That Little Piece of Magic
The new season, finally, is upon us. And after months of talking non-stop about F1, I can finally start to waffle a bit more on the beautiful sport everyone likes to call football. And despite the Football League season starting on Friday night, with a rather drab 0-0 draw between Middlesbrough and Sheffield United, the main showpiece event begins on Saturday, the new Premier League season.
As usual, I have to get up and look forward to watching Tottenham Hotspur play, which in the last two seasons hasn’t really been that enjoyable to watch the first few months. I’m sure, everyone who isn’t a Spurs fan is probably aware of that as well. To be fair, our opening games of the season usually tend to be in the favour of the opposition, with Spurs’ last opening day win coming against Portsmouth in the glorious 2005/2006 season. A 2-0 win with goals scored by Andy Griffin (own goal) and Jermain Defoe. The record though still is quite inconsistent since the start of the Premier League, I’ll let the stats explain themselves:
Played: 17 Won: 6 Drew: 5 Lost: 6 Goals For: 19 Goals Against: 19 Points: 23/51
Very inconsistent. Though if there are any hopes to go by, the last time Spurs played Liverpool on the opening day (2004) it ended in a 1-1 draw. So there is some hope as always.
But the season is more than just one fixture that just so happens to kick of the proceedings. The season is 38 games long, and despite one killer month in April with consecutive games against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, my worry is Spurs will once again be complacent against the likes of Blackburn and Burnley this season, and lose games in which they should win.
These games should be won especially with some of the captures of Peter Crouch and the promising Kyle Naughton. Who I reckon will be an absolute star of the future. But apart from them two and Sebastien Bassong, bought from the crisis club that can only be Newcastle United, there has been very little activity by Harry Redknapp. Despite the fact Spurs have been linked with half the Real Madrid squad, including Klaas Jan Huntelaar who eventually went to AC Milan, there also hasn’t been that much rumours by the press either. Which I believe has been passed onto Manchester City, and them probably buying the whole league. Thankfully, at least the people we have sold we have good cover for them. The most famous sale of course being Darren Bent, including the twitter saga and the lot. In reality, despite him being our top scorer in the last two seasons, he was still probably our fifth best striker there and would easily fill in some simple boots up at Sunderland. Didier Zokora was being pushed out of the team, despite him being quite popular at the club, yet the Ivory Coast player will be gutted with a grand total of 0 goals at Spurs. There must be good odds on him scoring a goal on his debut at Sevilla. The only departure I am gutted about is the loss of Chris Gunter, who I really like as a player and began to show some good stuff at the end of last season and in the Carling Cup. However, with Assou-Ekotto impressing and the return of Gareth Bale in the autumn, he would have probably ended up out on loan anyway.
But Gareth Bale does show the one key problem with Spurs at the moment, the amount of injuries in the defence. The big important centre backs of Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate and Michael Dawson are all out of the opening game. Thankfully, Sebastien Bassong will not be suspended for the start of the season, otherwise Liverpool would have an easy task to get past the Spurs back line. There will be shuffling of course, Bassong most likely to be partnered by Vedran Corluka with Pascal Chimbonda moving into the right back slot. Or the possibility of Kyle Naughton at right back, but I am unsure whether Redknapp will be willing to play the 20 year old straight away.
The player I am most excited about for the new season is Wilson Palacios, the Honduran international who has the chance of even playing at the World Cup at the end of the year, as Honduras are currently lying third in their group of 6 with the top three going into the World Cup automatically and the fourth place team playing the fifth place team from South America. Palacios will surely be buoyed by the chance and want to impress to get into the World Cup, which for a team like Honduras might not happen every single four years.
Also, the partnership between new signing Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe will defiantly be exciting. The two have shown at Portsmouth, under Harry Redknapp, what they are capable of when they work together. The two scored bucket loads at Portsmouth, and it will most likely again to continue at Tottenham. My only concern is that there are two other strikers, Roman Pavlychenko and the captain, Robbie Keane. With that, the time for Crouch and Defoe to be on together will probably be fewer than ideal.
I know pre-season form shouldn’t really be credited in anything. Last year we had a fantastic pre-season and we all know what happened next. This year, has been a bit more dodgy. A few defeats included against Celtic and South China. Yet the young boys still showed some spirit against Barcelona, with Jake Livermore (now on loan to Derby County) scoring the equaliser. One of the few players that seemed to make an impact. But, the last game was a comfortable win over Greek giants Olympiakos, a 3-0 win, goals coming from Pavlychenko, Corluka and Defoe. If that game is anything to go by, and the one that should be examined the most as it the game before the season begins where all the players should be up for it and it shows they were. Lots of chances were being created, however one concern, especially in the first half was the inability to convert those chances. Which could end up costing the team against the big sides since the opportunities will be rare.
My hopes for the 2009/2010 season is to get back into Europe. I believe that it is ridiculous to suggest we will get into the Champions League, we don’t have that extra yard to put in to get there. However, the chance to get into the Europa League (as much as I despise it) is always good. With the added presence of Manchester City into the fight for the Champions League (I believe I am the one of many really wishing they fail brilliantly), there will be two spaces left (assuming that two big 4 sides win the Carling Cup and the FA Cup). These spaces will be heavily contested for, Aston Villa, Everton the obvious candidates, but you can’t discount Fulham again either. I don’t believe there are many other sides that can challenge, it is between 9 sides this year for Europe, and I do believe one of them is Tottenham.
Since I like to make predictions. I’ll do some Spurs related ones here. Top Scorer will be Jermain Defoe. Gomes will be gone back to the continent before the start of next season, as much as I don’t think that will be good. Though could be time for Ben Alnwick to step up. We’ll have a little slump during the Christmas period, there are some games in there that could catch Spurs out. Finally, we will finally beat Arsenal in the league this season. This is that year, no more last minute comebacks, it will be last minute winners.
If we do end up having one awful start to the season again, I really hope they don’t sack Harry Redknapp. Just saying that early on, it doesn’t feel right not having a mid-season crisis.