OPPONENTS Bournemouth at Wembley
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Wednesday 26th December 2018
PREVIEW Will this fixture be between the King and The Great Pretender ? With Presss speculation rife that Mauricio Pochettino set to be heading  off to make their pre-determined route to Gold Trafford and the man to replace him they expect to be Eddie Howe.  Why this has emerged as a done deal is beyond me.   Howe has left Bournemouth once before, when he took over at Turf Moor before Dyche arrived and he didn't like it, so returned to Dean Court, where he guided the Cherries to the Premier League.  Whether he would want to move away from Bournemouth again by choice remains to be seen.  Personally, I think Spurs would move for a more widely experienced manager, albeit not a top name, but one who would carry on Poch's work and had some European experience.

Bournemouth started the season very well and had a good run that saw them around the top six, but a recent run had left them without a win until beating Brighton narrowly last week.  Injuries to influential players such as Adam Smith, Dan Gosling and Lewis Cook have meant that they may have to plan for the rest of the season without them and has forced a restructuring of the side.  It has left the defence under pressure and even Man United beat them.  Six defeats out of eight in November and December has set them back a bit, but it was the nature of some of the losses that caused concern.

Having beaten Palace, Leicester and Watford, there had been a 0-4 loss to Burnley in between and then a draw with Southampton and a win at Fulham before their dodgy run.  The performance of Nathan Ake in the middle of the back four has attracted an interest from a lot of clubs, including Spurs allegedly, but he has had a a lot to do, which he has done pretty competently.  The same cannot be said of Steve Cook, who had bad some nightmare games lately,  but losing the consistent Smith, our former right back, has been a big loss and the reshuffle has seen Simon Francis in his place and another former Spur, Charlie Daniels in at left back, where ha had been playing in a slightly more advanced position.

The midfield of Brooks, Lerma, Surman and Stanislas is a mix of hard workers and a little bit of creativity.  David Brooks was bought from Sheffield United in the summer for 11.5 million, which Spurs baulked at spending on an untested player from the Championship.  He has taken to the top flight with great confidence and has been a threat to side with his direct running and showing a good finishing ability too.  Stanislas is a strong runner with the ball and good at free-kicks, but lacks a frightening change of pace that Brooks possesses, so is slightly less effective, but he is an experienced head and can get in on crosses into the box by timing his runs well.  Surman and Lerma are the ball winners and trackers back, but they have both been suspended this season for red cards and may be lacking the timing required to be reliable enough to stay on the pitch for every game.  Winger Ryan Fraser has been out of action for a few games, but he is one of the leading chance makers in the Premier League, so stopping him getting crosses into the box for Wilson and/or King would be a way of making Lloris' days work a lot easier.

Callum Wilson and Josh King are a  very good partnership up front and unsurprisingly, as lazy journalists are prone to do just before  a match, they have been linked with Chelsea and Spurs respectively.  Wilson has overcome a couple of nasty injuries and looks likely to be back to his goal-scoring best, with a knack for being in the right place, even if things don't go that well, as his England debut showed.  King is a Norwegian international and former Man United youngster, who had moved around but has found his best form at Bournemouth.  Both have a bit of pace and are strong on the ball and in the air, so our defenders will need to be on their toes.  On the bench will be our former favourite Jermain Defoe, so he will be looking to add to his impressive career stats if he gets the chance, with Lys Mousset also having featured recently, but his strike rate is not up to that of the two main strikers. 

Whether Howe starts with two forwards will be a pointer as to how they will approach the game.  The Cherries have had some big defeats by Spurs when they have tried to play us at our won game, while last year's match at Wembley proved a frustrating afternoon, which Spurs edged 1-0. despite having the bulk of the game, but also could have lost the points as Bournemouth played on the break.  Burnley played like that in the last home game and got nothing (albeit only just), while Everton were slaughtered by trying to have a go.  Tottenham have the ability to grind out wins now, so there is a plan B, but the key might be keeping a clean sheet, which we haven't done that often.  Unless Spurs really turn it on again it could be a less than entertaining match as Spurs attempt to break down the defensive plan Howe sets out to stymie our natural game.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    2        Bournemouth   0
Dele Alli's tweaked hamstring makes him a doubt for the Boxing Day match with Bournemouth, while Moussa Sissoko may be set for a rest after playing the majority of the last seven matches.  Jan Vertonghen (hamstring), Vincent Janssen (foot), Victor Wanyama (knee), Eric Dier (appendicitis) and Mousa Dembele (ankle) are still ruled out.
Ryan Fraser hopes to return to action after a hamstring pull.  Lewis Cook, Dan Gosling and Adam Smith are all suffering with knee problems and will be long term absentees.

