Carling Cup Preview: Sandro to Make Spurs Debut Against Arsenal?
After Tottenham Hotspur rallied late to defeat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-1 in the Premier League on Satuday at White Hart Lane, manager Harry Redknapp's attention immediately turned to Tuesday's crunch match, a home Carling Cup tie against arch rivals Arsenal.
This weekend, it was Redknapp's substitutes who saved his bacon - Alan Hutton created the first and scored the third, Roman Pavlyuchenko scored the second.
Reflecting on their impact on the match, Redknapp signalled that he would rotate his squad where he felt appropriate. As well as rewarding the duo for important cameo performances, it seems likely that he will rest several first-team players and hand an opportunity to fringe players to impress.
''We've got to be sensible. I've got a whole team of players who need to play football. They work hard every day, they're good lads and I need to see them play'', said Redknapp in his post-match interview.
Redknapp also said that he was looking forward to giving a debut to Sandro Ranieri, a Brazilian international midfielder and £8 million summer signing from Copa Libertadores winners Internacional. This after the 21 year-old impressed in a training ground friendly last week.
Described by Redknapp as ''an aggressive, strong lad'' and a ''good competitor'', Ranieri should inject some much-needed bite in the centre of Tottenham's midfield, especially with Jamie O'Hara injured and Wilson Palacios out of form.
Despite a disjointed start to his career in England, he was left behind at Heathrow airport after failing to realize he had not been selected in the club's 25-man squad for the group stages of the Champions League and he arrived a week late in England much to Redknapp's chagrin. The youngster is enthusiastic and optimistic about his new job.
'''Football there is rougher, faster, more based on strength. I like that football. I think it will help my style of game a lot. Giving the maximum on the pitch—Tottenham fans will always see this from me''.
Not since the days of Steffan Freund have fans at White Hart Lane seen a midfielder with real physical presence and the ability to unsettle opposition players.
But Sandro can bring a lot more to the team than Freund, whose lack of pace and attacking skills often caused as much trouble as his steely defending stopped. Sandro is nearly as tall as current first-choice midfielder Tom Huddlestone, is excellent with the ball but also very good off the ball - an important part of the game which Huddlestone has yet to master.
Perhaps in the circumstances, he will have more chances to play for the first team in 4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1 formation, with Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, and new signing Rafael Van der Vaart providing the creativity and supplying lone striker Peter Crouch with plenty of ammunition.
If he impresses on Tuesday night at White Hart Lane, Redknapp would be forced to consider starting him more regularly alongside Huddlestone in front of the back four. His mobility and aggression might provide the perfect foil for Huddlestone's ability to pick a pass and start counter-attacks.
Other players likely to start for Spurs against Arsenal on Tuesday night include Giovani Dos Santos, Robbie Keane, Niko Kranjcar, Kyle Naughton and Stipe Pletikosa as well as yesterday's goalscorers Hutton and Pavlyuchenko.
Even though they will be playing at home against a team comprising the cream of Arsenal youth teams, the will be an acid test for these fringe players, an important opportunity to not only help their team through past a tough opponent in a crunch match but also to impress a manager who is willing to shake up his first team if it is not producing the goods.
Tuesday's Possible Starting XI:
Pletikosa; Hutton, Kaboul, Bassong, Naughton; Kranjcar, Sandro, Jenas, Dos Santos; Keane, Pavlyuchenko
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