Panathinaikos on Thursday night at White Hart Lane in a ‘don’t lose’ game.
It’s a shame we allowed the Greeks back into it in Athens at the start of October otherwise this would be a much more relaxed affair with no problems allowing any tired players a night off. As it is, Villas-Boas will once more have to balance rotation with the chances of progression. A win or a draw will see us through, probably as runners up and therefore due a tie against a Moneybags League drop out in the next round, but that’s a way off.
In Athens we appeared to be on course for three points for most of the game but it was the home side that were on top at the death and the ones who looked more likely winners. To avoid a repetition we’ll need an early goal or two but we’ll probably have to do it without our two leading scorers, Bale will certainly be out and one imagines Adebayor will be given a game instead of Defoe. All of Sigurdsson, Falque, Carroll, Livermore and Townsend (I presume Huddlestone has a knock as he wasn’t even a sub on Saturday) will be available, AVB will be wary though of changing too many of the midfield and courting disaster – we got turned over by PAOK last season after too much tinkering – but with Everton coming up he’ll be tempted.
Falque was getting good write-ups a month or so ago but hasn’t been since so it’d be good to see him given a go in Bale’s place. At the back, with Daws, Kaboul and Benny out, Naughton, Caulker, Vertonghen and Walker is the likely formation with Friedel in for Lloris. All guesswork of course. It’s a tougher group than 2011 but we’ve picked stronger teams and have made a better fist of it.
Panathinaikos form has been mixed, they lie 6th in the Greek Super League and have managed to notch just 8 times in 7 away games, a poverty of goals that is apparently matched in the petty cash box as they’ve been threatened with being forced to play all their games in daylight due to their tardiness in paying off their electricity bill. Toche and Christodoulopoulos appear to be the danger men.
In theory it’s a straight shoot-out for qualification, winner takes all. In practice we should be far too strong for them.
The officials are from Poland. COYS.
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