Harry Winks – A full debut goal, and always confident & in control in possession.

Tottenham 3-2 West Ham

West Ham snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in yesterday’s evening kick off, leaving Slaven Bilic stunned and the travelling support silenced as Tottenham striker Harry Kane completed a late brace to turn the result on its head.

Just twenty minutes earlier the away end was bouncing to a chorus of ‘it’s happening again’. A reference to the 13/14 where West Ham recorded 3 wins against the team they love to hate, that has been sung whenever they have taken the lead since. In terms of league wins at White Hart Lane, prior to that 13/14 season you’d have to go back to last century for the most recent hammers away victory in this fixture. A strange song in the circumstances.

What was also strange was to see a change of goalkeeper in the West Ham line up for this, and it was he who would ultimately cost West Ham all the points. Despite making an outstanding save from Dier in the second half, should have done better for the first two of Tottenham goals, both of which were big momentum shifters.

Without them it was hard to see Tottenham scoring again, likewise West Ham were gifted their two goals through sloppy defending, both from corner. It was a day for errors more so than any real quality. Payet quiet, Eriksen careless and ineffective, Kane anonymous, Sakho and Ayew invisible. West Ham every bit as bad as Tottenham, but at least showing some solid defensive organisation which has much improved from their poor start to the season.

Having regained the lead given to them by Antonio, through Lanzini’s cooly taken penalty, the atmosphere had flattened and West Ham were looking nailed on to leave White Hart Lane for the last time with 3 precious points.

Then came the late show. Between the impressive Winks equalising and West Ham regaining the lead, the atmosphere was back up and Spurs were finally in the ascendancy. The second equaliser picked the crowd up again from the floor to drive forward a final push from the home side, and Son who changed the game somewhat with his directness was tripped in the box to give Spurs a late late penalty for the win.

If the equaliser got Spurs out of Jail, then the winner should have thrown them back in it for robbery. It was not a performance in anyway worthy of 3 points.

Kane delivered, and joined Paul Stalteri, Eric Dier, Gareth Bale, and himself as scorers of 4 90+ minute goals to beat or deny West Ham in the last decade.

Something had happened again, and it was not a West Ham victory, and how they were reminded of it as they drifted away from the famous old ground for the last time scratching their heads and empty handed.

MOM – Harry Winks


Dan De Luca


Brand New: The latest edition of the sofasportsnews.com podcast!

The latest edition of the SSN official podcast. Harry & Alavi are joined by the last editions popular guest Andrew to discuss the latest footballing topics. As well as answering YOUR questions they discuss Spurs v WHU, Man Utd v Arsenal, The Milan derby, The Madrid Derby and the latest refereeing howlers. Sponsored by TagPay! www.sofasportsnews.com

What, if anything, have we learnt from the NLD?

What, if anything, have we learnt from the NLD?

Arsenal 1-1 Spurs, probably a fair result overall.  The first 20-25 minutes or so were pretty subdued, possibly down to the diabolical kick off time, I don’t know about you guys but I was still half asleep and nursing a hangover when the players emerged from the tunnel.

First Half

The Emirates was packed to the rafters in time for the kick off, the prawn sandwich brigade were out in full force and on time for once, creating the kind of atmosphere only a derby match is capable of.  Prior to kick off I was concerned that the scum’s midfield would dominate our own physically and there’s no doubt that Dembele bossed the middle of the park for most of, if not the whole game.

We began to turn the screw towards the end of the first half and were unfortunate not to take the lead in particular when Theo Walcott’s effort came crashing off the frame of the goal.  On 42 minutes Arsenal’s pressure paid off, Kevin Wimmer rose like a salmon to head into his own net with an exquisite header, the kind a centre forward dreams of.

Happy days, 1-0 up at half time and we were looking as though we were on the up.  Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez’s pace a constant threat, Ozil spraying passes, Bellerin & Nacho joining the play, Xhaka and Coquelin enforcing in the middle but most importantly we had a lead to show for it!

Second Half

You have to question what happened in the Arsenal dressing room at half time.  If I was to take a guess, I’d say the players went in, had a nap and failed to wake up in time for the second period.  We were abysmal throughout the whole of the half and you could argue we were fortunate not to have conceded a second.

The intensity dropped dramatically and as Arsene likes to say “We dropped a little bit physically”.  The Spuds had their chances and we failed to create anything of note.  In fairness to Arsene, I think he recognized the need for fresh legs a lot earlier than he usually does.  He made all three substitutions on the 65th, 70th and 71st minutes.  Unfortunately for the manager, they looked just as off the pace as the players they’d replaced.

The worst performance of the lot award has to go to The Ox; he failed to make any impact on the game and made a mess of even the simplest of tasks.

The introduction of Olivier Giroud provided us with a target, however he was swallowed up by Spurs’ 3 central defenders and failed to cause them any problems whatsoever.

Aaron Ramsey was the first of the substitutes to take to the field and probably made the biggest impact of the three, he injected a much needed energy into our fading midfield but unfortunately his final pass/shot let him down.

With Manchester City slipping up the day before it was an opportunity to jump to the top of the EPL but it just wasn’t to be.  I guess when you perform that badly the main priority is to get something rather than nothing from the game, in this case the point.

A poor performance but we will take our point and move forward.  No need to panic just yet.


What, if anything have we learnt from the NLD…

It’s hard to pass sensible judgment on one particular fixture; however during that second half we saw the type of naivety that has been our downfall in recent seasons.  Forever putting ourselves under pressure with risky passes, half hearted clearances and failing to react quick enough to the second balls contributed to an uneasy second half.

One of the worst performances I’ve seen from the Arsenal this season.  There is no scientific or tactical reason for the way we played; I put it simply down to an off day.  Fortunately perhaps, we held onto the point and let’s hope we are back to our normal selves at Old Trafford in a couple of week’s time.

I’m still not 100% convinced of Arsenal’s title credentials but the fact we are picking up valuable points even on our ‘bad’ days has to be an encouraging sign at this stage of the season.



