ask any Englishman they will tell you they have one eye on the World Cup. That’s something I want to work towards.”

The competition for the England center-back positions will be fierce in the upcoming months. A few commanding displays in the early season from Caulker could add himself into the squad for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Moldova, Ukraine, Montenegro, and Poland.

With his best attribute being short passing, it is easy to see why he has been signed. His role in Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea team in 2011-12 proved his ability to be the complete center-back. He certainly does add more than the typical Championship defender, most of which struggle to adapt to the Premier League.

If Cardiff City end up staying in the Premier League, Steven Caulker could be praised as the instigator of a tight defense. His capture shows the intent of Malky Mackay to sure up the back line and add some useful Premier League experience to the newly promoted side.

Written by Jimmy Cartwright

Europa League Quarter-Finals Second Leg Review: Part 1

SS Lazio vs. Fenerbahce SK

SS Lazio 1-1 Fenerbahce SKHaving gotten a decent result from the first leg of this game, Fenerbahce prepared themselves for what would be a tight game in Rome. Lazio hoped they would use the home advantage to beat their visitors, but, as they came to find out later, enough mistakes had already been made and there was no way to reverse them.

The first half saw zero goals, although both sides came close more than one time. Volkan Demirel and Federico Marchetti ensured both sides would remain level, at least for the first 45.

The second half was, by far, more exciting than the first. Giuseppe Biava made way for Miroslav Klose and this was the first substitution of the game. 4 minutes after it was made, the home side had their first goal. Senad Lulic got hold of an Antonio Candreva pass to score a goal that had long been coming for his side. Thirty minutes from time and Lazio were more alive than ever.

13 minutes later, both sides made Brazilian substitutions as they tried to get past each other; Sergio Floccari and Salih Ucan came on for Ederson and Cristian respectively. Both of them had not been on for a minute when Fenerbahce finally got one in. Caner Erkin, with the help of Webo, was able to get past Marchetti and restore his side’s lead on aggregate.

It was one step forward, two steps back for Lazio and Petkovic knew he had to work fast. Antonio Rozzi came on for Libor Kozak just three minutes later, but there was not much the Italian side could do to get back level on aggregate with the determined Turks. The last 14 minutes plus stoppage time were intense, but there was to be no more goals on the night. Fenerbahce were through to the semi-finals for the first time, having avoided a defeat in Italy for the very first time in their history.

Statistic-wise, Lazio had a total of 20 attempts against Fenerbahce’s 5. The home side had far better chances than their visitors, who were confined to their own half for most of the game. Pavel Kralovec issued a total of 6 yellow cards (3-a-side) between the two teams. No player were sent off during this game.

Vladimir Petkovic and Aykut Kocaman lined up the following squads:

Lazio Starting XI

Marchetti, Ciani, Lulic, Radu, Hernanes, Ledesma (c), Cana, Candreva, Biava, Kozak, Ederson

Subs: Bizzarri, Crecco, Gonzalez, Cataldi, Klose, Rozzi, and Floccari

Fenerbahce Starting XI

Demirel (c), Korkmaz, Yobo, Ziegler, Gonul, Meireles, Sahin, Erkin, Webo, Cristian, Kuyt

Subs: Gonuk, Kaldirim, Irtegun, Topal, Ucan, Krasic, and Topuz

Final Score: SS Lazio 1-1 Fenerbahce SK* (Agg: 1-3)

Lulic 60′ | Caner Erkin 72′

Semi-Finals

Having eliminated Lazio, Fenerbahce were drawn against SL Benfica of Portugal for the semi-finals of the competition. They will play the first leg of this game at home and the second leg away.

Basel 1893 vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Basel 1893 2-2 Tottenham HotspurThe first leg of this tie had been a very tight match at White Hart Lane, and the draw at the end just simply said it all: both sides were very determined to go through to the next round. In a game that would go to penalties after yet another 2-2 draw, the overall better side emerged victorious on the night.

The first half started well for the home side, who knew they would be ahead even with nothing but a clean sheet. The Londoners were determined to score goals, however, and managed to do just that after 23 minutes courtesy of a Clint Dempsey shot into an empty net.

Dragovic knew he had to correct his mistakes or have his fellow teammates do it for him by getting one past the other American in the Tottenham squad to keep them ahead. The 22-year-old center-back’s prayers were answered just 4 minutes later, when his side managed to do just what was needed to level the scores. Assisted by his Basel captain, Mohammed Salah managed to confuse the Spurs defense, run into the six-yard box, and shoot past a defeated Brad Friedel to make it 1-1 on the night and 3-3 on aggregate. The two sides were still very much alive at the end of the first 45 minutes.

The second half started well for both sides, with the visitors almost scoring after just two minutes into the half. Yann Sommer was there to save, however, allowing his side to break well and earn a corner from which would result a second goal just a minute later. Aleksandar Dragovic managed to erase his first-half mistake by finding the net with the assistance of a Fabian Schar attempt. 4 minutes into the second half and Basel were already in the lead again.

