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Dissecting Adebayor

Emmanuel Adebayor Sevilla v Real Madrid La eQOArY8Re-rl

Although rumoured for weeks, Harry Redknapp earlier today mentioned the fact that Tottenham Hotspur were in talks with Manchester City regarding a potential loan deal over former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor.

Adebayor is an interesting individual, but without doubt still a very good player. He started out in France, playing for both Metz and Monaco. His spell at Monaco would also result in a Champions League Final appearance, before his team were comprehensively beaten by Porto 4-0. All in all it resulted in Adebayor moving to Arsenal in 2006, ultimately scoring on his debut against Birmingham City.

Naturally, this is where his somewhat bad behaviour came to light. Adebayor was one of the key men in the middle of the 2007 Carling Cup Final fracas, which saw him get a red card and subsequently refusing to leave the field. This was followed up by another incident in the Carling Cup, this time against Spurs, where he ended up in a heated argument with Nicklas Bendtner.

But of all of them the most famous would have to be after he signed for the oil kings of Manchester City, and played his first match against Arsenal, where after scoring, he ran the full length of the pitch and slid in celebration in front of the Arsenal fans. This wasn’t the only controversial thing he did that day, also kicking Robin van Persie in the face. Ultimately he fell down the pecking order at the Manchester club, and went off on loan to Real Madrid at the end of last season.

I feel Spurs have been here before. Talented player, previously played for a rival club and often has temperamental problems. But William Gallas has come good, and certainly became an integral part of the Tottenham side last season, having a decent partnership with Michael Dawson. From many hating him and criticising him at the start of the season, he ultimately ended up being one of the best and most consistent players.

Adebayor I believe can be something similar, obviously it is only a loan deal and I can’t see him staying accepting a full contract from Tottenham (down to the fact he is currently on a wage deal twice as much as Spurs are willing to pay for him, and I’m sure he isn’t the type that fancies that big a pay-cut). But in one year he has the ability to at least help put some spark in the attack which was a massive disaster last season.

Despite any controversy he could bring, he scores goals. He scores lots and lots of goals. And that’s what Tottenham needs right now, goals. Their failure to dispatch teams that they should have been a walk of the park was half the time down to the strikers inability to hit the net. How many games last season did Spurs have 25+ shots on goal only to fail to score. The game against Blackpool is a prime example, 33 shots, and the only way they scored was a speculative long range effort which was deflected in.

Ultimately Adebayor is only one piece of the jigsaw that Spurs need. There is still a need for another striker, as it looks likely that Peter Crouch may be off this summer. If that person is Bryan Ruiz, then its fine with me. For me Ruiz isn’t exactly the person who is automatically first choice, but a kind of player you want when things are getting tough, or there is a bit of an injury crisis. And lets be honest here, this is Spurs we are talking about, of course there will be an injury crisis.

I’d have Adebayor in the team at the drop of a hat. My only curiosity is why the guy would sign for a team he has previously accused of singing racist songs, it seems like he’s ignoring everything that’s been said and carrying on. Which I find somewhat odd.

But Adebayor is someone Spurs should look to sign and a deal can only be days away. Obviously the last few people Redknapp talked about signing in a press conference did include Phil Neville and David Beckham, but I hope this time the wages can be sorted out and Adebayor signs on the dotted line.

Around Europe in 80 Games

23 May 1984. Anderlecht striker and father of future Tottenham Hotspur player Eidur, Arnór Gudjohnsen had the ball on the penalty spot, waiting to run and shoot towards Spurs keeper Tony Parks. Gudjohnsen would go to the bottom left corner, only to see Parks not only guess correctly, but push the ball away. Mass hysteria would ensue.

Those few seconds were the last time Tottenham won a European competition, beating the Belgian side Anderlecht on penalties after a 2-2 draw from two legs, to win the 1984 UEFA Cup.

