By the time Tottenham Hotspur kick off their match on Sunday at home to Blackburn Rovers, their three rivals for a Champions League place will have all played. Arsenal are away to Stoke, where they have struggled before; Newcastle are away to a Wigan Athletic team fighting for Premier League survival, whilst a probably tiring Chelsea take on QPR. The worst case scenario for Spurs is their rivals win, meaning Spurs will be looking distantly at the top four from sixth place. The best case is that Spurs will receive a boost from rivals dropping points and can go into their match knowing a win will put them back in the mix.
To be fair, Spurs have no option but to go for three points. Anything less may just see their season fall apart. A failure to win on Sunday and it is conceivable confidence will be so low, they may struggle to win their remaining games – two further matches against relegation battlers and Fulham, whose manager Martin Jol might love to get one over the chairman who sacked him, Daniel Levy.
The question is can Spurs win? The match would be difficult under normal circumstances with Blackburn are fighting relegation and have managed some surprising results this season. However, at the moment Spurs seem in disarray. There has been criticism from players on loan, such as Vedran Corluka. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/tottenham-hotspur/9230178/Harry-Redknapp-to-blame-if-fatigued-Tottenham-miss-out-on-Champions-League-says-Vedran-Corluka.html? There have also been reports of dressing room unrest, with players complaining to Levy regarding tactics and match preparation http://www.goal.com/en-gb/news/2896/premier-league/2012/04/25/3058136/tottenham-players-revolt-against-manager-redknapp, as well as an apparent growing list of injuries as a quick glance at Physio Room shows. http://www.physioroom.com/news/english_premier_league/epl_injury_table.php On top of this is Spurs terrible run; six points from their last nine league games is closer to bottom four than top four form.
The team that manager Harry Redknapp fields may be less about choice and more about who is fit. Injuries may see Danny Rose start and Bongani Khumalo make his debut. Despite the importance of the match, there is an argument for other changes. Some players are clearly exhausted, so Sandro or Jake Livermore could to start in midfield. One area that should be addressed is up front, especially if Emmanuel Adebayor and Louis Saha are unavailable. Can Redknapp afford to play Jermain Defoe as the lone striker – the role does not suit the England forward’s game whilst the formation that perhaps suits Defoe best, 4-4-2, has been in Redknapp’s own word leaving Spurs too open. An alternative may be to play Rafael van der Vaart in the centre of a 4-3-3 formation or for the Dutchman to play the lone forward role.
Is this a case of everything to lose or nothing to lose? Whichever permutation Redknapp settles on, Spurs have to win. As such perhaps an attacking line up is called for with the width, pace, possession and quick passing that served Spurs so well. Given their form, fatigue and low confidence, it may be a brave move but “To Dare is to Do”.
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