Spyin Kop: Spurs Vs Liverpool

Posted by themule on December 28, 2006, 11:26:52 AM

After the disappointing and somewhat grounding defeat at Blackburn, it's time for the second meeting of two teams whose seasons have taken on remarkably similar traits: Sparkling home form coupled with baffling away defeats.

Tottenham v Liverpool
Premiership
Saturday, 30th December
Kick Off: 3pm





Tottenham Hotspur

Nickname:
Spurs, Lilywhites
Founded: 1882 (as Hotspur FC)
Address: White Hart Lane, Bill Nicholson Way, 748 High Road, Tottenham, N17 0AP.
Capacity: 36,240
     
Club Honours

League Champions: 1950/51, 1960/61

FA Cup Winners:
1901, 1921, 1961, 1962, 1967, 1981, 1982, 1991

League Cup Winners: 1971, 1973, 1999

Charity Shield Winners: 1921, 1952, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1982, 1992

UEFA Cup Winners Cup: 1972, 1984

European Cup Winners' Cup:
1973

Players To Watch: Berbatov, Defoe

Recent form (All Comps) : WWWWLW

When Spurs visited Anfield earlier in the season, Rushian gave us the excellent following summary of our opponents history.

Spurs have a long and distinguished history since they were formed as Hotspur FC in 1882. In 1901 they became the only non-league club to win the FA Cup, something which is unlikely to ever be matched. A second FA Cup was won in 1921 (you may see the start of a pattern forming). Post-the second world war Spurs achieved a reputation for playing attractive push and run football under manager Arthur Rowe and claimed their first League title in 1951, becoming the first side to win Second and First Divisions in successive seasons.

Their greatest success was to arrive under Bill Nicholson a decade later, whose team played wonderful football as they swept all before them in 1961 to win the first League and Cup Double of the 20th century. The FA Cup followed again in 1962 and 1967, with the European Cup Winners' Cup inbetween in 1963. Players like Jimmy Greaves, Danny Blanchflower, Dave McKay, Cliff Jones, Alan Mullery and Mike England lit up English football. Nicholson signed off by winning the League Cup in 1971, UEFA Cup in 1972 and the League Cup again in 1973.

At the start of the 80s the studious Keith Burkinshaw led his club to two FA Cup wins (1981 and 1982) and a UEFA Cup (1984), with the flair of Argentinians Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa complementing home grown players like Glenn Hoddle, Steve Perrymen and Garth Crooks. Though Spurs performed well in the league under their next managers Shreeves and Pleat, further success was to remain elusive until Terry Venables took them to the FA Cup in, yes you've guessed it, 1991.

Venables leaving seemed to be the catalyst for Spurs to become a revolving door for managers with 8 taking charge in the next 14 years, with only George Graham's 1999 League Cup in the cabinet to show for the changes. League performances almost inevitably dropped off with so much upheaval, with mid-table becoming the habitual home for the club despite players of the quality of Lineker, Klinsmann, Ginola, Ferdinand, Waddle and Sheringham. The appointment of Martin Jol last season, after the early removal of Jacques Santini, proved to be a masterstroke, and the likeable Dutchman lifted the club to a finishing position of 5th, their highest in 16 years.

This time around, we've taken a trip to the excellent forum THFCtalk.com, to which we are indebted for the length and quality of the answers.


2006ís drawn to a close: Whatís your assessment of Spursí 12 months?

Spur: Well pretty obviously it's been getting better results wise from the time we changed everything around. But with Jol it comes to more than that. At times we are playing some great football, and that means more to a lot of fans than the results ever would. Great buys have put us right up there, and bar a bad start to this season things can and hopefully are getting back on track.

Gregzy: Euphoria, despair, hope, disappointment, elation, frustration...to where we are now which is pretty contented!

Highlander: 2006 has definitely been our best year of recent times. We finished the 05-06 season in our highest position in the Premiership and qualified for Europe. This seasonís start was indifferent, mainly due to the issue of replacing Carrick but now we seem to be back on track and challenging for another top 5 finish.

If you were to take one lesson from 2006 into the New Year, what would it be?

