Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tottenham 1 PAOK Salonika 2

Spurs' future in the Europa League is no longer in their hands.  Defeat at home to PAOK sees the Greek side qualified for the knock-out stages while Spurs must have a convincing win over Shamrock Rovers and rely on PAOK defeating Rubin Kazin.

Tottenham Hotspur 1 PAOK Salonika 2
Scorers: Modric (p)            Salpingidis, Athanasiadis

Team: Gomes; Corluka, Gallas, Bassong, Rose (Bale); Lennon, Livermore, Modric, Pienaar (Walker); Kane (Falque), Defoe.  Subs (unused): Cudicini, Fredericks, Townsend, Carroll.

Luka Modric - penalty
Tottenham fielded their strongest team yet for a Europa League group game with Aaron Lennon, Luka Modric and Jermain Defoe starting.  Danny Rose and Harry Kane were the only younger players selected with experienced squad players and those recovering from injury making the starting line-up - William Gallas, Sebastien Bassong, Vedran Corluka, Stephen Pienaar and Heurelho Gomes.

From the outset Spurs had the majority of possession but PAOK denied them time and were quick to step in and pick up a loose or misdirected pass.  Spurs were casual in their approach and paid for it after five minutes.  Gallas meandered into the visitors half and was caught in possession which gave PAOK the opportunity to break quickly on the left, from where a nice cross into the penalty area found Salpingidis unmarked and he carefully headed the ball past Gomes.

Tottenham didn't learn from their mistake and found it difficult to make progress into the visitors penalty area as they defended with patience and considerable ability.  On thirteen minutes they broke up a ponderous Spurs attack and with a lovely pass to the left found Corluka lacking in pace and a low cross was hit home by Athanasiadis.  The Tottenham defence was again caught flat footed with Gallas and Bassong looking as if they'd never played together.

PAOK contuinued with their patient defensive work and swift counter attacks which nearly brought further reward while Spurs had a lot of possession without ever threatening on goal.  Much of their passing was slow and frequently fell down through inaccuracy.  On the half hour Spurs gained some momentum, urged on by the crowd.  Harry Kane shot wide and Defoe had a shot saved by the goalkeeper.  Then from the corner Corluka's shot was blocked and fell to Kane whose shot was blocked on the line.  The referee awarded a penalty for handball and sent off the defender.  Modric sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to score and brought Spurs back into the match.

PAOK survived to the interval without much bother and then in the second half set out to defend and deny Spurs which they did heroically.  The whole of the second period saw Spurs attack and the visitors defend with nine men back.  Gareth Bale and Kyle Walker were introduced to add pace but no matter how hard they tried they couldn't break down the stubborn PAOK defence.  The nearest they came to a goal was when Defoe scored but amid confusion, it was disallowed for a foul on the defender who had been lying on the goal line for almost a minute.  In the lead up, Iago Falque had a shot blocked but Defoe had fouled the defender in trying to reach the loose ball.  However, play continued and when the ball came to Defoe he put it in the net.  No-one was sure what decision the referee had given but he had actually made the correct decision even if he'd come to it by an uncertain route.

For all their possession against ten men, Spurs couldn't create any real scoring chances and PAOK worked tirelessly to deny them.  During five minutes of added time the best Spurs could offer was a Bale free-kick which was saved easily by the goalkeeper and then PAOK celebrated as if they'd qualified for the knock-out stages, which, of course, they had.  For Spurs, they must rely on a PAOK home win against Rubin Kazan who are three points ahead of them.  Spurs will then need to win by five goals against Shamrock Rovers to have a better goal difference that the Russians.

The greatest disappointment about this defeat was that the most experienced team that Harry Redknapp has fielded in the group stage has given the poorest performance.  In the other matches, the younger players battled in difficult circumstances and showed a great determination throughout.  The experienced squad players were very ponderous and showed a lack of match sharpness - the passing was poor, there was little urgency to the game and they paid dearly for their early mistakes.  It looks as if Spurs will now be able to concentrate on the Premier League as their continued presence in the Europa League is looking distinctly unlikely.

Only a good result over Bolton Wanderers on Saturday will take away the disappointment of this match.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tottenham v PAOK Salonika (Europa League)

Spurs return to Europa League action on Wednesday evening at White Hart Lane, against PAOK Salonika who top Group A and are unbeaten in their four matches.  Spurs must avoid defeat or their European campaign will surely come to a premature end and they really need to defeat their visitors from Greece if they have desires on qualifying to the knockout stages as Group winners.

The opening match of the Group stages of the Europa League matched these two teams and Spurs who send out a young team returned to London well satisfied with a scoreless draw.  The younger players, including Tom Carroll, Harry Kane and Andros Townsend, all excelled in a difficult atmosphere and were very controlled and disciplined in their play for much of the game.  PAOK missed a first half penalty and it was only as the second half neared its conclusion that the home team endeavoured to increase the tempo so as to take the three points.  At this point Spurs were grateful for the experience of Carlo Cudicini in goal.  In the final minutes he made a number of crucial saves to deny the home team and earn Spurs a well deserved point.  Spurs, with so many youngsters coped well but PAOK certainly had the ability to win the match and will be dangerous opponents on Wednesday evening.

Following the home draw with Spurs, PAOK travelled to Russia and earned a very creditable draw against Rubin Kazan.  They took a first half lead but the home team responded with two second half goals but PAOK snatched an equalizer nine minute to earn a point.  They have now completed their double header against Shamrock Rovers, taking all six points from two comfortable wins, 2 - 1 at home and 3 - 1 in Dublin.

Tottenham will again use this match to give younger players experience and Jake Livermore, following Saturday's success against West Bromwich Albion, spoke of the benefit of this tournament to himself and the other young players.  Roman Pavlyuchenko looks unlikely to be fit while Giovani Dos Santos is also struggling to overcome injury.

With losing in the last fixture in Russia, Spurs now find themselves in third place in their group, a point behind the leaders, PAOK, and behind the Russians on goal difference.  Rubin Kazan are surely guaranteed another three points with a home win over Shamrock Rovers and so regardless of the result in London, will maintain their advantage over Spurs.  Tottenham are on such a good run at present that it would be disappointing to lose momentum by slipping up in this competition and so may need to have some back-up, with senior players on the bench, in case the game doesn't go as planned.  PAOK have experienced players and they will see this game an opportunity to win in England and secure a place in the next stage of the competition.

To have the chance to finish top of the group Spurs need a win over PAOK - any other result would leave them in the hands of the other two teams and the result of their final match.  They could still qualify if they get a draw but would probably finish second as they would be dependent on the other result while a defeat would leave them in danger of elimination as they would require a big win over Shamrock Rovers and probably require a home win for PAOK in their final match.

Some supporters will be of the opinion that this match and competition are of no importance when compared with the statement Spurs are making in the Premier League at the moment but I want to see the club progress in this tournament as well - it's all about winning and Spurs have enjoyed success in Europe previously and benefited from it.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

West Brom 1 Tottenham 3

Tottenham maintained their unbeaten run with a hard-earned but thoroughly deserved win against an Albion side who made them fight all the wayAll square at half-time after Adebayor had equalised an early Albion strike, it took two late goals from Defoe and Adebayor to ensure the three points which consolidate Tottenham's third place, two points behind Manchester United with a match in hand.