It pains me to say it but Spurs are a far better side than I have given them any credit for in the past couple of seasons.  A solid defensive unit, a powerful midfield and a striker that will always score goals are some of the key ingredients for a winning formula.   Pochettino’s record versus Wenger since arriving at Shite Hart Lane evidences his tactical understanding and I don’t think I remember them having a better boss, in my life time anyway.

I still don’t see them as genuine title contenders but I’m pretty sure they will be in the top 4 come May. With the development of the lane around the corner if Poch can keep them in the Champions League spots with limited resource that will be a marvelous achievement.

I would hate to see them make the top 4 but the positive is that means we will at minimum finish 3rd!



Sofa Sports News



The NLD: Gooner View

The NLD is upon us and I’ve been feeling a mixture of excitement/nerves for the whole week.

With both sides having played their midweek Champions league games it’s time to concentrate solely on Sunday.

Current Form

On Tuesday night Arsenal were poor, it was far from the best performance of the season.

I just can’t put my finger on it, Arsenal are very good away from home domestically but pretty poor away in Europe and it’s been that way for a long while.

Anyway, the main thing is we found a way to take all three points and qualify for the knock out stages once again.

Spurs on the other hand look as though their heading back into the Europa league after Wednesday night’s home defeat at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen.

They were poor, extremely poor.

Their form heading into the NLD is pretty bad, having beaten Man City before the international break so convincingly they failed to continue the momentum and have since drawn four and lost two (in all comps).

In comparison, Arsenal have won five and drawn one (in all comps).

I’ve been more than pleased to see Tottenham drop points and fail to win games in the last few weeks but there is something extremely dangerous about playing one of the ‘stronger’ teams when they are so desperate for a win. Are they due a win?

On the flip side you can say Spurs remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League. Are they due a defeat?

We all know who the form team is going into this fixture.  However, it is a NLD and so the form book tends to go out of the window.

I still expect Spurs to come to the Emirates on Sunday and be up for it, hard to beat and a threat to our goal.

Arsenal vs Pochettino

A fact not many people may know is that since Pochettino’s arrival, Arsenal have not won a NLD in the league (4 draws, 1 Tottenham win).  The Gunner’s only victory over Pochettino’s side came in last season’s League Cup.

Arsenal need to come out of the blocks quickly on Sunday, go for the throat, pass and move the ball quickly and make things uncomfortable right from the start. This is a wounded Spurs team that are clearly lacking confidence and so we shouldn’t allow them the chance to settle early on.

If Arsenal play the way they can and go with the above I can only see one winner.

The problem will come if the other Arsenal turn up and we are slow moving the ball and lack movement.  In that case, Tottenham’s high intensity pressing game will see Arsenal struggle and could play into Tottenham’s hands.


Team News

Tottenham go into the game with some key players such as Toby Alderweireld, Harry Kane, Moussa Dembele, Erick Lamela as injury doubts going into the NLD. I expect to see Lamela play but am unsure as to whether Dembele will make it, only the coming days will tell the extent of his midweek injury.

I am still none the wiser as to whether Kane or Aldeweireld will make it but as a Gooner I’m hopeful they wont.

Arsenal have some injury doubts of their own with Theo Walcott, Hector Bellerin, Santi Cazorla, Nacho Monreal facing fitness tests. I must admit, I expect Walcott, Bellerin and Monreal to feature.

With Arsenal travelling to Old Trafford next and Spurs having another two London Derby’s against West Ham and Chelsea around the corner the three points become even more important.  Especially with Liverpool and Man City playing Middlesbrough and Watford at home this weekend respectively.

I know it’s early in the season and we shouldn’t really be too concerned about the table but neither side wants to be playing catch up.

As previously mentioned, Arsenal are the form team heading into this North London Derby but over the years one thing I’ve learnt from being a football fan is this game is very unpredictable and football can change very quickly.  We shouldn’t take anything for granted or get carried away.

I’m going to predict a tight game, both sides will play good football for a lot of the game and a fantastic fixture for the neutral.

As for the result it’s very hard to call and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up in a score draw.

For the latest Odd’s on all of this weekends fixtures Click Here!





Looking ahead at Leicester City’s trip to the Lane.

Tottenham and Leicester have met seven times in all competitions in the last two seasons, with Spurs enjoying three wins to Leicester’s two.

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri was delighted with his team’s 3-1 win over Crystal Palace in the Premier League last weekend. This was more like the stuff of champions. Relatively speaking that is. Claudio Ranieri said he did not recognise his team when they folded at Chelsea but his players reintroduced themselves to him with style against Crystal Palace.

“This was our best performance of the season,” said the manager, who revealed he had demanded his players deliver a performance to kick-start their domestic campaign.

So what’s gone wrong at Leicester this season? Well, absolutely nothing. Leicester are performing around where they should be with respect to their calibre of players. The league was won miraculously and we must still give them enormous credit for that.

Vardy netted 24 league goals and six assists, while Mahrez tallied 17 goals and 11 assists of his own. So far this campaign, the duo have combined for just three goals in the premier league.

I like the look of new signing Islam Slimani. Of course, Kante was always going to be a big loss and seems to have forced a change in the midfield. A player of immense work ethic and determination. The loss of the French international means Danny Drinkwater and Daniel Amartey have needed to pick up their play in midfield.

Centre-back duo Wes Morgan and Robert Huth were brick wall defenders for Leicester a season ago, but it’s starting to look like father time is playing a bigger part on the pair this season. Or has the increased focus on shirt holding played its part?

Leicester seem to have changed their game after playing conservative, counter-attacking football a year ago. Ranieri wants more possession and chances. My thoughts have always been that as much as I prefer the possession style, it simply won’t work against higher quality opposition such as Chelsea. Their players will beat you at the game you’re trying to play. If anything, it’s during those games, where the conservative counter-attacking approach will nick you a 1-0 win from time to time.