For the next twenty-five years, Spurs would have brief contact with the competition. The following season would not prove to be a success, being knocked out in the Quarter Finals to Real Madrid. It would be a painfully long wait for the next game in Europe, but it would come in victory after winning the 1999 League Cup, beating Zimbru Chişinău in Round 1, but going out swiftly afterwards to Kaiserslauten.

After the highly successful 2005/06 campaign which saw Spurs so nearly reach the Champions League, they reached the UEFA Cup for the first time since 1984 based on league position. It was a stroll through the opening stages, and then received a bye instead of playing Feyenoord because of their misdemeanours. Braga were soon dispatched, but Spurs would eventually fall short once again in the Quarter Finals, losing out to the eventual champions Sevilla.

Further European adventures followed the next season, although a lot less successful. The change in manager from Martin Jol to Juande Ramos had a massive effect on the campaign. Most notably in the match against Getafe, when the decision Jol had been sacked filtered through before the end of the game. The 3-2 victory when Ramos regained control against Aalborg showed new found belief of some sorts, coming down from 2-0 down to win the game. In the end though they would fall short in the way they won the tournament back in 1984, with a tense penalty shootout against PSV going a long way, before Pascal Chimbonda missed and with it, saw Spurs go out.

The final time Spurs played in the UEFA Cup was the 2008/09 season, which of course featured the infamous ‘2 points, 8 games’. Ramos was out and the new manager, Harry Redknapp came in. Without a doubt Redknapp didn’t give much care for the competition and Spurs went out to the eventual winners Shakhtar Donetsk in the 1st knockout round, with the youngsters being played and thoughts realistically turning to survival in the league.

Three seasons on and it seems nothing has changed.

Although the UEFA Cup has itself rebranded to be called the Europa League and in itself a more lengthy and pain enduring competition, its still more or less the same to what the UEFA Cup was and used to be.

It isn’t perfect, far from it. There are far too many flaws in the competition. The fact that the winner doesn’t get automatic berth for the Champions League is a disgrace, and really would add some extra incentive into the competition. There’s also the fact that the Europa League for this season has felt like it has been going on for centuries (in reality, only the end of June, but considering the fact Fulham players had to start their season early isn’t the most helpful of things), there is more matches than the Champions League itself (only two if the team managed to go all the way however). And then you do have to play matches on a Thursday, which although makes logical sense to avoid clashing with the far more prestigious Champions League, means that league fixtures are forced to be moved to be played on a Sunday, often not even for television coverage.

And these are all, somewhat, decent excuses not to go all out and not play your best and set your sights on other targets, improving league position, or winning a domestic cup competition, which is going to take up less time and resource.

But Harry Redknapp has once again said he doesn’t care much for the Europa League, he sees it as an unnecessary distraction to the title bid.

Wait, title bid? Coming from the same person who last season that Tottenham had no chance of competing with those who spent bucket loads of money, such as Chelsea and Manchester City. Surely we don’t have a chance at either and then we will have a second depressing season in a row.

Yes, we focused hell for leather last season in the Champions League, but for our first year in the competition, it is about making it a memorable experience and great glory, glory nights in Europe. We got that, especially against the two Milan teams and being able to place ourselves against the might of Europe.

But the comment that "Thursday and Sunday every week, you’ve got no chance in the Premier with that,” really annoys me. Yes, it only gives you two days of rest between matches, which occur shockingly two more times more often than if we were in the Champions League. But guess what, the Champions League teams are in the same boat, two or three days in between matches for them as well, I wouldn’t exactly say its the perfect situation for them either, but they all seem to manage it, so why can’t we? Look at Manchester City in the Europa League last season, they got the chance to play with their first team more often, yes they have a far bigger squad and better players on the whole, but they did it (albeit getting themselves knocked out to Dynamo Kyiv).

Sticking out youngsters has to be done at some stage. I accept that. You are going to play, especially in the Europa League, teams that Spurs should beat with plenty of ease. So in this case you might as well stick some of the players that haven’t been chucked out on loan. But the same situation was used in the League Cup against Arsenal last season, without a reserve team there is no possibility for the team to gel as a second string, they will struggle to adapt with each other realistically, and the games are not going to be walkovers as expected.