West Bromwich Albion 1 Tottenham Hotspur 3
Scorers:  Mulumbu     Adebayor (2), Defoe   
Team: Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Parker, Sandro (Livermore), Bale; Adebayor, Defoe. Subs (unused): Cudicini, Gallas, Bassong, Pienaar, Fredericks, Kane 

Jermain Defoe
This is not a repeat of Monday's report on Emmanuel Adebayor but of his contribution to Tottenham's victory at The Hawthorns.  However, just as on Monday evening, Adebayor scored twice but could have had many more if he had been clinical in front of goal.  Tottenham were forced to make two changes to the team that has played in the last three Premier League games - Rafael Van der Vaart as had been expected hadn't travelled with the team due to injury but the absence of Luka Modric because of illness was a shock.  Sandro and Jermain Defoe came into the team.

Albion started brightly and were quicker to the ball, giving Spurs no chance to dwell on the ball or pick their pass.  However, the first moment of danger came when Sandro shot from the edge of the box and Foster fumbled the ball away for a corner.  Early Tottenham corners were cleared but then from a long ball from Foster Albion worked an opportunity with Mulumbu heading them into the lead after ten minutes.

Albion's speed to the ball was giving Spurs no time and their hustling style put the defenders under constant pressure and at times Spurs' defending was looking rather shaky with Kaboul who has been impressive in recent games finding life more difficult today.  Spurs were still looking dangerous when they put their passing game together but Albion knew they had to work hard to snuff out the danger.  Foster saved from a Lennon cross, then Sandro was booked for a foul challenge.

Spurs drew level following good work by Adebayor and Aaron Lennon.  Adebayor's flick released Lennon to run into the penalty area where he was brought down.  Adebayor took the penalty but Foster saved.  The ball came back to Adebayor who managed to score.

As the game approached half-time, it became quite feisty as first Sandro fouled Mulumbu who was booked for waving an imaginary card at the referee.  Then Albion claimed a penalty following a tussle between Thomas and Walker in the area.  Tottenham's defence came under pressure and didn't handle it comfortably with Friedel called upon to make a couple of saves - Albion even claiming he'd carried the ball over from a cross.  Foster again saved from Adebayor and Defoe had a shot blocked in the final minutes of the half.

After the interval Albion again started brightly but Tottenham were more prepared for this and didn't dwell on the ball as much - keeping their passing and movement at a higher tempo.  The defence coped better with Albion's hustling tactics and gradually Spurs began to create chance sand dominate but without getting a vital breakthrough. 

There was always a threat from Albion as they attacked at pace but Spurs coped and Friedel made some comfortable catches and saves. In the final twenty minutes Spurs increased their effort for another goal.  Adebayor had opportuniies saved or just wide, Defoe's shot was blocked as the game went from end to end.  With ten minutes remaining Spurs broke from defence, Adebayor on the left, released Defoe on the halfway line who raced towards the Albion area as defenders back-pedalled. From the edge of the he fired past Foster to give Spurs the advantage.

Albion made a final effort but Spurs were controlled and on the break should have added further goals through Adebayor and Bale before Bale got away again in the final minute and set up Adebayor for his second and Tottenham's third.

Spurs worked hard to overcome a very hard-working and organised Albion team who looked to put their opponents under pressure at every opportunity and attacked with pace and energy.  They will feel they could have taken something from the game but in the end this 'new' Spurs were able to produce what was required to take the three points for their second Premier League win at The Hawthorns and win their 100th away game in the Premier League.

Tottenham have consolidated their third place in the League and have reduced the gap on Manchester United to two points as they drew at home to Newcastle United.  Spurs have won nine of their last ten matches to give them their best start to a season since 1960 - 61.  They still have their match in hand and are showing an overall improvement of nine points in comparison with the similar fixtures last year.  Spurs are marching on and face PAOK Salonika in the Europa League on Wednesday evening with Bolton Wanderers the visitors to White Hart Lane next Saturday.


Friday, November 25, 2011

They Played for Tottenham and West Brom

There have been surprisingly few transfers between Tottenham and West Bromwich Albion with only a small number of players who have turned out for both clubs at some time during their careers.

This is the fifty ninth season that Tottenham and West Brom have been opponents in League competitions with the vast majority of those taking place at the highest level.  However, very few players have represented both clubs and the only direct transfers between the two clubs involved Ruel Fox who moved from Spurs to West Brom in 2000 and Garth Crooks who went to Albion in 1985.

Garth Crooks
Garth Crooks
Crooks was an important member of the successful Tottenham team of the early 1980s.  He joined Spurs in July, 1980 for £650,000 and immediately formed an exciting goal scoring partnership with another summer signing, Steve Archibald.  The Tottenham team which had gained promotion in 1978 was struggling to score goals but the Crooks/Archibald partnership solved that problem as the team went on to win successive FA Cup Finals in 1981 and 1982.  Crooks scored in the replays of 1981 semi-final and Final but his contribution to the success tends to be overlooked due to the spectacular nature of the goals scored by Ricky Villa in both matches.  Crooks lost form and his regular place in the team and although he did appear more often in 1984 - 85, he was transferred to West Brom for £100,000 in August, 1985.  After a short period with Albion he joined Charlton Athletic. 

There's Only One - Ruel Fox.
Ruel Fox was signed by Tottenham from Newcastle United (yet another one), in October, 1995 for a fee of £4.25 million, making him, at that time, Tottenham's second most expensive signing behind Chris Armstrong who had been signed for a fee of £4.5 million the previous summer.  In five years with the club he made 106 League appearances, scoring 13 goals.  In 2000, he went on loan to Albion and joined them in a permanent deal during the summer for £200,000.

Freddie Cox
The first player to play for both clubs was Freddie Cox who was at Tottenham before and after the Second World War.  He signed in 1938, making his debut against Swansea Town in November of that year, scoring in a 1 - 1 draw.  Although the war took out a large portion of his career, he was still a regular member of the team until 1949.  He was a winger but with the emergence of Sonny Walters, Cox was allowed to join Arsenal for £12,000.  In 1953 he went to WBA as player/coach and later assistant manager.  On his retirement he went into management and masterminded Bournemouth's FA Cup success over Tottenham in 1957.

Steve Walford left Spurs for Arsenal in 1977 and towards the end of his career he had a period on loan with WBA.

Gerry Armstrong had a short time with Albion after returning from Spain.  He had left Tottenham and joined Watford in 1980.

Graham Roberts made his name at Tottenham and was a vital member of the 1980s Cup success.  He played in the FA Cup Finals and captained the team in the UEFA Cup triumph over Anderlecht in 1984.  Roberts led by example, scoring the equalising goal and taking the first penalty in the shoot-out.

He joined Rangers in 1986, Chelsea in 1988 and moved on to West Bromwich Albion in November, 1990.

Two former Tottenham players have been the manager of West Brom - Vic Buckingham in the 1950s.  They won the FA Cup and were second in the 1st Division in his first full season in charge. 