There were decent attempts from both sides after that, but there was to be only 1 more goal in this game, and it came 33 minutes after Dragovic’s goal. Assisted by Tom Huddlestone, Clint Dempsey managed to get the ball past Sommer yet again with a strong, brilliant, low shot, taking the game to extra time (after the remaining 7 or so minutes of normal time saw nothing for both sides).

Jan Vertonghen had been issued a straight red for a foul on Marco Streller in the first minute of stoppage-time, and Tottenham’s defense was shaken as the game went into extra time. Despite some good attempts from both sides, it would only take a penalty shoot-out to decide who would win the game as both sides had really held each other.

Fabian Schar, Marco Streller, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Fabian Frei, and Marcelo Diaz all scored their penalties. Tom Huddlestone had his saved, however, while Emmanuel Adebayor simply sent his over the bar to gift the home side a well-deserved win.

Statistic-wise, Basel had a total of 21 attempts (including 1 against the woodwork) against Tottenham’s 17. Tottenham were more accurate in front of goal, however, with the majority of their attempts having been on target. A total of 8 yellow cards was issued between the two teams; 3 going to the home side, and the rest to the visitors. Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham was issued the only red card of the game: a straight red.

Murat Yakin and Andre Villas-Boas lined up the following squads:

Basel Starting XI

Sommer, Ho, Degen, Dragovic, Schar, Stocker, Frei, Elneny, Die, Streller (c), Salah

Subs: Vailati, Suaro, Degen, Cabral, Frei, Diaz, and Steihofer

Tottenham Starting XI

Friedel, Dawson, Vertonghen, Walker, Naughton, Dempsey, Holtby, Sigurdsson, Parker (c), Dembele, Adebayor

Subs: Lloris, Caulker, Livermore, Coulthirst, Carroll, Huddlestone, and Assou-Ekotto

Final Score: Basel 1893* 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur (Agg: 4-4) (4-1 on Penalties)

Dempsey 23′, 83′ |Salah 27′, Dragovic 49

Semi-Finals

Having eliminated Tottenham Hotspur, FC Basel were drawn against Chelsea of England for the semi-finals of the competition. They will play the first leg of this game at home and the second leg away.

Written by Ange Marline

Europa League Quarter-Finals First Leg Review: Part 1

Fenerbahce SK vs. SS Lazio

Fenerbahce SK 2-0 SS LazioAfter a tough time in the Round of 16, Fenerbahce prepared to host a team that had been excellent in the previous round. For this reason, Aykut Kocaman was determined to do his best to ensure his boys would score as many goals as possible in the first leg before their trip to Italy for the second leg. Vladimir Petkovic, in the same manner, knew their hosts would be tough and encouraged his side to score as many away goals as they could.

The first half-hour of this game was filled with decent attempts from both teams; most of them coming from the home side and the best one being a 17th minute attempt from Moussa Sow that hit the woodwork. Federico Marchetti in the Lazio goal more than had a tough time trying to keep a clean sheet. That’s not to say that Volkan Demirel had it easy, though; Lazio were also looking to score some goals as well, Ederson and Hernanes in particular. The first half was a tight game overall.

The second half started badly for the Italian visitors as they were reduced to 10 men in only the 48th minute. Ogenyi Onazi picked up a second yellow card after a bad challenge on Cristian. This send-off almost got the home side an immediate goal, but Raul Meireles hit the woodwork, to the relief of the away side. Lazio surprisingly also started to pick up from this point, but Volkan Demirel wasn’t going to let his team down at this point.

Decent chances kept on coming in from both sides, but it seemed as though there would be no goals on the night, until the home side were awarded a penalty just 12 minutes from full time. A Radu foul led to a Fenerbahce penalty which Webo made sure not to waste, putting his side in the lead ahead of their trip to Italy for the second leg.

Lazio kept trying to counter and get an important away goal, but Fenerbahce were determined to prevent them from doing so. The home side made life even harder for their visitors when they added one more to their tally. In the first of the 4 minutes that were added on at the end of the second half, Dirk Kuyt, who had been looking for a goal for the whole night, finally got the ball past Marchetti and into the Lazio net, managing what Caner Erkin’s free-kick was aimed to do some milliseconds earlier. And it was all over for the Italians, who now had to work harder in the second leg if they hoped to progress into the semi-finals of the competition.

Fenerbahce made 21 attempts on goal (including 2 that hit the woodwork) in total, compared to Lazio’s 12. The home side had, undoubtedly, the bigger share of possession on the night. A total of 9 yellow cards were issued between the two teams on the night. 20-year-old Nigerian Ogenyi Onazi was the only player sent off during this match.

Aykut Kocaman and Vladimir Petkovic lined up the following squads:

Fenerbahce Starting XI

Demirel (c), Korkmaz, Yobo, Ziegler, Gonul, Meireles, Sow, Cristian, Topal, Kuyt, Webo

Subs: Mert Gunok, Bekir Irtegun, Selcuk Sahin, Semih Senturk, Caner Erkin, Salih Ucan, and Mehmet Topuz

Lazio Starting XI

Marchetti, Ciani, Lulic, Radu (c), Gonzalez, Onazi, Cana, Candreva, Hernanes, Ederson, Kozak
Subs: Bizzarri, Biava, Crecco, Rozzi, Ledesma, Klose, and Mauri

Final Score: Fenerbahce SK 2-0 SS Lazio

Webo 78′ (pen), Kuyt 90+1′

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Basel 1893

Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Basel 1983Having gotten close to elimination in the previous round, Tottenham Hotspur knew they would have to up their game when they would host Basel of Switzerland. Murat Yakin knew his men would have to take advantage of their playing the first leg away and, in this, focused them on scoring as many away goals as they would be able to. It was going to be an exciting game.

