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.