Wednesday, September 27, 2006

UEFA Cup Preview - Bring yer boots tomorrow!

It’s a long awaited European home game tomorrow at the Lane, where the team, all dressed in white, will take to the field under floodlights and evoke memories of Mullery and Roberts lifting that enormous UEFA Cup trophy, and putting Tottenham Hotspur on the international map. The team need some inspiration from somewhere, and it should be provided by the White Hart Lane faithful, who have been looking forward to this for a long time. The club and fans demand to be playing in European competition every year, and now that we have arrived, the opportunity to make an impact, as well as re-ignite the season should be taken.

It has been a poor start to the season by anyone’s standards, and whilst the term “crisis” is a little far fetched at the moment, getting knocked out of Europe now would certainly warrant its use. Spurs take a 1-0 advantage into the second leg after a decent workmanlike performance in Prague a fortnight ago. With the crucial away goal in the bag, it should mean that Slavia Prague need to attack Spurs pretty much from the off, and this should allow for some free flowing and fairly entertaining football. An early Spurs goal would settle everyone’s nerves, and allow the team to build up some much needed confidence.

Where are the goals going to come from though? With only two players finding the scoresheet so far this season, and one of them, Dimitar Berbatov, not available for a few more weeks it’s not immediately obvious. Add in the rumour that Jermain Defoe is injured as well, leaving Mido and Keane up front, it could be a nervy night. It will be interesting to see who makes the bench tomorrow as back up striker, as Lee Bernard hasn’t featured for the reserves lately, presumably due to injury, so it could be Tomáš Pekhart, a 17 year old signed from Slavia in the summer, who has been banging them in for the under 18s. What a bizarre first team debut it would be for the boy if Mido or Keane got injured and he had to play, against his old club. That is presuming he is eligible for European competition of course, as Spurs would needed to have registered him, and who knows if they did.

With the forward line picking itself by default, the midfield will be a key area as usual. Also out according to the rumour hounds is Edgar Davids, which lets be fair is no great loss. This only clarifies the situation slightly however, as Jol could use Huddlestone along side Zokora as he did in the first leg, or play Murphy there as he has for the last two games. There were signs of a player emerging in Murphy during the Liverpool game, and perhaps he just needs a run to find his form. He could do with a goal, as could everyone of course, but that might be enough to spark a recovery. The lesser spotted Ghaly is an option as well. Presumably, Tainio and Jenas will fill the “wide” roles given the lack of alternative options, although as mentioned on here already, its time to give Ziegler a try on the left.

At the back we have some disastrous news, with Ledley apparently picking up a knee injury which will keep him out of the game tomorrow, but maybe not Sunday. Gardener and Davenport, the likely replacements are also struggling apparently, but one or both should pull through to play along side the great Michael Dawson. Which one it is doesn’t really matter, no one can replace Ledders, and if neither make it then it will have to be Huddlestone or maybe Chimbonda playing out of position, which would be bad.

So, with Spurs Lodge looking like a scene from the Battle of the Somme, with players strewn all over the field, The Waddler is going to take his boots with him to the Lane tomorrow night just in case. You never know. Despite the injury situation though it is a perfect opportunity to stick a few past Slavia, and get the team fired up and full of confidence for Sunday, when Harry brings his boys up the A3, and a certain former Spurs captain returns for his favourite match of the season.

Come on you Spurs!

The Waddler.