Tottenham Hotspur head to southeast England to face Bournemouth on Saturday in the first fixture of matchday nine. Spurs currently sit third in the Premier League, just one point shy of the top spot, while they are placed second in a tight Group E in the Champions League. Tottenham haven't wowed in their return from the international break, but two away draws, even if the one at the Hawthornes was particularly disappointing, isn't an awful week. What was awful was the injury to Toby Alderweireld. Yet even the reports coming from that scare have been more positive than anticipated. As we head into late October, Spurs are in great positions in their two seminal competitions.
Tottenham's opponent on Saturday are south-coast foe and Premier League newcomer (relatively), A.F.C. Bournemouth. The Cherries have impressed in their two years in the top flight of English Football and have done something that many recently promoted sides fail to do — play attacking football. They avoided, for the most part, a relegation scrap in the 2015-16 campaign and are in eleventh place this year with three wins, two draws, three losses, and eleven points. That's not a poor start by most standards and rather remarkable considering the size of the club.
What is even more surprising than Bournemouth's sustained success, is the fitness of Jack Wilshere who will actually play a match against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. Nearly a quarter of the way through the Premier League season and the player who Arsene Wenger had this poetic bit to say about: "He has a Spanish technique certainly, yes," said Wenger "He has an English heart because he's an English boy." will attempt to disrupt (and by disrupt I mean not totally embarrass himself against) Spurs midfield. Outside of Wilshere, the Cherries have a competent striker in Callum Wilson and a hugely talented attacker in Jordan Ibe to go forward with. Their backline isn't making it onto many Fantasy Premier League rosters, but with a 1-0 win against Everton less than a month ago, they have proved that in a vacuum, they can put in a shift. Finally, Artur Boruc. The comically erratic netminder is set to start against Tottenham and with that comes the penchant for an unreal save or a blunder that will create a unanimous face-palm throughout the Vitality Stadium. Let's hope its the latter.
Tottenham are still the only undefeated team in the Premier League and that is a feat to be proud of. While Bournemouth are a decent side, they don't seem the type of team to really bother Spurs too much. Poche's press and Spurs spirited attack seem a poison pill for a team committed to getting forward, but without the proper talent to match their opponent. In many ways, this reminds me of the Swansea teams of three to four years back, but maybe a few shades less dangerous. They were a free-flowing footballing side who gave some top teams fits, but always seem to fold against the eternally attack-minded lilywhites. This fixture is reminiscent of those encounters and for this reason, Tottenham have a strong chance to nab three points away from home.
How to Watch
Date/time: Saturday, October 22nd, 2016, 12:30 p.m. (UK), 7:30 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: The Vitality Stadium (Dean Court), Bournemouth, UK
Official: Craig Pawson
TV: NBCSN (USA), Sky Sports 1 HD (UK), TSN1, TSNGO (Canada), Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA), Sky Go (UK)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also often at BBC Radio London, BBC Radio 5 Live, and TalkSport
Toby Alderweireld's injury against West Brom removes him from contention in the matchday eighteen. It is a testament to his often otherworldly play that many supporters were more terrified over his injury than that of one Mr. Harry Edward Kane. Danny Rose's fitness looks to be a coin flip at this point and Harry Kane, while returning to the training ground this week, will be remain unavailable for selection.
From this end, Ben Davies might be given the nod over Rose to give him a few extra days, while a rested Kyle Walker will return to the starting lineup. What a difference a year makes in the life of Kevin Wimmer. The Austrian was commendable throughout the winter in place of Jan Vertonghen, but is klicks away from the good graces of Mauricio Pochettino at the moment. For that reason, and for the outstanding play from Victor Wanyama, Eric Dier will start in place on Alderweireld. Hugo Lloris and Jan Vertonghen will start as well to round out the defense.
