Hell for Leather v. Lyon

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Andre Villas-Boas, Tottenham Hotspur

It’s not quite the Last Tango in Paris, but Going Hell For Leather v. Lyon could be a box-office winner for Andre Villas-Boas.

The sight of a fully-fit, staring XI being wheeled out in the Europa League tomorrow night isn’t likely to sit well amongst some quarters of the Spurs support.

With a threadbare forward line and an onus for us to keep all hands on the Premier League pump, you can understand why some might be a little nervy about the thought of giving the likes of Gareth Bale and Mousa Dembele a run out tomorrow night. Indeed, should the Welshman play only to get mowed down 20 minutes in, we can all expect a sneering Twitter timeline full of “I told you so,” to greet us at half-time.

Although while playing a full-strength side isn’t without its risks, there shouldn’t be any reason to hold back against the Frenchmen tomorrow night.

The car crash that was the 2-1 defeat at Elland Road last month has given Spurs a weekend free of Premier League action thanks to the FA Cup. Had we been looking at having to play Manchester City this weekend, going all out against Lyon might not make quite as much sense.

With no football to play this weekend though, Villas-Boas and the side have been handed a gilt-edged opportunity to seize the moment in the Europa League.

While the results have been forthcoming in the league during recent weeks, the performances haven’t exactly been barnstorming, have they? This is a side that needs to build momentum, not stop it dead in its tracks and while tomorrow night’s game can’t help us in the league via the medium of points, it can help in terms of finding a little bit of rhythm.

We all know that AVB is gunning for a big night out in Amsterdam come May and while he seems a little more casual wine bar than coffee shop, we should be backing ourselves to reach the Europa League final, too.

Having only won one out of their last four, Lyon come to White Hart Lane off the back of a ropey run of form and although the West Ham game on the Monday after next week’s return tie in France might have a few worrying about fatigue, that’s not the case tomorrow night.

We can probably expect AVB’s party trick of rotating his defenders to continue tomorrow and Tom Huddlestone could well get a run out, too, but past that, there doesn’t need to be any wholesale changes from the Newcastle game.

Tomorrow gives us the opportunity to gain a bit more momentum, give our shiny new German playmaker the chance to further his development in the team and perhaps most importantly, the chance to win a bit of silverware. Let’s make it happen.


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