Last season you could more or less guess Leicester’s starting line-up. Now, with Champions League matches in midweek, fitness and health are even more key to the team’s success.

There is no need for any panic. They’ll stay up. In fact I think they’ll finish around 10th because Mahrez is still a class act.

Spurs have gone nine Premier League games against the Foxes without keeping a clean sheet. Leicester are coming into the game with 3 wins out of the last 5. Our spurs writer Deluca often asks “why are teams finally bothering to play again Leicester this season?” . Let’s see if his opinion is different come Saturday.


I really fancy the foxes to get a draw with a £5 bet returning you £19


Sofa Sports News.

How clubs are turning the EFL Cup from an opportunity to a hindrance – De Luca.

I don’t know what to make of the League Cup right now. Fans seem delighted to win it, but then it doesn’t ruin their weeks if they are knocked out in the early stages. That’s a good thing.

But then, top Managers don’t seem to care despite what they may tell you. Home fans aren’t particularly bothered, and the noise (or lack of) from the home end at Anfield yesterday qualifies that.

It is though a good opportunity for younger fans to get tickets and has become an opportunity for families to visit at affordable prices, which is a good thing too of course, although the late finishes, especially if there is extra time, can be a problem for them as much as it can cause travel chaos for all fans particularly away fans who have long journeys back to their home town.

The opportunity for a wider net of teams to have a shot at reaching a major Wembley final is a great thing for football, as teams capitalise from some of the bigger sides fielding weakened teams.
That benefit has a flip side to it…

When 21 of the 22 starters of a match were not selected to start by their managers on the previous Premier League weekend the tournament can only be seen at that moment to be taking another knock.

I was at Anfield last night watching Liverpool Vs Tottenham and aside from Liverpool going through I’m struggling to understand much else either side got from the game.


The Anfield ‘Scarf Show – De Luca’

The positives will be of course that it gives a runout to squad players and the old favourite ‘a chance to see some of the younger players’. The latter is becoming overused and I’m not sure of the value a manager gets from seeing them in this environment.

From a Tottenham perspective last night, 8 of the starting 11 were under the age of 23. So you could argue that’s a positive if you wanted provided they put in a reasonable display. What we learned yesterday is that Spurs have 5 or 6 fringe players in the squad who are decent enough footballers, based on the possession statistics and some of the parts of the game where they were able to keep the ball for periods. Great. I’d expect that from a squad player of a top 6 club anyway.

I assume though that when a younger player is thrown into this competition that a manager is looking to see how close they are to being ready for the bigger games and bigger tournaments. Which leaves my question…How can he establish that when the opponents are reserves or a lower division side too? And also, his teammates will all be of lesser quality than the players he would be surrounded by if he ever needed to be thrown in.
How does that affect his level of performance?

Josh Onomah for example had comfortably the worst game I’ve seen him play for Tottenham, has he sunk to the level of his team mates and opposition on the night? Or is he actually not that good after all? The manager can’t know after last night so is it a pointless experiment?

I was looking forward to seeing Carter-Vickers in the flesh, a highly-rated youngster with a possible great future ahead. What I saw though was an entirely changed back 4, with him paired with Kevin Wimmer who has not played all season either. How do I know then who was really at fault for a horrific defensive display in which Tottenham were carved open several times and struggled massively when asked to play out of the back? How then does Pochettino?


Surely there would be more benefit in making just 3 or 4 changes and seeing the player in the environment they may find themselves in of they were called upon? Tottenham’s best chance of silverware each season is the league cup, that’s a fact. Liverpool’s too. The same for every team in fact. It was the only trophy Manchester City picked up last season for example. I can’t help but feel last night was a surrender of a trophy opportunity by Tottenham but not a lot gained in return in terms of knowledge or valuable experience.

Liverpool won the match last night and deservedly so and the difference was the one player of genuine quality on the pitch who could get into most teams in Europe’s match day squads although bizarrely doesn’t seem to be wanted at Liverpool.

The league cup a useful platform for him to remind his manager of his quality.

The League Cup is a great opportunity for so many positives for a lot more teams and it would be nice to see the FA and the clubs work together, make some rule changes and commitments around squads, ticket pricing and scheduling, to make the most of a rare opportunity in football where everyone at all levels of the club, and the fans, can benefit, enjoy the game and not feel the lasting pain of a defeat.

The League cup can be a great tournament, for more clubs, for more fans, for more players and for the future of football. Without closing the opportunities for smaller clubs to compete, the people at the top of the game should pledge to do more to make it so.

De Luca

Sofa Sports News

EFL Cup -Betting Tips! (Tuesday)

Tuesday night see’s 5 EFL cup tie’s taking place with the stand out game being that between Liverpool & Spurs at Anfield. (Live on Sky sports)

Betting: EFL Cup

Arsenal: 2/9   Draw: 6/1   Reading: 14/1

Bristol City: 13/10   Draw:  5/2   Hull City: 9/4

Leeds United: 15/8   Draw: 12/5   Norwich City: 8/5

Liverpool: 7/10   Draw: 16/5   Tottenham Hotspur: 4/1

Newcastle: 2/5   Draw: 15/4   Preston: 17/2

Odd’s from Bet365 online…(subject to change)

Harry’s tip:  “I expect Liverpool vs Spurs to be a good EFL cup tie and I think the host’s should just edge it.  However, Spurs at 4/1 is excellent value and I am feeling lucky so I will certainly be backing an away win!

Interestingly, if you like an accumulator a treble of Arsenal, Tottenham and Hull City is at 19/1.  Worth a tenner surely!”


Sofa Sports News

The Most Exciting Title Race in Years! EPL Week 9 Review.

EPL Week 9 Review

After another weekend of unpredictable results this is shaping up to be the most exciting title race in years.  Of the top eight only Liverpool and Chelsea were able to take all three points from their respective fixtures.

