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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Sheffield Wednesday v Spurs, 21.08.1999

Last season's game - Sheffield Wednesday 0 Spurs 0, 09.01.1999
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This preview was written by Brian Judson

Full Record of Sheffield Wednesday -v- Spurs

Prem              Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home               7   3   1   3     9-12  10
Away               7   2   1   4     8-10   7
Total (Prem)      14   5   2   7    17-22  17
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)      34  23   6   5    87-43  56
Away (Div 1)      34   7   7  20    34-58  26
Total (Div 1)     68  30  13  25   111-101 82
Football Lge
Home (Div 2)       6   4   1   1    15-8    9
Away (Div 2)       6   1   1   4     5-10   3
Total (Div 2)     12   5   2   5    20-18   12
Total (Prem)      14   5   2   7    17-22  17
Total (Div 1)     68  30  13  25   111-101 82
Total (Div 2)     12   5   2   5    20-18  12
Grand Total       94  40  17  37   148-141 111

There has never been a better time to travel to Hillsborough with Sheffield Wednesday struggling near the bottom of the table. One point from their first three matches of the season is an extremely poor return. Some of their problems can be adduced to the rumours that Benito Carbone is unhappy and unsettled at Hillsborough. Carbone has himself been quoted as saying he fancies a move to Aston Villa. But take away the skills of Carbone and what have the Owls seemingly got left? They resemble a pub that has run out of beer with a team that appears to be bereft of leadership and skills. Their one consolation appears to be that Newcastle are equally in dire straits as they have yet to win any points at all.

And yet, and yet, I am uneasy. All too often in the past, Spurs have faced a team seemingly bolted to the floor of the League table and have surrendered the points with less than a whimper. With George Graham now resident on the bench, any player displaying the slightest hint of complacency will have his reveries rudely shattered by Graham's strong Scottish accent or by a deafening, piercing whistle from 'Two Fingers' Houston.

One player has already had his card marked. Ginola was substituted in 11 of the 16 away games he played for Tottenham under Graham last term and achieved little in the Worthington Cup final despite Spurs' Wembley triumph. He was also stunned to be dropped for the local derby at Arsenal and injured after only six minutes of the final, championship-deciding fixture at Manchester United.

Ginola was replaced again after a miserable first half in the opening fixture of the new campaign, a 1-0 defeat at West Ham. Yet to figure on the score-sheet this term, Ginola's tally of just seven goals last season disappointed Graham - even though most were gems like the FA Cup-tie winners against Leeds and Barnsley.

Graham said: "I'd love to see David making headlines all over again this season but we've got other players who can make them as well.

"He's done quite well in our two home wins this season and I'm delighted with the style the team showed as much as the results but I could pick out quite a few of our other players who were exceptional against Newcastle and Everton."

Ginola is always under the microscope because of the high standards he has set for himself and Graham insists: "He's a great talent, an excellent trainer and a good lad to have around but we are in the results business and you can never forget that.

"It is a bonus that we've already had two terrific performances in front of our own fans but particularly in the first two months of the season it is all about putting points on the board.

"We've been a goal down in all three games this season and shown a lot of heart and ability to come back. We've looked exciting but we don't want to make a habit of looking vulnerable, too."

With new signing Korsten injured, Ginola's place looks fairly safe for this week at least but he will be left in no uncertain terms by manager Graham that the team rather than Ginola _must_ come first!

If the results all work in Tottenham's favour they could be top of the table after the weekend but Graham will not be fooled into thinking he has cracked it. He has repeatedly said that Tottenham are probably 3-5 years away from having the sort of squad he wants to see before he considers Tottenham will be capable of making a consistent challenge for League honours.

The team that will run out at Hillsborough tomorrow afternoon is unlikely to be very different from last week's. Campbell will again be missing and Graham is pessimistic about his chances of making an early return to the team, saying that the big defender's injury is one that cannot be rushed. That probably means that Scales and Perry will continue at the heart of the Tottenham defence. Les Ferdinand remains doubtful so with Chris Armstrong still three weeks away from being ready to make a comeback, Spurs are likely to play a 4-5-1 line-up with Steffan Freund expected to replace Oyvind Leonhardsen.

Spurs should win this match but they _must_ concentrate for 95 minutes and not switch off as soon as injury time starts to run. They have a habit of conceding late goals against lowly clubs which they must learn to curb. Providing Spurs concentrate on their game, I think they should comfortably win, possibly 2-0 or 3-1.

Cheers, Brian

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