The first 20 minutes of this match saw nothing but attempts from both sides. The visitors were, however, the much stronger side until this point. Gareth Bale, Marco Streller, and Markus Steinhofer had each given both goalkeepers a few scares with some decent attempts. 22 minutes in, and the game finally began to settle, lowering the tempo just a little bit.

The away side finally managed to break the deadlock in the 30th minute, when Valentin Stocker, having collected what was left of a decent attempt from Marco Streller, managed to put the ball into the back of the net. The away side did not allow the game to slow down and surprised their hosts with another great goal just 4 minutes later. Stocker’s corner came off Jan Vertonghen and met Fabian Frei, who headed past Friedel, to give his side a very significant advantage.

2-0 now and the hosts knew that serious work had to be done. Emmanuel Adebayor managed to give his side something for the half just 6 minutes later when he picked up from Scott Parker and shot from close range. Both teams tried to add goals for their sides in the few minutes that remained in the first half but none of their attempts were successful, at least not for then.

The second half started the same way the exciting first half had ended, with both teams coming out strong and hungry for goals. Youngsters Lewis Holtby and Mohamed Salah were shining for their sides and had early attempts, but none of them bore goals. The hosts finally managed to score an equalizer 13 minutes into the second half, through a strong shot from Gylfi Sigurdsson, deflected by Fabian Schar.

Yann Sommer had no chance of preventing this one from going in, and the game became even more interesting from this point. It was all great attempts and near-goals from then on, with neither side managing to score a winner. It was going to be all to play for in the second leg, especially for the Spurs, who would have to do with an injured Gareth Bale, who had been stretchered off towards the end of this game.

Basel had a total of 20 attempts (including one against the woodwork) on goal, compared to Tottenham’s 11. The visitors had the better chances, but the hosts had managed a great comeback to keep them alive for the second leg. A total of 3 yellow cards were issued between the two teams, the home side picking up 2 of them, and their visitors the remaining 1. No players were sent off during this game.

Andre Villas-Boas and Murat Yakin lined up the following squads:

Tottenham Starting XI

Friedel, Vertonghen, Gallas, Naughton, Assou-Ekotto, Parker (c), Bale, Dembele, Holtby, Lennon, Adebayor

Subs: Lloris, Caulker, Huddlestone, Livermore, Sigurdsson, Dawson, and Dempsey

Basel Starting XI

Sommer, Dragovic, Voser, Schar, Steinhofer, Stocker, Frei, Elneny, Salah, Die, Streller (c)

Subs: Vailati, Ajeti, Sauro, Frei, Zoua, Cabral, and Degen

Final Score: Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Basel 1893

Stocker 30′, Frei 34′ | Adebayor 40′,  Sigurdsson 58′

Written by Ange Marline

Premier League 2013/14: The Race for the Top Four

ArsenalPain and despair from Tottenham, jubilation and ecstasy from Arsenal. Wenger secured his 16th consecutive qualification for the Champions League, while Tottenham were left scratching their heads as to why they were foiled again. The top four race will again be interesting next season; a North London battle is bound to commence again, while Liverpool will look to enter as outsiders.

Arsenal spoke of their ambition to challenge for the Premier League title next season. After no serious challenge for a number of years, Wenger feels a transition period for Chelsea, Manchester City, and Manchester United may pave the way for Arsenal’s first league success since 2004:

“We want to do that next season (win the league title). Let’s not forget the consistency we’ve shown over the years in qualifying for the Champions League and knowing everybody is desperate to get in there.”

Arsenal secured 26 points from the final ten games of the season as they stormed to Champions League qualification: form worthy of a title. Arsenal could be bold in the transfer market, and a top striker in the form of Stevan Jovetic could arrive at the Emirates. His influence in the Fiorentina team this season was compelling as they nearly secured Champions League qualification at the expense of Milan. An injury free season for Jack Wilshere added with another productive season for Cazorla and Podolski, and Arsenal may afford to dream of their best season in years.

For Tottenham, the work load proved too much, and attempting to balance the Europa League with the League was their undoing. A costly away game in Milan against Inter was perhaps the pointer, brought into extra time, and they lost the home game with Fulham on the Sunday after in sluggish fashion. Andre Villas Boas will again look for success in the Europa League, a competition he holds in high regard. However with Liverpool looking to enter the frame without the baggage of the Europa League, he could come to bemoan it.

Tottenham HotspurOn their scintillating best, Tottenham are unstoppable, a team styled like title contenders at times. This does only come in sporadic bursts, and their vulnerable nature proved costly throughout the season, such as their first half display at Chelsea when they were outplayed. Encouraging news has came out of Spurs since the seasons’ end: Gareth Bale looks to have sealed a contract worth £150,000 per week, keeping him at the club for at least another season. A new striker such as Leandro Daimao, a lighting season from Bale and the very best from Lewis Holtby, and we could see Tottenham challenging for the highest honors next season.

