Premier League: How Tottenham Hotspur Will Line Up Against Hull City
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Changes made by manager Andre Villas-Boas in both matches have worked out well, but have also left him with plenty to contemplate over his starting lineup versus Hull City on Sunday.
Casting a shadow over any decisions made will be the 3-0 defeat to West Ham United that Tottenham suffered in their last Premier League game following a lengthy journey in the Europa League.
Partly to avoid some of the tiredness that contributed to that defeat, Villas-Boas left Andros Townsend, Paulinho and Kyle Walker behind for the trip to Transnistria. All three will almost certainly be restored to the Spurs team for the visit of Hull.
While Roberto Soldado's winner versus Villa should ensure he gets the chance to continue up front, there is more room for discussion over who joins Townsend in attacking midfield.
Lewis Holtby was involved in both goals last weekend. Though not eye-catching creatively, his overall energy and contributions in those two moments vindicated him receiving his first league start this season.
Holtby and left midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson might also benefit from Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Aaron Lennon all starting on Thursday. Villas-Boas has others who played against Sheriff who will definitely be required. If he can keep things fresh in attacking midfield, he may choose too.
Should he play, Sigurdsson will be looking to regain the scoring touch that has marked his best moments at White Hart Lane so far this campaign. Lamela, Lennon and Nacer Chadli are waiting for their respective chances, and with Townsend the man of the moment right now, Sigurdsson's position is most under threat.
Paulinho will be joined in central midfield by either Mousa Dembele or Sandro. Both played against Sheriff, so the least tired of the two may start versus Hull.
After the Brazilian played his first 90 minutes of 2013-14 last week, it will be intriguing to see if he has played his way into a starting role in Villas-Boas' mind. Competition to start in midfield is fierce, and with Etienne Capoue not too far off full fitness, it will only get fiercer.
At the time of writing Tottenham's team news had not been confirmed. However BBC Sport's preview of the fixture suggested Younes Kaboul and Danny Rose will miss out again through injury.
Rose's absence could mean Jan Vertonghen again deputizing at left-back. The Belgian has been keen to give credit to the team overall for their 11 clean sheets in 14 matches. He also told TottenhamHotspur.com that the experience they have gained together since last season has played a big part in that:
Jan: 'Most of the defenders are the same as last season, we’ve adapted to each other & everyone does his job & that’s important in the PL'— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) October 25, 2013
Even with the occasional hiccups (notably against West Ham and Arsenal), Vertonghen's comments are testament to the familiarity he has established with fellow defenders Michael Dawson and Kyle Walker, as well as goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Vlad Chiriches slotted in nicely against Villa and will likely play in central defense again if Vertonghen covers at left-back. The Romanian's bright start at Spurs also serves as a warning though, that nobody's place is guaranteed if good form does not hold.
An interesting statistic on Tottenham's official website noted that under Villas-Boas, the club has 100 per cent winning record against newly promoted clubs.
Hull's solid start in their return to the top-flight (they sit ninth ahead of the weekend's action) shows they are a team not to be underestimated—not least with former Spur Tom Huddlestone reveling in the greater responsibility granted him as a Tiger.
Fresh, tired or somewhere in between, Spurs' players must be ready again for the latest challenge in a Premier League season that rarely allows a restful week.
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