Match date & time: Thursday 23rd October 2014. 8:05pm KO BST.
Competition: Europa League Group C.
Venue: White Hart Lane.
TV: Live on ITV 4. Full world wide TV listings HERE.
Match day three of the Europa League group stages is at our doorstep, and we need to step up our performances & increase our points tally if we are to avoid a shock group stage exit. In two games, we have accumulated just two points and that isn’t good enough, despite two difficult games away at Partizan and at home to Besiktas. It’s important we aim to take full points from our next four games in the group, especially our home fixtures, starting with Asteras Tripolis. Our start of season form has stuttered at times, and we lack consistency from game to game, so that is something we must put right really early before it starts to take an effect on the team, manager & fans. In the Europa League, we are expected to go out, get a few goals and breeze the group, but also make a real go of the knockout stages. We all know it’s not as easy as it sounds, but our players must perform better than they have done so far and aim to win what is a great & prestigious competition. At home to Asteras Tripolis, the expectation is that we will get our first win of the Europa League campaign; it’s now up to the players to deliver that and hopefully with some style.
Asteras Tripolis, despite being the somewhat unknown quantity of Group C, currently top it and are the only team in the group to record a win in the competition so far, beating Partizan Belgrade 2-0 at home. The Greek outfit also managed to get a 1-1 draw away at Besiktas, a team we struggled with at times at the Lane. The unknown aspect of their game could play into their advantage and therefore it’s important the players don’t underestimate the opposition and try to play the game our way, with an early goal, otherwise this team could cause us problems if they decide to sit back, frustrate & then counter attack us. Being group leaders at this moment in time doesn’t mean too much, and you would still expect Tottenham and Besiktas to be going through once the fixtures are all played, but the assumption of having an easy group is wide of the mark and we must take this game seriously and Pochettino has to get the point of professionalism across to the players as best as he can. Asteras will have a game plan, and they will work hard to stick to it; it’s our job to break the team down early and dictate & control the game in the way we want it to be played.
Asteras Tripolis have a couple of injuries heading into the game; striker Ziguy Badibanga (thigh), defender Dorin Goian (ankle) and midfiedler Eric Tie Bie (knee) have been ruled out of the game, with midfielder Dimitris Kourbelis (thigh) a doubt. The main threat for Asteras lies with strikers Jerónimo Barrales, who has 4 goals in 7 games, and Manuel Parra who has 3 goals in 9 games, but 2 in 2 Europa League games. The creator for Asteras is Martin Rollé, the Argentinian attacking midfielder on loan from San Lorenzo has 5 assists in 9 games so far this season, bagging 2 goals as well, he can cause defences problems and can play the incisive pass or deliver the dangerous cross. He either plays on the left hand side or as a number 10. Despite having these threats, we will hope that they won’t be getting many opportunities and we can focus on our attacking prowess.
The team news for Tottenham is that Kyle Walker (abdominal), Kyle Naughton (ankle) and Nabil Bentaleb (ankle) have been ruled out of the game. Other than them, we have a full squad to chose from and it looks as though this will be another opportunity to change the team around and give ‘fringe’ players a chance to express themselves and push for a starting place in the Premier League. As always it’s an opportunity to put their names into Mauricio Pochettino’s thinking with a good performance, and hopefully that can lead to a good, hard working and prosperous squad.
The debate all around the Tottenham fans at the moment is which striker should lead the line. Emmanuel Adebayor, Harry Kane, or Roberto Soldado. In this game, I would start with Harry Kane; he offers the most of any striker we have in my eyes, he works hard, holds the ball up well and can finish chances, which both Soldado and Adebayor are struggling with at this moment in time. It is another opportunity for Harry Kane to prove to Pochettino that he is the option for the Premier League games and can lead the line on his own; so far, Mauricio looks to favour Emmanuel Adebayor over both, but I think Kane has staked a better claim than both so far this season, with 3 goals in 4 starts, the same amount of Adebayor & Soldado in 12 starts combined. In midfield, I expect Mousa Dembele and Benjamin Stambouli to start, with Nabil Bentaleb out injured. Mousa has lost his place in the Premier League starting line up, but has an opportunity to fight for his place in this game. I think Dembele is an incredible player, with talent coursing through his veins, but of course he needs to show it more regularly and also contribute a little more in the attacking third of the pitch. Stambouli and Dembele could provide a very balanced combination; I hope they both show their quality on the pitch. Defensively, Federico Fazio and Vlad Chiriches look the likely partnership, with Fazio suspended from Premier League duty, Jan Vertonghen looks like he will be rested. In goal, it will be interesting to see whether Hugo Lloris or Michel Vorm gets the nod; I wouldn’t be surprised to see either start, but I would personally like to see Vorm get a chance.
Important game! Important to get back to winning ways after losing to Manchester City, and also put our first win on the board in the Europa League Group Stages. The game is being shown live on ITV4, but I will be providing game updates, videos, photos and more on my Twitter account, here: @AddictedToSpurs. Let’s get three points!! COYS!!
My predicted/preferred team to face Asteras at White Hart Lane:
Dier – Chiriches – Fazio – Davies
Stambouli – Dembele
Lennon – Paulinho – Townsend
Mauricio Pochettino’s pre Asteras press conference:
How would you line up against Asteras?