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Tottenham round-up: Next season’s Wembley capacity update; cup rivals aiming to derail trophy hunt

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As White Hart Lane continues to be re-developed alongside the construction of Tottenham’s brand-new stadium, it is looking increasingly likely that the club’s proposed move to Wembley on a temporary basis for the 2017/18 season will go ahead, after Brent Council reportedly advised local councillors to approve 22 extra full-capacity events at the national stadium, according to the London Evening Standard.

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The committee running the arena have put forward the proposals on Tottenham’s behalf, which if granted would enable the North Londoners to use Wembley’s full 90,000 allocation for every Premier League home fixture next season.

A decision is set to be made regarding the application on 23 March, which runs dangerously close to the estimated 31 March deadline by which Tottenham must have briefed the FA on their plans regarding Wembley. It is now a case of waiting and hoping, as Brent Council’s local planning committee come to a decision.

It is clear that the club is aspiring towards the Wembley move for next season, but the North Londoners are yet to confirm officially that they will be departing White Hart Lane at the end of the season, and as to whether or not Wembley will be their temporary residence.

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The report does claim however, that several farewell preparations to their traditional home are being planned for their final home clash of the season with Manchester United, which suggests an official announcement and a goodbye to White Hart Lane will be following shortly. Their ability to utilise Wembley’s full resources, if they end up there, is of course yet to be decided.

Meanwhile, as Spurs prepare themselves to continue their Premier League campaign minus injured talisman Harry Kane, this weekend’s opponents Southampton are out to upset the apple-cart on their visit to White Hart Lane, as Saints’ James Ward-Prowse and Cedric Soares declared they are looking to quell Tottenham’s momentum and put an end to their winning run, and possibly their faint title aspirations.

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It will be the last league match for either side before the international break, and Ward-Prowse is keen to rack-up a third straight win before then against second-place Spurs, following consecutive victories against Sunderland and Watford, the latter of which was a nail-biting 3-2 victory.

Speaking to Southampton’s official website, Ward-Prowse said: “We showed great character in the way that we bounced back and showed the depth of that character in the win at Watford.

“Football revolves around momentum and I think we can carry into the Tottenham game.

“They’ve got a bit of momentum themselves and I think it’ll be an important game to win heading into that international break.”

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The loss of Harry Kane will surely provide Saints with some heart for the trip north to the Lane, with Son Heung-Min, who netted a hat-trick against Millwall last time out, and Vincent Janssen- who scored his first goal in open play for the club- the likely candidates to fill in for him.

In his interview with their official website, Southampton defender Cedric Soares stressed the importance of not being complacent even in Kane’s absence, but did warn that they would not make it as easy for Spurs as they have found some of their home games this season.

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“They are very well-organised and of course it’s going to be tough but we are definitely in a good moment”, the Portugal international said.

“Everyone feels that and we breed confidence right now so I think if we go there and play our game we will have our chance”.

Anything other than victory against an in-form Saints would surely seal the doom of Tottenham’s fading title hopes this campaign, with Chelsea’s ten-point cushion at the Premier League summit almost unassailable as it is. That said, the FA Cup remains a realistic chance for the club to add to their trophy cabinet this season for the first time since 2008, and they will once again do battle with old foe Chelsea, in the semi-final.

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Their 2-1 League Cup final triumph nine years ago after extra-time against the Blues remains the most recent cup capture for the North Londoners, but Chelsea exorcised those demons with victory in the final of the same tournament over Spurs two years ago.

This season, Chelsea are the runaway league leaders, with both teams having won one match apiece against each other in the league, and this upcoming clash may be of the biggest magnitude between the two this campaign.

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Tottenham dispatched Chelsea 2-0 at White Hart Lane in the most recent meeting between the two sides- their first win in four against the Blues- which would suggest a very even semi-final will follow. But with doubts over Harry Kane’s fitness going into the game, and the psychological constraints Spurs seemingly have playing at Wembley, it could be another testing encounter, with Chelsea’s N’Golo Kanté also firing off a warning that the complacency which was evident at White Hart Lane in January will not be present at Wembley.

