After recording an impressive three-two win over a good Blackburn Rovers team the previous Monday, Wayne Burnett’s Spurs under 23 side will now be preparing to face the reigning champions of the Premier League 2 Division one, in London rivals Chelsea (the game takes place on Monday at Kingsmeadow, with the game starting at 7pm). Starting for Alan Myers’s Chelsea side on Monday is 38 year old goalkeeper Petr Cech who has decided to come out of retirement, after having last played a competitive game of football in the May of 2019. So the former Czech Republic international and Chelsea legend will definitely add quality and experience to a Chelsea side who sit in third place in the league table, and have won all four of their home league games this season. Spurs recorded a draw (two-two) away, and lost one-nil at home to Chelsea last season in the Premier League 2, with both games demanding a lot from the Spurs players against a high intensity and physical Chelsea team. Danny Drinkwater (30) and Ghana international Baba Rahman (26) have played for Chelsea’s under 23 side already this season, so I’m sure that the Spurs players will be aware of their quality going into tomorrow’s game. Some of the Chelsea’s players to keep an eye on tomorrow (the game is being shown on Chelsea’s Fifth Stand app and official website) include attacking midfielder Thierno Ballo, former Tromso forward Bryan Fiabema who has four league goals this season and commanding centre half Sam McClelland. There is no doubting that this will be a very tough game for Wayne Burnett’s side, but after ending a three game run without a win last Monday, I reckon that tomorrow’s game will be quite a close and very competitive one. I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for the game.
Our under 23’s will be looking to end their four game run without a win when they travel up to Lancashire to face Blackburn Rovers on Monday evening (the game starts at 19:00pm), in a Premier League 2 fixture which is being played behind closed doors. Wayne Burnett’s side lost by five goals to one in their last league game against Leicester City, which was played at Hotspur Way last Monday. Billy Barr’s Blackburn Rovers side recorded a one-one draw with Everton in their last Premier League 2 game and they sit in fifth place in the league table, four points above 11th place Spurs. Always a difficult team to beat, Blackburn have only lost one league game this season and that came at home against Arsenal who they lost six-nil to back in early November. In this fixture last season Spurs lost by four goals to nil when they faced Blackburn at the Leyland County ground, a physical and fairly direct side who won’t allow you to enjoy too much time on the ball. Former Coleraine midfielder Brad Lyons (23) is a good and experienced player who does have an eye for goal, while Scottish centre forward Connor McBride (19) has scored six goals from eight appearance in the Premier League 2 this season. 23 year old forward Harrison Chapman is a tricky and skilful player who could also cause Spurs problems on Monday. This will be another very tough game for Spurs, and in our last two meetings with Blackburn we have lost four-nil and three-nil. While I am unable to attend Monday’s game I shall be tweeting live scored updates on my Twitter account. Finally I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for this game. A win for Spurs could lift them as high up as seventh in the league standings.
My one to watch: Billy Barr’s team’s top scorer in the league this season Connor McBride. The 19 year old who has experience playing senior football with Stenhousemuir in Scotland, has already scored six goals from eight Premier League 2 appearances this season.
Our under 23 side suffered their first Premier League 2 league defeat of the season against Derby County just before the international break, and unfortunately and rather unluckily for Wayne Burnett’s side they followed this up by losing by four goals to two against Manchester United on Sunday, at Leigh Sports Village. In what was a pulsating quite end to end game which was competitive and played at a good intensity, Spurs fought back from a goal down after Shola Shoretire gave Manchester United an early lead. However, Spurs got an equaliser through Kion Etete (his first goal of the season) less than ten minutes later after a good spell in the game for the visitors. Influential Spanish midfielder Arnau Puigmal did regain the home team’s lead shortly after the half hour mark, before he got his second and Man United’s third of the game in first half additional time. Spurs started the second half strongly however, and their hard work paid off when Harvey White pulled a goal back. An interesting 40 minutes or so followed as both teams went in search of that important next goal, but it was Manchester United who scored it in second half stoppage time through the potent Anthony Elanga. This was far from a bad performance from Spurs, and they played with a good intensity, pressed well and created some good chances too. Spurs lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Alfie Whiteman starting in goal. A back four consisting of Marcel Lavinier, captain Jubril Okedina, Tobi Omole and Dennis Cirkin sat in front of him. Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, George Marsh and Harvey White formed a three in midfield, while Dilan Markanday and Jack Clarke started out on the flanks, either side of lone centre forward Kion Etete.