Jurgen Klopp’s side continued their fine run of form with a narrow victory over West Brom.  Having been held to a draw vs Bourinho’s United last Monday the title talk around Anfield had somewhat evaporated, at least temporarily.  Saturday’s victory which ultimately drew them level on points with both City and Arsenal has set the Liverpool band wagon rolling once again.


Are Liverpool EPL Title Contenders?

Any team joint at the top of the EPL must be considered as contenders.  However, let’s not forget it is only October and so if I was a Liverpool fan I wouldn’t be getting carried away just yet.  Sorry Liverpool fans but I just can’t see you going the distance for a number of reasons.  Two dodgy keepers, the inability to defend any form of set piece and a lack of strength in depth will ultimately cost you.

The Return of the Special One…

Jose returned to the bridge this weekend and prior to kick off it was all about him, just the way he likes it.  Having gone to Anfield last week and parked the bus it was pretty obvious he was going to try and do the same thing in the hope of avoiding defeat.

I’m a huge critic of his ‘anti-football’ approach especially when you are the manager of such a prestigious club and spending hundreds of millions of pounds on ‘top players’.

Nothing pleased me more than to see his game plan go out of the window inside a minute and their vulnerability was clear for all to see.  Chelsea continued to stick the knife in on their old boss and were far superior in every department.


“I know you sold me the wrong Pogba”

In a poor attempt to deflect the headlines away from his teams awful performance Jose reportedly whispered in the ears of Conte something to the effect of “you don’t celebrate like that at 4-0.  You can do it at 1-0, otherwise it’s humiliating for us.”

Despite his side being horrendous and Chelsea completely out playing them he still had to make it all about him come the end of the game.  He had an issue with the current Chelsea manager celebrating?  That’s rich coming from this man…


Jose slides on his knee’s in celebration during his Real Madrid days.

City without a win in five…

Once again individual errors cost Pep Guardiola’s side dearly and John Stones’ decision making doesn’t seem to have improved just yet.

City were held at home by an in-form, well organised and resolute Southampton side.  Credit to the Saints but there’s no doubt the blue half of Manchester will be somewhat disappointed with the nature of the goal they conceded.

It appeared to be a mix up between Stones and Vincent Kompany but none the less a goal that could have been avoided had a bit of common sense been applied.  It wasn’t to be City’s day in the end but the results around them gave them some breathing space, a draw this weekend wasn’t as damaging as it could have been.

A constantly changing formation and  a lack of confidence are certainly contributing to City’s bad run but there’s no need for an over reaction, they are top of the EPL!

Arsenal & Spurs stutter…

Neither North London club were able to take all three points this weekend and I would put it down to both suffering from a Champions League hangover.  It’s been years since Spurs have been able to use that excuse!

Spurs failed to dazzle at the vitality stadium and Bournemouth could have nicked it late on. Perhaps the biggest talking point was the moment of madness from Moussa Sissoko where he appeared to throw an elbow at Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter.  The Frenchman was lucky not to see red and I expect him to face retrospective action in the coming days.

I was at the Emirates on Saturday and the Gunners were simply off the boil.  A leggy Arsenal side struggled to create as many openings as they would have liked against a stubborn and well organised Boro side.

The absence of Santi Cazorla in the middle of the park was a big miss for the Gunners.  He plays a vital role in Arsenal’s midfield, a player who is so good at both collecting the ball from the defence and play making from deep was always going to be missed.  The man who normally makes us tick wasn’t in the side and it disrupted our fluency in possession.


Arsenal missed their deep lying playmaker on Saturday.

It’s worth noting had it not been for Petr Cech Arsenal could have ended up losing that one.  Adana Traore was a constant threat down the right hand side and its hard to believe that he spent last season sitting on Aston Villa’s bench!

Boro were good value for the point.  Both North London clubs suffered a minor stutter but it’s nothing to worry about at this stage, I expect both to be there or thereabouts come May.

EPL Results:

Bournemouth 0-0 Spurs, West Ham 1-0 Sunderland, Swansea 0-0 Watford, Leicester City 3-1 Crystal Palace, Hull City 0-2 Stoke, Burnley 2-1 Everton, Arsenal 0-0 Boro, Man City 1-1 Southampton, Chelsea 4-0 Man Utd.

Click here for the Premier League Table!


Sofa Sports News.

Spurs’ Champions League campaign stays on track in Germany.

Lots to do, but Spurs’ Champions League campaign stays on track in Germany.

After a home defeat in the first game in the groups, and facing consecutive away games, maybe 4 points was the best Spurs could have hoped for at the halfway point in Group E.

Qualification is firmly in the balance but the draw against Leverkusen has meant it’s still all to play for in an even group.

In truth, Pochettino should feel fortunate to have escaped from Germany with the point that has kept them in the top 2 spaces. Despite a good first half performance in which the lead could have been taken two or three times Leverkusen took the game to Tottenham who looked jaded and out of ideas in the attacking third, creating some great chances to score a winner, including a desperate goalline scrambled save from Hugo Lloris. Replays proved that the ball had been kept out, but as impressive as the save was, the finish was directed in the only place a goalkeeper could have any chance of reaching.

It’s easy to accuse a team of being tired when things don’t appear to be going well, but that’s not excuse I like to hear, particularly so soon into the season. Spurs, with the exception of Wanyama, did seem to lack energy though as their opponents dictated the play and dominated the midfield battles. Spurs’ usually breathless full backs barely featured in an attacking sense in the second 45.

Even the introduction of Dembele didn’t improve the fortunes much, as I found myself often watching the clock rather than the match hoping for it to tick down to the full time whistle before the home side made one of their chances pay.

As Dembele entered the game and Jannsen left it, it was a reminder that Spurs had started this game without their preferred spine of Alderweireld Dembele himself and Kane. That considered, maybe this should be seen as a point gained although only qualification will make that so.

Two tough games coming up against Leverkusen again and our conquerors in the opening game Monaco, that also coincide with a difficult run of London Derbies in the league, will be a real test of the squad with the league sure to take priority. We will need to see a minimum of 3 points gained to be taken into the last game if this years champions league campaign is going to have chance to extend into the knockout phases.

