Tottenham Hotspur vs Shamrock Rovers: Preview

29 Sep

Europa League LogoEuropa League, Group A
Date: 29 September 2011 Kick-off: 20:05
Venue: White Hart Lane (London)
TV:
Radio:

You’d be forgiven for forgetting that we have a game tonight, with el verdadero clásico… or el clásico del norte de Londres as the Spanish will surely come to know it, on Sunday. Even Harry, in today’s pre-match press conference said, when asked about the weekend: “Have I got one eye on the derby? I’ve got two eyes on that.”

Harry’s team selections have made it clear that the Europa League is not high on our list of priorities, with the ‘Thursday Night, Channel 5’ chants particularly relevant to us tonight, it’s clear that a team with Champions League ambitions could largely do without the 800 additional games the latest UEFA Cup format provides; and that’s not even counting the knockout stages.

The Europa League will prove invaluable though, I am absolutely sure of it. Yes, it means extra fixtures, but it not only provides games to young talents like Tom Carroll (increasingly hyped as a rising star) and others, a benefit I have mentioned more than once previously, but it also gives these lads exposure to European competition. That is playing against unfamiliar clubs and styles of football after long flights and with increasing levels of pressure. If we do ever find ourselves consistently achieving Champions League football, this experience will offer those players a leg up which so many youngsters don’t get.

Harry has also said we’re going to try to get as far as we can in ever competition. Whilst the most cynical will suggest these are platitudes, comments encouraged by the club’s board, designed simply to keep Investec, our cup sponsor, from keeling over in disbelief that they have paid a fortune for a spot on a shirt which will only be worn a couple of times throughout the whole season. I personally think he’d love to pick up some silverware, particularly if he buggers of to manage England at the end of the season and whilst the Premier League will always be a priority, I still think he’ll put out a team he thinks is capable of winning.

When the draw was made and we saw how far we’d have to travel, knowign that one of our trips would only be as far as Dublin was music to the ears of both the club and the fans. I wouldn’t mind betting that we were high on the list of clubs that Shamrock Rovers were hoping to face this season too, so there’s a bit of romance that you just don’t get from playing the likes of NK Maribor or Wisła Kraków. The final injection of interest comes from Rohan Ricketts, our former Right Winger and young player of the year under Glenn Hoddle. His story has also been well documented of late, so I won’t go into it again, but I certainly thought he had something when he was at Spurs and his steady decline since has been sad to see. It’s interesting that his fortunes and those of someone like Aaron Lennon have been so different given the similarity of their early time with Spurs.

We should win this game

It goes without saying that Shamrock Rovers will not provide the type of test offered by the likes of Inter Milan or Werder Bremen last season. Of course we will have limited experience on the pitch, but the likes of Carroll, Ryan Fredricks and Harry Kane have shown potential thus far and that’s without even mentioning lads like Jake Livermore.

Not the most important game of the season, so far…

The old clichés seem to be invading either my mind or my fingers, despite the fact I hate them so. The latest one is ‘never look beyond your next game’. It makes so much sense and usually seems to be trotted out in the game before a big cup final, but it seems like its relevance needs to be considered now.

I am not entirely comfortable with Harry’s admission he is only thinking about Sunday’s game, no matter how much more important it is. Behind closed doors, fine, but we have people paying to watch tonight’s game and 11 players out on the pitch. If the likes of Pav, Gio or Rose are playing, they don’t want to be left feeling like they are only worthy of playing in games Harry considers to be a dead rubber, regardless of the accuracy of that.

Things I think about Shamrock Rovers

  • They look a bit like Celtic with those green and white hooped shirts, don’t they? That’s a bit of a co-inkydink.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo made his Real Madrid debut against Shamrock? That’s kinda cool.

Spurs’ Team News

It goes without saying that the big boy won’t be playing to night but even so, it might be worth reminding you that although many are unlikely to feature, we definitely won’t be seeing Rafa van der Vaart or Brad Friedel, neither of whom are registered for the Europa League squad. Also, although he’s not officially injured Ledley King is also guaranteed not to feature, with both the timing of the game and relative importance (or lack of) ruling him and his fragile knee out.

On the plus side, Aaron Lennon is now fit and likely to play, with this game providing the ideal opportunity to attain some match fitness, the same goes for Danny Rose and Steven Pienaar, both of whom could also start.

Injured: Michael Dawson, William Gallas, Tom Huddlestone.

Shamrock’s Team News

Ricketts aside, I am not ashamed to admit that once again my footballing knowledge doesn’t stretch as far as the minor European Leagues, so BBC, I am sorry I am stealing your informations again. (by that I mean, thank you please for being a useful and valuable source of information, without which I’d look even more thicker!)

Doubtful: Craig Sives, Ken Oman

Prediction

It may only be our boys, but after being unlucky not to beat PAOK (apparently), I fancy them to go out hungry to prove themselves as capable. These boys will, regardless of their age, fancy themselves for more first team action this season and will want to show it. That and a reasonable home crowd (thanks to Season Ticket eligibility) makes me think we’ll get a decent 4-0 victory.

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