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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Spurs v Leeds, 28.08.99

Last season's game - Spurs 3 Leeds 3, 26.09.98
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This preview was written by Brian Judson

Full Record of Spurs -v- Leeds United

Prem           Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home            7   3   3   1    12-7   12
Away            7   1   2   4     4-12   5
Total (Prem)   14   4   5   5    16-19  17
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)   28  14   8   6    47-34  37
Away (Div 1)   28   6  10  12    32-42  23
Total (Div 1)  56  20  18  18    79-76  60
Football Lge
Home (Div 2)    4   3   1   0    10-4    7
Away (Div 2)    4   1   1   2     3-5    3
Total (Div 2)   8   4   2   2    13-9   10
Total (Prem)   14   4   5   5    16-19  17
Total (Div 1)  56  20  18  18    79-76  60
Total (Div 2)   8   4   2   2    13-9   10
Grand Total    78  28  25  25   108-104 87

Leeds United come to Tottenham, having lost at home to Liverpool, 2-1, seeking to regroup after licking their wounds and getting their act together for their assault on the League. Prior to that defeat, Leeds had looked a class act, confident on the ball, knocking it about arrogantly in the same way that Don Revie's side of 1973-74 had done so. They did not expect to lose to Liverpool and will have been extremely disappointed by the way they collapsed with barely any resistance. Manager O'Leary had criticised his team for prematurely believing some of the things written by the media about them instead of concentrating on the job in hand. His players will have been admonished very severely. But there will be no need for him to motivate the players for this match. Most of the Leeds side on view will have been developed by George Graham during his two year stewardship at Elland Road. They will want to show him how much they have progressed since his controversial appointment at Tottenham.

On the face of it, all will be sweetness and light as the two chairmen, Alan Sugar and Peter Ridsdale, and the two managers, George Graham and David O'Leary, greet each other. But behind the apparent geniality will be clenched teeth set behind a fixed smile as both teams kick-off. Leeds were not happy about the fact that Spurs persuaded Willem Korsten to sign for them rather than Leeds, for whom he had played on loan for some weeks last season. Spurs will not be happy that Michael Bridges is playing for Leeds when they had seemingly agreed with Sunderland a deal to bring him to Tottenham. Bridges may have preferred to have signed for Leeds for personal reasons but Graham will not have been pleased to have lost a promising player to them.

Spurs and Leeds played each other four times last season. They drew 3-3 at Tottenham in what was George Graham's final match in charge of Leeds and Tottenham lost the return game, 2-0. The two sides were drawn together in the FA Cup 5th Round at Elland Road. Spurs surprisingly drew at Leeds, as they have a poor record there. But they won the replay, 2-0, thanks to a 60th minute goal by Darren Anderton and a 68th minute goal from David Ginola. So, honours even, both sides won one game each and drew two others.

Both sides have been described as lacking a cutting edge. Leeds were shocked when Hasselbaink walked out on them, preferring to play in Spain, just as the season was beginning. Spurs have been hunting high and low for a goalscorer but have not found one they have been prepared to pay for. Spurs refused to pay 6M for Robbie Keane because they did not believe he had sufficient experience to justify an outlay of that kind. Arsenal have made a short term signing of Suker but Spurs really want a long term signing. But there are signs that Steffan Iversen may solve a problem that has plagued us since Teddy Sheringham signed for Manchester United.

One of the most pleasing aspects of the Spurs matches this year is that the goals are coming from all departments. The strikers are no longer carrying the burden of scoring our goals. Sherwood, in particular, has been ghosting in to score goals reminiscent of one Martin Peters.

But Spurs would not be Spurs if they did not have players with injury problems. Already without Sol Campbell, injured at West Ham, Spurs lost John Scales last weekend during the pre-match kick-about with a hamstring injury. Scales has spent much of his time at Tottenham in the treatment room so it is as well that Spurs have promising talent in the shape of Luke Young and Ledley King coming along.

Both sides are expected to be missing key players tomorrow. Leeds may be without Alan Smith and Lee Bowyer whilst Spurs may be without Campbell and Scales and, possibly, Justin Edinburgh. Spurs cannot afford to pick up any more injuries with the UEFA Cup soon to start as their squad is on the small side at the moment.

I expect this game to end in a draw. My reasons for thinking so is that Leeds lack the players who can score whilst Spurs defence is still suspect. Whilst I can visualise Spurs scoring a couple of goals, I am still worried that our defence will let us down and allow Leeds to cancel them out by making some silly mistakes.

Cheers, Brian

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