NLD – Now (the) League (table looks) Different – Dan Raywood blog

So it turned out to be one of the most one sided, well from a goals perspective anyway, north London derbies for years. The result leaves the red side of North London happy and the Wembley tenants of Spurs less than happy.

In a way, you could see it coming. Great results and performances against Liverpool and Real Madrid were followed by a scraped win against Crystal Palace, and Arsenal unbeaten team aside, a team needs to have an off day at some point.

Apparently today was one of those days. Spurs looked disorganized and only Hugo Lloris played well in my view. The majority of the game was played in midfield or in Spurs’ half, and then the Arsenal offense had figured out how spurs were going to play and used that in their own tactics: playing through the middle and on flanks against two left backs who did not have the strength of Rose and Aurier.

Spurs will go back to the drawing board ahead of the away game against Dortmund on Tuesday night. Arsenal now find themselves in the top four a point behind Spurs, and without the distraction of a champions league tie ahead of them. Spurs will just be glad that they have already qualified from the champions league group, and can focus on giving Son, Llorente, Foyth and a returning Eric Lamela (played today for the under 23s) a chance to get some game time.

As for me, I’ll be looking forward to the rest of the weekend and glad I got so many chores done during a dismal game.

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They All Count

After a fantastic performance against Real Madrid in mid week, the next game was always going to be a challenge to meet the same excitement.
As it turned out, the early Sunday kick off against Crystal Palace was my first Spurs game of the season and one that found me initially surprised to find that it was an early kick off, but ultimately delighted that I got my afternoon back.

At the time of writing, I’m heading back home from the game and it’s about an hour and 10 minutes since full time. That’s why I don’t go to many games in truth; it’s great that Spurs stayed in London but the journey home is a chore.

As for the game, well Spurs made several changes from the team that conquered the European Champions and saw a debut for goalkeeper Paolo Gazzaniga as well as continued presence of Aurier, Winks, Son and Rose – who you may seem to be from the second string of the first team squad.

All in all, the game was relatively uninspiring and not full of incident. Palace have had their challenges on and off the pitch so far this season, and with a vocal traveling support and the strength of Zaha, Cabaye and ex Spur Andros Townsend, they have the potential to succeed and stay up this season.

For Spurs, it was a laboured performance that didn’t see Harry Kane at his best, saw Son miss an absolute sitter and generally saw good performances from Sissokho and Vertonghen. Man of the match for me was the impressive Davison Sanchez, but that is an example of how well distributed the ball was and how cool he was under pressure.

This won’t be my last visit to Wembley, but I’ll be delighted when the team return to Tottenham as while Wembley does suffice, every fan knows that this is a temporary situation and while Spurs can produce some classy performances, there are games they will have to scrap for and as the headline says, sometimes you have to do that as all of the points count.

30 Years a Lilywhite – Dan Raywood guest blog

So another season is over, and it is one that is magnificent for Spurs for a number of reasons. Firstly, we finished second for the first time since the 1960s, and of course we ended the curse of St Totteringham’s Day that has long lingered over N17. That postcode is also significant, as Spurs will not call White Hart Lane home for a year, as the new stadium takes shape and Spurs relocate to Wembley Stadium for next season.

The last game and following pitch invasion and ceremony were all lavishly done. A final victory at the stadium over a half hearted Manchester United – who probably have most eyes on the Europa League final – was followed by a parade of legends in the rain, and choir and opera singers of some terrace chants. Amusing of course was the pitch invasion, with one claim from The Spurs Show podcast that to clear it, all they needed to do was give the microphone to Pat Jennings!

I’m writing this an hour ahead of the final games of the season, where Spurs finish off against a relegated Hull City. The season has been a good one from my point of view – Spurs were generally excellent despite struggles in the Champions League and FA Cup when we hit Wembley. The winners Chelsea are led by a terrific coach in Conte, while the on-off form of West Brom, Southampton and Bournemouth has showed that this remains the best league in the world.
On the downside, Arsenal and Manchester United look to be in disarray. United will buy their way out of trouble, but Arsenal face a divided fan base over the future of manager Arsene Wenger. See my previous post for my view on that situation.
The main down point of the Premier League season has been it’s end. A strong title race between Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester City was over after one defeat by West Ham over Spurs, while the relegation places were confirmed over a disastrous Sunderland, too defensive Middlesbrough and resurgent Hull City. All three will struggle to hold on to the few big names they have and I don’t know how fast they will return with Newcastle United and Brighton and Hove Albion claiming the promotion places.

The last things to confirm are the final fourth place in the league to play in the Champions League next season – that is in Liverpool’s hands. Also I’ll be hoping Everton don’t score so Harry Kane can claim the golden boot, one trophy for Spurs to boast about this season!

Premier League Preview – Part Two

Following on from the first part of the Premier League Preview, here are the next five teams. I imagine some controversial thoughts on who might finish where in the top 5, the next five could possibly balance that one out… I say possibly.

First up it’s Tottenham. The north London club finished fifth last season pipping Liverpool to the spot after their end of season fall away. This season I suspect it may well be Tottenham who drop to sixth, not by miles on the points but unless they make a few more super stunning signings, Im not sure that they will have enough to push them into the top four. Whilst they have had major clear out, they have only signed Alderweireld and Dele Alli who are of any note. They have of course been linked with various strikers and if they are to make a real push, they will certainly need to strengthen. Harry Kane might be the man of the moment, but there is only so much he can do up front.

For me its sixth place for the Lilywhites (Trips to Tottenham may not be happening very often – a number of my family may disown me for this prediction, but hey it’s only a game….

Now this is where it gets interesting. Southampton may have seen Clyne, Schneiderlin move on amongst others, but Saints manager Ronald Koeman has not hesitated to splash the cash and ensure he has a strong squad. To add to Bertrand from Chelsea, Caulker had moved from QPR, signed talented Dutch midfielder Jordie Clasie.

Having seen several big names depart the season before, many thought the Saints would struggle, but in fact they went one place better than the season before. The South coast club will be up there again and although I can’t see them finishing higher than seventh, I can see them securing that position once more.

Swansea City look certain to make it another top ten finish. Whilst they have not been too busy in the transfer market with multi big name signings, they did manage to acquire Andre Ayew on a free transfer. Playing as a winger or a second striker, the former Marseille man can give the Welsh club another strong attacking option. He had been linked with several Premier League clubs, but opted to move to Wales, for me its an eighth place finish.

Mark Hughes has certainly been busy in the transfer market and has made some interesting signings. Whilst the likes of Begovic, Huth, N’Zonzi and Palacios have left the Britannia stadium, the likes of Affelay from Barcelona, Van Ginkel on loan from Chelsea, Shay Given on a free along with Glen Johnson, could give Stoke great strength and continue to make themselves difficult to beat at their ground. With the experienced signings, I can see Stoke finishing ninth and becoming the launchpad to a future higher finish.

The Crystal Palace revolution continuing under Alan Pardew will see the South East London club pushing yet another top ten finish. Having notably upset the applecart several times over the last couple of seasons, the club is taking huge steps towards breaking into the top ten. The club has made several key signings including the return of Yohan Cabaye to the Premier League,  Connor Wickham, top young keeper Alex McCarthy. If Palace can build some consistency and avoid injuries I see no reason why establishing another top ten position cannot happen.