Better Know A Spur: Profiling Aston Villa's Next Opponents

MILAN ITALY - OCTOBER 20: Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur during the UEFA Champions League group A match between FC Internazionale Milano and Tottenham Hotspur at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on October 20 2010 in Milan Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

If you ever feel like stumping your friends, ask them who the first British club to win a UEFA club competition was. In all likelihood, they will guess Manchester United. This is likely because your friend only knows one British club. However, let's give your friends a little more credit than that and assume that they're referring to Manchester United's victory over Benfica in the European Cup in 1968. If you have an unusually smug friend, they will say Celtic, because Celtic won the European Cup one year prior to Manchester United. This friend will say Celtic with a single eyebrow arched by the self-superior knowledge that Scottish clubs are also British clubs, and you're not hoodwinking them with your trick questions. But alas, you have, because the correct answer is in fact Tottenham Hotspur. In 1963, Spurs clobbered Atletico Madrid to win the European Cup Winners' Cup, a prize that no longer exists after being assimilated into the Europa League (UEFA's answer to the NIT, the Europa League seems to get longer every year, and is easily the dullest thing to hit Thursday nights since Inside Schwartz.)

The club has a history of playing entertaining football, exemplified by their motto Audere est Facere, which means "To Dare Is to Do." This philosophy manifests itself in the club's history of featuring mercurial attacking players like Paul Gascoigne and Jurgen Klinsmann, but has also given Spurs a reputation for being a bit of a comedy lightweight in comparison to other top clubs. Putting Heurelho Gomes in goal against Real Madrid probably didn't help. And of course there was that time where they threw away a three goal lead to get knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester City, back before the Sky Blues were any good (Eagle-eyed readers will note that that video features American legend Kasey Keller in goal for Spurs and our very own Richard Dunne in his old colours with City.)  

Season at a Glance: Tottenham's stuttering start to the season-two big losses to Manchester's twin titans-belies a very strong team mining a good run of form. Spurs have convincingly beaten their plausible competition for fourth place with a comprehensive smackdown of Liverpool and a well-earned victory over their north London rivals Arsenal. Both of those matches took place at White Hart Lane, where Tottenham have one of the stronger home-field advantages of any club in the Premiership. So we have that to look forward to.

Squad: Last season, Spurs struggled to keep all of their important players healthy and in good form at the same time. Worryingly, that seems to be happening at the moment. Both Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon have impressed in the league so far, pairing with Benoit Assou-Ekotto and former Villa loanee Kyle Walker to give Spurs absolutely terrifying pace down the flanks. Tottenham's most recent purchase, midfielder Scott Parker, put in a Man of the Match performance last weekend against Spain, and has been consistently excellent since spending the better part of the last few years being the only good thing about West Ham United. Amidst all of that, Tottenham's most accomplished players are in the middle of the park. Creative fulcrum Luka Modric has shown few signs of irritation after being denied a move to Chelsea over the summer, and top scorer Rafael Van der Vaart will likely come back after being injured on international duty to shoot from pretty much anywhere he damn well pleases. And lest we forget, Tottenham's run of comedy goalkeepers came to an end this year after they took Brad Friedel off of our hands.

Manager: Harry Redknapp is a man of many facets. He is the engineer of one of the most shocking FA Cup winners of recent years, and he is also the man who nearly put that club out of business. He is a peerless motivator of temperamental players, and yet he forced Darren Bent out of his clubhouse after Bent missed a chance that Redknapp claimed his wife would have scored. But one thing Harry Redknapp is not: a wheeler-dealer.

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