I’ll back Tottenham to be good enough to squeeze out of the group, but Pochettino would have hoped to have made easier work of one of the simpler groups in the draw, and will know a lot of improvement is needed at this level should the really big boys come calling.

De Luca

Sofa Sports News

Spurs vs Man City Preview

It may not be 1st vs 2nd by the time kick off comes around on Sunday, but going into the weekend the top two sides and only two remaining unbeaten teams going head to head at White Hart Lane is the stand out fixture of game week 7.


This fixture last year, almost a year to the day, marks the game that everything changed for Tottenham. A 4-1 victory over city that day was the first performance that perfectly demonstrated the style Pochettino had spent the past 15 months implementing and the confidence and ability of the side grew and grew from that point.

Tottenham were boosted that day by the pre match news that neither Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, or David Silva would be in the starting line up. The same will almost be true tomorrow with the exception of Silva starting instead of an injured Kevin De Bruyne, which this season is classed as a boost as De Bruyne has firmly established himself as the clubs outstanding playmaker.

Manchester City have started the season like a train, again, similar to last season, and its hard to pick faults in their displays and the way they have seamlessly adapted to a new manager. The only chink of light for Spurs is perhaps that the away performances have not been as solid, everyone beats Stoke these days, but 3 were just shipped to Celtic and despite dominating at Old Trafford there were plenty of opportunities for the home side to score that were ultimately not taken. The Swansea game last time out wasn’t a dominant display either and Spurs will hope that that City turn up on Sunday.

For City’s injuries, it can’t be overlooked that Spurs are missing big players too. Harry Kane’s absence is an undoubted blow and whilst Jannsen clearly has a lot to offer, so far he has not been able to offer goals and that is a big concern for tomorrow especially when I do feel that City’s defence is still currently there to be got at. It’s still not clear whether Dembele will start and it will major blow if he doesn’t as this game more than ever the big mans control in midfield will be required to stem the inevitable waves of City possession.
Rose, Dier also doubts, and new signing Sissoko missed last game concussed. Sissoko is still very much settling in to life at the Lane but i’d like to see him fit for this one as his long strides and pace running from defence into attack will be a great benefit against a side such as City who like to spend long periods on the front foot.

A big plus point for Manchester City this season has been the upturn in form of Raheem Sterling. Last season in the first half Sterling was involved in everything City did and could easily have put the game beyond Tottenham. There’s no way this time he’ll be as wasteful and for Tottenham to do well Sunday a much improved defensive full back performance will be needed from Kyle Walker, and on the flip side, Sterling will need to his job in tracking Walker as he overlaps and joins in Spurs attacks in what will be one of the games key defining battles.

Heung-Min Son has been knocking goals in for fun this season but he’s not a player i’d like to be over-reliant on going into this one. A solid all round display with no passengers is a must if we’re to get a result here. As well as a slightly leaky defence, a question mark still must hang over Claudio Bravo who has not been properly tested since his calamitous debut and with Alderweireld lurking at set pieces and the back four still not settled, between the two Spurs will definitely have opportunities. We will need to be more clinical than we have been thus far.


All said, if City are allowed to play to their best they win, and Spurs will have to be a lot tighter than the recent home game against Liverpool. If they can find a way of using Wanyama and Dembele effectively to cut of Aguero’s supply then there’s no reason we can’t find the goals required to win the match. Spurs are more than capable these days of winning and thus making it 3 in a row against City. After a great start to the season it’s a great opportunity to see what this years side are made of.
Some good value

Tottenham’s Transfer Business is a cause for Optimism

De Luca’s Thoughts on Tottenham’s Transfer Business…

It’s not a coincidence that Spurs’s first impressive performance of the season came as the transfer window had just closed. It’s a recurring theme at Tottenham and a lot of other clubs as the team waits to settle with it’s final squad for the season. It’s not a coincidence either that Christian Eriksen turned in an eye catching display just days after signing his new contract. The signature of Eriksen for another 4 years is probably the key signing of the summer for Tottenham in what has to go down as a very successful transfer window.

The only squad that sustained a challenge to Leicester’s title run last season did not feature a single player who you would have called a household name a year earlier, which is why I’m not too concerned that none of the players we have brought in to join them are of the ‘marquee’ variety.

Christian Eriksen who is probably Tottenham’s most gifted player wouldn’t fall into the world class bracket by any means, but he is still a huge talent and capable of controlling football matches when in the mood.

He’s exactly the type of player Spurs should be looking for. The key to Tottenham’s relative success last season was not having world class players. Too often in the past the clubs desire to progress has been underpinned somewhat a transfer saga or media frenzy to link our world class players away in stories that were true or otherwise, last season though there was none of it, even the occasional stories linking Kane elsewhere were weakly written, transparent, and nowhere near believable enough to be unsettling.


So again, whilst the odd world class player is nice to have clearly, it can’t be at the expense of squad harmony. We saw the impact at Stamford Bridge last season of a world class player or two not being happy at not calling the shots, so bringing in players the level below is not something that Spurs fans should fret about providing they add something to the squad and produce consistent and effective displays.

The second striker that was desperately needed has been bought in in Vincent Janssen, and whilst in the short time he’s been on the field he’s missed a couple of chances I’d expect an international striker to score, it’s clear that we’ve added a player that is a handful and isn’t going to shy away if it takes a while between goals, turning in a MOTM display against Crystal Palace.

It’s important that in giving him games it’s not at the expense of Harry Kane playing as the main forward, but what is notable is that Kane has been substituted in 3 of the 4 games this season, and those extra minutes rest when needed will hopefully add up to a fresher, sharper Harry Kane as the long season takes shape, especially with the Champions League to juggle too.

The league is where the bread and butter is though and despite a good season last term, that is gone; and the team need to improve again, not necessarily in final league position as that will be the result of the how some of the other sides fare, but in points gained. An improvement on last years 70 points has to be the target rather than specific league positions, points will measure our progress and the end position will take care of itself.