Liverpool look to enter the frame for Champions League qualification as outsiders; the importance of qualification is monumental for Rodgers. This led him to be open about rejecting the Europa League:

“I want to get there through the right means, through our performance level, and if we have to have a year where we are not in Europe it is going to give us an opportunity to push on.”

Liverpool began to prosper as the season drew to a close; the Suarez incident did blight their season close, but the form of Coutinho did well to neutralize it. Sturridge could be key next season. A hat-trick at Fulham on the penultimate day showed his class in front of goal; a confident player under Rodgers since his arrival, and next season could be his most productive yet. The transfer market will prove essential to Liverpool, as talk recently emerged of a move to sign Kolo Toure. The Ivorian would be an ideal replacement for Jamie Carragher; his performances for Manchester City this season were consistent and reliable.

Arsenal are only looking up now, a bold transfer market and they could dreaming of a league title. For Tottenham, consistency will be the buzz word next season. The signing of a world class striker could push them on to shock. Meanwhile, Liverpool are developing an exciting style of football in a mix of passing and pace that is very much in transition. The developments of these three sides will be most intriguing.

Written by Jimmy Cartwright

Tottenham 3-1 Manchester City: Bale Inspires Late Comeback to Hand United the Title

Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Manchester CityIt was a warm, spring, April afternoon at White Hart Lane; both teams went into the game knowing only a win will do. But both needed wins for very different reasons.

Tottenham knew they had to keep up with Chelsea and Arsenal in the race for the Champions League places. Meanwhile, Manchester City had to stop Manchester United from claiming their 20th Premier League title (for another week at least).

The Spurs mood would have been lifted with the news that Gareth Bale was fit to return to the starting line up. City were without the injured David Silva, and started with Sergio Aguero on the bench.

Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Mancini fielded the following starting players:

Tottenham Starting XI

Lloris | Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto | Sigurdsson, Dembele, Parker, Bale | Dempsey, Adebayor

Manchester City Starting XI

Hart | Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy |  Toure, Barry | Milner, Tevez, Nasri | Dzeko.

Tottenham, believe it or not, actually started the first half brightest; and were creating chances. None of them were too much trouble for Joe Hart though. Gareth Bale had a shot from around 25-yards, but was comfortably saved by Hart.

Then, on the 5th minute, after some good work on the right from Tevez, he played a brilliant ball inside to Milner. Milner then found Samir Nasri unmarked in the area and he slotted home to put City ahead, getting his 2nd league goal of the season.

Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Manchester CityFrom then on, there was more-or-less an onslaught of City attacks throughout the half. Spurs struggled to get near the ball and City players were finding space in the pockets and down the wings. Samir Nasri had another chance to probably kill off any chance for Spurs after he was played in by Tevez; he wasn’t able to add to his tally though, as the onrushing Hugo Lloris just did enough to put the Frenchman off as he poked the ball wide.

Edin Dzeko also had a chance for City; he was clean through on goal, but shot went straight at Hugo Lloris, who kept himself big and made Dzeko’s target smaller. Spurs didn’t really have many notable chances in that half, and you could say it was a real missed opportunity for City, who were in complete control of the game.

The main thing to point out in that first half was that Gareth Bale was unable to get in the game. He was very ineffective, probably due to him only having 2 days of training and only just returning from injury.

The second half kicked off and City were playing in a similar vein top the first. They were in complete control. But then came 3 substitutions by AVB, and that turned the game completely on its head. Tom Huddlestone, Lewis Holtby, and Jermain Defoe all came on  to replace Gylfi Sigurdsson, Scott Parker, and Emmanuel Adebayor, who not for the first time in a Spurs shirt was very ineffective and failed to make an impact on the game.

Tottenham were seeing much more of the ball; and were creating more chances. They looked at totally different outfit to what was playing in the first half. City were then struggling to cope with the movement of Defoe, and Gareth Bale was coming into the game more and more.

Then came the Spurs equalizer on the 75th minute. It wouldn’t really be a Tottenham goal if Gareth Bale wasn’t involved. He was given the ball by Kyle Walker on the right on the 18-yard area, in acres of space. He played a wonderful ball across the 6-yard line and found Clint Dempsey at the far post to slot home.

Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Manchester CityTottenham were then in the ascendancy and turning rampant. Just 4 minutes later, a great pass from Lewis Holtby found Jermain Defoe on the left, who cut inside onto his right foot and found the far corner of Joe Hart’s goal to give the home side the lead. 3 minutes later, and all 3 points were secured by none other than Gareth Bale. After being played in by Huddlestone, he took the ball quickly in his stride and chipped the ball over an onrushing Joe Hart into an empty net.

After a resounding victory over the current Champions, Spurs will have an abundance of confidence going into the final 5 games of the season. They will be confident of a top 4 finish and Champions League football next season; but City will know that it’s just a matter of time until United get the title back.

But City will be most likely to finish 2nd in the league and also have an FA Cup final against Wigan next month, so not really a bad season domestically for City.