The thing is though, with the excuses that can be employed to this competition, I want Spurs to go out and win the Europa League. I want Spurs to win every competition, but I know it isn’t possible unless we have a massive cash injection a la Manchester City. It is a competition I think we can go out and win as well. It’s not impossible, looking at the teams in the Europa League (obviously we can’t tell which teams will enter from the Champions League, another flaw) we are one of the best four teams in it (along with Atletico Madrid, Sevilla and probably Paris St-Germain considering their spending so far this summer). So it isn’t impossible to do it, go out there and win. Any competition win is something to be savoured, look at how happy fans and players of the previous Europa Leagues and UEFA Cups have been for winning it. I have only really had one experience of winning something as a Spurs fan, the 2008 League Cup. It would be quite nice to have something else to add to that collection, especially if it came from Europe.

At least Redknapp got one thing right, the “crazy places” Spurs will have to visit first is a terrifying and difficult journey all the way to Edinburgh.

Five Footballing Stages of Grief

In the season 5 episode of Scrubs, a popular patient passes away and J.D and Dr Cox go through five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Ultimately this happens and they reach acceptance stage at the end of the episode.

And like with J.D and Dr Cox, the same can be applied to Tottenham’s away performance at the Bernabeau. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, all felt over the course of the day and especially during the 90 minutes itself.

Denial All day I was fearing the worst. I had in my head Real Madrid scoring goal after goal, after a few more goals, before the referee calls the game at a halt after 67 minutes with the scores at 24-0. Of course, that wouldn’t happen, Spurs do at least have a half decent defence when it wants to be. And then the build up comes, decent teams, no complaints to be had. But then at 7:40PM BST it went wrong. For some reason Jermaine Jenas appears on the pitch, where is Lennon? This can’t be good…

Anger For some reason the line up was all wrong, everything about it. The midfield was a mess, Bale started on the right, nobody seemingly fit to play on the left. Why not put Kranjcar on in that case Redknapp, further proof of tactical naivety on his part. Jenas had an awful game, constantly giving away possession, I know it is almost a cliché that Jenas gets blamed every game, but this game is proof why he gets that tag. Three minutes in, goal, Emmanuel Adebayor, ex-Arsenal, villain. For some reason Jenas is given the task of marking him, not Dawson, not Gallas, but Jenas. Nonsensical, free header, Modric messes it up a bit on the line. But hey, 177 minutes still to go right. No. Thank you Peter Crouch. Two idiotic tackles, two yellow cards. The referee had an excellent game in my view, despite Sergio Ramos getting away with two bookable offences. That ruined the game for Spurs, playing effectively a 4-5-0 formation. Rafael van der Vaart not fully with it, Luka Modric marked tight, Bale anonymous.

Bargaining But look, half time. It is only 1-0, that isn’t too bad. We can still get into this, one more goal. Stick a striker on, hope for the best. Heck, I can still just about laugh about Ray Wilkins’ new catchphrase of ‘stay on your feet’. Bale showed some glimpses, keep giving it at him, Pepe is now yellow carded, out for next game, one tackle away from a red. Run, Gareth, Run. Defoe comes on for van der Vaart, smart move, the Dutchman was dreadful in the first 45 minutes. Still time, 45 minutes and another leg at White Hart Lane to come, we did it against Inter Milan…

Depression Alas, no. Shot, shot, shot for Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo ended up with 13 overall, 13, an insane amount. 36 shots for Real Madrid. That just sounds like Tottenham really, except they score with their chances. The second goal, more defensive woe, Gallas left with two men, forgets to jump. Adebayor with two, painful. The third is unstoppable, beautiful curler from Di Maria. The fourth, oh Gomes, he was solid all game in fairness, but one mistake clouds a game. No goals in four games, 410 minutes. Les Ferdinand out and all that.  Madrid deserved four, Spurs deserved nil. Poor all round, bye bye Europe. Europa League here we come, book your tickets for Finland, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina now.