The midfield pairing is tricky. While Moussa Sissoko was lambasted for his poor play against the Baggies, an attacking Bournemouth side would certainly suit him better. If Sissoko starts, then it would likely mean that Dele Alli would pair with Wanyama in the center of midfield, at the expense of Mousa Dembélé. This is a possibility, but one that I don't think will actually happen. Wanyama will pair with Moose in his reintroduction into the starting eleven.
In this scenario, Dele Alli would start in the hole, with Christian Eriksen playing on the left and Erik Lamela patrolling the right flank. If it weren't for the positive comments Poche made about Janssen, I would pick Son to start up top as a false nine like we saw against City. Because I'm sure Poche wants Janssen to get going, though, starting him in a high-octane affair would be a good way to get him his first Premier League goal (there is a relevant inappropriate joke in there somewhere), so I am going to choose him.
In general, this is a difficult lineup to pick. Will Eriksen get a rest? Will Son be deployed on the left and make the first eleven? What about Poche's insistence in getting Sissoko match-time and Dembélé's fitness levels? Tough questions that will all be answered on Saturday.
There is a new leader in town. Well, really just a co-leader, but it still counts! In a week of collective hubris, nearly nobody saw Spurs dropping points to West Brom. The only exceptions were Luke Zimmerman and Skipjack. Zimmerman's iron grip on the nerdiest of thrones did not relent, while Skipjack, just eleven days after a devastating Orioles AL Wildcard defeat, pulled up his socks, wiped a tear from beneath his eye, and predicted a 1-1 draw. Unlike Baltimore baseball, he was able to come through when it counted. [Ed: BURRRRRRRRRRNNNNNNNN]
|Earl of Shoop||4|
A reminder of the scoring: it's one point for correctly predicting the outcome, and a bonus point for nailing the exact score.
Dustin Menno: Bournemouth ain’t West Brom, but neither are they a team that should be overlooked. Callum Wilson is a legit scoring threat, and Jordan Ibe can make you pay if he finds a way into the channels. That said, Bournemouth are going to play open and direct, and that suits Tottenham quite well, thank you. 2-0 Spurs.
Matthew Pachniuk: If Jack Wilshere weren’t in the squad, this would be a very likable team. It has been said pretty consistently over the past week, but this is just an awful matchup for Bournemouth. They will try to play and we are just significantly better at playing than them. Spurs haven’t rolled in the past few fixtures, but its a side who is getting pretty darn good at producing results, no matter the form. Won’t be as easy as expected, but a 2-0 Spurs victory sounds about right.
Pardeep Cattry: Spurs will be fielding a back line without Alderweireld (crying emoji), and Bournemouth's got some scoring ability, scoring 12 goals so far this year. The Cherries, though, have also conceded just as much as they've scored. Spurs will be able to handle Eddie Howe's team, and it should be a good day for that running counter of how Dele Alli stacks up against Jack Wilshere. Tottenham 2-0.
Luke Zimmerman: Jack Wilshere is trash. Spurs are not. 3-0, good guys.
Jake Meador: 3-1 Spurs. Cherries have a good attack, but give us far too much room to work and we win comfortably despite conceding a goal.
Alex Greenberg: Wheelchair is going to be way too fired up for this game. He gets sent off, and Eriksen finds the net a couple times. Easy 4-1 win for Spurs.
Ben Daniels: Last year Eddie Howe said we were the best team in the league after we thrashed them 5-1. This year they have Jack Wilshere. 10-0 Spurs.
Skipjack: Smoke em if you got em. 1-0 Spurs because our legs are tired.
Bryan Ashlock: You know what would suck? Jack Wilshere scoring against us. 2-1 Spurs.
Brian Meyers: Surprise! We handle a team that is bad without issue. 2-0 Spurs.
GN Punk: Bournemouth are bad and have said they'll come right at Spurs. It'll be refreshing instead of boring Pulis ball last week. There shouldn't be any issues getting some goals in this one as well as someone running circles around Jack Wilshere until his kneecaps fall off. 3-0 Spurs.
Salmon Chase: TBD
Earl of Shoop: TBD
Brian Mechanick: TBD
Ed F.: TBD