My piece on Spurs’ promising young centre-forward Dane Scarlett: 

Centre-forward Dane Pharrell Scarlett enjoyed an excellent first season full-time at Spurs, during the 2020/21 season. Next season Scarlett will be a second year scholar, but during his first year of scholarship at the club he scored a phenomenal total of 25 goals from 27 competitive appearances (includes first team appearances) for Spurs at all levels. The Hillingdon born footballer also registered four assists. In the following short piece I will be writing about some of Dane’s best attributes as a player and also his style of play, as well as talking a bit about the last two seasons for Dane. Scarlett made his Spurs development side debut for a Spurs XI in a pre-season friendly against Enfield Town in the August of 2019. But he first made his competitive Under 18 debut for Spurs on the opening day of the 2019/20 season at Fulham’s Motspur Park training ground, against the west London club. The then schoolboy footballer started against a very good Fulham side on that day. Fulham saw a lot more of the ball than Spurs during that game, when he played almost as a second striker to Kion Etete, and although he didn’t get on the ball much in promising positions, he did work very hard off the ball. Scarlett featured in four more games for Spurs at competitive Under 18 level that season. He came very close to scoring in a league game against Norwich City, in what was a good cameo performance, before then scoring a good centre-forwards goal in the next game against Aston Villa. However, Scarlett unfortunately sustained a bad season ending injury early on in his next league game (after making a sliding challenge), which was against Chelsea in November 2019 (Scarlett also made the bench on one occasion for Spurs’ Under 19 side in the UEFA Youth League).

That injury would have been very difficult for the England youth international, but Dane came back for the 2020/21 season after impressing with the Spurs first team  in some pre-season friendlies. He scored two goals and registered two assists for Matt Taylor’s Spurs Under 18 side against West Ham United on the opening day of the Under 18 league season, and what followed in terms of goalscoring was nothing short of phenomenal. Of the standout individual moments from Dane during the season just gone, a 7-0 Under 18 league win over Southampton stands outs when Dane was involved in five goals (four goals and one assist). Also, his hat-trick against league runners up Crystal Palace would have been a memorable moment for the 17 year old, as would his first competitive goal for the Spurs Under 23 side, back in the December of 2020. However, Scarlett also made three competitive first team appearances for the Spurs first team during the 2020/21 season, registering one assist (he became the youngest player to assist in the competition since Kylian Mbappé). His goalscoring/assists record during the season just gone was almost on the levels of Reo Griffiths’ outstanding 2017/18 season, a season that Griffiths scored 34 competitive goals in. Obviously I haven’t seen as much of Dane at the same stage in his career as I saw of Troy Parrott during his first year of scholarship. However, I feel as if I have seen him enough to write a bit about his style of play. Dane Scarlett is a very good finisher of goals, but something I have been very impressed with has been how good he is in the air. Scoring a good number of goals with his head, his headers are often powerful ones with a nice accuracy to them. A commanding presence up front for the Spurs Under 18’s during the 2020/21 season, Dane seems to exude confidence in those games, but also for the Under 23 side he did cause problems for defenders. With a good example of this being in a Premier League 2 game against Chelsea last year.

During the Spurs Under 23 game game against Chelsea the centre-forward scored a really good and powerful header against Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech, after some good movement inside the Chelsea box. The centre-forward was playing out on the right flank as a winger, and his movement off the ball was really impressive, as was his desire to track back and help out the Spurs right-back during the game, and his defensive work during that game was very, very good. Scarlett is obviously a very good finisher, and he is a striker who will score a variety of different goals (he is good from distance also). But if opposition defenders make errors in and around the penalty area then the last thing they need is a centre-forward of Scarlett’s quality around, more than ready to find the back of the net, if given the chance. Apart from his aerial ability the Spurs Academy player who signed his first professional contract with the club last season, is a player who likes to try a variety of finishes (he is a very good finisher). Although he does like to finish with power and style, in my opinion it is actually Scarlett’s off the ball movement which is perhaps his greatest attribute as a player. Terrific at pressing defenders (whenever I have seen him play) and never giving them a moment to focus on the ball, his off the ball work reminds me of Troy Parrott’s, at the same stage in his career. He is so good at getting himself into good goalscoring positions, and he seems to almost ghost into fine positions from which he can score from. A physical player who is not afraid to battle for the ball, Dane takes responsibility in games and he is also a leader too. He is a confident player with good pace, and he showed this in first team games last season against Ludogorets Razgrad and Wolfsberger AC respectively. 

