Tottenham Hotspur vs. Queens Park Rangers.
It seems that AVB and the players have nearly completed their attempts to go from zero's to hero's with two impressive showings, but the question is whether they can make that three.
In fairness QPR at home isn't the hardest game on paper. A team that still looks disjointed after Mark Hughes decided to bring in enough players to almost completely change the team, and it seems that confidence and cohesion are still on the low side and playing them early, might be the perfect time to grab 3 points and build on our own improving fortunes.
Despite the result on Thursday, I was actually very pleased with the performance. Lazio are a decent side, but were beaten in every way but the scoreline and in watching all of the new players, plus Steven Caulker, look so composed, must be seen as a major positive for AVB and will give him some very nice headaches in the coming weeks.
Kyle Naughton and Emmanuel Adebayor will undergo fitness tests before the game, and of course Parker, Livermore, BAE, Kaboul and Gomes are all still out. The possible loss of Naughton on top of BAE will probably be the biggest worry, as his missing the game will either force Jan Vertonghen to revert to left back or perhaps give Adam Smith a game, though would we rule out either Bale or Townsend filling in for one game, which would be a very bold statement from the manager.
QPR may only have 2 points from their opening four games, but when two of those games were against Chelsea and Man City, it doesn't seem too much of a disaster, and the point secured Chelsea, will be seen as a real positive, though how much of that was due to row new found bitterness following the Ferdinand/Terry fall out, which might have added much more fire into the Rangers bellies.
Along with the late test on Naughton, AVB will probably have to give some real thought to his central defensive pairing. If Vertonghen has to move to left back, it might see AVB dodge a difficult decision between Caulker and Gallas and who partners the Belgium. Caulker was outstanding against Lazio, but Gallas has the experience and is still quality. Caulker would probably be the fans pick and is sure to get his chance, but I wonder if AVB values the experience and leadership qualities of Gallas, which might just give him the edge, though I feel it only a matter of time before the youngster becomes a first choice for club and perhaps country.
Brad Friedel will probably return in goal, but like Gallas, and a few others, it is now such a close call, today, but you do feel that the change in inevitable sooner, rather than later. Further up the field, you wonder how close clint Dempsey is to getting a starting place, probably over Gylfi Sigurdsson? Both again look top quality and look players that are good enough to start, but this like the other tight decisions only back up the thinking that this is now a squad with genuine depth of equal quality, which will make rotation and competition a must and also of benefit in terms of keeping things fresh and the players hungry.
Three points tomorrow, wont put Spurs back in the top Prem places, but it will continue to discredit the doubters, who were so quick to question AVB and his ability and suddenly 8 points from five games looks far better than the two from three a week ago...