Heart of Midlothian are more or less everything that is disappointing about the Scottish Premier League. They started off the season with a couple of good results, then canned their manager for no good reason. They have a few high quality players, but the squad is a whole is not good enough to be terribly competitive. The sponsor on their jersey looks like crap. None of their good players are actually Scottish. Hearts are a microcosm of everything that blows about the SPL. They are a random clusterf--k of 'meh.'
Still, all of the rhetoric coming from Tottenham Hotspur's players and coaches ahead of the game is that Hearts are a team to be taken seriously. Apparently, they will give us a great game and we can't afford to play a second choice team. This is a really good sign, as I would be extremely concerned if I supported a team whose management said things like 'These guys are so crap, we're not even going to try.'
In the center of midfield, Harry Redknapp might not have a choice but to go with a "reserve" player or something along those lines. Sandro is out until damn near Christmas with a knee injury, Tom Huddlestone has some mystery injury that may or may not be a thing and Jermaine Jenas has a real injury that definitely is a thing. Survey says: Jake Livermore will partner Luka Modric in the center of midfield, which is all kinds of awesome.
Elsewhere, your guess on the starting lineup is as good as mine. I'd like to see Peter Crouch and Rafael van der Vaart fresh for the match against Manchester United, so it's my personal preference that we go with a 4-4-2 that features Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe. This might sound scary, but it's only scary until you remember that Hearts are Scottish. Except not really, because their captain and best central defender is Lithuanian. Hearts actually has two Lithuanians. Who the hell has two Lithuanians?
But wait, what about the wild cards! Spurs have a couple of teenagers on the books that might be good candidates to get Europa League games. I'm not advocating that we start either Souleymane Couibaly or Harry Kane, but I really want to see one of them on the bench. Then, I really really want to see one of them play if Hearts suck as bad as I think they do and we're up 2-0 at halftime. Brian Mechanick wrote an awesome post on Kane and Coulibaly that went up two hours before this one, so click on over to the home page and check it out if you haven't already. I'd link you to it, but the post is not up for me to link at the time of this writing. Yep, we schedule posts way ahead of time. I'M GIVING AWAY ALL OF THE COMPANY SECRETS.
Hearts usually play 4-4-2 (how very predictable), but I've read some stuff here and there that I'm way to lazy to cite that says they might play 4-1-4-1 against us and play for a draw. If Hearts do this at home, you can't tell me with a straight face that the SPL is decent.
To my knowledge, which is admittedly substandard, left winger Andrew Driver is Hearts' best player. He did not play on the weekend against Aberdeen, but I cannot find any indication that he is injured. I assume that he was just being rested for this game. If he does not play, it is my uneducated opinion that Hearts will then be completely and utterly screwed.
Their other great (by SPL standards) players are the aforementioned Lithuanian captain Marius Zaliukas and Icelandic international Eggert Jonsson. From my experience playing Football Manager and skimming SPL match reports, these players are actually very good and we should not get pissed and throw things at our computers if they are doing a decent job of marking our strikers.
Here are my completely made up projected lineups!
Tottenham Hotspur projected lineup (4-4-2): Gomes; Assou-Ekotto, Dawson, Kaboul, Walker; Bale, Modric, Livermore, Lennon; Defoe, Pavlyuchenko
Heart of Midlothian projected lineup (4-4-2): Kello; Grainger, Zaliukas, Jonsson, McGowan; Driver, Black, Stevenson, Templeton; Sutton, Elliott
Early tomorrow morning, we'll have other posts on Europa League from Brian Mechanick and a new writer, Ed Francis. The other dudes might write something as well, but that's all up to them. If you've never been before, make sure to stop by our live match thread on gameday. The commentariat around these parts is the best at any footy site in the world, and I guarantee you'll love interacting with your fellow Spurs fans and CFC members. COYS!