Dane has come back from a bad injury and performed remarkably well during the recent 2020/21 season, and whenever I have seen him I have been so impressed with his off the ball movement, and that desire to run the extra yard for his team. A player who has just had a very promising season, Scarlett has a very promising future in the game, and with Spurs in the inaugural UEFA Conference League next season, the 17 year old will surely get more first team appearances. The centre-forward should be very proud of all that he has achieved during the 2020/21 season, and I wish him all the very best of luck for next season.

My piece on Spurs Academy player Michael Craig:

In my latest Spurs Academy player article I will be focusing on central midfielder Michael Craig, the identical twin brother of Matthew Craig, who I wrote about recently. Barnet born footballer Michael Craig (capped by Scotland as high up as Under 17 level) made his debut for the Spurs Under 18 side as a schoolboy towards the end of the 2018/19 season. Michael came off the bench in a 2-0 league win over Reading, and he would also make an additional appearance for the Spurs Under 18 side, in a 4-0 league win over Fulham. The midfielder registered an assist in that game, and he impressed during his 22 minutes on the pitch. Craig would sign scholarship forms with Spurs for the start of the following 2019/20 season, and he even started for a Spurs XI in a pre-season friendly against Enfield Town, in the August of 2019. In that game Michael put in a really mature performance in central midfield, and he had a calming presence in the centre of the pitch, was tidy with the ball and also made some impressive and well weighted forward passes. A midfielder who can play either as a number four or eight, Craig actually started the season with Spurs’ Under 18 side by playing right-midfield, in a league game against Fulham. Michael started and completed the full 90 minutes of the next three competitive Under 18 matches, impressing in all three. However, shortly after a 4-0 league win against Swansea City in the late August of 2019, Michael sustained an injury which would rule him out for the rest of that 2019/20 season (he registered one assist from his four competitive appearances). Michael spent over a year out injured and he only returned to competitive games for Spurs during the September of last year, when he came on as a late substitute in a 2-0 home Under 18 league win over Arsenal.

Despite spending such a long time out injured, Michael Craig gradually established himself as a key player for Matt Taylor’s Spurs Under 18 side during the season just gone, getting a lot of game time for Spurs at that level. Michael made 20 competitive appearances for the Spurs Under 18 side in the 2020/21 season, contributing with five assists and one goal at that level. Michael also stepped up to play for the Spurs Under 23 side on two occasions, which was fully deserved. The midfielder impressed in both his Premier League 2 appearances against Derby County and Manchester United respectively. And in that Manchester United game in particular Craig really made a big impact on the game. Playing as a number four, he stayed close to Manchester United’s very creative CAM Hannibal Mejbri, and he got stuck in, and was assured in what he did in the central areas of the pitch. The then second year scholar who recently signed his first professional contract with Spurs (it runs until 2023), also registered an assist in the game against Manchester United (Spurs won 3-0). After a really good season of progress for Michael I am predicting for him to become an important regular for the Spurs Under 23 side during the 2021/22 season. So what type of midfielder is Michael? He is a technical one, who tends to play as a more advanced midfielder than his brother Matthew, who is more deep-lying, whereas Michael likes to advance forward with the ball more. He has shown that he can add a good number of goals and assists, and that he is more than capable of dictating play and running things in the centre of the park. Very good at winning possession both in the central areas of the pitch and also in the final third, as he demonstrated in the Spurs Under 18’s 6-1 league win over Chelsea during the 2020/21 season, when he put in a very good performance (registering another assist as well).

In that game against Chelsea at Cobham, Michael Craig pressed really well and he closed down the Chelsea players very effectively, and used the ball to great effect when he had it at his feet. Like Matthew, Michael is good at keeping the ball moving in the central areas of the pitch, and he makes intelligent decisions on the ball, and often with little time to think. He is a creative midfield player who has fine vision, and has the ability to make a highly effective and well weighted threaded pass in the final third. Like his brother Matthew, Michael Craig is a player destined for a bright future in the game in my opinion, and he is a player I look forward to hopefully seeing a lot more of for the Under 23’s next season. I would like to congratulate him on a great 2020/21 season for Spurs.