Acceptance Full time, 4-0. Brushed aside. But it isn’t anything to be ashamed of, is it? Surely Real Madrid are the second best team in Europe, just after Barcelona. And what a ride Tottenham have sent everyone on. From 3-0 down away at Young Boys, to the highs against Inter Milan (3-1), AC Milan (both games), hell even being there has been special. We did it, judging by the league it may be the only opportunity Spurs get for a few years and they gave it a damn good crack at it. Quarter finals is nothing to be ashamed of. We went one round further than the lot down the road. Arsenal only made the group stages at their first attempt of the Champions League as well. Spurs had one of the best debut seasons in the Champions League without a doubt. Kings of Milan, stars, nothing to be disappointed about. Bring on FC Honka, RNK Split and FK Željezničar Sarajevo. Europe is Europe, its still more attractive to players than no Europe. It hasn’t stopped Manchester City this season, nor the likes of Porto and Napoli. One leg to go, why not go out in style.

A Cow, a Banjo and Tottenham

pavmiss

25 shots. 15 off target, 10 on target. 1 goal.

Lets, go through that again. 25 shots, 15 of those off target. 1 goal.

And this is from a team in the Champions League, who beat AC Milan, competing for the same competition next season.

Part of me is laughing, the other half is crying.

Who do you blame? Everyone, lets try that. Tottenham’s strikers this season have scored eight goals in the league. Eight. That is less than Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale, two midfielders. Six of these goals have come from Roman Pavlyuchenko, two from Peter Crouch (puts him level with the likes of Niko Kranjcar and Alan Hutton) and zero from Jermain Defoe.

Zero.

Cast your mind back to the 2009-10 season, Chelsea at home in April, when they won 2-1. There you can find Defoe’s last goal in the Premier League. A penalty in the fifteenth minute, dispatched into the left corner. If you want his last goal in open play, well, that would be March 13th. That is eleven months ago. For a striker, that is simply inexcusable.

Fair enough, Defoe did miss the first three months of this season, but since November has had three months to make an impact. And all I remember him doing is winning a flick on to van der Vaart for the first goal in Spurs comeback against Arsenal. The rest of the time he has been hopeless. He’s not been the same since his injury? Fair enough, maybe that could be reason, just needs a bit of confidence, score a goal, then he’ll be back to his best.

So explain the two goals against FC Twente in the 3-3 draw. Or maybe the two in the FA Cup match against Charlton. Was that not enough, he seemed clinical enough then. Defoe needs a rest, there is no way he has lost quality since last season, heck, those five goals against Wigan, that was only fifteen months ago. I know a lot can change but it is hardly three years. He is only 28, in theory, at the peak of his career, and for some reason, it is just not happening. His shooting against Blackpool was woeful, chances in the past he would have buried were ending up in Row Z, it was a pain to watch. Pain to see a quality player playing so badly.

Alongside Defoe against Blackpool was Roman Pavlyuchenko. The Russian, who this time last season was having a resurgence, the popular player everyone wanted to see play, he did, and my God he was good. 9 goals in 6 games at one point, then he inevitably stopped scoring for a bit, but hey, who cares about that eh. What a man, give Pav a chance, he got it, took it, and decided that since he was up there, he thought he could stay there forever, no one will change their opinions on him.

Wrong.

Six goals, he might be the best striker at the club, but for a striker who has played all season. No injuries, no problems. Two of his goals were tap ins, though two of them were beautiful (the volley against Bolton and the one against Chelsea). He is the player who doesn’t turn up for 89 minutes and for that 1 minute does something pretty good for once. The prime example being Young Boys away, dire, I mean dire for the first 85 minutes then scores a right screamer to make it 3-2. But most times this season, he doesn’t turn up for those 90 minutes. A whole game. He’s often anonymous, every first touch he makes, a cute little rabbit cries.