Ossie Ardiles had a season (1992 - 93) at The Hawthorns leading them to promotion, before joining Tottenham following the departure of Terry Venables.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tottenham's Record at West Brom

Spurs' games against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns have proved difficult for them in the past.  Spurs look to extend their undefeated Premier League run which has stretched to nine games while Albion are in mid-table in tenth place.

West Bromwich Albion had a difficult start to the season with opening matches against Manchester United and at Chelsea.  They lost both in close games and then lost at home to Stoke.  Their first win came in mid-September at Norwich before losing by three goals at Swansea.  They then drew with Fulham and at Sunderland before defeating their Midlands neighbours, Wolverhampton Wanderers at home and Aston Villa at Villa Park.  A home defeat to Liverpool was followed by a loss at Arsenal.  Last weekend they defeated Bolton (2 - 1) at the Hawthorns. 

Shane Long is their leading scorer with 4 goals, while Peter Odemwingie has two.  They have scored only five goals in six home games, conceding six from two wins over Wolves and Bolton and a draw against Fulham.  Their home defeats have been against Manchester United, Stoke and Liverpool.  Every home game has been close with only Liverpool managing to gain a two goal advantage.  This is in line with Roy Hodgson's style of management.  He presents his team in a way which makes them difficult to beat - hard-working and well organised, while able to break quickly and use set-pieces to their advantage.

During the summer West Bromwich strengthened their squad by signing a number of players at a minimum of expense.  Irish forward Shane Long came from Reading for an undisclosed fee.  Hungarian and former Tottenham reserve goalkeeper  Marton Fulop and Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley were signed on free transfers from Ipswich Town.  Hungarian midfielder Zoltan Gera was a free transfer from Fulham and goalkeeper Ben Foster came on loan from Birmingham City.  Midfielder Billy Jones was a free transfer from Preston.  Albion have an experienced line-up but can call upon talented younger players, especially in central defence with Craig Dawson who has been very impressive with the England Under-21 side this year.

Tottenham and West Bromwich Albion have only met on five occasions at the Hawthorns in the Premier League due to Albion's tendency to win promotion and then get relegated the following season.  They avoided the drop last year after Roy Hodgson's arrival last February led to a revival which lifted them to an eleventh place finish, their highest for almost thirty years.

Tottenham's Away Premier League Record against West Brom:
P  5  W  1  D  2  L  2  For  5  Ag  8

League Record at The Hawthorns (inc. PL) 
P   58  W  14  D  10  L  34  For  73  Ag  122

As can be seen from the above statistics, The Hawthorns has never been a happy hunting ground for Spurs, something they will want to rectify on Saturday.  Their last win at The Hawthorns was in the first Premier League game to be played there between the two sides in season 2002 - 03.  Tottenham won 3 - 2 with Robbie Keane scoring twice and Teddy Sheringham getting one as Spurs completed the 'double' over their Midlands rivals.  Albion were relegated at the end of that season, having been absent from top flight football for sixteen years. 

Premier League Results at The Hawthorns
Apr. 2003  P  Won 3 - 2  Keane (2), Sheringham
Twice Albion who were already relegated took the lead but first Robbie Keane equalised on the stroke of half-time and then Teddy Sheringham scored two minutes after West Brom had regained the lead.  Keane's second goal came with five minutes left.  Sheringham's strike was his last goal for the club.
Aug. 2004  PL  Draw 1 - 1  Defoe
Gera gave Albion the lead after three minutes but Jermain Defoe levelled after 34 minutes.  Both clubs maintained their undefeated start to the new season.
Dec. 2005  PL  Lost  0 - 2
More festive disappointment for Tottenham's travelling fans as tow goals, one in each half, from Kanu saw them suffer their first defeat in seven games. 
Dec. 2008  PL  Lost 0 - 2
Tottenham had Benoit Assou-Ekotto sent off ten minutes before half-time but held out until late in the game before conceding two goals in the final seven minutes.
Sept. 2010  PL  Draw 1 - 1  Modric
Luka Modric gave Spurs an early lead but went off injured a few minutes later.  Chris Brunt equalised just before half-time and in the second half Spurs had goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini to thank for keeping them in the game.

In this period there was also an FA Cup 4th Round tie in January, 2005 which ended 1 - 1, Defoe scoring for Spurs who won the replay 3 - 1 with Defoe scoring twice.  Defoe has scored five goals for Tottenham against WBA in League and Cup matches.

Such is the intensity of competition at the top of the Premier League that no team can afford any slip-ups so having risen to third place Spurs need another win to be guaranteed of retaining that position.  West Bromwich will be difficult opponents - they made it hard for Manchester United earlier in the season and will be equally determined to put in a good performance against Spurs.  Tottenham will be looking to continue the impressive form of recent weeks and make the most of the chances they create so that Albion aren't given any encouragement or opportunity to deprive them of the points they require to continue their march towards the summit of the Premier League table.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tottenham 2 Villa 0

Two goals from Emmanuel Adebayor gave Spurs the three points they required to move into third position in the Premier League.  However, winning by two goals doesn't tell the full story of Tottenham's dominance throughout the ninety minutes and Villa will be relieved to have got off so lightly.

Adebayor Double Takes Spurs to Third
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Aston Villa 0
Scorer: Adebayor (2)
Team: Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Parker, Modric (Sandro), Bale; Van der Vaart (Defoe), Adebayor  Subs (unused): Cudicini, Gallas, Bassong, Pienaar, Dos Santos.

Emmanuel Adebayor
Harry Redknapp, Ledley King and Rafael Van der Vaart were all fit so the manager returned to duty and sent out an unchanged team against Aston Villa.  Alex McLeish had selected a team designed to restrict Spurs with Alan Hutton on the right side of midfield and Carlos  Cuellar who had come into the team in place of the more attacking Charles N'Zogbia, at right back.  Hutton and Cuellar were looking to double up against Gareth Bale in an attempt to reduce his involvement in the game.  It failed as Bale was the creator of both goals in the first half and could have scored himself.  In reporting on a league game Villa played against the Spurs 'Double' winning side in early 1961, the reporter stated that Villa had decided on strength and endeavour in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Tottenham.  Last night Villa had definitely settled on a plan to use their height and strength to unsettle Spurs but again it proved unsuccessful and for most of the first half the players looked to each other in search of an answer against Tottenham's flowing, attacking play.  Meanwhile, the manager and coaches spent the half attempting to get messages to the players from the sidelines.

The first cheer of the evening was of an ironic nature as Darren Bent sent his shot from an early Villa attacking foray, high into the stand at the Paxton Road end.  Spurs then took control and it was two goals from Emmanuel Adebayor which settled the match.  While Adebayor scored twice, it could easily have been six.  His first came after fourteen minutes but he could have already had two by then, having failed to reach a Van der Vaart pass and then missing a header from an Aaron Lennon cross.  His goal came from a corner awarded when a Younes Kaboul shot was deflected wide.  The corner was partially cleared to Bale who sent the ball back in and Adebayor scored with an overhead kick. 