Spurs got the game underway and a good early cross forced Manchester United defender William Fish in to making an early clearance from inside his box. Marcel Lavinier was shown an early yellow card for a sliding challenge on Hannibal Mejbri, as both sides enjoyed a fairly even amount of the ball during the opening stages of the game. However, the home side took the lead on 13 minutes through Shola Shoretire, after Uruguayan winger Facundo Pellistri picked up the ball on the right flank before advancing past Dennis Cirkin and delivering a nice cross towards Shoretire, whose powerful header nestled inside the top right hand corner of Alfie Whiteman’s goal to finish off a good Manchester United move, 0-1. Spurs tried to respond through Cirkin who went on a good run towards the Man United box before forcing a good low save from Paul Woolston, who pushed the ball behind for a corner kick. Soon afterwards the lively Jack Clarke won a free kick in a good position out on the left, he stood up to to take it and delivered a good ball into the oppositions danger zone, but it was cleared away by Mejbri. Spurs did manage to draw level on 22 minutes after a good move which saw Markanday pass the ball to Lyons-Foster down the right side of midfield, ended in the 19 year old whipping in a delightful cross for Etete, who met the ball inside the Man United box. The striker lunged towards the ball before volleying it past Woolston and into the bottom right side of his goal, 1-1.
Spurs looked to go ahead shortly after the restart when Etete passed the ball to White who slipped it into Clarke down the left, but his low cross into the box was cleared away by Teden Mengi before Etete could get to it. Woolston was then put under pressure by Etete, and the goalkeepers pass came to Lyons-Foster on the edge of the box, but he ended up hitting the ball well over the bar. Whiteman gathered comfortably a low cross from Anthony Elanga before Manchester United regained the lead. Shoretire picked the ball up on the left before cutting inside and entering the Spurs box and then passing it to Puigmal who sorted his feet out quickly before firing the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the outstretched Whiteman’s goal, 1-2. Mengi then blocked Markanday’s effort from long range before Jack Clarke was shown a yellow card for a foul on Alvaro Fernandez. An excellent corner kick from White was missed by Woolston however, Clarke didn’t have enough space to convert at the back post, as the ball went behind for a goal kick. Lyons-Foster crucially cleared Hannibal Mejbri’s cross before Northern Ireland international Ethan Galbraith whipped an effort narrowly wide of Whiteman’s goal from long range. A cross from the right flank from Lavinier eventually came to Etete inside the Manchester United box, but he shot wide on the turn. A challenge from Mejbri on the lively Markanday unfortunately meant that the 19 year old had to come off before half-time, and he was replaced by J’Neil Bennett.
Man United extended their lead in first half additional time after Lukasz Bejger’s through ball wasn’t dealt with by the Tottenham defence, and it allowed Puigmal to run through into the box and power the ball past Whiteman (he got a hand on the ball and looked disappointed to have conceded) and into the back of the net in what was the final piece of action from the first half, 1-3. Man United got the second half underway and early on in the half Whiteman had to be alert to gather Anthony Elanga’s cross from the left. However, Spurs pulled a goal back on 52 minutes through midfielder Harvey White. George Marsh’s persistent pressing paid off after he won the ball off of Mejbri on the edge of the Man United penalty area, he then passed the ball to Clarke down the left side of the box. The Yorkshireman then cleverly squared it to White who was waiting in the middle of the box, and he calmly side footed the ball past Woolston, 2-3. William Fish headed narrowly over from a Hannibal Mejbri corner kick as the game continued to be played at a good tempo. Brooklyn Lyons-Foster was replaced by Elliot Thorpe in central midfield, and the newly introduced midfielder was shown a rather harsh yellow card for a foul on Mejbri. Omole did well to block behind Anthony Elanga’s shot on goal, before Jamie Bowden made his return from injury to replace George Marsh.
After Clarke played the ball down to Lavinier down the right flank, the former Chelsea man gave it back to Clarke who squared it for Lavinier in the Man United box, but the right backs low effort was saved well by Woolston before a foul was given against Spurs for a Clarke foul on the Man United goalkeeper. Having already switched flanks with Clarke, Bennett came inside from the left and had an effort from range saved by Woolston as Spurs took control of the game. The impressive Teden Mengi blocked an effort from Harvey White on the edge of the Man United box before Cirkin was shown a yellow card, and then Lavinier received Bowden’ down the right, before threading the ball through to Clarke down the right side of the Man United box. However, Clarke’s powerful low effort was saved by Woolston, before Okedina did well to block substitute Mark Helm’s effort, with Ethan Galbraith hitting the ball over on the follow up. After Hannibal Mejbri passed the ball to Fish inside the Spurs box, Burnett’s side looked to be in trouble but for an excellent block from Okedina on Fish’s shot. Omole then did well to block Anthony Elanga’s shot inside the Spurs box before Fernandez hit the ball over the bar from the edge of the penalty area. Omole’s long pass forward almost set Etete through on goal at the other end, but William Fish did well to win the ball. Then a good long pass from the substitute Bowden set Etete through on goal but his heavy first touch saw the ball roll through for Woolston to gather inside his box.
