Tottenham Club Focus – Should Harry Redknapp now rotate his first eleven?

Tottenham Hotspur go into Saturday’s match away to West Bromwich Albion lying third in premier League, having taken 25 points from a possible 27, and manager, Harry Redknapp has warned the players of the necessity to continue this good form, believing the race for a top four finish will go down to the wire.

The team is settled; of the starting eleven against Aston Villa on Monday, only Aaron Lennon and Ledley King have, due to injury, started fewer than nine games. Spurs have seen the benefit of playing a different team in the Europa League, keeping the main eleven fresh for the Premier League matches that are the priority.

The next two months see Tottenham play 12 league games, one more than the three teams lying immediately below them and two more than Arsenal in seventh. These teams are only three points behind, though Spurs have a game in hand. Of these 12 games, only two – home to Chelsea and away to Manchester City are against opposition currently positioned higher than tenth.

Whilst there may be a truism that there are no easy games, this appears to be a relatively kind set of fixtures, and Redknapp should expect his team on current form, to take a high number of points. However, within this, Spurs play five matches in 17 days over the Christmas, New Year period, and at the beginning of February, enter into a potentially season defining run of four consecutive matches against immediate rivals, followed three matches later by Chelsea. The manager should want his main eleven fit and fresh for this series of games.

There is perhaps a strong argument that in the current form Harry Redknapp should not change a winning side, and with the main eleven not playing in Europe, there should be no issue with fitness. However injuries or loss of form are probably inevitable at some point. Though not necessarily always Redknapp’s preference, do the matches over the next two months represent a good opportunity to rotate the squad? There are several players who could be in a contention for starting places. William Gallas, Vedran Corluka, and Steven Pienaar all recovered/recovering from injury could be considered for the first eleven for some games. Gallas’ inclusion in particular, would allow King to be rested.

Arguably though, the two main players deserving a starting place are Sandro and Jermain Defoe. Both players are perhaps vital to Spurs’ season, even though they have seen little playing time so far. As a consequence, both have been linked with January moves away from The Lane. Spurs fans seem especially keen about Sandro’s inclusion, seen by many as the future midfield general. Essentially, footballers want to play football. Starting league matches may give them a feeling of value, of contribution to and being part of Tottenham’s good run.

If there are injuries or suspensions, incoming players may experience difficulty in fitting into a team’s match rhythm if they have had little playing time. Rotation will mitigate this, even if this requires changes in formation. Does Harry Redknapp rotate some players for perhaps the long term benefit of the season against potentially upsetting the form of the current eleven?

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on West Brom v Tottenham

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