Spyin' Kop: Spurs at Anfield (23/9/06)

Posted by Rushian on September 22, 2006, 08:22:46 PM

After a frustrating defeat away to Chelsea last weekend, the press told us we were out of the title race by the middle of September. Thankfully in midweek perennial whipping boys Newcastle paid a visit, and with Dirk Kuyt scoring his first for the club and Xabi scoring yet again from 70 yards all is well with the Red world.

Spurs are up next for the early Saturday clash at Anfield. They've had a surprisingly poor start to the season given their exceptional efforts last year, but with the canny Martin Jol at the helm their form is sure to pick up soon. Like Liverpool they've brought in a host of new players in the summer, and it'll take time for them to settle into the club's ethos and style of play.

Liverpool v Spurs
Saturday 23rd September 2006
KO: 12.45pm
Referee: Howard Webb (South Yorkshire)

Current League Positions: Liverpool 9th Spurs 16th

Last 6 meetings: Liverpool W2 D3 L1

The Club

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: Defoe, Keane, Robinson

Recent form: LWLLWD

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.

We've taken a trip to the respected Spurs website Glory Glory for their views on the match. Thanks to their posters for submitting themselves to the Spyin' Kop interrogation.

How has the early season shaped up, and how are the new players settling in?

spurette: Not brilliantly, hopefully they're getting there.

alchemats: Defensive players good, midfielders ok, up front too early to say.

King of Norway: A terrible start to the season really. Chimbonda has looked good so far. Berbatov looks promising as does Assou-Ekotto. Zokora is getting better as well.

Steve Allen: Pre season was great - then we had to go and play Bolton and everything started to go downhill.

paulfcb: Apart from Prague I'd say pretty bad though some of the new players seem promising. It can only get better from here starting at Anfield!

Simon: Not 100% sure yet due to Berbatov and Malbranque, who are out injured for ages. However, Ekotto and Chimbonda have been a revelation as our new fullbacks and Zokora is starting to shine. It's looking promising.

Gavin: Not good. New signings need to get used to the pace of the Prem.

Another Invented Username: The two new full backs have been excellent and Berbatov had a good start before being injured.

DublinSpur: The early season is shaping up badly, obviously. I'm not sure I recall a Spurs performance quite as bad as the home defeat to 10-man Everton. We lacked passion and creativity and we never looked like a genuine threat. The other games have been marginally better, but still far short of what we're - IMO - capable of.

The new signings all seem pretty good to be honest, though it's who we didn't sign (i.e. a decent left winger) that's got most Spurs fans wound up. The two new full-backs (Chimbonda and Assou-Ekotto) look like a real gems and I believe Zokora will be a great player for us (though expectations that he'd be a replacement for Carrick were misplaced). Berbatov should be quality as should Malbranque, but typical for Spurs their arrival has been hampered by injury.

What were your expectations for this season?

spurette: Qualify for the UEFA cup again via the league and hopefully do a bit better in the cups.

alchemats: Europe.

King of Norway: Finishing 5th again and doing better in the cups than last season.

Steve Allen: The double (over Sheff Utd).

paulfcb: Top 4 and a good cup run.

Simon: I don't expect us to challenge for top 4 yet. A UEFA place with a nice Euro/domestic cup run would do me.

Gavin: 4th.

Another Invented Username: Top 6.

DublinSpur: I honestly felt that there was no reason why we shouldn't be challenging for fourth / fifth spot. After all, why shouldn't we expect at least as good a campaign as last year? Unfortunately unless something changes fast, that expectation will have to be revised downwards. Our defence is solid enough, but we just don't look like scoring goals.

Who do you think is your most important player(s)?

spurette: Ledley King and Paul Robinson.

alchemats: Robbo and King.

King of Norway: Our most important player last season left in the summer. Ledley King now. Without him our defence falls apart. Lennon is important as well, but is injured at the moment.

Steve Allen: Berbatov and Lennon ...

paulfcb: Robinson, King and Lennon.

Simon: Without any doubt Ledley King is our most important player.

Gavin: Ledley King.

Another Invented Username: Aaron Lennon by a big margin.

DublinSpur: Ledley King, Paul Robinson, Robbie Keane, Aaron Lennon (injured for the trip to Anfield).

Your worst player(s)?

spurette: That's difficult, don't have a stand out 'worst' player.

alchemats: Don't like to slag Tottenham players.

King of Norway: Can't answer that.

Steve Allen: Murphy and Ziegler.

paulfcb: Have we got any? Freund left a while ago!

Simon: Our left winger. Oh hang on, we haven't fecking had one since Ginola. Murphy seems to take a big deal of grief at the moment and our star forwards aren't doing the job. No-one shines out as a shower of shit since Reid left.

Gavin: Paul Stalteri.

Another Invented Username: Going on past form - Stalteri and Gardner. They won't be around much this season though, mainly cos of that poor past form. Of the players involved and likely to be involved a fair bit this season : Davids, Tainio and Mido. Not that any of these are bad players, just the weaker ones.