Spur: Finish teams off!!! Especially last season we just couldn't finish teams off. The most embarrassing of which was against Sunderland, absolutely shocking. Man City almost cost us the other day too, 2 up a 3rd goal would have killed it, but we let them back in it.

Gregzy: TAKE YOUR FIRST HALF CHANCES!!!!!!!

Highlander: no Lasagne before match days, what a costly lesson that was.

How disappointing was it for you to miss out on the Champions League last season? Do you think it greatly affected the way you have approached this year and the signings you made in the summer? Did watching Arsenal lose in the final make up for it in any way?

Spur: Personally I struggled to ever believe we would do it. Right down to the last game, but that's not to say it didn't hurt. But I think the majority of fans couldn't care less, we got European football for the first time in ages and this year in the UEFA Cup we certainly look one of the favourites. I'd take that over finishing 4th and going out in the CL groups. One day there will be a bit of revenge, hopefully the Carling Cup Final.

Gregzy: Missing out on a Champions League spot was undeniably a disappointment, especially when we could have snatched it at Highbury. However, the reality is that we were nowhere near ready for Champions League football and I'm happier to be in a tournament we can win.
Whether or not our non-qualification affected the summer signings is hard to say; our squad doesn't really lack talent, but it is short of experience.
Seeing Arsenal win the trophy would have been unbearable regardless of whether we qualified or not, so seeing them throw it away did bring a certain sense of relief.

Highlander:
it was a huge disappointment, getting a CL place would have meant we cracked the top 4 and would have generated the revenue for us to maintain this progress. The only summer activity I think it affected was the Carrick sale, if we had CL football I donít think he would have gone; otherwise I still believe the signings would have been the same. I wouldnít say it made up for it but it is always nice to see Arsenal lose.


Youíre Martin Jol: Whatís your new years resolution?

Spur: Go to the gym I suppose, even without the mince pies I was a bit large. Or buy a left-winger for the fans.

Gregzy: Finish the season with a pot or two and take three points off the filth when they come to the Lane.

Highlander:
get Tony Gardner out of the club and stop answering every question with 'no', even when you mean yes

Your home form has been superb, yet youíve largely been abysmal away. Care to explain?


Spur: Travel sickness. I can't put my finger on that one. It's not something easy to explain, especially with our fans who outsing every ground, including Anfield were I was deeply disappointed the Kop hardly made a sound when we were visiting.

Gregzy:
If I knew the answer to that, I'd buy a lottery ticket as well! I do feel that poor away form often comes as a kind of "Self-fulfilling prophecy" that just needs burying. Hopefully the result at Eastlands has served that purpose.

Highlander:
Havenít got a clue, there's always some inconsistency with the Spurs and this season its our away form.

What do you make of the recent debates about fixture congestion around Xmas? Should we cut back? Or even have a winter break?

Spur:
Absolutely not. Back in the day teams used to play Christmas Eve and have the return fixture Christmas day. Stars of today don't know theyíre born. Saying that Iím sure li'l Lenny on the right could do with a break from tearing up left backs everywhere day in day out (Ashley Cole Who?).

Gregzy:
As much as I hate to agree with Wenger, I think a winter break would be nothing other than beneficial to all concerned.

Highlander: Iím not in favour of a winter break, I'm not too keen on cut backs either but 4 games in 10 days shouldnít be happening. However it does give clubs a chance to use their ever-deepening squads and give younger players a chance.


Through to the last four of the Carling Cup. Do you care about the trophy? Who do you want in the semi? And do you think youíll win it?

Spur: Hope we win it, and it's worthy of a care solely for the fact if we do win we have European football next season guaranteed. Other than that it's nice to have some silver on the mantelpiece.

Gregzy: Getting Wycombe in the semi would be OK, but it would mean we'd gone the entire tournament without facing Premiership opposition. I'd settle for you guys, as it will mean you've dispensed of the Goons! With four Premiership sides still in the hat, it is very hard to pick a winner.