It’s not going to be easy, last years 70 included 6 against Manchester City which may be harder to come by this season, although 0 points against Newcastle can hopefully be bettered against their replacements, Burnley.

The obvious fault last season was the amount of draws, 13, but at least 8 of those were games that should have been won but the team couldn’t find a way. Even winning just 5 of those would add 10 valuable extra points.

Having that second striker to throw on, and an international quality striker too, could well prove the game changer that was lacking too often last term as well as providing the option to go with two up tops as the ideas dry up in the closing quarter of matches. Having NKoudou and the late late addition of Sissoko also widen the options available to Pochettino either to force through a winning goal or approach games with a different style if needed. The one criticism that you could level at Spurs last season was that there was a visible lack of pace, even in last months home game against Liverpool the lack of pace compared to our opponents was glaring.

These two have that in abundance and both can play as orthodox wingers which could give us more width if and when needed, and an option to go with 4 or even 5 across the midfield if the situation dictates, and although I’ve not seen too much of NKoudou’s career thus far the thought of being able to deploy two fast wide men with pedigree is one that should excite. There were too many times last season when for all of the dominance a goal could not be found and there was no different strategic options on the bench,

4-2-3-1 but with different personnel and that can prove an easy formation to defend against if things aren’t ticking. This year the armoury has become more vast 4-4-2, 4-4-1-1, 4-5-1, 3-5-2 are all reachable with players not having to leave their natural positions, it’s a huge advantage to the manager brought about by the summers transfer activity.

Finally of course, Victor Wanyama. Of all the players from Southampton Spurs have been linked with since Poch’s arrival, he is the first to follow the boss to the club. It’s an addition of steel to the midfield and the only genuine defensive midfielder in the squad. I’d have question marks over his discipline like a lot of people and wonder how that will affect performances if an early booking is picked up.


There will be a red card at some point, no doubt, it’s the price you pay for a quality combative midfielder. Vieira, Keane, all had a red card or two to their name. Wanyama is not in that quality bracket of course but his displays in pre-season were extremely impressive and the best player on the park against Liverpool from a Tottenham perspective by quite some distance.

He’s replaced Ryan Mason in the squad so the strength in that position has gone up significantly as a result which is all a fan can ask for in any incoming transfer. Additionally his arrival increases the in game options available to the boss, as Dier can drop back into centre half or right back if needed to without leaving the midfield void of a play-breaker whilst increasing attacking options on the bench for when they are needed.

This is an option utilised already this season when Walker was injured against Liverpool and replaced by Janssen, a centre forward.

This season is going to be tough for Tottenham, expectations will be high despite the league being ultra competitive, particularly between positions 3-7, but as we’ve seen last season it doesn’t take much to launch into a title challenge from those positions if the ducks fall in a row. Leicester won the league that in December was looking like a fight between Arsenal and Manchester City. Anything goes.

I’m not sure for once how good or bad this Tottenham team are this season, or how high we should aim or how low we could fall. But I know that the players brought in have done nothing to make that worse. Last season some solid foundations were built and now the options and dimensions at the managers disposal have increased thanks to some intelligent squad beneficial recruiting. That can only be a good thing and there’s every chance that last season’s total can be bettered, Champions League distractions or not. World Class players or otherwise.

De Luca

Sofa Sports News


In the end, just a bridge too far for Tottenham – Dan De Luca

Walking out of the Lane on Monday you could sporadically hear some fans running through the permutations and mathematics of what it would take for Spurs to win the league.

I guess that’s a good thing. Good that the team this season has changed the fans perceptions. A feature of the second half of this season has been the ‘but ifs’, but if we win all our games, but if Leicester draw here, or but if we can just close the gap to 4….etc.
And the fact that in past seasons the resignation would have come a lot earlier is a testament to how well this team have performed. Instead of being resigned to missing out when several points behind there was a belief in the terraces, as well as in the media and general public that this team could make up the deficit, and the belief, with the exception of those few fans, only truly died at the final whistle on Monday. That is the biggest compliment possible to this team this season.

The inquests as to why Spurs lost 2 valuable points at home to West Brom should really be saved for after the season ends, and part of the season as a whole. The not unexpected jibes of ‘choking’ & ‘bottling’ have already naturally been pointed in the teams direction from opposing fans, I guess that some of those making those accusations are best qualified to make that judgement. I personally don’t think this was that at all. This wasn’t a last day defeat with the title in their own hands, and the opportunity to choke or bottle it could have been taken at many occasions. 1-0 down at Anfield, level with Manchester United midway through the second half, the cold Monday night in Stoke…..
Not to mention that in addition to taking the lead Spurs hit woodwork on three separate occasions before the West Brom leveller. A little unlucky on the night it’s fair to say.

I think we saw a Tottenham side that had just run out of puff. This should be credit given to Leicester rather than a poke at the only side with the stomach to put up some kind of a fight as the ultimate underdogs have strolled in many ways to a league title. The fact that West Brom equalised in the 73rd minute and after that time Spurs failed to register a shot is a further indicator to me that the tank was on empty, and despite an outrageously dominant first half, as the second half settled the WBA goal had increasingly looked like it could be coming.

Being unbeaten since losing to West Ham in early March you would have thought might have seen the 5point gap closed at some point, but by a combination of good, skill good fortunate, and good circumstances, Leicester have never relented the 5 point lead acquired the following weekend when the North London derby ended in deadlock. Continue producing the goods and not seeing any progress, fighting every week just to stay in touch may finally have taken its toll. You just can’t keep going to the well and continually produce the goods, winning every game was just an unrealistic mountain, created by Leicester’s refusal to budge. The fact the last dropped points came against West Brom instead of Manchester United shouldn’t be a factor this time.