Speaking to the Independent, the Frenchman said: “I think when we lost, we have to think about why we lost. That’s what we do.

“Tottenham was our last defeat, we have to keep going, we react very well after Tottenham and we have to keep going. We have learned from our defeat.

“We are going to fight for every competition. The cup is a target, we are going to play to win every game, we are going to play to win against Tottenham”.

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Chelsea will be playing in pursuit of a league and cup double whilst Spurs are looking to salvage some silverware to put the gloss on another promising season under Mauricio Pochettino. Much will rest on whether Harry Kane can return to fitness in time, but secondly, Tottenham must banish their Wembley hoodoo to not only give themselves a chance of winning the coveted trophy, but to give themselves the opportunity to excel next season if they take-up residence under the arch.

Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by David Hildyard.

Scott is a Port Vale fan who writes regularly for The Boot Room as a freelancer. He is a fan of several sports but most of his experience in journalism comes from football and volleyball. He has produced several works on major Championships for both the FIVB and CEV in the volleyball world out in Switzerland, and is currently studying for a BA Hons in Modern Languages at the University of Oxford.

FA Cup

Rochdale 2-2 Tottenham – Lucas Moura shines despite disappointing day for Spurs

Jake Jackman

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Tottenham

Tottenham are going to have to rely on a replay for the second successive round as they conceded a dramatic late equaliser to Rochdale. It was a reminder of the magic that the FA Cup still possesses and it will provide a useful cash injection for the League One club. Spurs opted to make several changes and rest key players, but they selected a team that should have progressed on the day.

Ian Henderson scored in the first-half to give Dale a first-half lead and it was deserved. Keith Hill’s team played good football and went toe-to-toe against their more illustrious opposition.

Lucas Moura and Harry Kane scored to put Tottenham into a 2-1 lead, but that wasn’t the end of the goal-scoring as Steve Davies scored to take the tie to a replay. Here are three talking points from Spotland:

Lucas Moura’s performance showed why Tottenham signed him

It was a signing that came out of left-field, as Tottenham prefer to do their transfer business in the summer. However, this opportunity was too good to turn down as they were given the chance to sign a proven Brazilian international. He had fallen on tough times at PSG and rarely featured this season, but he proved why the club signed him on Sunday.

The Brazilian wasn’t afraid of the fight and was up for the test offered by League One opposition. Every time he got on the ball, it looked like he could make something happen, as shown by his seven dribbles completed.

He had a touch of class that allowed him to stand out from the rest of the players on the pitch and if he can consistently perform at that level, he will turn out to be a great signing.

His movement was superb, as he regularly found pockets of space to exploit. Interestingly, he won five aerial duels and that shows that he has quickly adjusted to English football. It was Lucas that scored the equaliser mid-way through the second half with a confident finish. He will have played himself into Mauricio Pochettino’s plans for the coming weeks.

Rochdale impressed on their day in the spotlight

They were written off before a ball was kicked as they were facing one of the best teams in the country. Rochdale are currently rock-bottom of League One and 11 points from safety, albeit with four matches in hand. They laid a new pitch ahead of this match and the players adapted to it well, showing that they can play good football.

Callum Camps and Andrew Cannon impressed in the centre of the park, while their two wily experienced strikers got the goals. Ian Henderson was a tireless worker in the final third and put the Tottenham defenders under pressure.

He snatched at a couple of chances in the first-half, but he remained cool when another chance came his way and scored the opening goal.

It will be a tough ask for them to go to Wembley, but they can go there with no fear as they have nothing to lose. The tie will give them an injection of money that the club needs, especially if they are to suffer relegation this season.

Toby Alderweireld looks a long way from his best

The Tottenham defence didn’t look as assured as they usually do and both of their centre-backs struggled at times during the match.

Alderweireld was left out of the trip to Juventus and there were some supporters that questioned that decision. However, he looked short of match fitness against Rochdale and was arguably at fault for the late equaliser.

The Belgian international looked rusty and his decision making was not great. He picked up a yellow card for a rash tackle and that is one example of that. Juan Foyth played alongside Alderweireld and his inexperience showed when Rochdale did attack.