Manchester United secured the win in second half additional time after Anthony Elanga received the ball out on the left flank. He managed to get away from Lavinier before entering the Spurs box and tucking the ball past Alfie Whiteman and into the back of the net to bring an end to a pulsating game of football which could have went either way, 2-3.
Alfie Whiteman: The 22 year old didn’t actually make a save against Manchester United, as all four of the home team’s efforts on target ended in goals. Whiteman’s distribution was good and direct.
Marcel Lavinier: The former Chelsea right back really grew into the game, and he had a strong second performance, particularly going forward. Lavinier went on some good runs, and he also linked up well with Jack Clarke after the winger had switched flanks.
Jubril Okedina: The Spurs captain showed good leadership and took defensive responsibility in certain situations when the home team came close to scoring. Okedina made a crucial defensive intervention during the first half and an excellent last ditch block in the second half.
Tobi Omole: Showing good composure in central defence, the versatile former Arsenal player did well on his first competitive start for the club. He made some good and important blocks during the second half.
Dennis Cirkin: Having to defend against Manchester United’s Uruguayan winger Facundo Pellistri was always going to be a difficult task for the left back. The skilful winger did have some joy down our left side, but Cirkin did respond well and he went on some good tricky runs of his own at the opposite end of the pitch.
George Marsh: Playing as the deepest of a midfield three, defensive midfielder George Marsh did well in the game, and he played a good part in us scoring our second goal of the match, thanks to some good pressing from the tireless midfielder.
Brooklyn Lyons-Foster: My man of the match, see below.
Harvey White: Playing as the most advanced of a midfield three, our second goalscorer of the game (he took his goal well from inside the Man United box) Harvey White had another fine game for our under 23 side, as he took his goal involvement statistics for the team this season to four (two goals and two assists). Getting himself into some good forward positions, White was tidy with the ball at his feet and he also pressed really well. It was really interesting to see him play in that role.
Dilan Markanday: The lively winger played out on the right flank, and the 19 year old did cause problems for Man United left back left back Alvaro Fernandez with his fine agility. Unfortunately Markanday had to go off through injury just before the end of the first half, but hopefully he will be back playing again very soon.
Kion Etete: I was impressed with how Etete performed up front on his own today. The former Notts County man held the ball up and protected it really well, and he showed good awareness and ability to link the play as well. Etete took his goal well on the volley and on another day the very hard working centre forward could have had more goals, due to his good movement off the ball.
Jack Clarke: The former Leeds United winger showed good strength on the ball as he attempted to accelerate past players down the left flank (he later switched onto the right flank), and Clarke was involved in some good passages of play for Spurs, setting up White’s goal with a clever pass with the outside of his foot, before also coming going to getting a goal of his own later on in the game.
J’Neil Bennett: Coming onto the pitch just before half-time, winger J’Neil Bennett had one good effort saved by the Manchester United goalkeeper after cutting inside from the left, and he also went on some good forward runs.
Elliot Thorpe: The second half introduction of the central midfielder saw the 20 year old always looking to play forward and create. Unlucky with one such forward pass that came close to creating a clear cut chance for Spurs, Thorpe’s work rate was consistently very good during his time on the pitch.
Jamie Bowden: The second half substitute went about his job quietly but effectively during his 20 plus minutes on the pitch following his return from injury. Bowden was nice and tidy in his play and he made some good long forward passes. It was great to see him back playing again.
My man of the match: There were some good and strong performances out on the pitch against Manchester United on Sunday evening but a very assured performance from Brooklyn Lyons-Foster as a number eight during his 63 minutes on the pitch, made him for me our best player on the day. Putting in a very similar performance to when he played for our under 18’s in a game against Fulham back in the 2018/19 season (also in midfield), the versatile midfielder had that same calming effect on the game today. Playing with a good intensity, Lyons-Foster read the game and pressed players to really good effect, and he always tried to be first to the ball every time, and as a result of this he made some good interceptions. Despite playing out of position he did well, and the midfielder whipped in a delightful cross to pick out Kion Etete for his goal to get his first assist of the season.
I remember very well the last time that our under 23’s played Manchester United in the Premier League 2, it was back in January 2018 when Wayne Burnett’s side were bottom of the league, and needed a win with not that many games remaining that season. Spurs came from a goal behind to beat Manchester United three – one that night at Old Trafford, now almost three years later the newly promoted club will be looking to record their third league win in a row, having impressively beaten Brighton and Everton in their last two matches. Sunday’s game which takes place at Leigh Sports Village (the game starts at 5pm and is being shown live on MUTV) will be another tough game for Spurs who suffered their first defeat of the season in the last game week, against Derby County. Manchester United have a fantastic academy and they have a very good under 23 squad, with players such as Uruguayan winger and recent signing Facundo Pellistri, striker Joe Hugill, midfielder Arnau Puigmal (he has three league goals to his name this season), and right back Ethan Laird, Spurs will have to be at a very good level to overcome this Manchester United team, but then again you could say this for every game in this highly competitive division. Alfie Devine made his competitive debut (he scored our only goal of the game) for our under 23’s in that that one – two loss to Derby County, but he played for our under 18’s on Saturday, so I would imagine that it is unlikely that he will feature again. I’m really looking forward to watching our under 23’s on late Sunday afternoon, and I will of course be writing an in-depth report of the game. I would also like to wish the lads all the very best of luck for the match.