Tottenham continued to look dangerous with both Bale and Van der Vaart unable to take opportunities which presented themselves.  Villa offered little going forward with Kaboul immense in central defence and King his usual dependable self.  The second goal came with five minutes of the half remaining.  Bale put in a dangerous cross which deceived James Collins and Shay Given, bouncing between them, leaving Adebayor a simple tap-in from a few inches.

Tottenham in recent games have outplayed their opponents in the first half but then struggled to maintain the momentum in the second period.  Would the same thing happen again after Alex McLeish's inspirational team talk?  Villa started a little more positively in the early stages and this time Bent manged to put a header on target but Brad Friedel, playing against his former club, made a comfortable text book save, diving to his left and catching the ball in both hands. 

Then Tottenham re-asserted themselves and took control but failed to score the third goal which might have led to an avalanche, so much were Spurs superior.  Emmanuel Adebayor showed a great work rate throughout the game and continued to have opportunities to complete his hat-trick but contrived to miss when put through on goal by Modric, saw a shot saved by Given, put another just wide and had a goal disallowed as Lennon had been offside before delivering the cross.  He even thought he was going to have a penalty to take.  Bale was fouled on the edge of the penalty area and as the referee sorted it out Adebayor picked up the ball ready to take a penalty, only to discover the decision had been to award a free-kick on the edge of the box.  He tried to get the decision overturned but to no avail.  Others had shots on goal as Spurs poured forward meeting little opposition from a Villa side concentrating on damage limitation - Kyle Walker's shot was just wide, Parker's followed the same path past the post, Defoe on as a substitute had a shot blocked - seventeen shots in total.

This was an outstanding team performance by Spurs - every player contributing to the success.  The only concern was that Tottenham didn't score the goals their play deserved and that one slip could have let an undeserving Villa back into the game and produced another backs to the walls finish which wouldn't have done Harry Redknapp's heart any good.  However, Villa couldn't even achieve that.

Tottenham are now on twenty five points from eleven matches and have risen to third above Newcastle United on goal difference and three points ahead of Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal with a game in hand over all their rivals.  West Bromwich Albion await on Saturday afternoon with a three o'clock kick-off at The Hawthorns, an unusual occurrence for Tottenham this season.  West Brom have proved difficult opponents in recent times but hopefully Spurs can put that right this season.  A win would increase their points advantage over the corresponding fixtures last season as the match in early September, 2010 finished in a draw.

Spurs are playing as a team and producing some of the best football seen by supporters in their lifetime.  Teams know that they have to stop Bale and Van der Vaart who have been both creator and scorer in recent weeks but last night Adebayor came up with the goals and Defoe has also managed to find the net on his limited opportunities from the bench which is all to Spurs advantage and creates an extra problem for opponents.  This is the club's best start to a season since season 1966 - 67 and long may it continue.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tottenham Need Three

As Tottenham prepare to take on Aston Villa at White Hart Lane they are aware that three points will take them away from the chasing pack of teams attempting to break into the top four in the Premier League and would lift them to third, with a match in hand.

Tottenham are looking for three points against Aston Villa to maintain their progress following the most difficult of starts to the 2011 - 12 season.  Those points would see them move ahead of Chelsea and Newcastle United.  The weekend's results favoured Spurs with both of those teams losing so now it's in Spurs own hands to show they have the winning mentality when the stakes are at their highest. At present Spurs are seven points ahead of the corresponding fixtures last season and to maintain that record they must win against Villa as they took three points from them with a win at White Hart Lane last year.

Tottenham supporters are hoping for another three points to help them achieve their goal of a win over Villa.
  • The presence of Ledley King at the heart of their defence.  Since King's unexpected return to the side for the victory at Wolves, Spurs are undefeated in eight games, winning seven of them.  King has been present for seven of those matches and the only match from which they failed to take maximum points was the draw at Newcastle when King had to leave the pitch after half an hour.  Such is the importance of King to the team that in his his last 11 League appearances, Spurs are undefeated with 10 wins.  The last time Ledley King experienced defeat in the Premier League is almost fifteen months ago when Wigan Athletic unexpectedly won at White Hart Lane by a solitary goal in August, 2010.  Since that reverse, King in his injury plagued season managed four wins - against Wolves and Fulham in September/October and in the season's final two matches against Liverpool and Birmingham.  King's commanding play brings a much needed assurance to the defence, leaving everyone amazed that he is able to perform at such a consistently high level when he has to spend most of the time between matches recovering from the rigours of the game.
  • The recovery of Rafael Van der Vaart from the injury sustained last weekend.  Spurs revival has come on the back of the six goals scored by Rafael Van der Vaart in five successive matches following his early return from a previous injury.  He scored the opening goal in the first four games which gave the team reward for their play and something to battle for and protect.  Four of his goals have been away from home so fans will be hoping that he has recovered from the injury he received in the Holland match last weekend and that he maintains his home scoring form having scored in the last two matches against QPR and Arsenal.  Van der Vaart is a player who is unpredictable and with a flash of inspiration, a delicate touch or a fantastic strike can transform a game with a much needed goal for himself or a colleague.  Last season he scored all four of Spurs' goals against Villa as they won both games by a 2 - 1 scoreline. There is inspiration all around him but fans will be hoping that his influence and enthusiasm will have a positive affect on the game and the result. Van der Vaart's most recent Tweet has assured fans that he has recovered
  • The return of Harry Redknapp.  As many had expected, it is anticipated that Harry Redknapp will return to his managerial duties against Villa, less than three weeks after undergoing heart surgery.  The initial recovery time was estimated as two weeks but then it was extended to six on his doctor's advice.  However, Redknapp ever eager to be involved appears to be in a position to return to regain the control which he handed over for that short period to Kevin Bond and Joe Jordan.  Harry Redknapp has an enthusiasm for football and he has gathered around him a squad of players who are responding to his ways and are playing some of the best football that Spurs have played in a very long time.  Hopefully, his return will bring a further response from the players and achieve the right result from a Tottenham viewpoint.


Friday, November 18, 2011

They Played for Tottenham and Villa

Danny Blanchfower, David Ginola and Alan Hutton have all played for Tottenham and Villa.  For the third successive match, Spurs play a team with former Tottenham players in their squad which always adds an extra something to the contest for both players and spectators.

Danny Blanchflower
One of the most important signings that Tottenham Hotspur have ever made came when the transfer of Danny Blanchflower from Aston Villa was completed in December, 1954.  When he retired through injury ten years later at the age of thirty eight, Spurs had experienced the most successful period in their history with a League and Cup 'Double', a second FA Cup success and become the first British team to achieve a European triumph.

Blanchflower grew up in Belfast and played for his local club, Glentoran.  He was transferred to Barnsley in 1949 and joined Villa two years later.  He was a great 'thinker' about football and wanted to play with style which often put him at odds with managers and coaches.  He complained that in training, players spent too much time on running and were denied the oportunity to practise with a football.

Tottenham manager, Arthur Rowe, signed Blanchflower, a Northern Ireland international, for £30,000 to replace Bill Nicholson who was nearing retirement.  He made his debut at Manchester City in a scoreless draw, taking Nicholson's place, and was ever present for the remainder of the season.  For the next number of seasons Tottenham's performances fluctuated and at times Blanchflower's graceful style of play didn't fit in with the endeavour that was required for a struggle near the foot of the table.

