Spurs under 18’s versus Southampton: (match preview)
I think that it is quite fitting that the wonder boys of Hotspur Way will be the first Spurs team to play at our state of the art stadium, when they take on Southampton’s under 18’s in a league game, on Sunday. John McDermott’s under 18 side will be preparing for the game of their lives when they take on the ‘ Saints ‘ at our brand new 62,000 seater home on Sunday afternoon. This is a historic occasion for all of those associated with Spurs however, the young players themselves must be feeling a whole different level of excitement. This is the third preview that I have written for this game. The previous two were both cancelled. Our high flying under 18’s are in a title race with bitter rivals Arsenal who are currently four points above Spurs at the summit of the southern division, having played two games more than John McDermott’s side. This game comes in the middle of an international break and both sides will be affected by this. Paul Hardyman’s Southampton side have been doing quite well of late. They sit in fourth place in the league table, and from their last five league games they have picked up ten points. They have a squad which is brimming with attacking talent and while we did beat them 5-2 in the reverse fixture back in September, Hardyman’s side showed their attacking quality during that game. With pacy forward and former Spurs schoolboy Rio Glean impressing along with tricky Irish winger Will Ferry, who is unavailable for Sundays game. Technically speaking Southampton’s under 18’s have been one of the best in England over the last five or so years, and they have never been afraid to attack teams. The ‘ Saints ‘ have a number of players who I like, of which include Irish fullback Kameron Ledwidge, French centre half Allan Tchaptchet and Southampton’s top scorer this season with nine league goals, Christian Norton. However, at least two of those three players will be away on international duty, and will miss Sunday’s league game. one thing I do know is that Southampton are a well drilled side who like to play fast attacking football, and in the previous seasons they have always impressed me.
For those of you who don’t know much about of our under 18 side ahead of Sunday’s match which will be played in front of 30,000 spectators, then the following is a little introduction of the team. This seasons under 18’s has been one of the most impressive Spurs youth teams of the 21st century. Former head coach Matt Wells’ had his side playing sparkling attacking football ever since the domestic season kicked off last August. Since defeating Brighton 6-4 in our opening game, our under 18’s have impressed with their sublime brand of attacking football. A type of football which has been no different to how our first team have played when they have been at their very best this season. Not only are our under 18’s an exceptionally talented side, they are also a team who show great fighting spirit. And it is such fighting spirit which has got them to where they are in the league this season. Still unbeaten in the league after playing 16 games, our lads have conceded the fewest amount of goals this season (16) and they have also scored the joint most alongside Arsenal (64) who have played two games more than us. Although we will be missing a number of important players on Sunday due to injuries and the international break, McDermott will still have a strong squad to select from. There are so many stars in this group however, some of those to look out for on Sunday are dazzling CAM/winger Dilan Markanday, aggressive left back Dennis Cirkin, tricky Zaha-esque winger J’Neil Bennett and talented ball playing centre half Brooklyn Lyons-Foster. However, there is one player in particular who you should all keep an eye on, on Sunday afternoon. This players name is Armando Shashoua and he is the captain and beating heart of this team. Shashoua (18) is a wonderfully technical central midfielder who always manages to influence the game at both ends of the pitch. As I have said so many times before, the second year scholar plays with the craft and skill of a player who has come through the ranks at a top Academy in Spain. To see him leading out the team on Sunday is something that will be wonderful to see.
Our match against Southampton will be no ordinary game for our under 18 side, it is a historic occasion which none of the players will have experienced anything like before in their careers. First of all this is a very important game in Spurs’ season and it is a game that they will be desperately hoping to win, and I am confident that they will do so. I would like to wish our lads all the very best of luck for what promises to be an incredible day in the clubs history. I am sure that our under 18’s will saviour every moment of the day and enjoy it just as much as all of us fans will. I cannot wait for the match!
My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Oluwayemi, Okedina, Walcott, Lyons-Foster, Cirkin, White, A.Shashoua (c), Bennett, Markanday, Clarke, Richards.
Subs from: Kurylowicz, Statham, Thorpe, Pochettino, Whittaker.
Injured/unavailable: Jeremie Mukendi, Paris Maghoma, Luis Binks, Maximus Tainio.
Doubtful: Jamie Bowden, Phoenix Patterson, Enoch Asante, Troy Parrott, Rodel Richards.
Previous meeting: Spurs 5-2.
My score prediction: Spurs 4-2.
My one to watch: Former Spurs schoolboy Rio Glean is a direct winger who likes to take on and beat players. Glean is a skilful winger who has good pace and a low centre of gravity. He impressed in the reverse fixture back in September by scoring a late goal, in total the first year scholar has scored two goals for the ‘ Saints ‘ under 18 side this season. He is certainly a player to watch out for on Sunday afternoon.