Sadly, on Saturday, Spurs will be without Rafael van der Vaart. Our new attacking midfielder picked up a calf strain in the Champions League tie against Werder Bremen and is expected to recover shortly, but not in time for the fixture against Wolves.
With van der Vaart and Defoe out and Luka Modric not 90 minutes fit, Harry has a bit of a selection conundrum on his hands. None of our options are perfect, but we do have options. We can only hope that Harry's selections make some sense.
When van der Vaart came up injured on Tuesday, he was replaced with Robbie Keane. To my mild surprise, he was an attempted like for like replacement for VdV, not put in to partner Crouch in a change in philosophy. Not to my surprise, Keane was an abject failure in this role, kind of like when he played it for six months at Liverpool. It probably would have been wise to use Keane as a striker and push Jenas and Huddlestone a little higher up the pitch. Or we can let Marko Marin and Aaron Hunt have hours of time and acres of space on the ball. Whatever.
The good news for us is that Wolves don't have anyone that plays the role of Hunt or Marin, nor do they have any attacking midfield players of their quality. Wolves and Mick McCarthy play about as English of a style as possible. As long as we have healthy defenders and limited options in the attack, this is a good thing.
Even without VdV and with Modric recovering from injury, Spurs should be able to keep the ball and create chances through slow build-up play. This might be the kind of game where we throw Sandro or Gio into the fire and see what they can do for us, but our manager is Harry Redknapp, so don't count on it.
For the first time in a long time, Wolves have one of those good problems; they have too many good players in one position to make their team selection easy. When the season started, it seemed like Steven Fletcher and Kevin Doyle would be the first choice pairing without question, but Sylvan Ebanks-Blake has played himself into the lineup with a couple of goals. However, things didn't go so well last week against Fulham, so we could finally see the two big money guys paired together with Ebanks-Blake as a bench option.
I have three hopes for this match. They are as follows, in order of importance.
1. Karl Henry doesn't break anyone's leg
2. We get three points
3. We don't start Robbie Keane in the hole
Numbers one and two are pretty self explanatory. Karl Henry is an absurdly dirty player who has blatantly attempted to injure opponents in consecutive weeks now, somehow managing to not get sent off in either game. I don't like injuries. Wolves are a mediocre team who we are better than, so we should win if we play to the best of our abilities.
Three requires a little explanation, but not if you watched the second half of Spurs-Werder. Holy crap, was Keane poor. It's sad how far he's fallen. When he was sold to Liverpool, he had been a top notch player for most of his time since arriving at Spurs. Robbie Keane is the reason I got into Spurs in the first place. Now, he's a shell of himself. He appears to lack confidence and can't pick out a pass to save his life. I badly want Robbie Keane to find some form, but I don't see it. I'm close to writing a eulogy for one of my favorite players of all time.
So, as much as I want three points and think we should get three points, we've really crapped the bed against Wigan and West Brom. At this point, nothing is guaranteed, especially with Defoe, VdV, and Modric all unfit. However, I will continue to be a dumb and deluded Spurs fan. We are awesome. We're awesome because I say so. Logic is for losers.
Wolves expected lineup (4-4-2, L to R): Hahnemann / Ward, Berra, Craddock, Foley / van Damme, Jones, Henry, Jarvis / Doyle, Fletcher
Spurs expected lineup (4-4-2, L to R): Cudicini / Assou-Ekotto, Gallas, Kaboul, Corluka / Bale, Huddlestone, Jenas, Lennon / Crouch, Keane
Spurs preferred lineup (4-4-1-1, L to R): Cudicini / Assou-Ekotto, Gallas, Kaboul, Corluka / Bale, Huddlestone, Sandro, Lennon / Kranjcar / Crouch
Prediction: Wolves' strikers are sure to cause some problems for our error-prone back line and backup keeper, but at the end of the day, Spurs just have a little bit more quality and should squeak one out. 2-1 to Tottenham.