DublinSpur: Don't like to talk down any of our players if it could end up on a rival club's messageboard to be honest. I think Jenas is over-rated, but far from a bad player. Other than that I'll say nowt.

Martin Jol has been a breath of fresh air for the Premiership, both in the honesty he brings to his interviews and the style of play he's imposed at Spurs. ls he potentially your best manager since Bill Nicholson?

spurette: Potentially yes, if he's given enough time.

alchemats:  Potentially yes, but this is a very important season for him.

King of Norway: He could be. We have improved a lot under him, but he's also had a better squad to work with than most of our recent managers. He still has to prove that he can establish our team amongst the top 5 in England.

Steve Allen: style of play?

paulfcb: No. Gross was!

Simon: He is a great guy, but it remains to be seen how well he does in terms of the success he brings to the club. It's nice to see he is rated by a lot of opposing fans but there are still a few things I'm unsure about. Very happy with his progress so far, but he's no Sir Bill Nick. Yet.

Gavin: Potentially yes, we have to remember he hasn't been doing the job that long either. Will be interesting to see where we are at the end of this season. This season is going to be a big one for both the club and Martin.

Another Invented Username: The style of play he's imposed?. You mean: plan a - Give the ball to Carrick and if not plan b - punt it down to the big man up top?. Before Lennon came along last season, we were by no means enjoyable to watch and even then, when Lennon has an off day, we revert back to long ball too much.

Overall has done alright but leaves a lot to be desired. He had the benefit of a lot of investment in the squad just prior to his arrival and just afterwards and he had the backing of someone of the quality of Arnesen and then Comolli. He can't really be compared to past managers as his role is very different and more limited. The chairman and DOF also play an equally and maybe even more important part in our system.

DublinSpur: Jol's tactics are starting to be questioned by quite a few Spurs fans, but I wouldn't blow that out of proportion... most of us are still grateful for what he's done at Spurs (qualifying for Europe via the league for the first time since 1762, and creating an air of positivity and unity at the club) and I suspect we all still hope that his claim that the team will "gel" soon comes true.

So yeah, he is potentially our best manager in years. But here at Spurs we're well used to unfulfilled potential. So we ain't counting unhatched chickens just yet.

All clubs seem to invest heavily in their youth academies and Spurs are no exception. You've also spent a lot of money just above this level on young potential stars from other clubs. So, excluding Aaron Lennon, who is pushing for a place in the first team squad and could be a future Spurs star?

spurette: I'm not really up on the youth players but there are a couple of youngsters who are tipped by others to be successful. O'Hara, Lee and Dervitte (the first 2 are our own, the third was bought).

alchemats: Terry Dixon.

Steve Allen: I don't think anyone is actually pushing for a place in the team yet, although there are a couple of youngsters that we bought who are hopefully ones for the future - Peckhart and Dervitte and there's also Dixon and O'Hara.

paulfcb: Dixon, but yeah very excited about Lennon!

Simon: Big Tom Huddlestone is looking great at 19/20. Oozes class but is still a little raw. Look out for Michael Dawson, lifelong Liverpool fan. Solid as a rock alongside Ledley.

Gavin: Dixon and O'Hara.

Another Invented Username: Huddlestone looks good. After that, there really isn't much. Our academy was fucked by David Pleat, who was too busy undermining various managers to do the job he was suppoed to be doing. Hopefully Arnesen and now Comolli have got to work on sorting it out but that would still more several years until we see the fruits of their work.

DublinSpur: Tom Huddlestone is being touted as the next Michael Carrick. Hopefully that kind of hype will inspire him rather than pressure him too much. He could be a real star. Also look out for Dorian Dervite who is very much in the Michael Dawson mode (he may have a girl's name, but you wouldn't want to tell him that to his face) and Terry Dixon who is still in the academy but already close to breaking into the Irish international squad. Apparently he's got a touch of the Wayne Rooneys about him.

What line-up will Jol put out against us?

spurette: I hope: Robbo, Chimbonda, King, Dawson, BAE, JJ, Zokora, Huddlestone, Tainio, Keane and Defoe.

alchemats: Similar to the team that played Fulham (Robinson, Chimbonda, Dawson, King, Assou-Ekotto, Jenas, Zokora, Murphy, Tainio, Keane, Mido).

King of Norway: I reckon: Robbo - Chimbonda Dawson King BAE - Jenas Zokora Murphy (Davids) Tainio - Keane Defoe.

Steve Allen: A defensive one.

paulfcb: A winning one. Probably try and stay solid at the back hoping to counter.

Simon: Robbo, Chimbonda, Dawson, King, Ekotto, Jenas, Zokora, Murphy (or Davids) Tainio, Mido, Keane ... almost a guarantee.

Gavin: I've no idea, but I'm sure Davids will feature.

Another Invented Username: Back 5 as per last week (so defence: Robbo, BAE, Dawson, King, Chim), then I expect him to f**k about with the midfield as usual (Midfield: ?) and there are reports he might even drop Mido, which would be no bad thing after last week (Attack: Probably still Mido and Keane)

DublinSpur: Your guess is as good as mine. Despite saying this week that he's looking for "a settled team", he's done a huge amount of tinkering with the starting eleven.