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Premier League Kick off 15:00
Tottenham Hotspur  5 (3) Bournemouth  0 (0)


Eriksen  15m 19s
Son  22m 28s
Moura  34m 15s
Kane  60m 10s
Son  69m 55s



Son (foul on King)  76
Winks (foul on Mousset)  87 


Lerma (foul on Lucas)  45+4


Crowd :   45,154 Weather :  Dry, chilly
Referee :  Chris Kavanagh (Manchester) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Daniel Cook ; Mrs. Sian Massey-Ellis
Fourth Official :  Gavin Ward  
Bournemouth kicked off and played towards the West Stand in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 7 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Bournemouth : kit
  1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

1  Juan FOYTH
  3  Danny ROSE

  8  Harry WINKS     
7  Moussa SISSOKO

  7  Heung-Min SON           (18  Fernando LLORENTE  88)
7  Lucas MOURA 
Christian ERIKSEN    (33  Ben DAVIES  84)

10  Harry KANE    (52  Oliver SKIPP  77)

Unused subs: 
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ
  2  Kieran TRIPPIER
11  Erik LAMELA

  27  Asmir BEGOVIC

  2  Simon FRANCIS (c)  (21  Diego Rico  45+3)
  Steve COOK
  5  Nathan AKE
11  Charlie DANIELS

20  David BROOKS  (17  Josh KING  17)
19  Junior STANISLAS
  6  Andrew SURMAN
  8  Jefferson LERMA     
24  Ryan FRASER

13  Callum WILSON  (  9  Lys MOUSSET  67)

Unused subs: 
  1  Artur BORUC
26  Tyrone MINGS
10  Jordon IBE
18  Jermain DEFOE


Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino Manager :  Eddie Howe
Sponsor :   AIA Shirt sponsor :  Mansion
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   Umbro
Match report

With Christmas in mind, it looked as though Spurs were playing the football Grinch, with six goals against Everton on Sunday followed up by five more today to put a spirited Bournemouth side to the sword with some excellent finishing. 

Coming to Wembley on the back of three straight away defeats and some dodgy results against the top six sides, Bournemouth started out quite sprightly.  Francis found some space on their right to stand up a cross that Ryan Fraser met unchallenged.  Six yards out, he met it with his forehead, but it hit Junior Stanislas standing in front of him, with Lloris diving on the loose ball before anyone could get onto it.  It was a good chance and only 13 minutes in, it could have set Spurs back.  A minute later, it almost happened again, as David Brooks made a well-timed run between Alderweireld and Rose to get onto the end of a neat chip over the defence by Jefferson Lerma, but he didn't quite get to it and instead of lifting over Hugo as he came out to the edge of his six yard box, he could only toe it for the keeper to catch the ball just above his head.

The misses proved to be quite costly, as Moura won the ball halfway inside his own half, left it for Moussa Sissoko to run it forward before laying off to his left to Harry Kane.  Turning back as an opponent came past him, he spread the play right to Kyle Walker-Peters, making his first Premier League start of the season.  He took his time on the ball and pulled it back to Christian Eriksen a few yards outside the box.  As no Bournemouth player closed him down, he took this as an incitation to shoot and drilled the ball at goal, which sent Asmir Begovic the wrong way as he dived to his right and the ball spun off Lerma to take it into the opposite side of the goal and provide Spurs with a 1-0 lead. 

It was a neat assist by KWP, who almost reached a cross from the left by Kane, as the defender ran in at the far post, but was inches away from sliding the ball past the keeper just a minute after the opening goal.  Bournemouth's bright start had tailed off pretty quickly and they were now backing off Spurs, allowing space to play.  When Toby played a long diagonal ball in the air towards KWP in the 23rd minute, he only found Charlie Daniels underneath it, but he headed it into the air and then tried to control the ball on the corner of his own box, but the ball ran away from him, allowing KWP to take possession again.  It looked as though eh might try a shot himself, but instead showed good awareness and passed inside to Heung-Min Son, who was standing in the D.  He took a couple of touches and then picked out a spot just inside Begovic's left hand post to bury his shot into the net and make it 2-0.  Son is a player who is in fine form and glowing with confidence, as he racks up the goals and showed what we were missing at the start of the season while he was away at the Asian Games.