Final Score: Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Manchester City

Nasri 5′ | Dempsey 75′, Defoe 79′, Bale 82′

Written by OneFutbol

Europa League Round of 16 Second Leg Review: Part 2

Internazionale Milano vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Internazionale Milano vs. Tottenham HotspurThe Italian side had one of their worst games at White Hart Lane in the first leg of this fixture, and were determined to right their wrongs in the second leg as they hosted the Spurs. They had created a 3-goal mountain to climb, and were just lucky they hadn’t been away goals, or life would’ve been even harder. Andrea Stramaccioni knew this very well and and wasn’t going to let anything that had happened the first time happen again. Andre Villas-Boas, although his squad were one foot into the quarter-finals, didn’t rule out an Inter comeback, and was aware of the danger before him.

This game, which ended up going into extra time, started very well for the hosts who knew they had to score early to stay alive. 20 minutes after the first whistle, step 1 of 3 was completed for the home side, thanks to a Cassano header, facilitated by a Palacio cross. The home side were even more uncomfortable, but continued to threaten as well.

2 minutes later, they had their own attempt, but Handanovic was there to save for the home side. The home side were on a roll after their first goal, and just 6 minutes later, Palacio almost made it 2-0, but was just prevented by the woodwork to a relieved Brad Friedel. The home side continued to dominate, knowing very well that they had to be the better team.

6 minutes into the second half, Palacio did what he had tried to do a few minutes earlier and, this time, succeeded. 2-0 up and a comeback looked even more possible for Internazionale. Andre Villas-Boas knew an away goal would be needed and wasted no time putting on some fresh legs to intensify his attack; Lewis Holtby in for Jermaine Defoe. The home side had taken full control of the game, and were hungry to get their third, with attempts coming in every other second.

Cambiasso and Zanetti tried to get another one for their team, but failed. A third one did come, however, and it came, unfortunately for the visitors, from one of their own, their captain even. William Gallas, failing to clear, slotted the ball into his own net, and things looked to be going the home side’s way with only just 15 minutes to go. As expected, these last 15 minutes were intense for both sides, and it was going to be a long night with both of them failing to score the winning goal.

Extra time came, and the high-tempo game continued. 6 minutes into extra time, Emmanuel Adebayor  scored what was to be his side’s only goal of the game, putting his side through to the quarter-finals on away goals, having only survived by a whisker. Ricardo Alvarez got one more for his side in the 110th minute, but Spurs managed to hold on and that was that.

Statistic-wise, Internazionale had a total of 20 attempts with only 45% possession, while the Spurs only had 8 attempts with 55% possession. Brad Friedel was busier than his Slovenian counterpart Samir Handanovic in the Inter goal, having had to make 6 more saves than him. Brad had to make 9 saves on the night, while Samir had to make 3. A total of 5 yellow cards were issued between the two teams; 1 going to the home side and the rest to the away side. No players were sent off during this match.

Andrea Stramaccioni and Andre Villas-Boas lined up the following squads:

Inter Milan Starting XI

Handanovic, Zanetti (c), Chivu, Juan, Jonathan, Cambiasso, Gargano, Guarin, Kovacic, Palacio, Cassano

Subs: Belec, Pasa, Belloni, Colombi, Avarez, Benassi, and Ranocchia

Tottenham Starting XI

Friedel, Vertonghen, Gallas (c), Walker, Naughton, Parker, Dembele, Sigurdsson, Livermore, Defoe, Adebayor

Subs: Lloris, Assou-Ekotto, Carroll, Holtby, Lennon, and Caulker

Final Score: Internazionale Milano 4-1 Tottenham Hotspur* (Agg: 4-4 AET)

Cassano 20′, Palacio 56′, Gallas 75′ (o.g), Avarez 110′ | Adebayor 96′

Quarter-Finals

Having eliminated Inter Milan, Tottenham Hotspur are through to the quarter-finals of the competition and will face SC Basel of Switzerland as their opponents, as announced in the draw on March 15th. They will play the first leg of this game at home and the second leg away.

SS Lazio vs. VfB Stuttgart

SS Lazio vs. VfB StuttgartLazio, although ‘sentenced’ to play in an empty stadium, were very pumped for the second leg of this game, shining from a comfortable victory in the first leg. They were to start this game unbeaten in 11 European games, with 7 victories and 4 draws, and with a very good home record as well. They more than had the upper hand.

It took the home side just 6 minutes to put their first one in, having threatened since the first whistle, making life even harder for their visitors. Kozak had his first of the night; a strong shot into the back of the net from a Radu cross. Ulreich’s night got even worse when he conceded another one just 120 seconds later. Kozak was the man again; a brace in just 8 minutes, making it 9 goals in the competition for him.

Lazio caught their guests sleeping and countered perfectly, with Hernanes managing to get the ball to Kozak, who made no mistakes. It was Lazio’s game after this as they’d managed to demoralize a strong Stuttgart side. At the edge of the break, Lazio suffered a blow as Marchetti had to come off with an injury caused by Ibisevic to make way for Bizzarri. Lazio stayed strong, however, and their good play continued.

