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Tottenham Hotspur: Quietly confident


The attention was largely elsewhere during a madcap Sunday which could quite accurately be described as ‘Super’ due to the drama on show, but Tottenham Hotspur didn’t let that distract them from achieving their goal.

On England’s south coast, Spurs rather quietly slipped into the top four with a 2-1 win over Southampton that might not have done much for the home side’s prospects of avoiding relegation, but certainly served as a huge boost to the ambitions of the visitors at the other end of the Premier League table.

The win was Tottenham’s fifth from the last six league outings, with any doubts over manager Andre Villas-Boas following a winless first three games now firmly placed in the past.

That run of a loss at Newcastle followed by home draws against West Brom and Norwich even saw a few of the more reactionary Spurs fans call for Villas-Boas’s head and the return of good old Harry Redknapp, but the results since mid-September have now surely got any remaining doubters off the Portuguese’s back.

The task now is of course to keep on impressing, and going into a November which includes fixtures against Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool it will also be important to stay calm and not let results go to their heads.

Staying quietly confident might just be the best thing for Villas-Boas and Spurs right now, and so not for him the bullish and always inaccurate cries from Redknapp that his side were ready to challenge for the Premier League title.

The manner that Chelsea took the game away from them in their 4-2 win at White Hart Lane a week and a half ago showcased that Tottenham’s squad isn’t quite on a par with the top sides in the division just yet. Finishing just below them is a different matter altogether though.

In Gareth Bale, Moussa Dembele, Aaron Lennon, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Clint Dempsey, Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor there are the raw attacking materials for a serious tilt at the top four from Tottenham, with qualification for the Champions League surely more than just a pipedream during a campaign in which a good cup run would also strengthen Tottenham’s claims to be considered amongst the big boys.

Reaching the Champions League quarter-finals in 2010/11 perhaps led to some people behind the scenes at Tottenham deciding that the club should run before they could walk, and with Redknapp eventually paying the price for such an increase in expectations then maybe it’d be wise for Spurs fans to just take each game as it comes right now. When you have a talent such as Bale on your hands though, that is easier said than done.

In these times of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo it can be easy to overlook other talents and compare them to that star duo – comparisons which they will always lose out in.

However, Redknapp’s recent claim that Bale is the best British player in the Premier League is probably a correct one in terms of recent form, and if the Welshman can keep on inspiring his side then the sky could well be the limit for Tottenham – so long as that sky falls just below Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City that is.

Like it or not that is where Spurs are right now, but that is a terrific base from which a young manager can build and look to improve as he establishes himself at a club who are slowly beginning to take him to their hearts.

Spurs and Villas-Boas shouldn’t mind that they’re not the centre of attention as long as they keep winning.

Leave it to others to decide when the quiet confidence deserves to be shouted about.


Gameweek 9 preview: Sergio sets sights on Swans again


As introductions to English football go, it was a pretty spectacular one.

Sergio Aguero (£11.1m) entered Premier League life in the 59th minute of Manchester City’s first game of the 2011/12 season against Swansea City at the Etihad Stadium last August, and 31 minutes later he’d scored two goals.

It was the perfect beginning to a campaign in which Aguero would – in this writer’s opinion anyway – establish himself as the most complete forward playing in England right now, with his final kick of the season bringing the kind of joy to Manchester City fans that they hadn’t experienced in 44 years.

This time around things haven’t gone so smoothly, with the knee injury suffered just 13 minutes into City’s opening game of this campaign against Southampton stalling his progress and seeing him cast to the sidelines for over a month.

Now, having played a part in each of City’s last four games and registering two goals and an assist whilst doing so, Aguero will face up to Swansea again as a man determined to repeat former glories.

Picking City forwards is not for the faint-hearted, and nor is trusting them going by the Champions League loss in Amsterdam on Wednesday, which ended with Roberto Mancini fielding all four of his frontmen at once in a bid to get back into the game.

European disappointment will only make the Italian more determined to succeed on the domestic front just like last season of course, and there can be little doubt that a fit and firing Aguero looks to be a menacing addition to his teamsheet ahead of the weekend. He’d look good on yours too.

Other City options ahead of a game they’ll be expecting to win include midweek goalscorer Samir Nasri (£8.2m and worth serious consideration given David Silva’s injury), super-sub Edin Dzeko (£7.5m) and of course Carlos Tevez (£9.4m), but the latter hasn’t scored in his last five games after finding the net in his first three, and if you’ve got the spare cash then it could be time to switch to his Argentinean mate Aguero in a bid for more firepower.

Elsewhere the Sunday clashes at Goodison Park and Stamford Bridge will attract the most attention, but it is the two other fixtures on that day which should be catching the eyes of Fantasy bosses.

Tottenham go to a Southampton side who have shown a worrying inability to construct any form of functioning defence far too often this season, and with the revolving door policy in front of the Saints net set to continue the visitors will fancy some goals.

Jermain Defoe (£7.8m) is sure to prove a popular choice as his goals continue to keep Emmanuel Adebayor (£9.0m and falling) out of the Spurs side, but it is to a man who often provides him with service that we look to next.

Aaron Lennon (7.0m) only makes it into 4.3% of Fantasy Premier League teams, but the quicksilver winger will fancy his chances up against the creaking Southampton backline, and he could just make hay as Spurs chalk up goals and points on the south coast.

At the opposite end of the country, Newcastle take on a West Brom outfit who had the wind knocked out of their sails by Manchester City last weekend.

The Magpies, on the other hand, were solid before somewhat unfortunately letting their lead slip in the derby match at Sunderland last week, and this fixture might just be another home match in which Hatem Ben Arfa (£7.9m) will shine.

As we’ve discussed on these pages before, Ben Arfa is a man to back when Newcastle play at St James’s Park, and he’ll fancy improving on his record of two goals and one assist when the Baggies come calling.

Cloud nine on Gameweek nine awaits for him, and possibly you too.


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