Our under 23’s will play their first Premier League 2 game in over two weeks on Friday (the game starts at 12pm) when Wayne Burnett’s unbeaten side face Derby County at Hotspur Way. Always a tough team to play, Derby County have started this season well, and they currently sit at the top of the Premier League 2 division One table (they have played two games more than us). A good and well organised side who do play good attacking football, Derby have scored an impressive total of 16 goals from their opening seven league games of this season. I actually watched Derby’s under 23’s play Southampton in a league game recently, and they once again showed good organisation within the team, as well as moving the ball around well, and using the flanks to good effect. Two older players, Jordan Ibe (24) and Krystian Bielik (22) played in that game and the latter actually played Derby’s last under 23 game as well, so there could be a chance that he may again play against Spurs on Friday, as he continues his return from injury. While both of those players impressed in that game in what was a fine performance from the team, I was also very impressed with some of Derby’s younger players. 19 year old former Republic of Ireland under 18 international Louie Watson had a really fine and strong performance, operating in the hole as a number ten. The former West Ham academy player took up some really intelligent forward positions and he was always looking to pass the ball forward. The two Derby central defenders, Callum Minkley (20) and Harrison Solomon (18) had really strong games, and they were commanding in their defending.
19 year old right back Kornell MacDonald got forward well on a number of occasions and he scored a goal against Southampton in that game. And finally winger Morgan Whittaker (19) who had strong games against Spurs in both Premier League 2 encounters last season, is a very quick player who has an eye for goal, while 19 year old Derby centre forward Jack Stretton has seven goals from seven league games for Derby’s under 23’s so far this season. There is no doubting that this will be another tough game and one that will test them at both ends of the pitch, yet with quite a bit of experience in the Spurs side, with players such as Anthony Georgiou and George Marsh (the 21 year old returns from a three game suspension), I think that we’ve got a good chance of returning to winning ways. Spurs drew their last game at this level 0-0 away to Everton in what sounded like a very competitive game of under 23’s football. Spurs should be providing half-time and full-time score updates on their official Twitter account, while I will also be tweeting score updates as they come through online, as games continue to be played behind closed doors. I would like to wish the team all the very best of luck for the game.
Subs from: De Bie, Omole, Bennett, Pochettino, Mukendi.
Doubtful: Malachi Fagan-Walcott.
Previous meeting: 2-2.
My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.
My one to watch: Louie Watson (19) operates primarily as a CAM and in the recent 3-2 Derby win over Southampton, he impressed me a lot. Scoring one goal from three league games this season, Watson dropped into some really good pockets of space in that Southampton game and he was always playing the game in front of him, and looking to play the ball forward at all times. He seems like a very technically gifted young player who could cause Spurs problems tomorrow afternoon.
After a two week international break our inform under 23’s return to Premier League 2 action on Monday evening (kick off is at 7pm), when Wayne Burnett’s side take on Everton at the Merseyrail Community Stadium in Southport. At this venue last season Spurs put in one of their best performances of the campaign, when they defeated David Unsworth’s Everton side 3-1, in a game in which we dominated for large periods. Everton finished in eighth position in the league last season after picking up 22 points from 18 matches, and this season they have so far picked up six points from four league games. Historically Everton away at this level has been a very difficult fixture for our development side, and in recent years we have struggled to get results against them. However, so far this campaign our under 23’s have won three and drawn one of their opening four Premier League 2 games, and they’ll surely fancy their chances against David Unsworth’s side. Everton have long been a force at this level, and they have a squad of experienced and talented players in their under 23 side. Experienced central midfielder Beni Baningime (22) who has previously played for Everton’s first team, is a tenacious player who is good at breaking up play. Another experienced player in this Everton team is 26 year old centre half (he can also fill in at fullback) Matthew Pennington, who played in Everton’s last under 23 game. However, one of their main danger men going forward is the prolific and inform centre forward Ellis Simms (19). Everton are an attacking team, at least they have been in recent seasons, they have also liked to get crosses into the box to test teams defensively, and to try and score goals. There is definitely no doubting that this will be a very difficult test for Spurs, and they will have to put in the sort of heroic performance akin to the one which saw them beat Arsenal two game weeks ago, if they are to beat Everton and return to the top of the league. New signings Tobi Omole and Marcel Lavinier could be involved again for the third game week running, while players who didn’t go out on loan during the EFL loan window such as Brandon Austin and Anthony Georgiou, could well be involved against Everton.
