Europa League: How Tottenham Will Line Up Against Anzhi Makhachkala
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Owner Suleyman Kerimov's new frugal approach meant hasty sales of expensively financed signings such as Lassana Diarra, Igor Denisov, Samuel Eto'o and Willian.
Those left behind are toiling at the bottom of the Russian Premier League, the glamour of the last few years now an increasingly distant memory.
Even with the demands of a lengthy trip across Europe for what will be a typically cold October night at Moscow's Saturn stadium, Tottenham will feel they have enough to dispatch Anzhi on Thursday.
Assistant manager Steffen Freund noted as much to TottenhamHotspur.com, as well as underlining the significance of a win for their qualification hopes from Group K.
Boss Andre Villas-Boas' starting lineup will likely be selected in a similar fashion to that used in previous cup outings this season—augmenting those frequenting the bench in Premier League games with a few who have been starting regularly.
Jermain Defoe will likely lead the former group, as he attempts to add to the four goals he has already struck in the Europa League this season.
Defoe will be keen to reinforce his credentials as a genuine option to start up front for Spurs. With Roberto Soldado struggling to find the net, another goalscoring display will not do the England international's claim any harm.
Soldado could feasibly start (that is, if he has even travelled), should Villas-Boas decide Anzhi provide the ideal opportunity for him to regain his scoring touch. Presumably though, the manager will prefer to rest Soldado for West Ham United this weekend and reappraise his forward situation after the upcoming international break.
Like Defoe, Lewis Holtby has been in great form in the Europa League and Capital One Cup, while also impressing in league cameos too (though not so much in videos for SpursTV, see right).
He is a strong candidate to be Spurs' chief creative outlet again. Less certain is who will operate outside of him on the flanks.
Villas-Boas has experimented with different combinations in the cup. Erik Lamela should be given the minutes seeing how Andros Townsend continues to nail down the right wing position in the league.
On the opposite flank it could be one of a few options, but given he has not started for a few weeks, Nacer Chadli would be a good bet.
Sandro will probably be provided another opportunity to stake a claim for a midfield starting place. Alongside him, one of Mousa Dembele and Paulinho should be called upon to help Spurs retain some of their league rhythm.
A similar approach in defense has been favoured by Villas-Boas in midweek outings so far this campaign. One of Michael Dawson or Jan Vertonghen will likely lead from the back again alongside Vlad Chiriches (at the time of writing it was not clear if Younes Kaboul had recovered from a knock and travelled to Moscow).
With the match possibly too soon for the return of Danny Rose, Kyle Walker will be the man to provide experience at full-back. Either Kyle Naughton or Zeki Fryers will then play on the opposite side.
In goal it is a toss-up between Brad Friedel and Hugo Lloris. Both have been used in the Europa League, but Villas-Boas may prefer to save the latter from the cold of Moscow.
Players and coaching staff visited St Basil's Cathedral in Red Square this morning on a sightseeing tour of Moscow pic.twitter.com/poOpYczOu8— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) October 2, 2013
Six points from two games would leave Tottenham with a good chance of qualifying from Group K with games to spare. Anzhi might not provide the threat of only a few months ago, but a trip to Russia is never one to be taken lightly.
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