Tottenham Hotspur: Predicting the XI for Saturday at Wolves
With Rafael van der Vaart out of action for at least six weeks, Harry Redknapp's tactics will face a stern test beginning this Saturday at Wolves.
When fit, the Dutch international is generally the first name on the team sheet. But without their star playmaker and with a few other big names still on the shelf, Spurs will have to rejig their lineup and formation.
New additions Emmanuel Adebayor and Scott Parker will certainly go straight into the team and can work well with any formation. If the training photos posted on the official Tottenham website show anything, it seems the pair have fit in nicely, joining the rest of squad after the international break.
The question is: what formation will Harry employ to give Spurs the potency they've lacked so far?
For starters, the man likely to stand between the sticks will be Brad Friedel. Though he's had eight goals put past him in the last two matches, the American keeper could hardly be faulted for any of them. Of the chances he's had to stop shots, he's managed well and will likely keep his streak of Premier League starts going.
In front of Friedel, I would expect Harry to lay out a classic 4-4-2, reverting back to the days of the 2009-10 season when the Tottenham strike force packed a punch.
Ledley King is reportedly back in the frame after playing in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Spurs Lodge on Tuesday, but couldn't possibly be expected to start this soon. With that, the central defensive pairing will surely be Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul.
The left-back spot will be filled by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who should be looking to better his performance after a lackluster outing against Manchester City.
Where things begin to get interesting is at right-back. Kyle Walker was less than impressive in his sickness-stricken 45 minutes at Old Trafford, while Vedran Corluka has maintained a steady head to combat his woefully slow pace.
As long as Walker is over his bout of illness, Harry will likely choose the under-21 international to combat a Wolves side full of confidence with seven points from nine so far this campaign.
In the midfield four, Gareth Bale will undoubtedly raid down the left flank and the recently-shaky Aaron Lennon will likely maintain his place on the right.
The highly controversial figure of Luka Modric surely must have his head in the right place now that the transfer window has closed. While there is no immediate exit foreseeable from Spurs for the little Croatian, his confidence should be sky high after his incredible goal and solid performance against Israel on Tuesday.
Modric's partner in the center of the park could go to a few different names. Jake Livermore, Tom Huddlestone and Niko Kranjcar should all be in contention, but new signing Scott Parker will most likely make his debut start for the club.
The forwards leading the line will likely be another try at the "little and large" combo in Adebayor and Defoe.
In the end, there is always a chance Harry maintains a 4-4-1-1 lineup, substituting either Modric or Kranjcar into the VDV role. Though, I truly hope that does not happen.
This is the beginning of a new season for Tottenham after their first two results. Harry should take this chance to make a statement for the club and get back to playing flowing, attacking soccer.
So, with those names together, the starting XI could look something like this:
Friedel; Walker, Dawson, Kaboul, BAE; Lennon, Parker, Modric, Bale; Defoe, Adebayor
Subs: Gomes, Corluka, Kranjcar, King, Pavlyuchenko, Dos Santos, Huddlestone
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