Tottenham’s European adventure hinges on a merry Christmas
Tottenham must ensure they have a positive January on and off the pitch to boost their Europa League charge
Tottenham Hotspur proved that they intended on taking the Europa League seriously with a string of strong starting line-ups and an earnest attempt to make it out of their group and into the knockout stages.
Earlier this month Tottenham beat Panthinaikos 3-1 as both Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor helped propel Spurs into the next round in their final group J encounter.
Adebayor's goal came early as the Spurs took a 1-0 lead. After half-time, Zeca scored in the 54th minute to pull the Greek side level.
However, the tide changed quickly in the 76th minute with an own goal by Orestis Karnezis of Panathinaikos, and soon after Jermain Defoe continued his tremendous scoring form by putting the game to bed in the 83rd minute.
So, what can we expect from Spurs now they are in the knockout stages? With the January transfer window coming up, there are many possibilities to galvanise the team and improve their chances of holding aloft the trophy in Amsterdam next year.
But while there are plenty of names linked with a move to Spurs, there is a chance, albeit a small one, that they could be significantly destabilised in their pursuit of glory by the exit of perhaps their best player.
Gareth Bale has been the talk of the town and has been linked with a move to Barcelona and Real Madrid recently.
The deadly duo of Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale leave many defences stunned with their speed and ball control. But if Bale leaves, who could take his place?
No Spurs fan wants to see Bale exit White Hart Lane, but the unfortunate truth is that he will be offered more money at a ‘bigger’ club, be it in England or Spain.
Clint Dempsey is an obvious candidate as he has been playing great so far and I really think he could be a key influence in a successful Europa League run.
The American has occupied Bale’s position during his recent injury absence but doesn’t provide natural width, something that was exploited in Spurs’ 2-1 defeat against Everton recently.
However there is no doubting Dempsey’s work-rate and the fact he is already at the club and won’t need extra time to settle into the position is a real bonus for Andre Villas-Boas.
In terms of coping with the loss of Bale’s influence and talismanic qualities, Mousa Dembele has proven so far that he has the ability to step up to the plate.
The Belgian was a huge loss during his recent spell on the sidelines, and his presence on the field is a massive boost for a Spurs side a little short on quality in the final third – something that must be remedied in January.
So the real question still remains, how far can Andre Villas-Boas take Spurs in the Europa League?
With the introduction of teams from the Champions League, Tottenham have a tough task in claiming European silverware - something that could be made even harder come the end of a potentially tumultuous January transfer window.