The same story continued in the second half, although Stuttgart corrected many of their mistakes and were playing a better game despite the scoreline and the aggregate. Just under 20 minutes into the second half, Stuttgart finally managed to get the ball into the net, when Hajnal got past Bizzarri and motivate his side.

Stuttgart made some decent changes and were in the driver’s seat for a short time, but Lazio were the stronger team overall and nothing could be done for the visitors with such little time remaining. Kozak continued to look for a perfect hat-trick and got it when his third goal (header) came on the 87th minute, assisted by Candreva. It was, indeed, a perfect hat-trick; one left-footed strike, another a right-footed shot, and the third one a strong header. Lazio had gone through to the quarter-finals and had done so with class.

Stuttgart had 55% possession on the night, while their hosts had 45%, despite this not showing in results. They had more attempts (16) than Lazio (11), as well as better chances. Stuttgart also picked up more yellow cards (2) than Lazio (1). No players were sent off during this match.

Vladimir Petkovic and Bruno Labbadia lined up the following squads:

Lazio Starting XI

Marchetti, Ciani, Pereirinha, Lulic, Biava, Radu, Onazi, Candreva, Hernanes, Mauri (c), Kozak

Subs: Bizzari, Crecco, Gonzalez, Cataldi, Floccari, Ederson, and Ledesma.

Stuttgart Starting XI

lreich, Sakai, Tasci (c), Niedermeier, Molinaro, Gentner, Holzhauser, Okazaki, Macheda, Ibisevic, Hajnal

Subs: Ziegler, Felipe Lopes, Hoogland, Rudiger, Kvist, Harnik, and Traore

Final Score: SS Lazio* 3-1 VfB Stuttgart (Agg: 5-1)

Kozak 6′, 8′, 87′ | Hajnal 62′

Quarter-Finals

Having eliminated VfB Stuttgart, SS Lazio are through to the quarter-finals of the competition and will face Fenerbahce SK of Turkey as their opponents according to the draw on March 15th. They will play the first leg of this game away and the second leg at home.

Written by Ange Marline

Europa League Round of 16 First Leg Review: Part 2

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Internazionale Milano

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Internazionale MilanoLabeled to be probably the most exciting fixture of the night and of the competition (until now) as well, this match was taken really seriously by both sides, with both managers confirming they were very aware of each others strength. In the first leg, being played at White Hart Lane, Andrea Stramaccioni was to create more of attacking game (in order to score as many away goals as possible), because he knew that anything could have happened in the second leg; the Spurs being a strong squad. Andre Villas-Boas, in the same manner, selected a squad he knew would create better chances and score many significant away goals; Gareth Bale being the main man under the spotlight. The Portuguese manager also made sure to pick an experienced Brad Friedel over Hugo Lloris (who would have to be 100% fit for their game the coming Sunday), knowing how big of a threat Inter would be.

The Spurs didn’t allow their opponents any time to settle to White Hart Lane, and started the game as they would start if any other English club were playing. They caught their visitors sleeping and netted their first goal inside only 6 minutes when Gareth Bale found a Gylfi Sigurdsson cross and headed home. The visitors were still shaken and almost conceded a second goal just a few minutes later had Handanovic not gotten in the way of a Defoe shot. Gareth Bale had a chance to get the fastest brace in the competition’s Round of 16 just moments later, but once again, Handanovic saved. Handanovic was, however, rendered helpless when Sigurdsson got one for himself in the 18th minute with an assist from Defoe.

The second goal seemed to have woken up the visitors as Friedel started having to make saves all of a sudden. But the period of dominance from the visitors wouldn’t last long, though, and things went back to how they had started out. What was to be the last goal of the night (although it seemed there might have been more on the night) came in the 53rd minute when an in-form Vertonghen headed from a Bale corner to make it 3-0 for the Lily whites.

Nothing seemed to work in the remaining minutes for the Milan side, who had been very poor overall. Some decent attempts were made, but it just wasn’t their night.

Andre Villas-Boas and Andrea Stramaccioni lined up the following squads:

Tottenham Starting XI

Friedel, Vertonghen, Gallas, Walker, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Parker (c), Bale, Sigurdsson, Dembele, Defoe

Subs: Lloris, Dawson, Caulker, Carroll, Livermore, Holtby, and Naughton

Inter Starting XI

Handanovic, Zanetti (c), Ranocchia, Chivu, Pereira, Alvarez, Cambiasso, Gargano, Kovacic, Cassano, Juan

Subs: Belec, Mbaye, Benassi, Pasa, Palacio, Guarin, and Jonathan

Final Score: Tottenham Hotspur 3-0  Internazionale Milano

Bale 6′, Sigurdsson 18′, Vertonghen 53′

VfB Stuttgart vs. SS Lazio

VfB Stuttgart vs. SS LazioStuttgart had had an exciting Round of 32 and were now looking to advance even further when they played Italian club, Lazio. Vladimir Petkovic and his side, in the same manner, were aiming to go even further into the competition by getting as many away goals as possible in a game that would be tougher than predicted. Although having had the upper hand before the game (with a great record in European competitions this season, having avoided a loss until now and conceding only one goal at home-W6 D4), Lazio didn’t underestimate their hosts,not one bit, not even with Stuttgart’s poor home form in this season’s competition (D3 L1)!