He did score against Blackpool, albeit a long range effort deflected in. Nothing really you can shout about.

He’s useless frankly. No use at all for Tottenham. And the same can be said of Peter Crouch. Crouch is useful for those games in Europe. He was dangerous against Werder Bremen in Germany, the hat-trick against Young Boys, and was dynamic against AC Milan. But the rest of the time? His first league goal came in November, his second at the start of February. 6’7 of a waste of a space in the 25 man squad.

Why didn’t Spurs get a striker in January? It was plainly obvious they needed one, yet only ended up with Steven Pienaar and Bogani Khumalo. Two players they didn’t really need. Two players yet to make a mark on the team. They spent the last two days bidding for every striker in Spain, coming close to both Forlan and Rossi. Yet the neglect to remember the other 29 days in January, in which it was very easy to buy a striker.

And my word has that shown. Against Blackpool they needed a clinical striker, and they didn’t have one. Same can be said for the game against Manchester United. Poor business all round by everyone.

Spurs have a brilliant midfield (when fit). Which team wouldn’t want Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart and Luka Modric playing for them. And then there is Tom Huddlestone who plays the defensive midfield role far better than anyone else.

So why can’t the strikers score for toffee? Confidence? Maybe, but all three lacking from confidence at once is a big coincidence.

Basically, I don’t think Crouch or Pavlyuchenko are good enough for Tottenham. They should be sold in the summer and make way for two new, world class strikers. Karim Benzema, Luis Fabiano, Diego Forlan, I don’t care who. Anyone.

But they could still all score, why not? I mean, shouldn’t the coach who helps with the strikers also be held responsible here?

Come on out, Les Ferdinand, what exactly do you do? How is it since you came in to Tottenham the quality of the strikers has gone down hill. That means Defoe, Pavlyuchenko, Crouch even Robbie Keane. What do you do?

I’d love an answer, because I’ve seen nothing. It is getting worse and worse, and Blackpool showed a Champions League side a lesson in finishing. They had seven shots, scored from three. Spurs had twenty-five, scored from one. That one being in the last minute which will only slightly improve the goal difference.

Remember at the start of the 2008-09 season, 2 points from 8 games and all that. Gomes was looking hapless and Spurs couldn’t drop him (well, they could, but that would mean playing Cesar Sanchez, no thanks). In came Tony Parks, new goalkeeping coach, and suddenly he started playing like Gianluigi Buffon. The same can be applied to the strikers, get a new guy in, and they will start scoring again. We will all be happy, Champions League here we come.

Maybe not that extreme, yet.

It is a blip on the highs this season has to offer. But I fear it will grow, there will be games like Blackpool coming up. I admire Blackpool, they were battered, but were clinical, the counter attacking football they played was excellent, setting up the second and third goals (even if one of them was offside). Change needs to be made, and goals need to be scored.

Should We Stay or Should We Go?

twostadiums It was all looking up. A 60,000 seater stadium built in the heart of Tottenham, improved facilities whilst retaining the special atmosphere that is always generated inside White Hart Lane. OK, there was the issue of having to put up a brand sponsoring the stadium, it wasn’t ideal, but fair enough, what had to be done was done and as long as the financial side of it was secure, great.

There were a few setbacks, planning permission a major obstacle, mainly down to the listed buildings near the site. But refreshed drawings and clever thinking allowed them to be incorporated, all perfect, and Haringey Council said yes to the plan. All it requires now is the thumbs up by London Mayor Boris Johnson and everything is fine.

Or is it? Whilst waiting for the council to approve plans, Daniel Levy and co. also submitted their interest in taking over the Olympic Stadium, alongside one of those other teams in London, West Ham United, a pretty average team who can’t even sell out their current home games. The list of issues with the Olympic Stadium is lengthy.

But sure, just a back up plan in case worse came to worse and Haringey Council said a big fat no to the new stadium. That would be fine, we were left with no choice in the end.

