OPPONENTS Anderlecht
COMPETITION Europa  League Group J
DATE Thursday 5th November 2015
VENUE White Hart Lane






With big matches following our final three Europa League group matches, it is a difficult balancing act that Mauricio Pochettino has to carry out, with the squad needing to be used to its maximum potential.

We will see some changes from the win over Aston Villa on Monday, with Arsenal waiting just two days after this meeting with Anderlecht.  And with West Ham United to follow the Monaco game and Chelsea coming after a trip to Qarabag, the sooner qualification from this group is secured the better.  The inclusion of some fringe players caught us out in Belgium with an early lead evaporating into a 1-2 defeat that has not helped the remainder of the group stage matches.

Anderlecht looked dangerous at home, with their full backs pushing on, but how they will play away is to be seen.  This is the side that lost in Qarabag.  Hopefully, after the Villa victory, Spurs will be up for it and make the most of the possession they have, rather than sitting deep, as they did in the away meeting.  The need to take the game to Anderlecht is key, with Youri Tielemens a creative midfielder, who can dictate a game, despite his young age and the big striker Okaka gave the Spurs defence a fair bit of trouble.   Speedy winger Andy Najar has been linked with Tottenham and may make an entrance from the bench, while fellow winger Frank Acheampong looked lively in the game at the Van Den Stock stadium, with Dendonker pushing forward and good at getting on the end of set-pieces.  Internationals Dennis Praet and Steven Defour are the driving force in midfield, meaning that Spurs have to close them down quickly and maybe turn over possession to put some pressure on what looked a shaky defence and a keeper who seems more intent on winding our players up than going for the ball

It won't be an easy game for Tottenham, as Anderlecht will set their stall out for a draw and maybe use the pace of their wide men to get something on the break.  A draw would be a good result for them in the context of the group and would be a pain for Spurs.  I think that the artistry of the likes of Eriksen and Lamela might open up the Mauves' back line and with Kane hitting form and Dembele becoming more of the player we hoped he would be, Tottenham could have too much for the visitors.

Prediction Tottenham Hotspur    2         Anderlecht    0
Andros Townsend has been dropped for his after-match argument with fitness coach Nathan Gardiner Monday night's win over Aston Villa, while Heung-Min Son could play some part of the match after returning to training, but Alex Pritchard (ankle), Nacer Chadli (ankle) and Nabil Bentaleb (lacking match fitness) are all out. Danny Rose (dead leg) and Clinton N'Jie (hamstring) are doubtful for the game at White Hart Lane.

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Tottenham Hotspur  2 (1)  

Europa League  Group J
Thursday 5th November 2015
White Hart Lane
Anderlecht  1 (0)

Kick off 20:05
Kane  28m 05s
Dembele  86m 52s
Ezekiel  71m 11s


N'Sakala (foul on Alli)  41


Crowd :   , Weather :  Wet, mild
Referee :  Orel Grinfeld (ISR) Assistant Referees :  Danny Krasikow (ISR); Dvir Shimon (ISR)
Fourth Official :  Amihay Yehoshua Mozes (ISR) Additional Assistant Referees :  Eli Hacmon (ISR); Ziv Adler (ISR)
UEFA Delegate :  Roland Ospelt  (LIE) UEFA Referee Observer :  Christer Fällström (SWE)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 4 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Anderlecht : kit
  1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

16  Kieran TRIPPIER
33  Ben DAVIES

  8  Ryan MASON  (19  Mousa DEMBELE  73)
15  Eric DIER

11  Erik LAMELA
23  Christian ERIKSEN  (  7  Heung-Min SON  59)
20  Dele ALLI  (25  Josh ONOMAH 77)

10  Harry KANE 

Unused subs: 
13  Michel VORM
Federico FAZIO
27  Kevin WIMMER

    1  Silvio PROTO  (c)

30  Guillame GILLET
  4  KARA Mbodji
21  Fabrice N'SAKALA       (17  CONTE  83)

  7  Andy NAJAR
16  Steven DEFOUR
32  Leander DENDONCKER
18  Frank ACHEAMPONG  (26  Idrissa SYLLA 89)

31  Youri TIELEMENS  (93  Imoh EZEKIEL  69)

99  Stefano OKAKA

Unused subs: 
33  Davy ROEF
  9  Matias SUAREZ

Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino Manager :  Besnik Hasi
Sponsor :   AIA Shirt sponsor :  Proximus
Kit Supplier :  Under Armour Kit Supplier :   adidas
Match report

On Fireworks Night, what looked to be ending in a damp squib was lit up like the sky, with an explosive finish with one bang from the boot of Mousa Dembele, which handed Spurs a 2-1 win, rocketed them to first place in Group J and sent Anderlecht from top to bottom.