The home side started well and a little bit more confident than their visitors, who were still slowly adjusting to playing in Germany. They had a few decent attempts, but Marchetti was there to save. 21 minutes in, however, the tables began to slowly turn, as the home defense was caught off-guard by Lazio samba boy, Ederson. Ulreich could do nothing to keep it out, and Lazio had their first away goal, which was just what they needed to motivate them on the night. The hosts kept searching for an equalizer in the minutes that followed, but Lazio’s defense was just too stubborn.

Just as the two teams prepared to go to half-time, the hosts suffered a huge blow when Maxim had to be taken off with a bloodied nose. Bruno decided that Hajnal would be the man to take his place for the rest of the game. A change that brought immediate impact, well almost! Hajnal just missed the target as soon as he’d settled into the game, and his side were still trailing at half-time.

The second half wasn’t too eventful, save for a few near-goals and a second Lazio goal (courtesy of Lazio’s strong Nigerian, Onazi just 11 minutes into the second half; once again facilitated by the home side’s poor defense), but both teams held almost equal possession. The home side had, once again, failed to get a home win in the competition in probably the last chance they were to have this season.

Both teams had 14 attempts each, although the home side had better chances. Svein Ulreich had to make 3 saves, as compared to Marchetti’s 7. Alexandru Dan Tudor, the referee on the night, issued a total of 5 yellow cards between the two teams; the home side picking one less than their visitors. No players were sent off during this match.

Bruno Labbadia and Vladimir Petkovic lined up the following squads:

Stuttgart Starting XI

Ulreich, Sakai, Tasci (c), Boka, Rudiger, Traore, Gentner, Okazaki, Macheda, Maxim, Kvist

Subs: Ziegler, Felipe Lopes, Molinaro, Holzhauser, Hoogland, Hajnal, and Harnik

Lazio Starting XI

Marchetti, Ciani, Pereirinha, Lulic, Radu (c), Onazi, Cana, Candreva, Hernanes, Ederson, Kozak

Subs: Bizzari, Andre Dias, Biava, Ledesma, Lombardi, Gonzalez, and Floccari

Final Score: VfB Stuttgart 0-2 SS Lazio

Ederson 21′, Onazi 56′

Written by Ange Marline

Analyzing the Future of the North London Showdown: Part 2

One of the Fiercest North London Rivalries in Years: Where Will It Lead To?

Now, I am not the genie in the lamp who predicts the future of the world. Nor am I the highly experienced sports journalist who knows everything about these two sides. However, I do have my views; so what are they? Here you go:

Arsenal vs Tottenham: Last 4 Results
  • Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur03/03/13: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Arsenal
  • 17/11/12: Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur
  • 26/02/12: Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur
  • 02/10/11: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Arsenal

Looking back at those results, it does not look like Tottenham are the better side, which they definitely have been this season. What shows they are the better side is their smart purchases, their nice sensible attacking football, and other things like the fact they’re higher in the league. Will that all be there next season?

One thing for that is almost certain is that Andre Villas-Boas will be at the Lane next season. But will all his players stay as well? Gareth Bale has been linked to quite a few clubs, mainly Real Madrid and Manchester United, but other names such as Barcelona, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, and more have been linked with the Welsh superstar.

He has already said his ambition to play in the Champions League regularly, season in, and season out. And if I’m honest, Tottenham don’t look the side they were two months back. They look like the side that got Harry Redknapp sacked after their poor finish to the season got them in the Europa League instead of the Champions League.

Will he move if this happens again? Probably, yes. But he has been warned that he will become one of White Hart Lane’s greatest legend should he stay there and prosper for his whole career.

My opinion, he will move to Real Madrid. It will be best for him to link up with great players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil, and his attacking flair suits their style of play. Without him Tottenham will not be half the club they are now. Don’t get me wrong, most of their team is good enough to wear the white shirt, but it will not be the same should he go.

If chooses to stay for a season longer or even the rest of his life, this is the future I see for the North London derby:

Tottenham Bridge the Gap and Take Over

Tottenham HotspurAs you can see by the title, Tottenham would go on and best the Arsenal side of today. More players will be attracted to AVB’s side should they grab that Champions League spot and fewer players will move to the other side of North London, to Arsenal, because the situation to a foreign player would be described as a falling wreck.

In this particular situation I would not see Tottenham winning the title anytime in the near future. However, FA Cups and Capital One Cups could fill their trophy cabinet, trophies that Chairman Daniel Levy would love at his club.

As for Arsenal, they would slowly maintain a fifth spot in the Premier League. A disappointment for sure. Players would not come through the ranks like Thierry Henry or Denis Bergkamp, young players do not want small wages at a club not progressing well. Older more experienced players would not join, they would believe Arsenal were the new Liverpool.

Not all of this could happen should Tottenham keep Gareth Bale. Arsenal could fight back and we could see another hugely fierce Premier League derby, much like the old Man United-Liverpool or Man United-Man City ones. The top four could be:

  1. Manchester United/Manchester City
  2. Manchester United/Manchester City
  3. Arsenal/Tottenham Hotspur
  4. Arsenal/Tottenham Hotspur

Now, what happens should Bale leave?

