Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Usual Gang of Suspects

With only a few games left in the season, and more importantly the games that we have occurring a week apart, we shouldn't have too many problems with players being fit for the game each week. Now of course since I've said this, the injury bug will hit us, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that will not be the case.

The question becomes with the way the games are spaced out, what is our best team, and what is our best squad? Who is going to be left out of the squad each week and find themselves playing their football in the reserves for the rest of the season?

Harry is starting to find a team that is somewhat regular, and I feel that it is a side that he is going to stick with as the season goes on. The biggest competition and unkown on the pitch would be in goal, where Gomes has been playing better, but will still be challenged by Carlo Cudicini. I think Harry is trusting Gomes more and will stick with him in the nets until he has a clanger of a game, which with Gomes is never far off.

We have a clear back four, in Corluka, Woodgate, King and BAE. The fact that the games are so spaced out over the rest of the season is so important for Ledley, as has been mentioned in many articles as of late, the time in between matches allows him to recover and play regularly in the back. As well as Dawson has played this season, King brings a calm to the back 4 that just isn't there other times.

It seems that Harry is starting to find a midfield that he likes, with Lennon on the right, Modric on the left, with Palacios and Jenas manning the middle. Modric is given free reign to drift infield as he wants to create for the team, with Jenas and Palacios providing the bite that Harry wants in the middle of the park. It has been an effective pairing in the last couple of matches, and I think that as they play together more these 4 will become more comfortable with each other.

Up top, the obvious play is of course Robbie Keane and I think that Harry is going to pair him with Roman Pavlyuchenko usually. Harry played Keane with Bent last week and it didn't seem to go too well. The pairing of Keane and Pavy seemed to work well against Boro, and especially against Villa this weekend, the combo of size and guile that the two have will trouble the Villans center backs.

Now that we have a starting 11 basically established, let's think about the bench. As we have loaned out players in the last week, we have cleared the decks somewhat, but we still have a plethora of players for spots basically to sit on the bench. In the back, the loser of the competition between Gomes and Cudicini each week will be the deputy, so no surprises there.

In the way the substitutes are always set up, there are two places on the substitutes bench for defenders, and lots of competition for those spots. The obvious reserve is Dawson, who has played well throughout the season, and our only reliable center back in reserve. The question comes in between Pascal Chimbonda, Gareth Bale and in a few weeks Alan Hutton back in contention for a place in the squad. So three players for one spot, who will win? Sadly I don't think it will be Gareth Bale. He has fallen down the pecking order with Harry and I think that we won't see him much on the field for the rest of the season. Hutton will challenge Corluka for the start at right-back in a few weeks, with Chimbonda being the utility man in reserve for the defense.

The biggest competition for places comes in the midfield. Three spots on the bench for midfielders usually, and look at the options we have to fill them. Zokora, Huddlestone, Bentley,& O'Hara are all quality players. Harry's faith in Zokora seems to be unflinching, so we will see him on the bench most of the time I feel, with Hudd, Bentley and O'Hara competing for places. No matter how you cut it, a quality English player will be left to languish in the reserves through the rest of the season, but we have to do what's best for the club don't we? I think more often than not the two substitutes will be Huddlestone and Bentley, with O'Hara being the odd man out.

Finally, up top, where we were so thin earlier this season, we now are spoilt for choice. Bent is the obvious choice for the reserve striker at the moment, but in a few short weeks Jermain Defoe will be back to fitness and if he isn't in the starting lineup, definitely expect to find him as the first striker off the bench, sending Bent to the reserves and away from the club in the summer. The other forgotten man is loanee Frazier Campbell, whom I don't think we'll see wear a Spurs shirt again. His loan move will be over soon and he'll head back to Manchester, not exactly having lit up London, but also not given too much of a chance.

So that's the usual gang of suspects we should have pulling on the shirts over the next two months. There will be some very good players not even making the squad on a regular basis, which in the long run is good for the club because of the competition for places.

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