At the start of the match, it looked as though it might be a long night, with Anderlecht attacking with sharp passing and not being afraid to take a shot form long distance.  With Dele Alli playing in an advanced role in a midfield three with Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela, Ryan Mason formed the defensive two midfielders with Eric Dier, but the Belgians found space to probe through the Spurs defence.   The scourge of the first leg, Stefano Okaka, was slid through the middle of the defence, but Jan Vertonghen got back to slide tackle him as he bore down on goal.  After  a couple of Tottenham corners that came to nothing, Anderlecht midfielder Steven Defour strode forward and let fly with a 25 yard shot that Hugo Lloris palmed over the bar.  Youri Tielemens was playing a prompting role just behind Okaka and put him in for a shot that went wide of Lloris' goal. 

Spurs had a chance when Alli looked in, but Deschacht won the ball at the expense of a corner and from it, Kane took the ball short and hit a shot, which was blocked and Trippier's follow up was sliced well wide.  Halfway through the first half, Davies played a good ball to Lamela, who took a touch and then poked a shot wide of the keeper's left hand post.  However, a Davies cross at one end led to Spurs being caught out on the break, with Ryan Mason making good ground back to block Okaka as he was about to shoot from inside our penalty area.  Reported Spurs transfer target Andy Najar was showing that he was quick on the right wing, but his final ball wasn't that telling and his shooting was a bit wild.

Suddenly, a bit against the run of play, Spurs went ahead.  A move down the middle, saw the ball played through by Mason to Eriksen, who flicked it to the right with the outside of his right foot for Harry Kane to let it run across him and smash a low shot to Proto's right from the 18 yard line, leaving him diving in vain as the ball hit the bottom corner of his net.  It was a well taken goal by a striker whose confidence looks high and was a boost to the Tottenham side who were not as slick as they have been recently.

Anderlecht tried to hit back, with Tielemens in for a shot on goal, but it went way over the bar and into added time, Alli went down under challenge in the area and the referee looked at it, but waved play on.  So, Spurs went in 1-0 up at the break and while it was a little unjust on the visitors, they have failed to trouble Lloris too often, despite having a few good chances.  Tony Galvin provided bluff Yorkshire banter with Paul Coyte at half time to entertain the crowd and then we were off into the second period, with Spurs attacking the goal at the Paxton Road end.

Tottenham started on the attack, without creating anything clear cut, with Anderlecht hitting on the break, with Deschacht hitting a shot from 25 yards over the bar.  Alli led a break and when he got to the edge of the box, he failed to find Lamela with a short pass, something he failed to do a bit later in the game too.  It looked like it might be costly, when Defour went forward to hit a low shot that brought Hugo into action, by tipping it wide diving low to his right.  At the other end of the pitch, Kane did find Lamela, but as he came inside, the ball was nicked off him, while Trippier had to be alert in defence, when Defour put in a cross that was heading for Okaka's head until the Spurs right back nodded it away at the last second. 

Heung-Min Son returned to action, replacing Christian Eriksen, when it looked as though All might be the one to be hooked, but he lacked a good first touch for much of his time on the pitch, probably as a result of not a lot of match play since being injured.   Son was involved in a move that produced a shot from Alli, but it was deflected out for a corner, which came to nothing, but in the next attack, son's cross came out to Ben Davies on the left hand corner of the box and he hit a looping effort that beat the keeper, but bounced out off the face of the crossbar.  He came so close to his first Spurs goal !!  Erik Lamela had switched wings and when he came in form the left, he fashioned a shot off the outside of his left foot that went narrowly wide of the far post.

Anderlecht's substitute Ezekiel produced a change in the game for them and immediately, Okaka just failed to get on the end of a cross at the far post, ending up on the floor, which is where he spent a lot of the game, trying to find a free-kick for a foul ,which the referee mostly ignored.  Then the Belgians should have equalised, when N'Sakala picked out Defour's run and he took a touch before volleying at goal, only to see his shot fly over the bar.  It was an opening he really should have done better with.  As it turned lout, it didn't matter immediately, as the sub got involved, linking with Defour, whose ball in cleared Alderweireld and Ezekiel got on the end to shoot on the volley.  Lloris got a hand to it, but it went in off the foot of his right post to give Anderlecht a leveller.  The goal had been coming and Tottenham didn't spot the warning signs.

