FRAAB. Remember it?
Embrace it again. The ghost of Harry Redknapp is back at Tottenham Hotspur in FRAAB form, and only by necessity.
Gareth Bale is out and so is Aaron Lennon. Unless Andre Villas-Boas is prepared to give Cristian Ceballos his senior team debut, buy back David Bentley or dig up Ralph Coates, Tottenham will be winger-less on Sunday versus Everton.
Spurs are a team built around their wingers and even if Bale has not played as a true winger for months, they lack direction without the duo. That doesn't mean they can't find a way, just that they don't know where it is yet.
Odds are, a three-man band of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Clint Dempsey and Lewis Holtby will be Vllas-Boas answer to his Bale and Lennon-less predicament. On the plus side, that would keep Moussa Dembele and Scott Parker in their regular double pivot, but it leaves to a trio of players who are all best in the middle, play in similar areas and have many similar skills to work together, stretch defenses and try not to get in each others' way. Possible, sure, but difficult, especially on three days notice.
Is Holtby really going to be tasked with pinning Leighton Baines back? Is Dempsey going to drop deep to provide a link to Sigurdsson? Don't count on it. "Y'all are good, now go figure it out" is a lot closer to the truth with three talented players asked to make an unusual and unplanned situation work on short notice.
If Villa-Boas wants to really change things up, he could start either Jake Livermore or Tom Carroll. That would allow Dembele to push forward, and possibly out wide, in the same formation Spurs have played for months or to play with three central midfielders.
For what it's worth (nothing), I am in favor of any team, setup and approach that includes Carroll.
Luckily for Spurs, Everton are ailing as well. Kevin Mirallas has a groin injury that will likely keep him out, while Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar are both suspended.
Fun fact: Steven Pienaar once played for Tottenham. I know, you forgot.
But Everton's absences don't fix Tottenham's troubles. They are still without Bale and Lennon. They are still without a plan. But they are not without talent. They have plenty of that.
The absences, the lack of a plan and the talent all lead to one thing -- FRAAB.