My piece on a mainstay of the Spurs Under 18 side during the 2020/21 season – Matthew Craig:

Previously of Watford, prior to joining Spurs as a schoolboy, versatile young footballer Matthew Craig was a regular and important player for Spurs’ Under 18 side during the season just gone. Like his twin brother Michael, Matthew is about to become a first year professional with the club (beginning at the start of the 2021/22 season), as he recently signed his first professional contract with them, which runs until 2023. The former Dame Alice Owen’s School pupil was a county cup winner and 1,500m district champion during his school days, and Matthew Craig has also represented Scotland at youth level, and he played for them at the 2018 Victory Shield. Obviously over the course of the last 2020/21 season I haven’t seen anywhere near as much of the Spurs Under 18 side as I would have in previous seasons when I would report on every game, home and away. However, and while part of this piece on Matthew Craig is based on watching the Barnet born footballer play during the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons, I still feel as if I have watched more than enough of Matthew for Spurs, to be able to write this short piece on what type of player he is. A central midfielder by trade, Matthew Craig (18) first made his Spurs Under 18 competitive debut back in the 2018/19 season. When the then schoolboy footballer came off the bench in the same game that his brother also did, to help Spurs to defend a two goal lead against Reading, away. Matthew did well in that game, and then a couple of weeks later he came off the bench again for the Spurs Under 18 side in a league game Aston Villa. Signing scholarship forms with Spurs for the start of the 2019/20 season, Matthew showed his versatility during the early stages of that season, playing at right-back and centre-back.

Putting in two really good and assured performances against Norwich City and Swansea City in central defence at the beginning of the competitive season, Matthew Craig followed this up by playing in his main position of CDM for the next game against West Ham. However, an injury sustained in the following game against Southampton at their Staplewood training ground ruled him out until the January of 2020, with Craig eventually returning to play in a league game against Brighton as a substitute. He played three further competitive games for Matt Taylor’s Spurs side, playing well in all three. But his best game for Spurs that season came in the final one, just before the season was curtailed, when Matthew registered two good assists in a 6-1 league win over Southampton at Hotspur Way. The next season (2020/21) the midfielder played 23 competitive games for Spurs’ Under 18 side, often alongside his twin brother Michael in central midfield, but Matthew would have almost certainly have played in every competitive game for the Spurs Under 18 side that season, but for missing the final games of the league season, presumably because of injury. He established himself as an important member of Matt Taylor’s side during the season just gone, and getting such a good amount of games will do him good for next season, when he steps up permanently to the Under 23 side. So what type of player is Matthew Craig? Well when he plays as a central defender (RCB) the midfielder has always impressed me whenever I have seen him play there. He keeps good positioning and is particularly good at making blocks, as he showed in the FA Youth Cup fourth round tie against AFC Wimbledon early in the year. His fine reading of the game also helps him to play well at centre-half, as well as his ability on the ball to bring it out from the back.

As a midfielder Matthew plays usually as a number 4, and he is more deep-lying than his brother Michael, who likes to get forward more. An intelligent and tigerish midfield player who likes to watch Harry Winks play for Spurs, Matthew is very good at anticipating the play and he works very hard off the ball, covering a lot of ground during matches, thanks to his great stamina. With good passing ability, the midfielder is good at keeping the ball moving in the central areas of the pitch, just like somebody like Harry Winks does, for example. Never overcomplicating things when he is on the ball, Matthew has a calming presence about him on the pitch, but he is also a tenacious player despite not being the biggest of players. Good at making challenges and getting in front of opposing teams players at the vital moment, one thing that Craig does which I really like is that he is so often looking to make that forward pass whenever he receives the ball. However, most importantly he is a very consistent performer and a reliable player, who looks to have a very bright future ahead of him in the game. And he is at a great club for producing defensive minded midfielders. I would like to wish Matthew all the very best of luck for next season, when I hopefully will see him play again on a regular basis. He should be proud of all that he has achieved during the season just gone.

Spurs Under 18’s versus Leicester City: (match preview)

Spurs’ Under 18’s final competitive game of the 2020/21 season will see them face Leicester City at their new training ground in Seagrave, on Friday (the game starts at 13:00pm). Matt Taylor’s Spurs side who are currently in sixth place in the Premier League South, can still achieve a fourth place finish if they beat Leicester today. Spurs recorded a 1-1 draw against Leicester in the reverse league fixture earlier in the season, but they have beaten the club from the English Midlands away from home during the two previous seasons. Leicester City have picked up 15 points from their 23 league games this season, and currently occupy 12th spot in the league, going into their final competitive game of the season. Leicester’s top scorer at this level – Will Russ, will definitely be a player that the Spurs defence will be aware of going into this game, while Terell Pennant is a player who has impressed against us at this level in recent seasons. A good 2020/21 season for the Spurs Under 18 side comes to an end today. It will be interesting to see whether some of the players from the level below, will step up to play for Matt Taylor’s side against Leicester. Jamie Donley has already played a good number of games for Spurs at this level this season. I would like to wish Spurs all the very best of luck for today’s match.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Hayton, Cesay, Dorrington, Muir (c), Hackett, Michael Craig, Cassanova, Mathurin, Mundle, Santiago, Scarlett.