I believe that Everton are providing live updates on their website of tonight’s game while Spurs usually do their half-time and full-time updates on their official Twitter account, as games continue to be played behind closed doors. Finally, I would just like to wish the team all the very best of luck for the game.
Subs from: De Bie, Omole, Pochettino, Bennett, Etete.
Injured/unavailable: George Marsh (serving the third of a three game suspension).
Previous meeting: Spurs 3-1.
My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.
My one to watch: Everton’s prolific 19 year old centre forward Ellis Simms. The Oldham born player is a tall and strong striker who is good in the air, good at holding up the ball and linking play and good at finishing off chances from inside the box. Outstanding at under 18 level and a player who scored a good number of goals for the under 23’s last season, Simms has already scored four goals from Everton’s opening four games of this season.
After picking up four points from their opening two Premier League 2 games of the season, Wayne Burnett’s Spurs under 23 side will be going into Saturday’s North London Derby with Arsenal with good confidence in the squad (kick off is at 1pm). Always a highly competitive fixture, this game at Arsenal’s London Colney training ground (it is I believe being behind closed doors, so no spectators will be allowed in including myself), could see Arsenal make it four wins over Spurs at under 23 level in a row, should they win tomorrow. Spurs won one and drew one game from their opening two Premier League 2 matches of the season, while tomorrow’s rivals also won one and drew one of their opening two PL2 games of the season (they also beat Ipswich Town in the Checkatrade Trophy). Steve Bould’s Arsenal side have a fantastic squad of really talented young players who could make life difficult for Spurs on Saturday afternoon. 19 year old France under 20 international William Saliba who was signed from French side Saint-Étienne last summer, is a very highly thought of and talented central defender, who started Arsenal’s last under 23 game, so he could possibly start again tomorrow. Full Northern Ireland international Danny Ballard is another central defender, and he is a commanding one too, who has impressed against Spurs in the past at this level. Creative and highly skilful attacking midfielder Salah Oulad M’Hand (17) is an attacking player who has played in every game that the Arsenal development side have played in so far this season, and the young Dutchman is somebody who can and will take on and beat players. Also forwards George Lewis and Folarin Balogun are players who could cause Spurs’ defence some problems when the two sides meet. There is no doubting that this will be a very difficult game for Wayne Burnett’s side however, I know that Spurs have the quality to overcome Arsenal however, it does promise to be a fascinating game. I believe that Arsenal will be providing audio commentary for tomorrow’s game, also Spurs should be providing Twitter updates along with their match report on their official site. I would like to wish the lads all the very best of luck for this important league game.
Subs from: De Bie, Skinner, Pedder, Pochettino, Etete.
Injured/unavailable: George Marsh (serving a three game suspension).
Doubtful: Malachi Fagan-Walcott.
Previous meeting: Spurs 1-3.
My score prediction: Spurs 3-2.
My one to watch: Although there are so many Arsenal players that I could choose from, the one I’m going to choose for my one to watch section is clinical centre forward Folarin Balogun. The 19 year old is a very quick player whose movement off the ball and reading of the game makes him a very difficult player to defend against. Balogun scored 10 goals from 15 Premier League 2 appearances last season, so if he does play tomorrow then he is a player that the young Spurs defenders will have to be aware of.
After drawing their PL2 season opener (1-1) against a tough Brighton side last Saturday, Wayne Burnett’s Spurs under 23 team will be looking to go one better when they take on London rivals West Ham United on Friday at Hotspur Way (kick off is at 12pm). Spurs fielded a strong side against Brighton in game week one, of which included the likes of Brandon Austin, Jack Roles, Jack Clarke, Dennis Cirkin and Harvey White. However, Brighton are a very tough side who are difficult to break down and in the end Spurs drew 1-1, with Kazaiah Sterling scoring our goal, while West Ham who are managed by Dmitri Halajko lost 1-0 away to reigning PL2 Division One champions Chelsea. A well structured side, last seasons PL2 Division Two champions impressed greatly last campaign as they bounced back to the top division in English under 23 football at the first time of asking. Some of you may remember talented Portuguese forward Xande Silva (23) scoring a hat-trick against our under 23’s in our opening game of the 2018/19 season, and the goal scoring forward is a still a part of West Ham’s development side. Another potential danger man for Spurs on Friday is 17 year old centre forward and Irish youth international Ademipo Odubeko who scored a brace against Southend United for West Ham’s development side in the EFL Trophy in their first game of the season. However, the clinical centre forward who has great off the ball movement, didn’t feature in the league game against Chelsea on Monday, so he could possibly be injured. Two other players who are under 23 that didn’t feature in that Chelsea game who could possibly feature in Friday’s London Derby is skilful goal scoring winger Nathan Holland (22), and winger and England youth international Amadou Diallo. So West Ham have a lot of attacking talents at this level that could cause Spurs problems when the two sides meet. However, from a defensive point of view West Ham have talented Portuguese central defender Gonçalo Cardoso (19) whose first team experience with Boavista will definitely be useful for them at this level.
