There is this weird belief in world football that a team needs a striker. Andre Villas-Boas does not agree.
"The world champions don't always play with a striker," Villas-Boas said last week.
True fact, Andre, and it's a good thing you don't think a striker is absolutely necessary because you may not have one on Saturday against Newcastle.
Jermain Defoe is out with an ankle injury, which didn't seem too bad because hours later Togo lost to Burkina Faso to end Emmanuel Adebayor's Africa Cup of Nations and allowing him to return to Spurs. Only he didn't and after being granted three days rest by Villas-Boas, he decided to add a day to it so he has yet to train with Tottenham since returning from South Africa and looks unlikely to play.
The result is a Tottenham team without a true striker. Clint Dempsey better dust off his striker boots.
Newcastle isn't a great team to be short-handed against either. Since signing France in January, the Magpies loo infinitely more capable. That they have begun to get healthy after an unimaginable number of injuries early in the season also helps. But however they have gotten here, the key is that this Newcastle team is no longer the struggling side Spurs saw early in the season, even if they are not the top four quality club they were a year ago.
Maybe nobody changes the Newcastle team as much as Moussa Sissoko, who has been fantastic since joining the club last month. Along with Yohan Cabaye, Sissoko has made the Magpies extremely good in the center of the pitch and with Chiek Tiote set to return to the team after playing in Africa Cup of Nations, Newcastle's central midfield should only get better.
That is a problem for Tottenham, who have taken a dip since Sandro was ruled out for the season with a knee injury. Scott Parker has stepped in and played well at times, but also atrocious at other in an uneven return from his own injury. He will have to be good versus Newcastle, while Moussa Dembele's distribution from the deeper positions he will likely be forced into will be at a premium.
Last season, an early February 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle led to chants of "Harry Hotspur" at White Hart Lane, a result Villas-Boas would be happy to repeat. Unfortunately, things went downhill from there and Harry was forced out, a fate Villas-Boas will theoretically avoid on the basis of not pissing off the football gods, striker-less or not.