There was a brief stoppage in the game, as the ref allowed treatment to Francis and Lerma, who had run into each other and Francis was really in the wars, as he fell to the ground clutching his knee in the last minute of the half, after Son had produced a Cruyff turn to get away from him in front of the benches.  It looked a nasty one and the Bournemouth captain was carried off on a stretcher.  Juan Foyth was back in the side and looking comfortable on the ball, he struck a diagonal ball to the left, which found Danny Rose moving into space, but his chest control let him down as the ball ran away from him, when he looked to burst into the box.  This was quickly followed by Lucas being blocked by Daniels in the area, but the referee was having none of it.  However, when Winks passed to KWP in acres of space on the right, his pull back was met first time by Lucas, who was standing around the penalty spot to sweep the ball in to Begovic's right.  At 3-0 ahead and only 35 minutes gone, the alarm bells must have been ringing for Eddie Howe, who many have been touting as the next Spurs manager should Pochettino leave.

Pochettino's inclusion of KWP after the shaky start he had at Barcelona was a master-stroke, as he proved a capable deputy for Trippier, making all three first half goals.  However, the Cherries had not thrown their hand in just yet and a Stanislas cross from the left just missed out Wilson in the middle, while Fraser picked it up on the opposite wing and crossed for Wilson, who did get there this time with his head, but with the whole goal to put it in, he nodded it straight at Lloris, who grabbed it head high on the line.  Another cross from the right by Fraser almost provided a goal for Bournemouth in added time, when he landed it on Daniels' head.  Just six yards out, he headed it down, but again within Lloris' reach and our captain got two hands to the ball to keep it out and it was kicked clear and the half-time whistle went straight away.  A goal then might have changed the half-time team-talks, but as it was a 3-0 lead probably made Mauricio's interval easier than Howe's.

Two Tottenham legends appeared at half-time.  One was on his way out to warm up as a sub during the interval and Jermain Defoe got a really good reception and then David Howells came out to be interviewed about his time at Spurs, including a couple of matches played at this stadium in 1991.

The temperature seemed to take a dip during the break and when the two teams emerged for the restart, they were obviously keen to keep warm with a fast start to he half, which saw Wilson burst into the box, mis-control it and then get bumped into by Foyth, which left the Bournemouth striker appealing for a penalty, but it wasn't that much different to the one Lucas was denied in the first half.  The visitors were pressing to get something to turn the game around, but the closest they came was when substitute Diego Rico went up the left wing and crossed low into the box, where Stanislas slipped the ball past Lloris.  For their fans it was disappointing that there was a flag for offside, as the forward hadn't held his run and strayed beyond the last defender.

Kane decided to try a free-kick at goal from 25 yards out ,but it was straight at Begovic, who held it easily, but when play switched to the other end, Foyth did well to stay with Wilson to get a block in at the cost of a corner.  When it came in, it was headed away and Moussa Sissoko headed it on to Eriksen.  Off balance, he wasn't able to play the pass up to Harry Kane that he wanted, but Kane took the ball towards the left corner, with three defenders around him.  He held the ball up well and played it behind him to Rose, who moved it on to Eriksen.  Christian tried a dink into the box for Son's run from right to left just inside the area, but it was blocked.  Retrieving the ball he had another go and produced a pinpoint wedge shot to pick out Kane's run into the box on the left and taking the ball as it dropped over his shoulder, Harry hit a volley with his left foot that dug into the ground and beat Begovic, who had gone to ground early.  it was a perfect pass and one played so quickly, it showed Eriksen's intuition to play such a ball without time to size up the options and the ball got the finish it deserved, as Harry hit the net again.

To their credit, Bournemouth kept going forward, but this is one of the problems I have with Howe being nominated by the media as the man to take over at Tottenham should the unthinkable happen.  He seems to be a very good offensive coach, but there is little defensive-mindfulness going on when they face teams who can out-play them.  There was so much space around the box and players did not track their runners, that every time Tottenham went forward, they looked like scoring, whereas Bournemouth had more shots on goal, but didn't offer the same threat.  Stanislas burst into the box on their left, but his slow shot was blocked by a sliding Danny Rose and Wilson was taken off with Lys Mousset replacing him, making an immediate impact with one of his first touches getting between Alderweireld and Foyth to have a free header six yards out, but he put it wide of the near post, perhaps being surprised it reached him.

