R.I.P – One Game at a Time


That old adage, favoured by Managers down the decades, the well worked and much loved cliché “Taking one game at a time” is dead, may it rest in peace.

With a squad full of incredibly talented and exciting internationals (Simon Dawkins excluded) the current Spurs management has the ability to put out two totally different teams each time we play and still have enough to beat most opponents, so we no longer have to approach the season “one game at a time”. We can study the fixture list, assess when and where we need to field the strongest and fittest eleven players and then use the preceeding few games to get those players in the perfect shape and mentality for specific games.

Such a time occurs now. In precisely ten days time we face Chelski at the Lane in our toughest test so far this year, (yes it will be our biggest test so far as they are a far better team than Le Arse)and so we will need to have our best team on the pitch that morning.

But in between we have three obstacles, three important games in three different competitions against three vastly different opponents. In fact from the moment we kick off in the first match tomorrow evening it will be a mere 122 hours until we finish the third. It is simply impossible to believe that any of our players will play in every match. In fact most will play in two with everyone that is fit playing once, but who to play and against whom.

The first match in this particular trilogy is at home to Tromso in the Europa League, a competition which most of us would put third on our list of priorities for the season. Are they a threat to our position in the group stages?

Tromso are competing in the group stages of the competition for the first time, having been knocked out at the qualifying phase in three previous attempts. They have already had to play eight matches to get this far, with the success over Besiktas their best result by some way. Their domestic form though is poor. Having finished fourth last season, they are currently 13th, just one place above the relegation zone, but ended a nine match winless streak by beating league leaders Rosenborg on Sunday. Their form is indifferent but they are capable of springing a surprise.

So are they a threat? Probably not, so can we field a second string team? The term “second string” somehow makes them sound inferior, which is certainly not the intention, but we could replace every one of the starting line up from last Saturday and still put out a team that is more than capable of winning.

With Friedal in goal and a back four of Naughton, Kaboul, Chiriches & Fryers they won´t get many chances to score. Sandro and Holtby at the heart of the midfield is a duo made for this game- a combination of youthful enthusiasm, raw power, aggressive tackling and amazing talent. An attacking trio lead by Lamela, finally making his first start, plus Kane along with either Chadli or Lennon (if fit) or one of the younger stars (if not) should be capable of supplying Defoe who should get his opportunity up front.

Whether AVB makes such wholesale changes, or simply makes half a dozen, depends more on his thinking than the opposition. Will he use this match to ensure that everyone gets a game or will he mix and match? Bring in five or six, rest the others and then do the same for the games against the Daffodils and AVillain?

Whilst I would not be averse to seeing an entirely changed team I doubt it will happen – players like Lloris, Dawson, Vertonghen, Dembele, Paullnho and Soldado could and should be rested as they have all played in most of our games plus internationals this season. They can then play on Sunday and be fully fit and ready for the Chelski match, allowing everyone else the opportunity to scrap amongst themselves for the remaining spots in the team.

As for tonight, do not expect a 5-0 trouncing as we saw with Tblisi but whoever we put out will be strong enough to get this particular campaign off to a good start.

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