Tottenham Focus - Spurs strength should put QPR reunions in the shade
Tottenham Hotspur take on Queens Park Rangers in the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday with several intriguing backdrops to the match that both teams will be desperate to win.
Spurs will want to continue their good form of the festive period, maintain third position and keep up the chase on Manchester City in second. Rangers, bottom of the Premier League, simply need points in their battle to avoid relegation.
Against this is the shadow cast by Harry Redknapp. Redknapp and Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy always appeared to have a somewhat fractious relationship, culminating in the Englishman’s sacking in the summer after a disastrous second half to last season, amid continuous speculation over the England job. There should be no surprise at Redknapp’s desire to put one over his old boss. Similarly, André Villas-Boas should be as keen to take maximum points to show Spurs have moved on from the old regime.
In his battle to avoid relegation, Redknapp has, perhaps unsurprisingly, been talking of players he would like to recruit and there have been strong rumours linking QPR with numerous Spurs players - Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone initially, William Gallas and Jake Livermore more recently.
On paper, Tottenham should be too strong for a QPR side struggling for form and consistency, but the recent victory over Chelsea in the West London derby shows that the threat from Rangers cannot be ignored.
However, one of QPR’s main problems has been up front. In 21 league matches Rangers have yet to score more than two goals in a match and have only scored two goals in a match on four occasions. Rangers go into the fixture without Andrew Johnson, Bobby Zamora and possibly Junior Hoilett and with last week’s goal scorer, Kieron Dyer, released.
The potential lack of threat means ex-Lilywhite, Adel Taarabt will lead the QPR line but the Spurs defence, protected by the tigerish Sandro or the returning Scott Parker should be too strong for Rangers.
The other end of the pitch should see another ex-Spur, Ryan Nelson, leading the defence against the Tottenham attack, before the Kiwi departs for Toronto. With Aaron Lennon in scintillating form, as well as Gareth Bale and Mousa Dembelé, Spurs fans would expect their team to contain too much firepower for a Rangers side that has leaked 36 goals in the league, 19 of them at Loftus Road.
Perhaps the intriguing question will be Spurs forward line-up. Emmanuel Adebayor has arguably let himself, his coach and Spurs down. Not with his decision to go to the Africa Nations, but with his comments hinting at a rift between him and his coach.
However, his decision to go to South Africa means that Jermain Defoe will - signings excepted - have to lead the Spurs forward line over the next several weeks. This may be the one opportunity to rest the England international before then. Villas-Boas could adopt a 4-2-3-1 formation, Adebayor leading the line, with either Clint Dempsey or Gylfi Sigurdsson playing in the hole, with Defoe on the bench if Spurs struggle to score.
Despite the various reunions and sub plots, Spurs should be strong enough to take maximum points from Rangers, keeping up the pressure at both ends of the table.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on QPR v Tottenham