For Alderweireld, he wants to be back in the first-team and that is eventually where he will be, but he isn’t at the level required to be starting right now. Tottenham are fighting on multiple fronts and they can’t afford to have any players that aren’t at 100%. He is returning from a serious injury and he will need time to get back to his best.

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Tottenham Hotspur

Why Tottenham have proven they could afford to lose Toby Alderweireld this summer

With speculation surrounding Toby Alderweireld’s Tottenham future, recent performances have proven the club could cope without him, writes Jake Jackman.

Jake Jackman

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Toby Alderweireld
Photo: Reuters

Tottenham are facing another contract stalemate as Toby Alderweireld is thought to be considering his future with the club.

The Telegraph report that his future has been cast in fresh doubt after he was left behind and not selected for the Champions League match against Juventus.

The Belgian international didn’t make the trip to Turin and considering he returned to first-team action last week, he is unlikely to be pleased at his omission.

Although the article speculates on the centre-back’s future, there is no evidence to suggest Alderweireld is looking for a move.

However, he is yet to agree a new deal and given the interest in him, a transfer could be on his mind.

Tottenham play a dangerous game when it comes to their contracts, as they refuse to pay what their competition is offering.

That is one key reason why they are at risk of losing their best players and speculation is taken more seriously by supporters as a result.

The Express reported last summer that Kyle Walker doubled his wages when he joined Manchester City.

Although money won’t be the main motivating factor behind a player leaving Spurs, it is certainly a factor.

Mauricio Pochettino didn’t look too worried during his pre-match press-conference, suggesting Alderweireld needed time to recover from his serious injury.

He isn’t ready for a huge game yet and the club have made the decision to leave him behind to benefit all parties long-term.

The Telegraph report the following quotes from the Argentine:

“It was a massive injury that we needed to be cautious over because we cannot put at risk his career. We designed a plan from day one to provide him the best route to recovery and be stronger than before.

“Of course, we are sorry for him because when you miss some games like Arsenal or the Champions League that we have worked a lot to try to play… I can understand.

“And we are frustrated too, because when you cannot play it is difficult to accept. The player always thinks he is fit, but it is our responsibility to take the best decision.

“He will be part of the team next Sunday against Rochdale (in the FA Cup) and, again, we are going to assess him day by day.”

There is every chance that Pochettino is being honest, but as the defender played against Newport County, it is known that he is available.

The manager has been reluctant in the past to rush players back from serious injuries.

Erik Lamela has had to accept his role as a bench player while he builds up his fitness.

Meanwhile, Danny Rose wasn’t immediately restored to the starting eleven after his time out on the sidelines.

That said, the Alderweireld’s future has been reported on and that begs the question, could Tottenham afford to lose him?

Since moving to Tottenham, Toby Alderweireld has established himself as one of the best defenders in the Premier League, if not Europe.

There won’t be a shortage of options for him if he does decide to push for an exit from the club.

However, Spurs are now in a position in which they don’t need to cave at each and every one of the defender’s demands in the talks over a new contract.

Now, they have proved they are able to cope without him.

During their last three Premier League fixtures, wins against Manchester United and Arsenal sandwich a hard-fought draw against Liverpool at Anfield.

They have taken seven points from arguably three of their hardest fixtures of the season and conceded only two goals in the process.

That is hugely impressive and the absence of Alderweireld evidently was not felt, with their opponents managing a combined 21 shots across the three matches.

Considering they were playing three of the best attacks in the Premier League, that record is incredible.

There will be many taking the view that Tottenham will be even more formidable when Alderweireld returns to the line-up, but a more controversial stance would be that the team no longer need the Belgian.

Although the club will want to keep hold of him, it has been proven that he isn’t as integral to this Tottenham team as many previously considered him to be.

The progression of Davinson Sanchez and reliability of Jan Vertonghen means that Pochettino has two other quality options, while Eric Dier is an able deputy.

Alderweireld will be back in the starting eleven soon as he has too much quality to sit on the sidelines, but he can no longer go into these contract negotiations and talk up his worth as recent evidence proves that the team can thrive without him.