This will be another very difficult and highly competitive game for Wayne Burnett’s side and with 18 year olds Dennis Cirkin and Harvey White pictured training earlier today (Wednesday) along with Jack Clarke ahead of the first teams UEFA Europa League qualifier against Lokomotiv Plovdiv on Thursday, we could be without them for Friday’s PL2 game. Once again, sadly I will not be able to attend and report on our under 23’s upcoming game against West Ham on Friday due to the current situation however, you can likely follow live updates on the official Spurs Twitter account, and there will also be a report on the official site after the game. In case you missed it the trialist who featured during pre-season (Keenan Ferguson) for our under 23’s, has signed a contract until the end of this season. The right back (20) formerly of Sheffield United played the whole of our under 23’s PL2 season opener against Brighton last Saturday, at right back. I would like to wish Wayne Burnett’s side all the very best of luck for Friday’s London Derby against West Ham United.
Subs from: De Bie, Muir, Pedder, Bennett, Richards.
Doubtful: Malachi Fagan-Walcott.
Previous meeting: 1-1.
My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.
My one to watch: A player with good pace and skill, as well as being a really clinical finisher, Republic of Ireland youth international and striker Ademipo Odubeko (17) could be West Ham’s main danger man on Friday if he does play. The former Manchester United schoolboy scored twice for West Ham’s development side in the EFL Trophy against Southend United this season, and for me I have been impressed with his fine movement off the ball whenever I have seen him play against Spurs. He will definitely be a player to watch out for if he is involved in Friday’s under 23 game.
Our under 23 side will play their first competitive game of football since the second of March, when they host Brighton & Hove Albion at Hotspur Way in their opening PL2 game of the season on Saturday afternoon (kick off is at 1pm). Just like our under 18’s who get their league season underway on the same day, Wayne Burnett’s side will be eager to return to playing competitive football however, Spurs have been handed a difficult opening day fixture in Brighton. After a good pre-season which saw them unbeaten in four of their five friendly games, Spurs’ opponents on the other hand have already played their first competitive game of the season. As Simon Rusk’s Brighton side lost 3-2 to League Two side Leyton Orient on Tuesday, after initially coming back after being two goals down. A side that Spurs have never beaten in the PL2 in four attempts (we have drawn one and lost three of those meetings) Brighton did the double over us last season. They beat us 2-1 at Stevenage Borough’s Lamex Stadium, and 4-1 at the AMEX Stadium in Brighton, those two games were difficult ones last season. Quite a physical side who do play good football but can also be direct in their play (Brighton’s physical centre forward Bojan Radulovic caused us numerous problems in our 4-1 defeat last season), Brighton finished in third place in the PL2 Division 1 last season, seven points behind champions Chelsea. Simon Rusk’s side were the joint top scorers in the division last season with 36 league goals from 18 games. Brighton have a number of players who could cause problems for Spurs on Saturday, one of those is Sweden youth international and left winger Peter Gwargis, who scored seven goals and registered four assists from 17 PL2 games last season. Another potent Brighton forward is Northern Irishman Ben Wilson (18) who scored a brace against Leyton Orient earlier in the week. Like Wilson, physical Swiss forward Lorent Tolaj could also cause Spurs problems at the back on Saturday.
36 year old former Wales international turned Brighton under 23’s player-coach Andrew Crofts would provide Brighton with invaluable experience in the midfield, if he plays. While talented teenager and central midfielder Jensen Weir (recently signed from Wigan Athletic) was a player who had a great game when he played against our under 18’s in the FA Youth Cup last season, so he could also be a player to watch out for. However, Brighton just have a very talented squad of players and for Spurs to get a victory on Saturday they will have to be on top form. Another Brighton player who I didn’t mention but could even feature on Saturday is 21 year old Republic of Ireland international and tireless central midfielder Jayson Molumby. Wayne Burnett’s side on the other hand could be boosted by the presence of experienced young players such as Anthony Georgiou, Kazaiah Sterling and George Marsh for the game against Brighton, with all three players having featured prominently for Spurs’ under 23’s in pre-season. A difficult game it will be for the young Spurs lads on Saturday afternoon in their opening game of the 2020/21 season however, I wish them all the very best of luck for this match. Due to the current situation I will be unable to report on our game against Brighton due to it being behind closed doors however, Spurs will publish a match report on their official site during the weekend.