Blanchflower was appointed Captain and liked to take on-field decisions when he thought it necessary but that brought him into conflict with the manager on occasions.  Season 1955-56 was disappointing for Spurs in the League but they progressed to the FA Cup semi-finals.  In the 6th Round against West Ham at White Hart Lane on a very heavy pitch Spurs came from 2-3 down to earn a draw after as captain, Blanchflower, moved centre-half, Maurice Norman, forward to assist the attack.  The change worked as Spurs earned a draw and went on to win the replay 2-1.

They lost the semi-final to Manchester City but a goal down in the final minutes as Spurs battled for an equaliser, Blanchflower again moved Norman, forward into the attack as he had done successfully in the previous round.  It didn't work this time although Spurs nearly managed to equalise but the repercussions of the defeat went further than expected.  Manager, Jimmy Anderson was unimpressed with Blanchflower’s decision to make changes to the team during the game and in the ensuing row Blanchflower resigned as captain and did not take on the role for another two seasons.

Blanchflower won the Player of the Year award in 1957-58 season and captained Northern Ireland to a successful World Cup campaign in Sweden.

When Bill Nicholson was appointed manager, Blanchflower developed a better understanding with him which worked for the benefit of them and the team.  In the pre-season of 1960, Blanchflower boldly predicted that Spurs would win the 'Double'.  They did with a brand of exciting, flowing football that packed stadiums around the country.  The next year they reached the European Cup semi-finals, unlucky to lose to Benefica.  A second FA Cup triumph was achieved and they finished third in the League.  If they had won one of their two games against Champions, Ipswich Town, Spurs would have achieved a second 'double'.  The next year as injury started to take its toll on Blanchflower, he missed nearly half of the season but returned to inspire the team to the European Cup Winners' Cup success.  The following season he retired.

Blanchflower went into journalism and later briefly returned to football management.  On his resignation as Tottenham manger, Bill Nicholson recommended that Blanchflower, working with Johnny Giles, be appointed as his replacement.  The Board of Directors decided against such an appointment.

Blanchflower was one of Tottenham's most influential players and is a 'Legend' so important to the success that Spurs achieved at home and in Europe in the early 1960s.  He made 382 League and Cup appearances in his ten years with Tottenham.

Twenty five years after the Blanchflower transfer, the next transaction between the two clubs saw Gordon Smith arrive at White Hart Lane in February,1979.  A full back, he spent four years with Spurs as they tried to re-establish themselves in the 1st Division.  Injury problems delayed his debut and restricted his appearances so that he only made 45 League and Cup appearances before moving on to Wolverhampton Wanderers.  Not all transfers are a success.

David Ginola who was such a favourite at Tottenham during his three years at the club was transferred to Villa in 2000.  While at White Hart Lane he was a member of the Worthington Cup winning team of 1999 and brought excitement and skill to the team at what was a rather dull period in Tottenham's history.  He was signed by Gerry Francis from Newcastle United, played for Christian Gross and sold by George Graham.  On Graham's arrival it had been widely predicted that Ginola would be one of the first players to leave but he showed great application during this time and worked well for the team scoring a number of outstanding goals.  On returning to White Hart Lane the following season, to play in a rather dull scoreless draw for Villa, home spectators provided their own entertainment by cheering every time Ginola touched the ball.

Spurs Connections in Villa's Current Squad
Aston Villa's current squad contains three players with Tottenham connections in their past record.  Jermaine Jenas who is unavailable for this match as he is on a year long loan agreement with Villa joined Spurs from Newcastle in 2005.  He played in the Carling Cup win of 2008 and in the following season's losing Final team but has been a peripheral player at the club for the past two seasons.  A player of skill and endeavour, he too often failed to influence a game as much as his ability suggested he should and recurring injury problems restricted his appearances for Spurs as it has done at Villa.

Alan Hutton also joined Villa in August.  His transfer was completed as Kyle Walker who had finished last season on loan at Villa returned to White Hart Lane to claim the first team place and as former Tottenham player, Luke Young left Villa Park to sign for Queen's Park Rangers.  Hutton joined Spurs from Rangers in 2008 and a few weeks later was part of the Carling Cup success.  He fell out of favour following Harry Redknapp's appointment and went on loan to Sunderland.  It had been anticipated that he would leave sooner but he returned to the team in the first half of last season but out out again to Vedran Corluka.  A deal for £3 million was agreed with Villa in the summer and he expressed his disaffection for Spurs and the manager in articles in the press following his departure. 

Darren Bent was not happy at Tottenham following Harry Redknapp's quote after the striker missed an obvious goal scoring opportunity against Portsmouth.  He had joined Spurs from Charlton  Athletic in 2007 when Martin Jol was manager.  He never found his true goal scoring form with the club as he competed with Dimitar Berbatov, Robbie Keane and Jermaine Defoe for a place in the team.  He was an unused substitute for the 2008 Carling Cup Final but played in the following year's losing team.  He finished leading goalscorer for Spurs in 2009 with 17 goals in all competitions.  He joined Sunderland in the summer of 2009 for £10 million after he had attracted attention with his infamous quotes on Twitter about which clubs he did and didn't want to sign for.

Since moving away from Tottenham Bent has shown much greater endeavour when playing against Spurs than he ever appeared to do when wearing the white shirt of Tottenham.  In his first game for Sunderland at White Hart Lane he lost his personal battle with Heurelho Gomes who saved his penalty awarded for what to many appeared to be a dive. as Spurs won 2 - 0.  However, in the return match he was fired up and scored two goals in the opening half hour, including a penalty.  In his continuing penalty shoot-out contest with Gomes, he lost out as Gomes saved two of the three penalties awarded as Spurs lost 1 - 3.  He joined Villa in January, 2011 for £18 million and has continued to add to his England appearances.

And there were Others
Other players who have worn both the claret and blue of Villa and the white of Spurs include:
Steve Hodge, Andy Gray, Colin Calderwood and Oyvind Leonhardsen. 

Older Players
Older players included Jimmy Cantrell who spent the early part of his career with Villa.  He joined Spurs in 1912 and was still an influential centre forward as Spurs won the 2nd Division in 1920 and the FA Cup the following season.  He was a few weeks short of his 39th birthday when he played in the 1921 FA Cup Final win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.  He retired in 1925 and played his last game for Spurs in April, 1923 - the oldest player to play for the club.

Cyril Spiers joined Tottenham from Villa in 1927 after a serious injury had led the Midlands club to believe that he would never be fit enough to play again.  However, he underwent surgery and after a successful trial joined Spurs.  He was their regular goalkeeper for over four seasons and was released in 1933 having made 169 League and Cup appearances.

Billy Cook and Ronnie Dix also served both clubs.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tottenham's Home League Record against Villa

Another weekend of catch-up for Tottenham as their home game against Aston Villa has been moved to Monday evening for live television coverage.  Spurs, as they seek to continue their impressive Premier League form, will know what to expect from a team put out by Alex McLeish.