And then news breaks that Spurs are prepared to make the Olympic Stadium first choice, scrap the plans for the new stadium, tear off the running track, beat those men from West Ham.

Damn.

Is it the end? No. It is just news, West Ham are still favourites for the stadium. Logistically they are closer and have one thing in favour for them.

There is a so called Olympic Legacy that is trying to come from the 2012 Olympics. Part of this is of course retaining the 2012 Olympic Stadium for use, whether it is at 80,000 or the supposed post Games decrease to 25,000 and for whatever sport decides to move in. But one big favour they’d like  the new owners to do is keep the running track. Yes, the running track. The same thing that football fans worldwide detest for the life of them. The horrific, atmosphere sapping, horrendous, running track. You feel miles away from the action in a stadium with one (and not watching the running on them).

West Ham have said fair play, we will keep this running track. Probably let athletics be run on it every now and then, just to prove a point.

Tottenham on the other hand have went a different approach, no running track. Never. Out of the question it is. Fantastic news, surely you would think, improving the spectacle for the fans, Spurs for the win etc.

You would think that of course, but that is not what the likes of Boris Johnson want. A running track is required. You know, just to make things awkward.

There have been a lot of negatives around the application for the Olympic Stadium. The fact that the stadium is in Stratford, East London, nowhere near the rightful home of Tottenham Hotspur FC. Yes the move won’t be as bad as Wimbledon relocating to Milton Keynes. But it would ruin what is special about the club, Stratford isn’t Tottenham. It doesn’t deserve to be the home of Tottenham. The heart and the soul of the football club is in North London, not the south, not the west and certainly not the east. West Ham can have it, with all the problems they are having, annoying owners, a poor team and poor attendances.

Still, there is a chance Tottenham could end up at the Olympic stadium. AEG with their partnership with Spurs seem to be backing the bid, saying bring Spurs to Stratford.

I, along with many others, don’t want that to happen.

Better Than Babel In His Helicopter

Netherlands' Rafael van der Vaart stands on the pitch at their 2010 World Cup final soccer match against Spain at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg July 11, 2010.  REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

5:45, a disappointing transfer window. The promise of a big name transfer seemed dead in the water. Fans on the back of Daniel Levy and Harry Redknapp for failing to do any major business, for neglecting to bring in replacements and not selling any of the dead wood.

As ever there was the strange rumours, my favourite being the underrated Liverpool player Ryan Babel heading down to London on his helicopter. First he was off to Spurs, mixed reactions, then a change of mind, West Ham. It was never really happening and his helicopter was more than likely still in his back garden.

Then like a hammer, the ever excitable Jim White reveals a Dutch international could be making it to White Hart Lane. Suddenly everyone shuffles forward on their seats, who could it be? Has Harry pulled off a coup. But we have to wait, Sky Sports News heads off for a few adverts, and what feels like the longest ad break of all time.

Rafael van der Vaart. World Cup runner up. Surely not, we were after a big name star after all. Could we do it in time?

Hours, and hours, and hours of waiting. News dripping in. Harry reports the deal is at £8 million, Bayern Munich even had a deal collapsed at £18 million, a steal. It was all down to the Premier League now, all they need to do is ratify the transfer.

We find out the deal was done after the window was slammed shut, computing errors delayed the deal. But Wednesday comes, no news from the Premier League. Still waiting, waiting. Rumours from one side saying it was all set to be confirmed, the other side saying it was pretty much dead in the water.

And then, 3:16, the immortal words on the website ‘Van der Vaart Deal Confirmed’. Brilliant.

Cue going crazy for about five minutes, we have signed a world class player. Rafael van der Vaart, formally of Ajax, Hamburg and Real Madrid.

But after it sinking in, the heroics of signing a big name, there is considering the reality of this transfer.

Realistically, this isn’t down to the genius of Redknapp or Levy. This is a deal that was first heard of at 4pm, this was literally last minute. Daniel Levy hadn’t negotiated a beauty, Real Madrid were selling him on the cheap, no one else had moved in for him. Fair play, might as well have a go, and it indeed paid off in the end.

