Harry Redknapp has vowed that Tottenham will not abandon their attacking style in the Champions League second round clash with Milan at White Hart Lane tomorrow.
Spurs have stuttered in the Premier League of late, but in Europe they continue to look the part. With a well deserved 1-0 lead and a vital away goal in the bag going into the second leg, the temptation for Spurs could easily be to sit back and hold on to what they have, but Redknapp is confident that maintaining an attacking outlook will do more damage to their opponents: “I
Spurs will be aiming to put the disappointment of not being able to hold onto their lead at Wolves on Sunday behind them, and their cause has been boosted by the return of Gareth Bale, who came off the bench in the 3-3 draw. The winger is likely to play from the start, with Redknapp having been encouraged by what he saw on his return: “When Gareth came on and started to run with the ball, it was exciting. We’ve missed that for the last five or six weeks.”
Top scorer Rafael van der Vaart could also feature after recovering from a nagging calf strain, and Redknapp believes a pacy, direct Spurs attack will pose a formidable threat to the Italians’ ageing backline: “We will play an attacking team. We’ll play (Aaron) Lennon and probably Gareth Bale and have a go. Peter Crouch has had a great European campaign as well. And Van der Vaart has a good chance for Wednesday, I hope he will be fit.”
Jermain Defoe may also have played himself back into the reckoning for tomorrow’s encounter with his two superb strikes in the 3-3 draw with Wolves at the weekend. Defoe’s brace ended a long goal drought after he struggled to carry last season’s form into this, but is now optimistic that he will be able break the 100-goal barrier against the Italian giants. “If I score my 100th goal for Tottenham on Wednesday night there will be a reason why. I say that because I always believe things happen for a reason but it would be nice to do it. It’s been a long while since I scored my last Premier League goal. More than anything, it has been frustrating.”
Despite a host of options going forward, Spurs still have injury woes at the back, and again will be without Jonathan Woodgate, Vedran Corluka, Younes Kaboul and midfielder Tom Huddlestone. Ledley King is back in training but is highly unlikely to be thrown in against a physical Milan attack.
Last month’s game at the San Siro was a feisty affair. Spurs were good value for their win, and handled Milan’s late onslaught well, surviving the mercurial Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s late goal, which was rightly disallowed. The game was littered with ugly scenes, most notably involving Milan’s Gennaro Gattuso squaring up to and head-butting Spurs assistant manager Joe Jordan, for which the Italian received a four game suspension.
French midfielder Mathieu Flamini also incurred the North London side’s wrath after a nasty two-footed challenge left Vedran Corluka stricken. The former Arsenal man escaped with just a yellow card and has hit back at angry criticism from Redknapp, who branded the challenge an “absolute disgrace,” stating: “In four years in the Premier League I’ve never injured an opponent. I was never sent off in England. Never. I am a defensive midfielder so of course I am in the ‘tough’ area of the pitch but this was the first time a player was injured by a challenge I made. I am not a dirty player. I didn’t have a bad intention.”
Milan are still sitting pretty at the top of Serie A and come into the game on the back of a solid domestic run, including a 3-0 thumping of fellow title chasers Napoli, and a 1-0 triumph away to rivals Juventus at the weekend.
Probable Spurs line-up: Gomes; Hutton, Gallas, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Sandro, Modric, Bale; van der Vaart, Crouch