Highlander: I want to go all out to win the CC. It's a great chance to guarantee UEFA Cup football in February. Obviously id like Wycombe at home but I'm not too fused, we've already beat Chelsea this season so we donít fear anyone

Martin Jolís been very focused on progressing youth through the ranks at Spurs: Are you a fan of such a system? Do you think itíll ultimately pay off, or has it been the main cause of your inconsistency?


Spur: The stats say it all. When Huddlestone plays we don't lose. So that can't be the cause of inconsistency. Lennon has shown to be England No.1 winger for a season now. On current form Huddlestone is a shoe in for centre mid (hopefully at the expense of Lampard aka Waste of Space). There's something about youngsters of the club coming through being big fan favourites, even more so when, like Ledley, they start at such a young age. Player like that just demand more respect.

Gregzy: As Fergie showed at Utd (sorry to bring him up on your pages) you can win everything with kids. Our youth system and our youth buying system has given us Ledley, Huddlestone, Dawson and Lennon - four of our most consistent players!

Highlander: no I think itís a good system. Itís a system that can be continued for a long time and should help breed consistency. Give it time and it'll pay off.........we hope

What have you made of the first half of this season?

Spur: A slow start in which we lost against a non-top two team at home for the first time in over 2 years. That's what hurt the most, losing at home. Since we've had a practically full squad to choose from, and despite struggling against lower league opposition, we are playing some great stuff, getting some good results and we've just won away. Things are getting a lot better, and hopefully they continue to do so.

Gregzy: As ever with Tottenham, moments of sheer brilliance combined with equal measures of sheer frustration.

Highlander: well the first 8-10 games were disappointing, its due to that poor start that we've only just got into the top half of the table but still we are only 2 points behind the goons so its still close

And what are your expectations for the second half?


Spur: I expect to be playing European football. I expect at least two decent cup runs and at least one big trip away, like the Millennium Stadium, Hampden Park, or Wembley, if it ever gets finished.

Gregzy: When you've supported Tottenham for over two decades you realise that it doesn't always pay to have expectations! Seriously though, I'd like to see us continue our cup form to at least one final and keep chasing A*****l for that fourth place spot.

Highlander:
well it would be great if we could run arsenal to the last day again, only this time they lost to pompey through a sol campbell header which put us 4th and them 5th (wouldnít that be ironic)

Whoís been your best player?


Spur: Best and most loved, Ledley without doubt. When he's out the team we don't look right. He's one of the best in the whole game. Berbatov is starting to have the desired impact, and can create something out of nothing with his incredible footwork and well-timed runs. Huddlestone is now dictating play ala Michael Carrick, so quite soon you could say he is our most important.

Gregzy: In terms of exceeding expectations it has to be Tom Huddlestone.

Highlander:
'Deadly' Ledley King of course, with Keane in 2nd


And worst player?

Spur: Too hard. Paul Stalteri maybe, Anthony Gardner maybe. Both are just not up to it, the type of player you get nervous whenever the ball is at their feet. Most disappointing is Jenas, who is playing like he wants to be the worst. Shame because he could be so good.

Gregzy:
Edgar Davids

Highlander: Anthony Gardner

Any promising youngsters we might not have heard of?


Spur: Tomas Pekhart is ripping up the academy and reserves. Our reserves is full of youngsters, and to prove they must be good they win the league and almost every match with not one first team player against teams that put in 3 or 4 for whatever reasons. I take it you've heard of Aaron Lennon and Tom Huddlestone. Assou-Ekoto has shown glimpses of being top notch, but also glimpses of Timothee Atouba.

Gregzy: This is Tottenham - you've seen them all already!

Highlander: Jamie O'Hara, Thomas Pekhart, Terry Dixon

The January window is open soon: are you expecting a flurry of activity? Any players look set to arrive or pack their bags? What positions do you think you need to look at? And who would you bring in if you could?

Spur: Left wing, left wing, left wing!!! It's been long overdue for a left-winger. Players do ok like Steed and Teemu, but a top quality left winger who can rip it up on the other flank to Aaron would be nice. I don't expect a lot of action due to the UEFA Cup and being cup-tied. I do however expect Danny Murphy to leave, again I don't expect many to go, but I think Danny will. A few in a few out maybe. No more than that.