Pochettino changed things round, with Onomah on for Alli and Mousa Dembele for Mason.  However, it needed a good blocking tackle from Vertonghen to deny Ezekiel as he broke into the box, with Lloris punching the corner away.  Spurs tested Proto when Dembele struck an effort from 25 yards but it was a comfortable stop for the Anderlecht captain.  But after Kane had been denied by a defender's block, Tottenham attacked down the left, with Onomah and Davies linking well and the Welshman pulling a cross back from the left wing.  It found Son, moving towards the penalty spot and he had the composure to lay it back to Dembele, 20 yards out and the midfielder let fly first time, with a shot that rocketed past the keeper's vain effort to rasp into the top right keeper of the net, prompting wild celebrations in the crowd.  With just four minutes of normal time left, it came at a good time for Tottenham.

Anderlecht were looking to get back into the game again, but Spurs held the ball well and ended the game by keeping it in the corner at the Anderlecht end for the final couple of minutes, helped by a couple of frustrated fouls handing us free-kicks, which were taken short to kill time.  The final whistle was a relief after being given a scare, with this a game Spurs really needed to win to make their passage through to the knock out stages easier.   It was an odd performance by Spurs, who looked tired and failed to press in their normal style, with several players left out and  needing a piece of magic to take the three points.  Dele Alli looked a little leggy and his passing was not up to its usual accuracy, while Spurs as a team laboured in stringing too many passes together in some periods of the game.  Anderlecht looked a decent side, but lacked a punch, which was mostly due to Okaka's antics, whereas in the first game, he was a real handful for our defence.

So, a good change by Poch turned the game , with Spurs scoring yet another late goal.  One more win should see us through and with tough games after our next two Europa League matches, we need to get that qualification done as soon as possible.

The Heathrow Spur




Anderlecht's name comes from the Flemish for "on the left", as most of the team's attacking was down that flank thanks to a strange quirk of nature that has an un-naturally high number of Flemish footballers are left footed.


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What you thought
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Other scores during this round of matches :
Group A
Glasgow Celtic 1 Molde (NOR) 2 Thursday
Ajax (HOL) 0 Fenerbahce (TUR) 0 Thursday
Group B
Rubin Kazan (RUS) 0 Liverpool 1 Thursday
Sion (SWI) 1 Bordeaux (FRA) 1 Thursday
Group C
Krasnodar (RUS) 2 PAOK (GRE) 1 Thursday
Borussia Dortmund (GER) 4 Qabala (AZE) 0 Thursday
Group D
Club Brugge (BEL) 1 Legia Warsaw (POL) 0 Thursday
Napoli (ITA) 5 Midtjylland (DEN) 0 Thursday
Group E
Dinamo Minsk (RUS) 1 Villarreal (SPA) 2 Thursday
Vitoria Plzen (CZE) 1 Rapid Vienna (AUS) 2 Thursday
Group F
Marseille (FRA) 1 Sporting Braga (POR) 0 Thursday
Groningen (HOL) 0 FC Slovan Liberec (SVN) 1 Thursday
Group G
Rosenborg (NOR) 0 SS Lazio (ITA) 2 Thursday
St. Etienne (FRA) 3 Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (UKR) 0 Thursday
Group H
Besiktas (TUR) 1 Lokomotiv Moskva (RUS) 1 Thursday
Skenderbeu (ALB) 3 Sporting Lisbon (POR) 0 Thursday
Group I
Belenenses (POR) 0 FC Basel (SWI) 2 Thursday
Lech Poznan (POL) 0 Fiorentina (ITA) 2 Thursday
Group J
Qarabag (AZE) 1 AS Monaco (FRA) 1 Thursday
Group K
Sparta Prague (CZE) 1 Schalke 04 (GER) 1 Thursday
Asteras Tripolis (GRE) 2 Apoel Nicosia (TUR) 0 Thursday
Group L
Augsburg (GER) 4 AZ Alkmaar (HOL) 1 Thursday
Athletic Bilbao (SPA) 5 Partizan Belgrade (SER) 1 Thursday




Group J Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Tottenham Hotspur 4 2 1 1 7 5 7 +2
2 AS Monaco 4 1 3 0 4 3 6 +1
3 Qarabag 4 1 1 2 3 5 4 -2
4 Anderlecht 4 1 1 2 4 5 4 -1


Position before match :  3rd
Position after match :  1st


* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.


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