Secondly, do we really need another midfielder? In midfield we already have the option of Tom Huddlestone, Wilson Palacios, Luka Modric, Aaron Lennon, Niko Kranjcar, Jermaine Jenas, Gareth Bale and new signing Sandro. Where does he fit in? As far as I know he is an attacking midfield, someone in the mould of lets say, Niko Kranjcar. Both of who are bargains of the last two years, but is this making Kranjcar more of a backup rather than a rotated figure in the team?

But one thing is for certain is the legitimacy of the deal. Okay it was done after the window closed, but there was good reason. And the fact Arsenal fans are whining on their radio shows appear to be suffering from collective amnesia from the Andrei Arshavin deal a few years back. Did they forget the Premier League allowed them special dispensation to sign because all of that snow. I’ll let you answer that one.

Despite all my thoughts about it, I love the signing. Rafael van der Vaart at White Hart Lane in a Spurs shirt is just a brilliant thought.

And to think hours before we were all thinking we might have to settle with Ryan Babel.

Couldn’t Help It

Goal of the season. No questions.

We’re Doomed

Football - Bolton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur FA Cup Fifth Round

Alright, that might have been a slight exaggeration. But there is a big problem for Spurs, 8 players are out. And worse still, it is the business end of the season, with massive games against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City still to be played.

And just below Manchester United, Tottenham are second on the Premier League Injury Table. It isn’t pretty reading, so I’m going to run down the situation.

David Bentley
Injury: Groin Strain
Probable Return: v Portsmouth (27th March)

A few months ago, I doubt anyone would have been bothered that David Bentley was injured. But then, after replacing the also injured Aaron Lennon, something unexpected happened, he started to play well. Then, typically, he got himself injured, leaving Spurs with very few midfielders left. He is only going to be a backup to Lennon, but his time to shine came and he impressed, including one goal against Fulham (albeit being a deflection). He is probably going to come back before Lennon returns, but with the midfield now restructured, I don’t think he will get into the team ahead of the likes of Modric or Kranjcar who play on the right of midfield.

Carlo Cudicini
Injury: Broken Wrist
Probable Return: Next Season

Carlo Cudicini had his role in goal at the start of the season, when Gomes was injured. Despite looking shaky, he was an adequate replacement. Then, on the 12th November 2009, he got himself involved in a nasty motorcycle accident, breaking both his wrists and injuring his pelvis. He was immediately ruled out for the rest of the season. Since then, Ben Alnwick has been the substitute keeper, but has yet to play this season. However, Cudicini’s contract runs out at the end of the season, the main question is, do Spurs keep him?

Jermain Defoe
Injury: Pulled Hamstring
Probable Return: v Arsenal (10th April)

The latest addition to the injury list. This morning Defoe was confirmed to have pulled his hamstring, meaning he would be out for three weeks minimum. This is in short, a devastating loss. A regular in the team who has scored 23 goals in all competitions this season, 17 of them in the Premier League. This injury has come at the worst possible time, in the greatest form of his career and trying to get Spurs into the top 4. I just really hope he is only out for three weeks.

Tom Huddlestone
Injury: Ankle/Foot Injury
Probable Return: v Arsenal (10th April)

You can criticise him all you want, but it was notable as soon as Huddlestone went off against Everton, Spurs started to struggle. It was the turning point of the game. Huddlestone, is without much doubt, one of the best passers in the Premier League. His balls to the wide men are simply fantastic. A Huddlestone-Lennon partnership is a dream. Right now, the partnership is stuck in the stands. Despite the midfield being restructured, I still feel Huddlestone can offer something there.

Jermaine Jenas
Injury: Groin Strain
Probable Return: v Fulham (24th March)

Fantastic. Jenas is injured so that prevents him from playing. One of the few players in the Spurs team who offers absolutely nothing. Oh no, bad news. He has returned to training. I can’t believe it. Please Harry, don’t change the line-up to get him in.