The back five is almost guaranteed to be: Robbo, Chimbonda, King, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto

The midfield could well be: Jenas, Zokora, Murphy, Tainio/Davids

And the front line will be Mido with either Keano or Defoe (probably Defoe). But as I say, based on the past few matches Jol could play a radically different starting eleven and it wouldn't surprise too many of us here.

Which Liverpool player will cause you most problems on Saturday?

spurette: Kuyt or Bellamy.

alchemats: Stevie G if Rafa plays him!

King of Norway: You have lots of potentially dangerous players. Gerrard and Alonso can run the midfield, and Bellamy and Kuyt are lively up front. I also fear Luis Garcia. He seems to pop up with goal every now and then.

Steve Allen: The one who scores the winner!

paulfcb: Gerrard, Bellamy and that lanky guy!

Simon: Alonso is amazing, even without his wonder goals. I expect a lot of grief from Bellamy and I'm starting to like Sissoko quite a bit.

Gavin: Gerrard.

Another Invented Username: Gerrard of course but Bellamy always seems to play well against us.

DublinSpur: Would it be too much of a cliché to say Gerrard? Right now our defence is pretty damn good and it'll take a creative midfielder to open us up. Gerrard could well be that man.

Where do you expect Spurs and Liverpool to finish in the Premier League?

spurette: Spurs 5th. I thought Liverpool might challenge for the title but now I'm not so sure, so top 4.

alchemats: Spurs 6th & 'pool 3rd or 4th.

King of Norway: Liverpool will finish 3rd or 4th. Before the season I thought we'd finish 5th, but now I'm not sure.

Steve Allen: Liverpool top 4, us top 8.

paulfcb: Top 6.

Simon: Liverpool 3rd. Us 6th.

Gavin: Spurs 6th, Liverpool 3rd.

Another Invented Username: Liverpool top 4 minimum, Tottenham top 8 minimum.

DublinSpur: I imagine Liverpool will be in the top three. I still think there's time for us to turn things around and challenge for 4th/5th, but I fear there's a real chance that we'll slip back to mid-table mediocrity if we don't find a way to get service to our strikers.

White Hart Lane is a good modern stadium (though it's not the same without the Shelf) but with limited capacity. Is a move to a new ground imperative for the future of Spurs?

spurette: Not sure - part of me knows we need a bigger capacity and the chances of developing WHL are slim, but moving out of the area wouldn't feel right.

alchemats: Would rather we extend White Hart Lane.

King of Norway: WHL is our home. Moving out of Tottenham wouldn't be right.

Steve Allen: Hope not.

paulfcb: Not at the moment.

Simon: I think it's the only way eventually. Plenty of rumours around at the moment. A lot of politics with expanding WHL.

Gavin: No - I don't like the idea of a new identikit stadium, extend the west stand into the car park.

Another Invented Username: No, we could easily have a mid 50's capacity stadium at WHL and that is more than enough.

DublinSpur: I'm back home in Dublin now, but I used to live a 20 minute walk from the Lane and I'd hate to see Spurs move away. I still don't understand why we can't expand the stadium (all that "insufficient transport links" malarky could be solved with adequate investment).

West Ham and Arsenal are playing in the European Cup Final - to what effort would you go to avoid being near a TV?

spurette: I would watch and become a Spammer for 90 mins.

alchemats: Would probably watch the game, hoping that Woolwich get stuffed.

King of Norway: I'd watch it and support West Ham.

Steve Allen:lmao

paulfcb: I'd rather eat shit on toast then watch that!

Simon: Wet Spam in a Euro Cup Final?  ;D Quality!

Gavin: Are you on drugs?

Another Invented Username: I would be watching and cheering WHU all the way. They're our on/off plucky rivals a la Southampton of a few years back but it stays a bit more heated because they're just up the road. I was actually cheering them on to come back up, so things could be a bit more interesting but they're not football rivals. Haven't finished above us in years and not likely to, barring some sugar daddy taking over.

DublinSpur: I'd watch it. Given their respective European histories, I'm confident they'd conspire to set a new precedent and both manage to lose.

And a prediction on the score at Anfield?

spurette: I won't thanks, bit superstitious don't want to tempt fate.

alchemats: I don't do predictions.

King of Norway: I reckon you'll win 2-0.

Steve Allen: 1-0 or 2-1

or 1-1 or 0-0  ;)

paulfcb: A draw would be a good result.

Simon: 1-0 to your lot. I expect a good game though.

Gavin: 2-1 Liverpool.

Another Invented Username: 1-1. We're looking impressive at the back at the moment and I can see us holding out.

DublinSpur: My heart says 2-1 Spurs. My head says 2-0 Liverpool. We can't seem to score at the moment ... but that said, I've no doubt we'll sort that out eventually. I just don't see Anfield being the place where we do it. Especially with Berbs injured.

Thanks again to everyone at Glory Glory for their help in answering our questions.

© Rushian 2006

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