Europa League: How Tottenham Hotspur Will Line Up Against Anzhi Makhachkala

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Europa League: How Tottenham Hotspur Will Line Up Against Anzhi Makhachkala
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Erik Lamela should be among the clutch of players restored to Tottenham's line-up for their second Europa League meeting with Anzhi.

Tottenham Hotspur's Europa League meeting with Anzhi Makhachkala on Thursday has no bearing on either club's placing in Group K.

Anzhi's 1-1 draw with Sheriff Tiraspol a fortnight ago confirmed them as runners up and Tottenham as winners—a fact celebrated by the latter with a 2-0 win over lowly Norwegian outfit Tromso.

The intrigue surrounding the Russian side's visit to White Hart Lane is decidedly on Andre Villas-Boas' starting lineup for the match. With the busy festive fixture list about to get underway, the Spurs manager will be contemplating the most appropriate use of his resources.

Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
Andre Villas-Boas looks on during cold preparations in training for Anzhi.

Even with Spurs keen to cement a 100-percent record in Europe so far this season, domestic affairs take precedent for the time being. It leaves a situation in which Villas-Boas' team could have a new look entirely, or not that different at all.

There is the possibility that—along with the expected use of several players on the fringe of first-team action—the Portuguese could decide to give a run-out to some youngsters not currently on loan.

Jordan Archer, Kenneth McEvoy, Shaquile Coulthirst and Ryan Fredericks were all on the bench for the trip to Tromso. The latter two and midfielder Laste Dombaxe have been confirmed for this week's squad on TottenhamHotspur.com.

If they are regarded as being the closest to senior-level readiness, unfortunately bar Dombaxe, none play in the positions most in need of relieving right now—chiefly defence and central midfield.

Helping the former could be the long-awaited return of left-back Danny Rose. As confirmed by Villas-Boas to SpursOfficial on Twitter, they are looking to give the 23-year-old "some minutes in this game."

On the assumption that this might come in the form of a start for 45 minutes or so, Rose's comeback could be the catalyst for further rotation at the back (Brad Friedel's selection in goal is all but a given).

His return, for instance, would allow Kyle Naughton to cover at right back. That would allow the versatile but primarily deputising full-back Zeki Fryers to cover centrally for Michael Dawson.

The Spurs captain has played each match since the last international break. With Younes Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen out and Vlad Chiriches not back before Liverpool on Sunday, the risk of losing another first-choice centre-back is not worth taking.

Etienne Capoue might have otherwise been pushed forward in midfield. Instead, he could be selected alongside Fryers as a makeshift centre-back partnership.

Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
Erik Lamela, Roberto Soldado and Andros Townsend could be among those in the team on Thursday.

Villas-Boas has tended toward using at least half of his Premier League midfield in Europe, be it Mousa Dembele or Paulinho, or more latterly Sandro. Previously a regular starter in the cups, Lewis Holtby's good form over the last two league games does not make him a given to start this one.

With that said, the German's energy would be a useful tool in getting Spurs off to a good start here. Sandro might kick off the game alongside him in midfield having not started versus Sunderland, but do not be surprised if it is one of the other two.

With Roberto Soldado a good bet to start up front after being dropped in league play, attacking midfield will likely be made up of similar, infrequent starters of late.

Erik Lamela, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Andros Townsend have all seen sporadic action of late. Each has the quality to help dispatch Anzhi with relative comfort. Their versatility would allow their manager to try some things with their specific deployment across the breadth of the pitch.

Though perhaps too soon to start, there is one slightly unexpected cameo worth keeping an eye out for, as revealed by Villas-Boas:

The Dane's ankle injury appears to have recovered even quicker than hoped. A 10-20 minute spell at the end of the game would be a boost for the player after a tough start to life in England

Tottenham will be hoping it is a sign of good fortune of good things to come over the Christmas period. A merry conclusion to their Europa League group stage fixtures would be a good start.

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