At the end of the game there was no groans or sounds of frustration, no one questioning the manager or suggesting we should have done more, just a standing ovation and one last song as an appreciation & acknowledgement of the effort and entertainment that the side has given the last 8 months. A really proud moment for the club and players I hope.
I shouldn’t forget of course, the last few crazy fans that wouldn’t quite give up on the dream, in denial and desperate to cling on, but that’s still far greater than the alternative.

So it’s only positives that should be felt for now, and the disappointment should be left behind of what was a reasonable chance to steal a league title that was not on the agenda in August. Whilst no club can ever say for sure when the next title challenge will be (ask Man Utd) Spurs fans should take some comfort that for the first time in forever the rest of the league, Leicester aside, will need to work out how to overhaul them for a change. Some may well achieve it, but what a refreshing change that is.
If that thought doesn’t make you smile then you’re a tough man to please, but at least be assured there’s not a single bottle job in sight.

Pochettino’s unrecognisable Tottenham saving their best until last?

There was a lot more than ending a 15 year home drought against Manchester United that made me smile on Sunday afternoon.
Taking all things into account, this was the best Tottenham performance of the season for me by some way.

This was the one that can leave no doubts at all to anyone that Spurs are a side more than worthy of being title contenders and this display was the biggest testament to what Mauricio Pochettino has done in 20 short months at the club.

The transformation was advertised to the watching millions emphatically.

With Leicester winning on Sunday afternoon the title race became all but over. A kick off delay by 30 minutes would have ensured that every Spurs player would have been aware of that result and had longer to allow it to sink it. The pre match routine disrupted and waiting around for a game to start that just had its importance reduced ten fold.
I was expecting Spurs to wobble to be honest and struggle to find the intensity that has been the key component of our success this campaign. Not that I foresee any situation other than Leicester picking up the 6 points less than Tottenham get that they will need to seal the title, but dropped points here would have been the final nail in the coffin.

Once Manchester United started brightly and Spurs struggle to get a foot on the ball for the first 20 minutes it wouldn’t have been unforgivable for people to go in their shells and call it a game too many. With all the events of the day upto that point any Spurs team in my lifetime would have crumbled have. no doubt.

Not Pochettino’s Tottenham, he has transformed the belief and confidence of an entire football club, it’s like he tells the players how good they are, and they believe him and know no matter what they will still win the football match. Maybe that’s why the annual Spurs collapse hasn’t happened yet, and why we’ve been so hard to beat, and then why we’ve recovered more points from losing positions this season than any other team. The second half display after we sprung into life midway through the first half was exceptional, just like the second half at Anfield was impressive following a first have battering. These boys just do not give up and visibly play for each other, their manager and the fans.

There’s so many things already written above that do not contain the hallmark of the club Tottenham have been for a generation. The fight, the belief, the confidence, the never-say-die attitude, and of course the consistency. And then of course the finishing off the wounded opposition.
3 goals in 6 minutes took United from on the ropes to knocked out, and just like that the game was wrapped up.

It felt like confirmation of all the good things people have said about Tottenham this season displayed in one game.
Watching Jan Vertonghen return after 3 months to slot back in seamlessly reducing Manchester United to one shot on target despite them dominating large spells.
Watching Dele Alli struggle to perform to his usual high standards but pop up again in the box to steer Tottenham into the lead.
Watching Harry Kane get surrounded to the extent he can barely get a kick to still show the fight and desire to scrap deeper down the pitch and find the wonderful pass that sprung Eriksen clear to create the first goal.
Watching Dembele and Dier go from overrun and outnumbered to completely in control either side of a half time interval.
Watching Lamela put an inexplicable first half miss behind him to produce a fantastic second half display capped by a lovely finish for tottenham’s 3rd.
These are all things not typical of what you’d expect to see watching a Tottenham side over the years, but they are now all a consistent feature and live examples of the team Tottenham have become. Resilient, Aggressive, Energetic, Solid, Fearless and improving all the time. The footprint of Mauricio Pochettino’s management style is trampled all over this team. It’s exemplified most prominently by watching Danny Rose tirelessly bombing up and down the flank, jumping to win balls, sliding to win tackles, and then overlapping on the wings to keep attacks moving forward. I’ve never seen an improvement of a player with seemingly such ordinary potential over the course of two seasons. A brilliant reference for how Poch can transfer players fortunes.

As it stands there’s a faint hope with these 3 points and the agony is prolonged for another couple of weeks before the ultimate prize is mathematically out of reach, but it still feels like it doesn’t matter.

Tottenham may not be champions in May but this was a champions performance and the best in a long line this season. There will be envious looks from all directions as their manager looks to build a legacy that will be a platform long after should he ever depart.

If Leicester do miraculously slip up and Tottenham are the team to capitalise, even the staunchest doubters could deny they’d deserve it.


The 5 biggest Premier League NLD’s – De Luca

Whilst the premier league trophy won’t be handed out or lost on Saturday, the North London Derby is a massive game in the title race and the winner will be favourites to be crowned champions in May as Leicester Kick Off later in the evening.

The majority of North London Derbies in the premier league years have been a contest for nothing more than bragging rights, so rarely has there been a match that impacts both sides, largely due to Tottenham spending large periods languishing in mid-table.

Saturdays North London is no doubt the biggest of the premier league era as both sides quest to win the league title.

So rare has it been that both sides have simultaneously had something more to play for in the Derby than just local pride, so let’s reminisce on those 5 massive North London Derbies.
1) April 2006 – Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham
This was the year that Spurs finally joined the premier league party, and having unexpectedly occupied 4th place since December went into the final weeks of the season with a lead over their rivals. Robbie Keane opened the scoring midway through the 2nd half in hugely contested circumstances, before an unfit Thierry Henry came off the bench to score a great late equaliser and ensure Arsenal would be spared defeat in their last NLD at Highbury and Tottenham did not extend their lead. This also ultimately secure fourth place for the gunners leapfrogging Spurs on the last day of the season. Lasagne may never have been eaten at White Hart Lane since.

