Injuries hamper Spurs defense in Champions League
Tottenham’s problems this season have been stopping goals rather than scoring them and injury problems mean that could continue against FC Twente in the Champions League.
Spurs are preparing for Wednesday’s match – its first ever at home in the Champions League – with just one fit central defender. Ledley King, Michael Dawson, Younes Kaboul and William Gallas are all injured, leaving only Sebastien Bassong available for selection.
Vedran Corluka is likely to play alongside Bassong rather than in his regular role at right back, giving Twente an opportunity to exploit a weakness in last season’s fourth-place Premier League finisher.
But Tottenham has shown it can compete in Europe by drawing 2-2 at German champion Werder Bremen two weeks ago. Spurs were 2-0 ahead after 18 minutes before conceding two minutes before and two minutes after halftime.
"The way we played in the first half was the best I’ve seen us play since I came to Spurs," midfielder Jermaine Jenas said. "We were so on top, dominated possession and could have scored one or two more, it was a top performance.
"Obviously the goal they scored at the end of the half gave them hope and put them on the front foot for the second half, then they scored straight away after the break. We could have crumbled and lost that game but we didn’t, we stayed strong."
With its lengthy list of injuries, Tottenham has won just three of 10 matches this season and only one of those came in the London club’s last six games.
But at least all the defensive problems aren’t on Tottenham’s side.
Twente, which drew 2-2 with defending champion Inter Milan on its Champions League debut, is missing defenders Dwight Tiendalli and Bart Buysse.
Tiendalli has not fully recovered from a thigh injury and Buysse has an ankle injury, but forward Luuk de Jong said Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Dutch league leader Ajax on Saturday had given his team a lift.
"If we reach our usual level as we did in the second half against Ajax, great things could happen," De Jong told Voetbal International magazine.
In-form midfielder Theo Janssen, who scored both Twente’s goals against Ajax and netted a free kick against Inter two weeks ago, said he is expecting a tough match.
"Spurs was fourth last season and that shows you are a quality team," Janssen said. "They’ve also added Rafael van der Vaart."
The Dutch playmaker has set up two goals and scored one in four matches since joining from Real Madrid last month.
"He’s always on the move and always looking for the ball," Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said. "He can receive the ball when it’s tight and use his body to shield it, and if he’s marked he can still receive the ball.
"That’s a fantastic ability to have. He sees a pass, has a great left foot. He’s a real quality player."
Van der Vaart is likely to start Wednesday, with Peter Crouch, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Robbie Keane also vying for a place in attack.
"He wasn’t playing at Real Madrid, so he came here not really having played any games," Redknapp said. "He’s done well to come in and play the games he’s played in such a short space of time."