Subs from: De Bie, Lusala, Skinner, Richards, Etete.
Doubtful: Malachi Fagan-Walcott.
Previous meeting: Spurs 1-2.
My score prediction: Spurs 3-2.
My one to watch: Brighton’s physical and clinical centre forward Lorent Tolaj was excellent for their under 18’s last season scoring eight goals from 11 Premier League South appearances. The Switzerland under 19 international starred in our under 18’s 3-2 defeat to Brighton at Hotspur Way last season with his strong running, physicality and his clinical finishing, so he is my player to watch on Saturday afternoon.
Our under 23’s get their 2020/21 season off on Saturday afternoon when they take on Brighton & Hove Albion’s under 23 side in their first PL2 league game of the new season (kick off is at 1pm). Head coach Wayne Burnett currently has 27 players who are now a part of his under 23 side (not including players who have stepped up to play for them from the under 18’s during pre-season). However, this will of course likely change as players head out on loan during the transfer window, but for now Burnett’s side includes some experienced younger players of which includes a Cyprus international in 23 year old Anthony Georgiou, who played all five of our under 23’s pre-season friendlies. Other experienced players include Brandon Austin, George Marsh, Kazaiah Sterling and Shilow Tracey, I would personally imagine that all of these players will be loaned out at some point during this transfer window. After Wayne Burnett’s side enjoyed a good pre-season which saw them lose only one of their five pre-season friendlies, and that was against League Two side Leyton Orient, things are looking good for this seasons PL2 campaign. In what sounded like a series of impressive performances against some good senior teams, arguably the stand out win of Spurs’ under 23’s pre-season was their 3-1 triumph over League Two side Colchester United at Hotspur Way. Other good results included a 2-2 draw with Crawley Town, a 3-1 win over Dulwich Hamlet and a 2-2 draw with London rivals Arsenal’s under 23’s last Saturday. It’s always great to go into a new season with good form and that good form is particularly impressive when you realise that when Spurs played their first pre-season friendly last month, that was their proper game of football since March. Last season Spurs finished in tenth place in PL2 Division One and ten points of bottom of relegated bottom side Wolverhampton Wanderers. I thought that we did quite well last season in general, although we did struggle a bit for goals with the now departed Armando Shashoua being our top scorer with five.
However, after starting last season really brightly with two impressive wins over Liverpool and Manchester City, Spurs did have a difficult period where they did struggle a bit to pick up wins, but they did recover in time to finish relatively strongly to avoid the drop to Division Two. Some of last seasons standout players for the young Lilywhites, were in my opinion Armando Shashoua, Harvey White, Jubril Okedina, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Dilan Markanday and Shilow Tracey. The 27 players who are a part of Wayne Burnett’s under 23 side this season are all very talented young footballers who to be at a club like Spurs, have to be special. However, some of the players who could prove to be really important (most of which are players who are yet to make their PL2 debut) include Rafferty Pedder, Elliot Thorpe, Chay Cooper, Max Robson, Dermi Lusala and Aaron Skinner. Only one of those listed players has actually featured for our under 23’s in a competitive match however, I personally believe that they could all have breakthrough seasons for our under 23’s, and make a really positive impact on the team in games and on their results in the process. Attack minded midfielder Rafferty Pedder (18) is a player who can operate either as a CAM or CM, although he did seem to play at right back against Arsenal’s under 23’s on Saturday. A player with really good pace and agility, the midfielder did really well for our under 18’s last season, and he made more competitive appearances for them than any other player. Pedder is a skilful player who loves to drive forward with the ball, make clever passes and also get stuck in to make challenges, he is one player who I believe could make a good impression on Burnett’s side this season. Elliot Thorpe (19) is quite a similar player and he loves to get forward with the ball at his feet, and take players on with skill. Thorpe can play either as a ten, eight or four, and he made a really positive impression on the under 23 side last season despite not getting a lot of minutes.
