My name is Kevin McCauley, and I know very little about PAOK F.C., the football team that is part of the larger PAOK Thessaloniki sports club. I feel like the regular readers of this site will understand and will not feel as if I've failed to do my job because I am not knowledgeable about this team. What I do know is that they're playing Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, and I can only hope that Harry Redknapp bothered to have a little bit of scouting done.
This team is, to be honest, a tad bit obscure. That is not to say that they're not a quality team. Greece is a tough league. Olympiacos, Panathinaikos, AEK Athens and Aris Thessaloniki have been tactically astute and physical teams when I've seen them play. These teams also have foreign players and Greek internationals that I at least vaguely recognize. Some of the players, I'm extremely familiar with. I cannot say the same for PAOK.
Were Tottenham playing any of the four above-listed teams, I could give you something. If they were playing either of the big two, I could give you a lot. PAOK? I have almost no prior knowledge and finding good information on the team in English is almost impossible.
However, I will NOT talk crap about PAOK like I did about Hearts, for a couple of reasons. One, I know that PAOK has to play some very good teams every season in their domestic league. I've seen enough of the big two in European competitions to know that they're not to be effed with. This is in stark contrast to Scotland's big two, who are consistently overrated. Two, I don't get to watch the Greek Super League, ever. I get to watch the SPL occasionally and I know it's bad.
So, I took 300 words to tell you that I know nothing about PAOK but I will not be disrespecting them. That was probably a bit unnecessary. So, on to us!
Harry Redknapp has said that he will be making 10 changes to the squad that beat Wolves, with Kyle Walker being the only player who remains in the team. Emmanuel Adebayor, Luka Modric, Scott Parker and Gareth Bale have all been left behind in London. Normally I would object to us not taking the Europa League seriously at all, but we play Liverpool on the weekend. That's a game that we absolutely cannot lose if we want to call ourselves serious contenders for a top-four place. Liverpool are our direct competition and that game has to come first.
So...what's the lineup going to look like? That's not exactly obvious. Robbie Keane and Peter Crouch are gone, while Jermain Defoe will start the game on the bench. Roman Pavluychenko is a lock to start, but who's the other starter? Is it Giovani dos Santos in the hole or as a second striker? Harry Kane? Maybe even...Souleymane Coulibaly?!? And how the hell does Harry make 10 changes with Michael Dawson injured?
This is my best guess at a lineup, based on Harry's comments about making 10 changes. This is REALLY HARD.
List of players unavailable for selection: William Gallas, Michael Dawson, Danny Rose, Steven Pienaar, Tom Huddlestone, Sandro, Aaron Lennon, Rafael van der Vaart, Gareth Bale, Scott Parker, Emmanuel Adebayor, Luka Modric
Projected Tottenham Hotspur lineup (4-4-2): Gomes; Carroll, Bassong, Corluka, Walker; Iago, Livermore, Nicholson, Townsend; dos Santos; Pavlyuchenko
Projected bench: Cudicini, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto, Kane, Kranjcar, Bostock, Defoe
Yeah, I put in Bostock. What up. The game kicks off at 1:00 pm ET, 6:00 pm BST, 7:00 pm local time. The game can be seen on ESPN in the UK and is not being carried in the United States. This means that suggestions for alternative means of watching the game will not be discouraged in the game thread today. COYS!