Cook a cat! It’s the final group stage matches of the Europa League proper. Spurs, god bless ‘em, are unbeaten so far and go into this eve’s game against Panathinaikos with a two point buffer betwixt themselves, 1st and 3rd. Which, when all the highly complex algorithms are processed, checked and checked again, means a draw will be enough for delightful progress into the knock-outs. And if we can’t manage at least a point against this rabble of Hellenistic Herberts, then perhaps this is the station we ought to get off at anyway.
We’ve fielded a pretty competitive line-up in each of the group games up until now, so the expectancy is that Villas-Boas isn’t about to change tact at the crucial moment this evening. From the start, at least, the team’s going to look reasonably fierce. Tom Carroll will likely start and what an ideal occasion for him to rock the Kasbah with an assertive midfield performance. European tie, pulling the strings in the centre, under the lights. This could be the making of the young man.
Meanwhile I’d fancy Adebayor to play on his lonesome up front. Injuries, suspension and the remarkable- admit it, surprising- form of J-Dizzly aside, it’s maybe time the smiling Togolese hitman stopped fannying about and got on with the business of doing professional kickball. When all’s said and done, you’d have to concede, it’s what he does best.
Anyway, here’s how I’d line the chaps up. But what says you?
How do you follow that, I guess is the question we’re all asking. Well, just as James D. Watson and his colleagues would’ve had laundry to fold and tax returns to fill-out just days after discovering the molecular structure of DNA, so does the world not grind to a halt for Tottenham after making history at Old Trafford last weekend.
Not that anyone’s claiming that winning a game of football is on a par with solving biology’s greatest conundrum, you understand. Clearly Spurs’ was the harder task.
The laundry to take care of this afternoon, then, comes in the shape of Athens-based outfit, Panathinaikos. Fondly remembered in this parish for the halcyon days of the mid-90s, when they counted Giorgos Donis among their number. Or as I was convinced he was called at the time, George Adonis. Hailed as the quickest player in Europe, he sounded more like a hero of Greek mythology than a work-a-day footballer. After getting to a Champions League semi-final in 96’- losing to eventual winners Ajax- Donis was signed by Ray Harford at Blackburn before finally ending up at Huddersfield Town. Often the career path of gods.
As a side note, Panathinaikos also featured heavily on the Mega Drive classic, European Club Soccer. Always a tricky opponent because of their impenetrably camouflaged green kit. Salient details every one, I’m sure you’d agree.
But enough wistful nostalgia. Andre Villas-Boas has reiterated his stance of upmost importance with regard to the Europa League this season- in contrast to his predecessor’s ‘not for me, thanks’ approach- so it’s likely we’ll see a competitive side. Lloris in for Brad appears to be a no-brainer while Defoe will presumably lead the line again as Adebayor struggles to witness the fitness. He’s not even traveled. Expect Dempsey to play near enough alongside the poacher petite.
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