Tottenhan Hotspur v Aston Villa
Aston Villa come to White Hart Lane with the knowledge that Tottenham won the two matches last season with Rafael Van der Vaart scoring all four Spurs goals.  They will be hoping that he doesn't recover from the injury he received in the Holland match last weekend while every Spurs supporter will be wishing him a speedy recovery.  

Villa with Alex McLeish in charge are currently in 8th position with fifteen points.  They remained undefeated in their opening seven games of the season but only managed two wins.  They have yet to win away from Villa Park but are proving difficult to beat with four draws and their only defeat coming at Manchester City (1 - 4).  They drew at Fulham, Everton, QPR and Sunderland.  Their home record shows a defeat against West Brom, draws with Wolves and Newcastle while defeating Wigan, Blackburn and Norwich City (3 - 2), in their last game. 

Darren Bent and Gabriel Agboniahor are joint top scorers with five goals each.  Bent who for some unaccountable reason always seems fired up when playing against Spurs, scored twice against Norwich with Agboniahor getting the other.  Stiliyan Petrov has scored two goals while Richard Dunne, Emile Heskey, Barry Bannon who may be available, and Stephen Warnock have scored one each.

McLeish made a number of signings during the summer.  He has added experience to his squad rather than rely on the younger players who have come through the Villa Academy in recent years.  He signed Shay Given to replace Brad Friedel who arrived at White Hart Lane on a free.  Moving in the other direction, Alan Hutton joined his former Rangers manager for £4 million and Jermain Jenas went on a season long loan deal.  Hutton who spoke out against Harry Redknapp after his departure from Spurs will, like Bent, feel that he has a point to prove against Tottenham.  Jenas who came on as a sub against Norwich, following injury, for his first game can not play as he is on loan.  Villa have a very experienced defence with Dunne and James Collins in the centre.  Charles N'Zogbia was signed from Wigan to bring pace and creativity to the midfield as well as his goal scoring touch.

Alex McLeish's teams are hard working and full of endeavour so Tottenham know that they will make it difficult for them to play their fast moving game.  They have plenty of experience and will look to stifle Tottenham early on and look to score on the break and from set pieces.  

Premier League Home Record v Aston Villa 
P  19  W  8  D  7  L  4  For  28  Ag  22

Home League Record v Aston Villa 
P  68  W  34  D  14  L  22  For  131  Ag  120 

Last 6 League Games v Aston Villa at White Hart Lane
Oct. 2010  PL  Won 2 - 1 Van der Vaart (2)
Villa went ahead after sixteen minutes through Albrighton but Van der Vaart equalised before the interval.  He scored the winner with fifteen minutes remaining.
Feb. 2010  PL  Draw 0 - 0
Villa frustrated Spurs with a tight defensive display with Friedel playing his part as they earned a point. 
Sept. 2008  PL  Lost 1 - 2  Bent
The Monday night televised match in the early stages of Tottenham's 'two points from 8 games' start to the season under Juande Ramos.  Reo-Coker scored after five minutes for Villa and Luke Young increased their lead early in the second half.   Darren Bent scored a consolation goal with three minutes remaining. 
Oct. 2007  PL  Draw 4 - 4  Berbatov, Chimbonda, Keane (p), Kaboul
Another Monday evening match for Tottenham's 125th Anniversary game.  Dimitar Berbatov gave Spurs the lead after twenty minutes.  Villa quickly equalised and after an hour were 4 - 1 ahead with Paul Robinson culpable for a number of the goals.  Things were not going to plan on Spurs' 'big night' but a late rally saw Pascal Chimbonda pull one back with twenty minutes remaining, Robbie Keane scored from the penalty spot on 82 minutes and Younes Kaboul led rapturous celebrations after his goal in added time.
Dec. 2006  PL  Won 2 - 1  Defoe (2)
The Boxing Day match saw two second half goals from Jermain Defoe enable Spurs supporters to enjoy the festive celebrations.  Gareth Barry replied with a late goal.
Jan. 2006  PL  Draw 0 - 0
Thomas Sorensen almost single-handedly earned Villa a point they didn't deserve.  Tottenham fans simply couldn't believe that their team had failed to score in a game which they dominated and where they had created so many chances.   

Memorable Games at White Hart Lane
There have been a number of high scoring games between the two clubs but even though Spurs have had home advantage, they haven't always come out on top.

Tottenham's last big win was in April, 2005 when they won 5 - 1.  Fredi Kanoute scored twice, with Andy Reid, Ledley King and Stephen Kelly, his only goal for the club, getting the others.

In April, 2000, I watched Tottenham totally dominate the game for an hour and be two goals ahead through Stefan Iversen and Chris Armstrong.  Spurs then conceded a controversial penalty for Villa score four times in twelve minutes to take the three points.
Gerry Frances was managing Spurs for the first time in October, 1994 but Villa scored three times in six minutes midway through the first half.  Teddy Sheringham scored before the interval and Jurgen Klinsmann added a penalty early in the second half.  With less than twenty remaining Spurs levelled through an own goal and looked to have earned a point until the third minute of injury time when Villa snatched the win.

Villa won 5 - 2 in April, 1992 when a Gary Lineker goal and another own goal were all that Tottenham could manage.

In March, 1966 the match ended 5 - 5.  Spurs scored three in the first fifteen minutes, were 4-1 ahead at half-time and 5-1 up after five minutes of the second half.  The scorers were Alan Gilzean, Jimmy Greaves, Frank Saul, Laurie Brown and Jimmy Robertson.  Then came the Villa fight back.  They scored three goals in four minutes, equalised with 11 minutes to go and should have won when with three minutes remaining Tony Hateley was clean through, took the ball around Pat Jennings but hesitated and allowed Alan Mullery time to recover and clear.

On Monday evening Tottenham fans will be hoping that Harry Redknapp is well enough to return to his managerial duties after his surgery and that the players returning from international duty are free from injury and can maintain the form they show for their countries.   They will be looking for two names, in particular, who make all the difference to the team - Ledley King and Van der Vaart.  They will want Spurs to produce their brand of fast, tricky football for the whole game and not just one half.  In recent games after gaining the ascendency they have put themselves under pressure by conceding from a corner and then had to battle to retain their advantage.  Free-kicks and corners will again be an area of concern as Villa are a team who focus on taking advantage in these situations and have the players who can cause problems - Dunne, Collins, Warnock, Bent and Agboniahor.  

A win is vital as Spurs strive to keep up with the top teams while still retaining their game in hand which has been re-scheduled for early January.  It is a game Spurs will feel that they should win but Villa will make it very difficult for them to take the three points. 


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kyle Walker - Tottenham's Rising Star

Tottenham's young full back made his full international debut for England in their win over Sweden at Wembley.  Not content with that, he was selected as the 'Man of the Match' for his performance on the right side of defence where he also put his attacking tendencies to good purpose.

Kyle Walker - Man of the Moment

Kyle Walker
Kyle Walker who was named the 'Man of the Match' for his performance in his full England debut against Sweden has made rapid progress in three years.  On 15th November, 2008 he made his Football League debut while on loan at Northampton Town and three years later, to the day, he was playing for England at Wembley.