Skilful, versatile and direct winger Chay Cooper is another player who is yet to make his competitive debut for our under 23’s, but after an excellent season with our under 18’s last season, he could well be ready to make the step up to under 23 football and make a positive impact with his important goals, creativity and high work rate. Meanwhile 17 year old second year scholar Max Robson was outstanding for our under 18 side last season, contributing goals and assists, as well exceptional off the ball pressing. The Haywards Heath born player who can operate as a CM, CAM or as a support striker, would be great to see step up and play for Wayne Burnett’s side on occasions this season as he continues to progress. Right back Dermi Lusala who I recently wrote a long piece on, is another second year scholar who had a really good 2019/20 season for our under 18’s. Quick, skilful and tenacious, the Londoner who can also fill in at centre half and left back if needed is a player who featured for our under 23’s on a couple of occasions during pre-season, and that could be a sign that he will be a part of the squad this season. Finally CDM or CB Aaron Skinner formerly of Bury and Bolton Wanderers and who joined Spurs last November, is a player who also did well at under 18 level last season. Now in his first season as a professional at Spurs, Skinner played in all five of our pre-season friendlies after joining up with the under 23 side for this season. A tough tackling and tireless CDM who reads the game to good effect, Skinner is also good at centre back (predominantly LCB) and being good on the ball and bringing it out from the back well are real strengths of his game. More established under 23 players such as wingers Dilan Markanday and Maurizio Pochettino, central defender Malachi Fagan-Walcott (currently injured) and right back Jubril Okedina are all players who could become key members of the team throughout the season. Having featured prominently for Spurs’ first team during pre-season, young players Harvey White and Dennis Cirkin have both played a considerable amount games for the under 23’s over recent seasons.
However, White and Cirkin could well become a part of the first team squad this season due to the hectic schedule that the first team have. We could also see a Spurs side full of under 23 players for our League Cup third round tie against either Leyton Orient or Plymouth Argyle, due to the fact that our first team also could have a Europa League qualifier just two days later. So that is something to keep an eye on however, going back to our under 23’s season, as it stands they will only be competing in the PL2 this season and they will not be competing in the EFL trophy due to the heavy schedule of games that Spurs have this season. I am not sure whether or not the Premier League Cup or the Premier League International Cup will be taking place this season however, I am sure that the Premier League will inform everyone regarding that soon. Back to the PL2, we obviously start off against Brighton & Hove Albion, a side who we have never beaten at this level in the PL2 before. They are a good technical side with good physicality about them, and we have found it fairly difficult to play against them over the last two seasons, drawing once against them and losing on three occasions. So that will be a tough opening game at Hotspur Way however, some other difficult fixtures include playing Blackburn Rovers who are again a very physical side but who are also very aggressive both on and off the ball. Over the last two meetings between the sides we have conceded seven goals and scored zero, so playing them will be tough as always. Some other standout fixtures include the North London Derby against Arsenal, we play our local rivals on Sunday the 27th of September at Meadow Park, and on Friday the 29th January at Hotspur Way. Other big games include a London Derby against the reigning champions of Division One Chelsea, and fellow London rivals West Ham who we face for the first time in almost two years when we play them in game week two. And the final team who we will face this season that I would like to focus in on briefly is Derby County.
Derby are another physical team who do like to field overage players however, they are good at moving the ball around the park at pace and also particularly good at getting good crosses into the box. So the two games against them will be tough however, to be honest all games in this competitive division are tough ones and teams have to be performing really well to come away from these games with points. I’m of course really looking forward to seeing how Spurs get on in the PL2 this season and I wish all of the lads the very best of luck however, we are living in uncertain times due to the current situation. The club have said that there will be no fans let into either our under 23 or under 18 home games (all of which are being played at Hotspur Way) until it is safe for fans to return. So in regards to me reporting on games it does look like it will be a little while before I return to reporting on our under 18’s and 23’s matches however, I remain optimistic and hopeful that fans will be allowed back into see games in the not so distant future. As for away games at under 23 level, some of these games starting next month will be played at stadiums so that could mean that some fans are allowed into those games. However, if that is not to be the case then hopefully some of our away league games will be streamed by the home club, but as I say I will take every game as it comes at the moment. I am feeling positive about this season for our under 23’s and I really think that they will have good season in the league and yes there are some top teams in our division. However, we have quality players and I just hope that we start the season strongly, see how it goes and build on that. As for my match previews that I do for every under 23 game, I will keep on doing them this season.
Spurs’ under 23 squad for the 2020/21 season (as it stands):
Goalkeepers: Alfie Whiteman, Brandon Austin, Jonathan De Bie, Josh Oluwayemi, Kacper Kurylowicz.
Full backs: Dennis Cirkin, Jubril Okedina.
Central defenders: Aaron Skinner, Malachi Fagan-Walcott, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster.
Midfielders: George Marsh, Jamie Bowden, Jack Roles, Elliot Thorpe, Rafferty Pedder, Harvey White.
Wingers: Anthony Georgiou, Shilow Tracey, Dilan Markanday, J’Neil Bennett, Jeremie Mukendi, Maurizio Pochettino, Chay Cooper.
Under 23 players out on loan: TJ Eyoma (on a season long loan with Lincoln City), Troy Parrott (on a season long loan with Millwall), Oliver Skipp (Technically part of the Spurs first team. He is on a season long loan with Norwich City).
Our under 23’s PL2 league fixtures for the 2020/21 season can be viewed on the official Tottenham Hotspur website.