Arsenal are Back, Tottenham Back Down

ArsenalNow, Gareth Bale will have left to one big club for one big sum of money. Arsenal will have invested well after the recent fans complaints. Arsene Wenger will have shushed the crowd and guided his new freshly bought side to third place. No Champions League qualification round worry.

He will have new players, bought to strengthen positions where the weaker players were. He will also have a bigger deeper squad. Making some quiet small money signings as Wenger always has done.

Meanwhile, over the road. Spurs would be without Champions league football after a dismal end to season coinciding with a poor run of form from Gareth Bale, the Welshman said he lost belief and felt he had to leave. He is no longer here, no big signings for Spurs now. Bids being accepted by players staying put.

No inspiring leader to score for them every game. No player who you know can always produce magic goals. Goals, that is where they would struggle. Jermaine Defoe and Adebayor not netting for their side. It would be expected after last season they relied on Bale for the goals.

Which do you think will happen? Not just to do with Gareth Bale, what do you think is the future for the two North London clubs? Tweet me or comment in the box below.

Click here to view Part 1 of this article.

Written by Harry Robinson

Analyzing the Future of the North London Showdown: Part 1

No, this is not a match. Not a Premier League crunch match or Champions League, FA Cup, or League Cup thriller. What is it? This, my friends, is the real showdown of the two North London clubs. This is my take on the future, the past, and the present:

The Good, the Bad, and the Arsenal

ArsenalIn the past few season, Arsenal Football Club, the 2002 Double Winners, has neither been good or bad. That job was left down to Tottenham. The Gunners have not been bad. They have just not been the club they once were under Arsene Wenger. Frustrated fans. Players leaving. Those players winning. Worse players coming in. And worst of all, no trophies.

I know how you are reading it and what you’re thinking now. When you read it like that, it sounds like the most depressing time in the club’s history. However, when you think of the competition they have come against in recent years: the endless money spenders Manchester City and Chelsea, the relentless force of Premier League Leaders Manchester United, and of course, bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

Of course, I cannot say it is all going swimmingly for Arsenal. They should be doing better, attracting better players, and most importantly, signing better players. Arsenal fans are in a divide. Some call for Wenger’s head (as a figure of speech!), while others stick with the man who brought them such glorious success. What is my view? Read on my friends, read on:

Arsenal Wenger or Arsene Wenger?

Should he stay or should he go? In my opinion, he should go. Who should come in? I have plenty of managers who fit the club perfectly but are at clubs like Dortmund, Juventus etc, places where you wouldn’t leave for a club fighting for fifth place.

Jürgen Klopp (Borussia Dortmund)

Drooled over by many football fans as they dream of him coming to their club. Doing a fantastic job at Borussia Dortmund, relying on the youth system, purchasing little, and when buying, only investing in young prospects. The perfect manager, some may say. A great manager for any side, Man United, Tottenham, Real Madrid, and especially Arsenal. To be or not to be?

I guess the answer is not to be. A manager of that ability, at a club with such an exciting future wouldn’t come to a club threatening to become the new Liverpool and slowly fall down the table.

Roberto Martinez (Wigan Athletic)

Plays nice attacking football, much like the double winning side did in 2002. Also a very brave manager and plays a 3-5-2 formation in the Premier League. No other manager does this; a positive thing for Arsenal. I’m sure he would love to move himself from Wigan to North London.

Tottenham Hotspur: A Team?

Tottenham HotspurNow, I hope I’m not offending any Spurs fans. However, what I’m trying to get across in that subtitle is that are Spurs really a team? Is Gareth Bale the only thing keeping Tottenham in the battle for the Champions League?

Gareth Bale. He’s been so good this season there are rumors he will leave North London for Manchester, Madrid, or Barcelona for over £50 million. The Welshman has been netting goal after goal after goal and grabbing himself a few assists as well.

He has always been full of quality but this season, and he’s certainly shined. Not because he’s so much better than before, but because he’s been consistently good.No drops in form or niggling injuries (so far) compared to last season.

So now we have to wonder, where would Spurs be if he wasn’t there? Definitely not third and definitely not better than Arsenal. In the last few months, Tottenham have played only 1 or 2 games without him. What was the result in the last game he didn’t start? They lost 4-1 to Inter Milan. He came back for their next Premier League match, didn’t play his best, and the result? Again, a loss. This time 1-0 against Fulham.

In my opinion, the Spurs have a great side. One that could compete with some of the top sides over the years, but why are they not a great side without Bale?

The attacking genius of Dembele, the brave solid old English midfielder Scotty Parker. The new signing from Shalke’s Lewis Holtby, one of Germany’s brilliant young starlets. Hugo Lloris, chased down by Manchester United 2 years ago, a brilliant keeper keeping out the goals.

With all these great players, why are they not producing results without Bale? My view? He is their leader, the one player who inspires every single other man on the pitch to bust his gut and play for his side. Where does this put them in the future? Where is North London in the future?

Click here to view Part 2 of this article.

Written by Harry Robinson