It must be difficult for a young player to get noticed at Tottenham at the moment with so many stars vying for the limelight but Kyle Walker has managed it this season as he establishes himself in the right back position at White Hart Lane.  With things looking up at Spurs at the present as they continue on their eight match unbeaten run in the Premier League, star players are queuing up to make the headlines.

Emmanuel Adebayor made a scoring debut back in September, Ledley King has emerged from the treatment room to lead the side on this exciting run, Gareth Bale has refound his goal scoring touch as well as the form which made him the talk of Europe twelve months ago, Rafael Van der Vaart scored in five successive League matches while Jermain Defoe has scored twice having come off the substitutes' bench.  Scott Parker has put in outstanding performances alongside Luka Modric in midfield, while Brad Friedel's performances have belied his forty years as Aaron Lennon has recovered from injury and is returning to his best.  However, Walker has created his own headlines with his exciting play and made himself an instant hero among supporters by scoring the winning goal in October's victory over closest rivals, Arsenal - for a Tottenham player, there's no better way to make news.

Even during this international break, Tottenham players have been to the forefront - Bale starred for Wales, scoring and creating goals in their win over Norway, Scott Parker was excellent in England's unexpected win over World and European Champions, Spain and Luke Modric was the star of Croatia's win over Greece in the Euro2112 play-off match.  All were named as 'Man of the Match' for these performances and then Sandro scored his first goal for Brazil to keep his name to the fore.  It would have been sufficient for Walker to make his full England after a brief appearance against Spain when he replaced Parker, but not wanting to be outdone by his more experienced colleagues he had to turn in a 'Man of the Match' performance to make his own statement.

Kyle Walker grew up in Sheffield and developed his football through Sheffield United's youth system.  In November, 2008, at the age of eighteen he went to Northampton Town on loan to gain some League experience and made nine appearances before returning to Bramall Lane where he made his debut in an FA Cup tie the following January.  At the end of the season, he made his League debut for United in their final two matches as they battled to make the Championship play-offs.  Having achieved that, Walker retained his place for the play-offs, appearing at Wembley in the defeat to Burnley.

The following July, after just that handful of appearances for United, Tottenham signed the 'two Kyles' - Walker and Naughton for a fee of £4 million each, seeing off Everton who were interested in signing Walker.  As part of the deal, Walker returned to United on loan for the 2009-10 season and he played regularly at right back, making 26 appearances.  He was unexpectedly recalled to White Hart Lane in February, 2010 as cover when Alan Hutton went on loan to Sunderland.  His Tottenham debut came at the end of March against Portsmouth and he retained his place for the next game at Sunderland. 

The following season he went out on loan to further his league experience and spent the first half of the year, helping Queen's Park Rangers in their pursuit of the Championship title.  He was highly regarded for his performances there and the club were disappointed when Tottenham recalled him and arranged a loan spell at a Premier League club.  Walker played 15 Premier League games for Aston Villa, scoring once and again received favourable reviews for his attacking play.  He was called into  the England squad by Fabio Capello but didn't progress into the team.  During the summer he went with the England Under-21 side to the European Under-21 Championships and was included in the 'Team of the Tournament'.

Aston Vila were keen to retain Walker for another season but Harry Redknapp had other ideas as he started the young full back in the opening match of the season although he had to go off at half-time as he was unwell.  He missed the defeat to Manchester City but has made the right back position his own with experienced Vedran Corluka having to be satisfied with a place on the bench.

Walker is an exciting prospect who is rapidly gaining experience.  He is confident in his play and his ability, constantly looking to get forward to create opportunities for others.  He is developing a good understanding with Aaron Lennon on the right wing which has to be an important element of his game so as Tottenham get the best out of the winger.  Walker's forward play has seen him involved with the goal scored by Rafael Van der Vaart at Blackburn and it was his attacking exploits which played a prominent part in the lead up to the first goal at Fulham where his pull back went to Lennon who set Bale free to score.  Walker has great pace when going forward and his shooting ability saw him deceive Arsenal's goalkeeper for the winner at White Hart Lane.  Defensively, he is still learning his trade but he is able to use his great pace to get back and recover his position and retrieve the situation.

Full back has often been a position where Tottenham have struggled to find players of the required standard but if Walker continues to learn and progress as he has done in recent years then Spurs have an excellent prospect on their books for many years to come.  With Bale and Lennon on the wings, supported by Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Walker from full back, there are exciting times ahead for Tottenham supporters.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tottenham's Joy of Winning the Cup 10 (1961)

The 1961 FA Cup Final at Wembley against Leicester City was the most important game in the club's history.  Victory would bring down the curtain on the club's most successful season ever with the completion of the League and FA Cup 'Double'.  It brought Spurs another 'first' - the first team to win that accolade in the 20th century.

1961 FA Cup Final
Leicester City 0 Tottenham Hotspur 2

Bill Nicholson & Danny Blanchflower
No team had won the 'Double' in the 20th Century and it was regarded as an impossible task among commentators of that time.  The achievement had not been completed since the early days of the competitions - by Preston North End in 1889 and Aston Villa eight years later.  In those early days teams played a greatly reduced number of matches to achieve their goal - Preston had to play a total of twenty seven games while Villa had an additional eight League games.

However, undeterred by such views, Tottenham captain, Danny Blanchflower, made a confident prediction to his Chairman prior to the commencement of the 1960 - 61 season, that the team would win the 'double' in the season ahead.  Danny was always known for his 'gift of the gab' with a good story to tell but in this case he later confirmed that he truely believed it was possible.  The team then proceeded to win their first eleven matches, went undefeated for sixteen games until mid-November and by the start of the FA Cup in January, with 25 games played, Spurs were top of the 1st Division with a 10 point lead ahead of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Road to Wembley
3rd Round v Charlton Athletic (h) Won 3 - 2  Allen (2), Dyson
Charlton from the old 2nd Division were expected to be easy prey for all conquering Tottenham but they came so close to causing a Cup up-set and for a long period it seemed that a replay would be on the cards.  The visitors took the game to Spurs in the early stages but a pass from Danny Blanchflower set up Les Allen to put Spurs ahead after six minutes.  Charlton continued their endeavour and were heartened as Tottenham missed a number of chances to increase their lead.  However, with less than half an hour gone, another Blanchflower pass enabled Allen to score his second.  Almost immediately, Charlton pulled a goal back, only for Terry Dyson to restore the two goal advantage.  A minute into the second half Charlton scored a second and suddenly Spurs were up against it as the visitors increased the pressure with Bill Brown coming to the rescue on a number of occasions.  Tottenham held out, relieved to have survived from a much more difficult game than they had ever anticipated.

4th Round v Crewe Alexandra (h) Won 5 - 1  Mackay, Jones, Smith, Allen, Dyson
A year previously the two clubs had met in the same round of the competition with Tottenham triumphing 13 - 2 in a replay at White Hart Lane after a 2 - 2 draw at Crewe's Gresty Road ground.  If Crewe, from the 4th Division, had been hoping for a good start to avoid another humiliation, they were to be disappointed as Dyson headed Spurs ahead from a corner after four minutes.  The Crewe goalkeeper, Williamson, was the hero of the day as he restricted Tottenham to five goals.  After twenty two minutes, Bobby Smith added a second but three minutes later, in a rare attack, Crewe scored their only goal.  Three minutes later Dave Mackay scored a third from a corner and in the second half, Cliff Jones and Allen completed the scoring, Allen having to settle for a solitary goal rather than the five he managed a year previously.

