Tottenham Hotspur vs. NK Maribor.
Three games and three draws are hardly the European statement that AVB was hoping to make, but though tonight isn't win or bust, it isn't too far away.
Spurs wont want to go into the final game against Panathinaikos needing three points to get out of the group, but you feel that they have to win this one or beat Lazio in Rome to be confident of making the knock out games, and though many of us don't particularly like the Europa league or its format, we don't want to exit the competition with our tail between our legs, especially when we have usually gone in with strong teams instead of kids or supposed deadbeats.
AVB's team selection is hampered yet again by a long list of key players, and tonight yet again see's Sandro, Dembele, Parker, Kaboul, BAE and possibly Gallas and Livermore unfit. the latter two may well just make it, though apparently Jake is training but isn't 100% and Gallas probably would have been rested anyway, but a hamstring pull may not make him worth the risk either way.
I suppose we will see Hugo Lloris tease the French nation with an all too brief appearance, but in defence, we again might only have five defenders for four places and it will be interesting to again see who AVB rests from Walker, Caulker, Dawson, Vertonghen or Naughton, assuming Gallas is rested or not fit.
Personally, I am hopping that Jake Livermore is fit to partner Tom Huddlestone, as we need his bite in the middle without Parker or Sandro, who will hopefully be back for Man City on Sunday. Huddlestone works better with a high energy player alongside him and also should we not have Jake fit, I have serious reservations about who else we could put in and see us have any effective bite.
Some will opt for Vertonghen, but with so few fit defenders, can we afford to move him forward? others like Carroll and Sigurdsson lack the qualities we need for the position when playing alongside Hudd and I have also mentioned the idea of promoting someone like Dean Parrett into the starting XI, because he has the quality and also might well be a better positional selection than several others.
I would expect Emmanuel Adebayor to get his long awaited first start of the season, and as I wrote earlier in the week, I would hope this is the start of a run of games, that include his former clubs of City and Arsenal. what better games to make a statement and also make Jermain sweat for his place or perhaps even see the two paired together in preference to the so far misfiring Dempsey and Sigurdsson.
Another name I hope to see get a start is Iago Falque, who has impressed greatly in the few chances he has had and I feel he must surely deserve a start after his great display against Norwich last week. Whether this is to replace one of Lennon or Bale, or perhaps even make up a three with those two in place of one of our struggling new boys, time will tell.
Though I am not exactly bursting with confidence at winning this game, I do feel we have the quality to do so, if only we apply ourselves and play how we can. it seems that I am saying something very similar before every game, but until we get to a stage where we see some positive consistency, I feel I might be saying it for some time longer...