Gregzy:
I'm not a big fan of January arrivals and I get the feeling MJ shares this view; the team is just starting to look settled and we have a reasonable degree of quality in depth. A bit of cover at centre-back would be nice, as Davenport isn't quite the finished article yet and I've heard Ledley could really do with an operation.

Highlander:
well we've had a left sided problem for a couple of years and I would hope we will settle it now. I am in the minority when I say id like Stewart Downing to be bought in. apart from a left midfielder we donít really need to add

What have you made of Liverpool so far this year?

Spur: Same as us form-wise. I haven't exactly given up hope of a completely unexpected 3rd place finish, and it's now up to Spurs, Liverpool and Arsenal to stand up and be counted. The team that does that the quickest will be in a good position. Spurs against Liverpool can easily be called a 6 pointer looking at the table.

Gregzy: Liverpool have, as ever, shown flashes of sheer brilliance and look easily the third best team in the country.

Highlander: Again it was an indifferent start with some poor away days but it seems to be coming together now and they're up in 3rd which is about right but its not as secure as last season

Dirk Kuyt and Dimitar Berbatov both arrived over the summer for similar price tags. What have you made of both of them this year? Are you happy with the man youíve got?

Spur: Again they are good comparison of each other just like our clubs as a whole. Berba and Kuyt have both looked class at times, but at others they can be called disappointing. Certainly for us Berba has shown his best form in Europe. His Premiership form is very inconsistent up to now. But recently he has shown a great deal more. I think for both strikers it's just a case of getting adapted, and once they both fully are they will both be quality strikers and top scorers.

Gregzy:
Well, the grass is always greener, isn't it? I think it's a Ferarri V Masserati debate - you'd be a fool to be unhappy with either!

Highlander: Kuyt has impressed me a lot since his arrival. I saw him in the world cup and wasnít that excited but from what I've seen of him in a Liverpool shirt he seems a good player. I'm very happy with Berba, he's looking like he could be a real talisman for us and has been fantastic in Europe.

Rumours persist about a possible swap deal involving Defoe and Bellamy. Whatís your view on this: is it likely? Would you want to see it? What do you think they offer to their respective teams?

Spur: Absolutely not. Bellamy is a good player don't get me wrong. But as a person he is the lowest of the low. In the same bracket as Lee Bowyer, Ben Thatcher. I certainly don't want him at Spurs. Jermain has been questioned alot over the last two years. His form, his attitude but never his ability. Recently he has started showing his old self and no-one criticises because it is plain class.

Gregzy: Bellamy's pace is phenomenal and he is very skilful. However, I can't stand the site of him and I dread to think what naughtiness he'd get up to in the West End. Defoe is more frustrating in that we know what talent he has but he is prone to laziness and misguided acts of selfishness in the box. That said, he's on fire just now and you can't have him!

Highlander: wouldnít swap Defoe. He is quite tolerant of his bench-warming role and can produce the goods when given his chance. And, for me, Bellamy is too similar to Keane, Defoe gives us something different.

What can travelling Liverpool fans expect when we come to White Hart Lane? Whatís the atmosphere like? What songs are we likely to hear?


Spur: Too many songs to mention. But my favourite is undoubtedly the Spurs go marching on sung as one throughout the whole Paxton end in slowmo, whilst not being 100% original, makes the hairs on my neck stand on end. The atmosphere is top grade even when we're losing. I do believe the players love it at the Lane.

Gregzy: The atmosphere at the Lane has been great over the past few years, suitably rowdy and raucous! Like you Scousers, we do pride ourselves on our terrace wit so expect to hear a few "Fresh out the pub" chants. "What's that coming over the hill, is it Chimbonda?" is a current favourite and I'm sure you'll be reminded of our feelings regarding our neighbours. We've got a few specific to your own reputation, but I'll let the Park Lane faithful fill you in....

Highlander: oh it will be a good atmosphere, and a good game to go with it. Thereíll probably be a fair few chants about unemployment, possibly You'll never get a job, to the tune of you'll never walk alone

Any particularly fond memories of the two sides meeting in the past?