Subs from: Maguire, Kyezu, Haysman, Torraj, Donley.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: 1-1.

My score prediction: Spurs 3-1.

My one to watch: Leicester City forward Will Russ (18), who has scored seven Under 18 league goals from 16 appearances this season.

Spurs under 18’s versus Chelsea: (match preview)

Spurs’ Under 18 side welcome Chelsea to Hotspur Way on Saturday morning (the game starts at 11:00am), for their penultimate league game of the season. Matt Taylor’s side can still finish in fourth place in the league (they are currently in fourth place). Spurs beat Norwich City 5-2 in the week, having come from two goals down to win that game. Seventh place Chelsea lost 6-1 when these sides met in the league in March in Cobham, so they will be looking to make up for that result on Saturday. Spurs were excellent during that game and Chelsea couldn’t deal with them going forwards, but Chelsea were missing their top scorer in the league this season on that day, Jude Soonsup-Bell, who could play against Spurs on Saturday. This will be a very competitive game of football, but it will be interesting to see whether Spurs start with Dane Scarlett and Alfie Devine, as the Spurs Under 23 side have a game against Manchester City the day before. I would like to wish the Spurs team all the very best of luck for this London derby.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala (c), Muir, Dorrington, Paskotsi, Hackett, Michael Craig, Devine, Mathurin, Mundle, Santiago, Scarlett.

Subs from: Maguire, Cassanova, Matthew Craig, Davies, Donley.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: Spurs 6-1.

My score prediction: Spurs 3-2.

My one to watch: Chelsea forward Jude Soonsup-Bell (17), who has scored 14 goals from 14 league appearances for Chelsea at Under 18 level this season. 

Spurs under 18’s versus Norwich City: (match preview)

Having not won a competitive game in their last four, Matt Taylor’s Spurs Under 18 side welcome Norwich City to Hotspur Way on Tuesday, in their latest league game (the game starts at 12:00pm). Spurs recently lost 3-1 away to West Brom last weekend, whilst Norwich lost 3-2 at home to Reading. In the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Spurs beat Norwich 2-0, but with victories over league leaders Crystal Palace and also Arsenal this year for Norwich, returning to winning ways today won’t be easy. I would like to wish Spurs all the very best of luck for the match.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Solberg, Muir, Dorrington, Paskotsi (c), Hackett, Matthew Craig, Michael Craig, Mathurin, Mundle, Santiago, Scarlett.

Subs from: Maguire, Torraj, Cassanova, Davies, Haysman.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: Thimothee Lo-Tutala.

Previous meeting: Spurs 2-0.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: Norwich’s top scorer at this level this season – Thomas Dickson-Peters, who has scored nine league goals so far this season.

Spurs under 18’s versus West Bromwich Albion: (match preview)

Yet to beat West Brom in their two competitive games against them this season at this level, Spurs’ under 18 side recently lost 5-0 to West Brom in the FA Youth Cup. Saturday mornings game (it starts at 11:30am at West Brom’s training ground) gives Matt Taylor’s side a chance to beat West Brom before the end of the season. West Brom are seven points behind Spurs in the league table having played two games more than them, while Spurs sit in fifth place in the table. An encouraging statistic for Spurs is that West Brom have only picked up eight league points from 11 home league fixtures this season. However, this will be a tough game for Spurs, especially as they have not beaten West Brom in a competitive game this season, but I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for the game. With the under 23 side playing Manchester City on Friday night, it will be interesting to see what the team is to face West Brom on Saturday.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala (c), Muir, Dorrington, Paskotsi, Hackett, Michael Craig, Matthew Craig, Mathurin, Mundle, Santiago, Donley.

Subs from: Maguire, Kyezu, Torraj, Haysman.

Injured/unavailable: Dane Scarlett.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: Spurs 0-5.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: Reyes Cleary, who has scored an impressive seven goals from 14 Premier League South appearances this season.

Spurs under 18’s versus Crystal Palace: (match preview)

Spurs’ under 18 side face Premier League South leaders Crystal Palace on Saturday morning (the game starts at 11am), at Hotspur Way. Crystal Palace have been excellent so far in the Premier League South, in what is their first ever season in the league. Crystal Palace’s top scorer in the league this season is David Omilabu (18) who has scored a very impressive 18 goals from 16 league appearances, so he will definitely be a player that the Spurs defenders will have to be aware of. Spurs’ top scorer this season – Dane Scarlett, will likely miss out on Saturday, because of injury. Scarlett scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture in south London, as Spurs won 5-1. Crystal Palace’s league form has been very good of late, so Spurs will likely find it difficult to do the double over them this season, especially without their top scorer Dane Scarlett. I would like to wish Spurs all the very best of luck for Saturday mornings game.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Hayton, Cassanova, Muir, Paskotsi (c), Kyezu, Matthew Craig, Michael Craig, Mathurin, Mundle, Santiago, Donley.