Ledley King
Injury: Thigh Muscle Strain
Probable Return: v Portsmouth (27th March)

The legend. Or, the always injured legend. There are two capable defenders able to stand in for King, Michael Dawson and Sebastian Bassong. But King does bring something into the team that I like. There is a sense of leadership at least, and he is one hell of a good player when fit. But that’s the only problem these days, getting him fit. Its such a shame injury has ruined such a great player.

Aaron Lennon
Injury: Osteitis Pubis (Groin injury, just go along with that)
Probable Return: I don’t think anyone knows that

The real loss to the team. Aaron Lennon in the first half of the season was simply amazing, he played a crucial part in the 9-1 stuffing of Wigan, absolutely murdering Erik Edman in the process. He has pace, his delivery is so improved no one can flaw it too much anymore. It is such a massive loss to Spurs, especially down the right hand side. Gareth Bale has impressed on the left, we need Lennon back to power down the right.

Jonathan Woodgate
Injury: Groin Strain
Probable Return: Next Season

Here’s a surprise, Woodgate injured. In all this season, he has played 3 games this season. Including the ill-fated thirteen minute spell against Stoke. He is a very good player, when all are fit, I wouldn’t like to be Harry Redknapp choosing between the four of them.

Danny Rose & Kyle Walker

They might be substitutes on a regular basis (despite my insistence on that Rose should be getting more games, I do think he is a good player) but they are also out with knee and arm injuries respectably. I don’t think at this rate we will have anyone left.

While we currently have a decent starting 11 (Gomes, Corluka, Dawson, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto, Kranjcar, Palacios, Modric, Bale, Pavlyuchenko and Crouch) it is the back up I worry about. Only Eidur Gudjohnsen and Younes Kaboul the only real first team players fit.

This is going to be a fun couple of weeks.

Should He Stay or Should He Go?

Football - Tottenham Hotspur v Leeds United FA Cup Fourth Round

I like Roman Pavlyuchenko. I can’t quite put my finger on why though, he’s played a handful of games this season and wasn’t too impressive last season either. Yet, I just like him. There is something about him which makes me want him to play in the white of Tottenham week in week out.

His goal against Leeds United in the FA Cup this weekend was a relief for many different reasons. Not only did it put Spurs back in front, but it showed what was capable of the Russian. A lovely pass and a placed finish past Casper Ankergren. That was, amazingly, his second goal of the season, it certainly felt like his first. (His first of the season came in the 5-1 League Cup win against Doncaster Rovers.)

The stats just don’t get better for Roman, out of a possible 22 Premier League games, he has appeared in four of them. Amazingly, two of those appearances coming against so called ‘Top 4’ opposition, Liverpool and Arsenal.

It is clear to anyone that something has happened between Roman Pavlyuchenko and Harry Redknapp. League games seem to have vanished from the radar, despite the fact he is a constant substitute week in week out (He’s done more bench warming than Carlo Cudicini, that’s for sure.)

I do rate him highly. He is better than Peter Crouch. But Pavlyuchenko has just never had the chance to prove it. Last year came off the back of half a season with Spartak Moscow in Russia and the Euros, where Russia managed to reach the semi-finals. He showed potential in the Carling Cup especially, scoring in every round except for the final.

But, it is looking as if he is going elsewhere. The Turkish clubs seemingly interested (who also seem to be getting a lot of half decent players recently as well), a move back to Russia or even across London to West Ham United, who are after every striker in the game.

I remain optimistic, the transfer deadline day is fast approaching, and no one has seemingly made a serious move for him yet. Harry Redknapp is holding firm, but Pavlyuchenko is the one getting itchy for a move. Every time I manage Spurs on Football Manager, I play him. He gets me goals, I like him. But that isn’t the issue, he can score, he will score (as proven by the FA Cup goal).

I doubt he will be reading this, but Roman Pavlyuchenko, please don’t go.

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