The departure of Kyle Walker last summer showed that Tottenham can be ruthless with players making ultimatums and progress without them.

It would be a shame if the Belgian defender did leave at the end of the season, but Spurs could recover from it.

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Champions League

Juventus 2-2 Tottenham: Mousa Dembele back to his very best in Juventus draw

Jake Jackman

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Tottenham

Tottenham earned an excellent result in the Champions League as they fought back from 2-0 down to earn a credible draw against Juventus. The Serie A team have a lot more experience in this competition, but they found wanting for game management on Tuesday, as they let a dominant position slip after an impressive opening 10 minutes.

They quickly went up by two goals after a Gonzalo Higuain brace, but the Argentine will feel disappointed at the end of the game as he could have reinstated the lead before half-time. However, his second penalty smashed against the bar. After the break, Spurs were very good and were deserving of their equaliser. Here are three talking points from the Allianz Stadium:

Tottenham have fight to go with their quality

If the team spirit of this Tottenham team was ever in doubt, it isn’t any longer as they showed great belief to fight back from 2-0 down against one of the biggest clubs in Europe. They couldn’t have had a worse start as lazy defending allowed Gonzalo Higuain to score an excellent goal. There was a hint of offside, but the visitors were switched off and not aware of the danger.

Another goal quickly followed and at that stage, it looked like it could be a thrashing. However, the players rallied and started to get back in the game by doing the simple things well. In previous seasons, their North London rivals Arsenal have been embarrassed at this stage of the competition and it looked like a similar fate was waiting for Tottenham, but they didn’t fall into the same state of paralysis.

Mousa Dembele was key to the turnaround, as he was distributing the ball well from the centre of the park. His ability to carry it forward five or ten yards was crucial in putting Juventus on the back foot. Christian Eriksen was displaying the creativity that he shows regularly in the Premier League and Harry Kane recovered from a poor miss to get on the score-sheet. Outside of the opening ten minutes, Tottenham were the better team and they have a great chance of progressing to the next round after this result.

Gonzalo Higuain’s career was summed up in 45 minutes

The Argentine international has been on the verge of being a world class player for a number of years, but he regularly fails to make it count on the big stage. It was shaping up to be his night early on as he scored a brace in the opening ten minutes. He looked in the mood and showed a clinical edge in front of goal that threatened to put the tie to bed.

However, as always with Higuain, he missed a crucial chance at an important moment of the game. Seconds before half-time, Douglas Costa did very well to win a penalty for his team with a superb run into the Tottenham box. After scoring from the spot earlier in the match, the former Napoli striker stepped up and smashed an effort against the bar.

It was a confident effort from the forward, as he put his foot through the ball, but the accuracy wasn’t there. If he scored the penalty, it likely put the match beyond Tottenham as they would have went in to half-time with low spirits. As it worked out, they went in with momentum and they used that to great effect in the second half. Higuain has had a habit of letting his team down when it matters most and that was true again on Tuesday night.

Mousa Dembele is back to his best

The central midfielder earned rave reviews at the weekend as he dominated the middle of the park in the North London derby. It was an excellent performance and Tottenham needed a similar display if they were to gain a positive result in Italy. Juventus are renowned for being well-organised and difficult to break down. If the visitors were to get anything from the game, they needed to compete in the central areas and Dembele was key to that objective.

The 30-year-old is able to deliver in both halves of the pitch and he did on Tuesday. He made five ball recoveries and was regularly seen breaking up the play high up the pitch. The midfielder’s best attribute is his power when running with the ball and that was on display at the Allianz Stadium. He completed six dribbles and was near impossible to dispossess when he was advancing up the pitch.

In addition to his ball-carrying, Dembele was effective in distributing the ball, as evidenced by his pass success rate of 95%. He made two key passes and showed a creativity that was perhaps lacking at the weekend. The Belgian international isn’t the perfect midfielder, but he is a well-rounded one and is crucial for Tottenham when he is in this vein of form. They will need him to deliver a similar performance in three weeks’ time at Wembley.

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