Tottenham's Russian striker, Roman Pavlyuchenko scored the all important goal against his compatriots at White Hart Lane to earn the three points for Spurs. It was a hard earned success with the visitors unfortunate to leave without any reward so Spurs are well aware that they face a very difficult game on Thursday evening. Qualification for the knock-out stages is very much on both teams' mind as they know that PAOK are waiting to take over top spot if they win in Dublin and Spurs lose in Russia. In a very close group all three teams will be hoping to take one of those qualification places and preferably first place which improves the prospects for the draw by avoiding teams who have dropped out of the Champions League.
Not Travelling to Russia
Tottenham have announced that Harry Redknapp will not be going with the team as he has to undergo a minor op. Kevin Bond and Joe Jordan will take charge of the team for the Europa League game.
Brad Friedel and Rafael Van der Vaart have not been registered for the Europa League competition so can't play unless they are included in the revised list after January. Few, if any, of the first team regulars will be making the long journey - Ledley King needs his week to recover while the rest will be focused on preparing for the game against Fulham.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto, according to Twitter, isn't making the trip - 'spending the week training at Chigwell'.
Sandro has not travelled, neither has Assou-Ekotto, Walker, Bale or Modric. (plus other first team players). Giovani is also out, having picked up an injury.
It was a very young Spurs XI side which lost 1 - 2 to Crystal Palace at Spurs Lodge so presumable some of the players who normally turn out for that team will be on the flight to Russia. may not play but could be on the bench or just travelling for the experience.
Travelling in the Tottenham party
Jake Nicholson has announced on Twitter that he is included in the party to travel to Russia as has Dean Parrett.
Defoe, Pavlyuchenko and Bassong have also been included in the party.
A young team with experience coming from squad players who haven't played many matches or are returning from injury can be expected to make the long journey to Kazan. Heurelho Gomes who starred in the game at White Hart Lane or Carlo Cudicini who put in an excellent performance in the draw in Greece with crucial saves in the final moments of the game will take up position in goal. It is worth noting that in the three matches Gomes has played this season, at Hearts, against the Russians and at Stoke in the Carling Cup, he has not conceded a goal in normal play. The defeat on penalties has been their only loss since the disastrous start to the Premier League season. With the rotation of the goalkeepers it would be Cudicini's 'turn' but I feel he could possibly get selected for the calm he brings to the defence over the spectacular of Gomes, especially in a potentially hostile environment.
Injury has caused problems in defence with first team players having to make up the numbers. Ledley King having returned on Sunday will again rest. The return of William Gallas is a possibility although they may not want him to travel so far after being out with a long term injury. However, it is expected that he will make the trip and will start beside Bassong. With Vedran Corluka injured. Danny Rose who played well in the first game is apparently out, Andros Townsend will presumably be his replacement at left back while a younger player could make his debut at right back. Ryan Fredericks who played against Hears or Kevin Stewart is a possibility as is Jack Barthram who has played in that position for the Spurs XI team and in the NextGen series competition. Whoever is called upon, it will be a real test of their character and footballing ability.
As Sandro is not included in the party, Jake Livermore could be in central midfield with Tom Carroll deservedly getting another game. He has been the outstanding player from among the inexperienced players who have come into the team for the Europa League campaign and has gained recognition for these pwerformances by being called up for the England Under-21 side. Steven Pienaar has also recovered from injury and is expected to make his first appearance of the season and will bring much needed experience to the starting line-up. Either Yago Falque or Harry Kane could play on the left of midfield in th eabsence of a more experienced alternative. Falque would bring pace and skill whilwe Kane would work hard for the team in what will be a testing game. Jermain Defoe and Pavlyuchenko who can not get into the first team because of the play and goal scoring form of Emmanuel Adebayor and Rafael Van der Vaart in recent weeks, will start and again try to impress on the manager that they should start every game.
This will be a very difficult game as Spurs found out in the home match. Then Harry Redknapp had to bolster up the team with the introduction of Kaboul, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Luka Modric to ensure they held out to take the three points. It is unlikely that such experienced back-up will be available on Thursday. The bench will consist of a number of young players like Dean Parrett and Jake Nicholson but if they perform as others have done before them, they will display great composure, endeavour and application in the Europa League with no shortage of skill. The one area where their game has been lacking has been in scoring goals so if that continues to be the case in Russia it could be a very long and difficult night for the inexperienced team, especially if Rubin are more clinical in front of goal than they were in London.