Van der Vaart Says He Is Ready for Arsenal, But Should He Start?

LONDON ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02: Rafael van der Vaart of Spurs celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Tottenham Hotspur and Inter Milan at White Hart Lane on November 2 2010 in London England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Encouraging news out of Rafael van der Vaart today, who announced that he will return to training tomorrow and anticipates his full involvement in Sunday's North London Derby vs. Arsenal. Van der Vaart so far has missed the entire month of February recovering from a calf injury.

The big question for Spurs will have to be how they should set up the squad now that Van der Vaart has returned. Tottenham turned in perhaps its best performance of the season against Newcastle in its last league match. That side featured a midfield of Bale, Modric, Parker, and Kranjcar, with Saha and Adebayor up top. The striker partnership produced in at unprecedented levels that day. Saha had a brace on his White Hart Lane debut, while Adebayor tallied a goal and four assists. Their seemed to be a great understanding between the two strikers, as their linking and movement was excellent.

Van der Vaart has been class in his North London Derbies, tallying four goals in three games. And it was not like Van der Vaart was lacking for form before his injury either, as he scored an absolute thunderbolt against Watford in the FA Cup in his second-to-last game.

But the Arsenal backline is banged-up ahead of Sunday, so it may be very tempting for Harry to choose the more physically imposing strike force of Saha and Adebayor. Van der Vaart has shown an ability to be an impact sub, so it is possible he could be extremely dangerous coming on in the 60+ minute against a worn-down Arsenal defense. Van der Vaart has always been a doubt to go 90 minutes even at full fitness, so it may be best to utilize him when he can be most effective.

Now this all may be for naught, as Adebayor is an injury doubt for Sunday. If so, I think it seems a safe bet to guess Saha will definitely get the start, likely with Van der Vaart. Jermain Defoe always remains a contender to start, but after his thoroughly uninspiring performance versus Stevenage on the weekend, it would seem an unlikely and unpopular choice.

Assuming Ade's fit, I'm guessing Harry Redknapp will revert to form and start Adebayor and van der Vaart. But I personally would rather see if Ade and Saha can recapture their lightening in a bottle, then have van der Vaart ready as a impact sub, ready to make a difference.

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