5th Round v Aston Villa (a) Won 2 - 0  Jones, Opp. o.g.
A more difficult examination of Tottenham's Cup winning credentials was expected from this tie against 1st Division opposition.  A week earlier the two clubs had met in the League at the same venue with Smith and Dyson scoring in a 2 - 1 victory.  Jones was the master on this occasion.  Having failed to stop Spurs a week earlier with strength and endeavour, Villa tried to use finesse and pure football but with the same result.  Tottenham took the lead after seventeen minutes through an own goal when the Villa full back diverted a Jones shot into the net.  Spurs were on top, with Brown making his first meaningful save just before half-time.  Then, almost immediately Tottenham responded and scored their second from Jones, following another flowing, passing movement.  Match over, Spurs strolled through the second half with Villa unable to unsettle them.

6th Round v Sunderland (a) Draw 1 - 1  Jones
This was undoubtedly Tottenham's most difficult match in the Cup campaign.  Second Division, Sunderland who had already defeated Arsenal, Liverpool and Norwich City in earlier rounds were determined to show that they could match their more illustrious opponents and in the end Spurs were relieved to return to London with the opportunity to settle matters in a replay.  Jones headed Tottenham ahead with a soft goal from a corner and then the game deteriorated with some quite dull football.  Before the interval, Smith's shot hit the post after he had rounded the goalkeeper but in the second half the match changed totally.  Sunderland, roared on by the home crowd, levelled after four minutes when a speculative shot was deflected past Brown.  Sunderland were energized and Tottenham were reduced to pulling everyone back to defend with only the occasional foray forward.  Tottenham had paid the price for being too casual in the first half and had to battle for the final forty minutes to keep their dream of the 'Double' alive.

6th Round (Replay) v Sunderland (h) Won 5 - 0  Mackay, Smith, Allen, Dyson (2)
The Tottenham players had learned their lesson from the first game four days earlier and they weren't going to get caught out again.  With the gates locked half an hour before kick-off and thousands still outside unable to get in, Sunderland started bravely but with almost half an hour played, Spurs scored through Allen.  Five minutes later Smith scored after Jones' shot had been parried by the goalkeeper and on half-time, John White and Jones set up Dyson for the third.  In the second half Spurs added further goals with a header from Dyson and a fifth from Mackay.

Semi-Final v Burnley (at Villa Park) Won 3 - 0  Jones, Smith (2)
Villa Park was not Spurs' favourite ground for FA Cup semi-finals, having lost the last three they had played there in 1948, 1953 and 1956.  At the fourth attempt, it was the ‘Double’ team elect that was to lay the ghost of Villa Park. 

Drawn to play defending League champions Burnley a tight game was expected as Burnley had recovered from a four goal deficit to earn a draw in the League game at White Hart Lane earlier in the season.  The semi-final tie saw Spurs take the lead after half an hour when a defensive mistake allowed Smith through on goal.  Burnley rallied and in the minutes before and after the interval Spurs survived a number of dangerous attacks.  Then with forty eight minutes gone Spurs went further ahead when Smith scored his second.  This deflated Burnley and Jones added the third near the end after good work from White and Dyson.  Spurs were on their way to Wembley for the very first time where they would find Leicester City attempting to prevent them completing an historic ‘Double.’  It would be Spurs third FA Cup Final but their first since 1921.

Final v Leicester City (at Wembley) Won 2 - 0  Smith, Dyson
Many teams had failed at the final step in their pursuit of the 'Double' and Tottenham were determined not to fall in to that category.  They had won the League a few weeks earlier but their form had taken a dip and they had missed out on setting a new record for the number of points won as they lost two of their final three games, including defeats at Burnley and at home to West Bromwich Albion.  Leicester City had finished sixth in the league and had the distinction of being the first team to defeat Spurs at White Hart Lane that season, achieving a 3 - 2 success in February.

The 1961 FA Cup Final didn't live up to the high expectations of the pre-match hype.  Bobby Smith played despite an injury problem but it was an early injury to Len Chalmers, the Leicester full back which had the greatest bearing on the match as Leicester found themselves effectively reduced to ten men, although the injured full back hobbled on the wing.  Spurs had started brightly and could have scored in the opening minutes but then they let Leicester have more of the ball leading up the injury after twenty minutes when Allen and Chalmers collided.

Tottenham now had the advantage but couldn't find a way to goal.  Jones had a first half 'goal' incorrectly disallowed for offside but it wasn't until twenty minutes from time that they eventually went ahead.  Allen and Dyson set up Smith who turned and shot past Gordon Banks.  Seven minutes later, White dispossessed Chalmers and passed to Smith who crossed to the far post where Dyson headed home to secure Tottenham's 'Double' triumph.

Team: Brown; Baker, Henry, Blanchflower, Norman, Mackay; Jones, White, Smith, Allen, Dyson.

The 'Double' had been achieved and although the Final hadn't been a classic, the team did what was required of them.  The players had produced many exhilarating, quality performances during the season but with the high level of expectation and pressure on the team, on this occasion it was a matter of the job had been completed as they became the first team in the 20th Century to win the elusive 'Double' as 1st Division Champions and FA Cup winners.

Tottenhan Hotspur 1960 - 61 The 'Double' Winners
(1960 - 61) League and Cup Appearances
Tottenham used only 17 players through the season and only 12 played in the FA Cup games - Terry Medwin replacing the injured Jones for the 3rd Round match.  In the League Blanchflower, Allen, Ron Henry and White were ever presents, Brown, Baker and Norman missed only one match while Dyson was missing from two.  Mackay made 37 appearances, Bobby Smith 36 and Jones 29.  Of the reserves Medwin played 14 games, Tony Marchi and Frank Saul made 6 appearances each, with John Hollowbread (goalkeeper), Ken Barton (full back) and John Smith (half back) making a single appearance each.

League and Cup Goals

Eleven players contributed to the season's goal tally of 115 in the League and 21 in the FA Cup.  Bobby Smith was leading goal scorer with 33 goals (28 Lge + 5 Cup), Les Allen was close behind with 27 (23 + 4) while Jones contributed 19 (15 + 4).  Terry Dyson who scored 17 (12 + 5) was joint top scorer with Smith in the Cup.  White contributed 13 in the League and Blanchflower and Mackay both managed 6, two of Mackay's coming in the Cup.  In the League, Medwin contributed 5, Norman scored 4, Frank Saul added 3 and Peter Baker scored once.  Two additional goals came courtesy of the opposition, one each in the League and the Cup.

The names of the 'Double' team will be forever etched in the memories of every Tottenham supporter.  Too easily are players now labelled 'legends' but this was a team of 'Legends' and the one that every subsequent Tottenham team have been trying emulate and live up to.