Subs from: Maguire, Dorrington, Hackett, Davies, Haysman.

Injured/unavailable: Dane Scarlett.

Doubtful: Thimothee Lo-Tutala.

Previous meeting: Spurs 5-1.

My score prediction: 2-2.

My one to watch: Centre-forward David Omilabu (18), who has scored 18 league goals from 16 appearances this season.

Spurs under 18’s versus West Ham United: (match preview)

After exiting at the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup last Tuesday after losing 5-0 to West Brom, Spurs’ under 18 side return to league action this Tuesday. Matt Taylor’s side host West Ham United at Hotspur Way (the game starts at 12:00pm), and Spurs will be looking to do the double over West Ham at this level for the first time since the 2018/19 season, the season when Spurs finished as runners up in the league. Spurs started the 2020/21 Under 18 league season by winning 4-1 against West Ham in the reverse fixture last year, and Spurs currently sit relatively comfortably in fourth place in the league, while West Ham are in tenth place in the league. Always a very competitive fixture which has produced some big score lines and some great games in recent seasons, I’m sure that the game on Tuesday will be no different. Spurs will be eager to bounce back from the disappointment of last Tuesday, but they will be without top scorer Dane Scarlett who is injured, while captain and goalkeeper Thimothee Lo-Tutala could miss out after he went off injured against West Brom last week. West Ham are a talented team, and Spurs will have to watch out for top scorer Divin Mubama if he plays, while joint second top scorer Kai Corbett is another player who could cause Spurs problems. I would like to wish Spurs all the very best of luck for this behind closed doors fixture, and it would be great for the team to return to winning ways.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Hayton, Cassanova, Muir (c), Paskotsi, Hackett, Matthew Craig, Michael Craig, Mundle, Haysman, Santiago, Mathurin.

Subs from: Maguire, Kyezu, Davies, Devine.

Injured/unavailable: Dane Scarlett.

Doubtful: Thimothee Lo-Tutala.

Previous meeting: Spurs 4-1.

My score prediction: Spurs 3-1.

My one to watch: Forward Divin Mubama (16), who has scored seven goals from 18 league appearances this season.

Spurs under 18’s versus West Bromwich Albion: (match preview)

Spurs’ under 18 side have a very important FA Youth Cup fifth round tie against West Bromwich Albion to play on Tuesday night (the game starts at 19:00pm and will take place behind closed doors at Hotspur Way). West Brom overcame Cardiff City (they won that game 2-1) in the last round, to reach the fifth round of this seasons FA Youth Cup, while Matt Taylor’s Spurs side beat AFC Wimbledon 3-0, despite being taken to extra time by the home team on the day. West Brom sit in ninth place in the Under 18 Premier League South, while Spurs are situated in fourth place in the league. However, the only meeting between these two sides this season ended in an uneventful goalless draw at Hotspur Way, but West Brom’s away form this season has been decent. Spurs beat Southampton 3-0 in a league game during the weekend just gone, while West Brom beat Leicester City 4-1 at home. Spurs will need to be aware of West Brom forward Jovan Malcolm who has scored seven goals from 14 Under 18 league appearances for West Brom this season, and who has also stepped up to play for their development side on occasions. At the end of the day this is a cup game, and cup games in this great old youth competition can be unpredictable, as we have seen on numerous occasions over the last few seasons in the FA Youth Cup. Having missed the under 23’s league game against Leicester City last night, Spurs should have Dane Scarlett, Nile John and Alfie Devine available for Tuesday’s FA Youth Cup game, a game for which I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for. Let’s hope that this will be the year when Spurs win the FA Youth Cup for the fourth time in their history.

My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Lo-Tutala (c), Cesay, Muir, Paskotsi, Hackett, Michael Craig, John, Mundle, Devine, Santiago, Scarlett.

Subs from: Hayton, Kyezu, Matthew Craig, Cassanova, Mathurin, Donley.

Injured/unavailable: N/A.

Doubtful: N/A.

Previous meeting: 0-0.

My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.

My one to watch: West Brom forward Jovan Malcolm (18), who has scored seven goals from 14 Under 18 league appearances for West Brom this season. Malcolm has also stepped up to play for West Brom’s development side on five occasions this season.