Tottenham were enjoying possession, with Bournemouth having tired of closing down at all and working the ball up the left, Danny Rose played a pass into the box behind Cook for Kane.  Ake had been slow picking up his run and Kane out-muscled him to get to the line where he was faced by Begovic near his near post.  Kane tried to drag the ball back, but over-balanced and fell over, but had the presence of mind to stab the ball back to Rose, who had followed him into the area, but he fell over.  The left back still managed to return the ball to Kane while on the floor and Harry regained his feet, playing a pass to the edge of the box to Lucas Moura, who struck a cleanly hit shot down the middle of the goal.  Begovic had got his position back and got behind the ball to save, but could not hold the shot, leaving Heung-Min Son to step in, take the ball away from the goalkeeper's prone body, round him and put it into an empty net.  The five goal margin might have flattered Spurs, but it showed what good form our goal-scorers are in at the moment.

In truth, the game probably could easily have finished 5-5 if Bournemouth had anyone who could finish the chances they created, with Charlie Daniels having two late efforts.  One was a van Basten like volley from the left that flew narrowly off target and another that ended up with a Stanislas volley that he got all wrong and went wide in the last minute.  Rico also tried a volley from the left and that went wide too.  The only Spurs move of note came when sub Olly Skipp looked to release Moura through the middle, but his pass was cut out by Daniels.

The final whistle put Bournemouth out of their misery and wrapped up another three points for Tottenham in a display that wasn't as good as at Everton, but the players worked hard and reaped the benefit by taking the opportunities that were created.  The players who came in all did a job, with Foyth coolly impressive at the back, Moura working hard back and forward, KWP showing he is a player with a lot of promise and Danny Rose was just being Danny Rose.  For the lack of signings and the criticism about our squad not being that deep, the introduction of players while others were rested has allowed Pochettino to show that he has faith and confidence in the squad and the players will also be better off for having some time playing in the first team too.

It was probably the sort of game Poch would have wanted after Everton and before Wolves on Saturday.  Not too taxing and no added injuries to those that we already have, so sneaking into second place in the table was a Christmas bonus after Manchester City's surprise second successive defeat, this time at Leicester City.  Liverpool keep on winning, so all we can do is try to hang onto their coat-tails, but they play City in the next week and every team has to play each other now the season has reached the halfway mark,  so the race is half run and the second half of it will be akin to a marathon with the other cup competitions we are involved in.  Let's hope that the run continues !!

Stanford Rivers

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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Arsenal 1 Wednesday
Burnley 1 Everton 5 Wednesday
Crystal Palace 0 Cardiff City 0 Wednesday
Fulham 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Wednesday
Leicester City 2 Manchester City 1 Wednesday
Liverpool 4 Newcastle United 0 Wednesday
Manchester United 3 Huddersfield Town 1 Wednesday
Watford 1 Chelsea 2 Wednesday
Southampton 1 West Ham United London 2 Thursday


League Table  2018-19
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 19 16 3 0 43 7 51 +36
2 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 19 15 0 4 42 18 45 +24
3 Manchester City 19 14 2 3 51 15 44 +36
4 Chelsea 19 12 4 3 37 16 40 +21
5 Arsenal 19 11 5 3 41 25 38 +16
6 Manchester United 19 9 5 5 37 31 32 +6
7 Leicester City 19 8 4 7 24 22 28 +2
8 Everton 19 7 6 6 31 29 27 +2
9 West Ham United London 19 8 3 8 27 28 27 -1
10 Watford 19 8 3 8 26 27 27 -1
11 Wolverhampton Wanderers 19 7 5 7 20 22 26 -2
12 Bournemouth 19 8 2 9 27 33 26 -6
13 Brighton & Hove Albion 19 6 4 9 21 27 22 -6
14 Crystal Palace 19 5 4 10 17 25 19 -8
15 Newcastle United 19 4 5 10 14 26 17 -12
16 Southampton 19 3 6 10 20 35 15 -15
17 Cardiff City 19 4 3 12 18 38 15 -20
18 Burnley 19 3 3 13 17 41 12 -24
19 Fulham 19 2 5 12 17 43 11 -26
20 Huddersfield Town 19 2 4 13 12 34 10 -22

Position before match :  3rd
Position after match :  2nd
Position after the midweek matches :  2nd


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