Spur: My only attendance at Liverpool spurs game was up at Anfield earlier this season. Enough said. ALL was going well until a Jermaine Jenas special.

Gregzy:
Other than beating you in the FA Cup semi final, not a great deal stands out. Having said that, encounters between Spurs and Liverpool always seem to produce some good football.

How do you think both sides will line up?

Spur: Who knows how Rafa (The new Ranieri) will send you lot out. Whoever didn't play the game before gets the nod. I don't fear any players being involved for Spurs except for Stalteri and Gardner. As long as the Hudd plays it'll be happy days.

Gregzy:
Barring injury, Robbo will be in goal with Ledley, Dawson, Chimbonda and Ekouto in front of him. The midfield will consist of Zokora, Huddlestone, Taino and Lennon with the latter hopefully given a free role. I'd imagine Defoe and Berbatov will lead the line.
As for you guys, Benitez changes things so much I couldn't even begin to guess!

Highlander: well our first team line up is;
Robbo
Chimbonda, Kind, Dawson, Lee
Lennon, Huddlestone, Zokora, Malbranque
Berba, Defoe
But due to the fixture build up donít be surprised if Ghaly and Assou-Ekotto feature

Who the hell can second-guess Rafa's starting XI?

Who do you think will be key to deciding the outcome?

Spur: The strikers and their finishing. We have most definitely struggled with putting the ball away and our finishing at times has been laughable. If Huddlestone plays, your best bet of beating us is by taking him out of the game no question. Give him his space and he will create something. In fact, even when he doesn't have space he can still pull something off. Truly impressive so far.

Gregzy:
If both play, we'll be watching two of the worldís best midfielders in Lennon and Gerrard. Either one could turn the game.

Highlander: Zokora - the midfield battle is going to be key, if he can step up and close down and keep Gerard quiet then it could be a Spurs win

If you were the gaffer, who do you pick out in the Liverpool team as a potential match winner, and how do you cope with them?


Spur:
Stevie G no doubt. A match winner, although he hasn't done it too much this season. In my opinion the best midfielder in the world. The most complete anyway. Taking him out of the game isn't possible by marking him or leaving someone just for him. In fact, I think if he's up for it it's not possible to stop him.

Gregzy: Stevie G. And if I knew how to cope with him, I'd be a manager in real life!

Highlander:
always Gerard, I think if he was man marked then he would struggle to influence the game

Care to predict the outcome?

Spur:
We're at home so Iíll say a home win. It'll be tight no question but we're hitting some top class form and as ever the crowd will be on-form too. Most realistic is probably a draw.

Gregzy: Hmm..As this is going on your site and I don't want to be left with the cyber-egg on my monitor I'm going to sit on the fence and say 1-1.

Highlander:
I think both teams would be happy with a point but with Liverpool's under-par away form and our excellent home form I would be surprised if we edged it, ill go for a 3-2 Spurs win

FinallyÖ where do you think youíll finish in the league, and likewise Liverpool?

Spur: 3rd-5th. All three spots are there for Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool. No one else will get them; it's just a case of getting the top one quickly. But I do feel this could be a contest down to the very end. Hopefully Europe and the cups won't get in the way of a very interesting race.

Gregzy: You'll have to really mess up to lose third place. I'm going to be optimistic and put us at fifth.

Highlander: Liverpool - 3rd
Spurs - 4th

You can have one or the other: Spurs to win the league, or Arsenal to be relegated. Which one do you want?


Spur: Spurs winning the league no doubt. Arsenal as a club has always and will always be an embarrassment, from rapists and alchys to bung takers and a rubbish tip for a stadium. The team everyone laughs at. And if they don't laugh at them then they are ill educated fools.

Gregzy: Can't we win the league at the Emirates, sending them down in the process? No? OK, Spurs winning the league every time although that is the ONLY thing that would give me more pleasure than seeing those muppets taking the plunge...

Highlander: a very tough choice but I'd take the league title any day


Once again, thanks to those over at THFCtalk.com, who only made one Scouse related joke.  :wave

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