2) April 2010 – Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal
In 2010 Arsenal were well in the title race having lead the table in January before a small wobble, Spurs were pushing for Champions League qualification. Danny Rose scored a spectacular opener on his first start for the club and Bale added a second just after half time. Arsenal pulled a late goal back to increase the nerves but it was too little too late. Spurs had beaten their rivals for the first time in 11 years and pulled to within 1 point of 4th with 5 games to go.
Arsenal were left 6 points off the lead with just 4 games remaining and their league title hopes all but ended.
Spurs went on the qualify for the Champions League for the first time. Arsenal finished the season empty handed

3) April 2011 – Tottenham 3-3 Arsenal
The following season was more of the same. Arsenal chasing the league title; Spurs, the Champions League.
An action packed 1st half saw 5 goals including 3 in the first 12 minutes. Van Der Vaart then grabbed his second from the spot as Spurs came back from a 2 goal deficit to draw. An exciting memorable Derby, but a draw was not good enough for either side. Arsenal finished the day 6 points off the top and would not bridge the gap. Spurs finished the day 2 points from 4th, a gap that could not be overhauled either.

4) Feb 2012 – Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham
February 2012 was the year Tottenham were supposed to finish above Arsenal for the first time since 1995. They would have gone to the Emirates full of confidence having won there for the first time the season earlier and had been playing some great football. They were almost certain to finish in the Champions League places having briefly threatened to mount a title challenge. Arsenal were 10 points behind their rivals and really struggling for form having exited the FA cup and effectively champions league in previous games, and faced a must win scenario to keep a realistic chance of qualifying for the Champions League themselves.
Spurs raced into a 2 goal first half lead but in truth following the opening 10 minutes Arsenal had dominated the game. A Sagna bullet header and a fantastic strike by Robin Van Persie meant Arsenal drew level before Half Time by virtue of two late goals.
In the second half Arsenal kicked in further and Rosicky and a quick fire double from Theo Walcott meant the gap was cut to 7 points.
Spurs never recovered and further off pitch distractions helped them drop more points in the run in and Arsenal overhauled them finishing 3rd. All the more significant when 6th place Chelsea remarkably won the Champions League meaning 4th place was not good enough for Tottenham to qualify for the Champions League.

5) Mar 2013 – Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal
The most recent crucial meeting of the two sides was a similar situation to the year before with both sides battling it out for the 4th Champions League spot. Spurs had a 4 point lead going in and exposed frailties in the Arsenal defence to score in 2 in 2 minutes through Bale and Lennon. Arsenal had controlled a lot of the game though and came back into it with a goal early in the second half. Unable to find the equaliser though they finished the day 7 points behind with 10 games to go.
Arsenal went on a phenomenal run though winning 8 and drawing 2 of their last 10 to finish a point above Spurs on the final day meaning the Lillywhites had missed out again. No bottling this time though just Arsenal defiance and brilliance.

March 2016 – Tottenham ? – ? Arsenal The 5 before have had it all, arsenal wins, Tottenham wins, draws, upsets and capitulations. I don’t fancy calling this one, but there will be at least one set of miserable fans on Saturday evening, and whilst all will not be lost for those who drop points try telling either set of fans that as the final whistle sounds.

Spurs vs Dortmund: The perfect draw – Daniel De Luca

Don’t despair or be too gloomy about this afternoon’s Europa League Draw.

It’s the perfect draw for Tottenham and perfect timing for it. It’s the draw I wanted when I woke up this morning. Even with 4 teams left in hat and the other 2 were Fenerbache and Braga, pairing with Dortmund was the jackpot.

Not because I want to see Tottenham play the best teams, that’s nonsense, nonsense spouted by fans of other clubs who know they can’t possibly win the tournament they’re in. Like a league 2 club wanting to draw a Premier League Club in the FA cup. Sadly some bigger clubs adopt this same view, I’m sure some Spurs fans do too.

Prestigious club, quality opponents, bound to be a great atmosphere and I’ll embrace it, but normally I’d be unhappy to draw them because the chances of winning something are enhanced by drawing a team who are shit, and hoping the favourites slip up elsewhere on route.

What makes this different is the title race. Everyone has Spurs’ involvement in the Europa League down as negative. Too many games, Thursday, Sunday, blah blah blah.
Well let’s say that’s true, and let’s say Dortmund are as nailed on to win this tournament as everyone says then why not get it over with? Anyone see the point in playing 4 more games (followed by 4 more league games) before coming across the biggest fish in the pond in the Semi Finals and losing then? No.
If Spurs really have got as little chance of winning the tie as neutrals are suggesting and the distraction of the tournament will be as fatal as neutrals are suggesting then let’s just bloody get it over with and minimise the upheaval caused by the Thursday night laughing stock, hey.

Let’s dare to remember for a minute that Spurs are actually a bloody good football team, and maybe even consider that we might actually try to win this by going with a full strength side. The fixtures following the games aren’t ones that frighten me to death that we might have a slightly jaded team facing them. Whilst it’s only on paper, Villa away and Bournemouth home are Tottenham’s 2 easiest remaining games. If you ask me to pick two games to follow games against a side like Dortmund then I’d have picked these 2. But I don’t have to pick because the draw has done it for me. Happy days all round I’d say.

The quarter final precedes Man United home, Stoke away. I’d rather an easier tie then thanks. If we’re through of course.
Other ties in the draw included Fenerbache vs Braga
Sparta Prague vs Lazio
Shakthar vs Anderlecht
Plenty of options of receiving a draw we’d strongly fancy if we were to outlast Dortmund that wouldn’t necessarily need our full throttle ahead of tough premier league games

What we’ve got here in the last 16 now, is a great tie that we’ve now got every chance of progressing in, that has the least impact possible on our other quests, and a chance to find out early if we’re good enough to win this competition before another month of sweat tears and air miles are pumped into it. Perfection.

So Spurs fans, for footballing reasons
only, trust me, this is the one we wanted.

There’s more to easy opponents than luck of the draw sometimes. Think outside the box.