Even with recording a 4-0 victory over the Shamrock Rovers in Dublin where youngsters Andros Townsend and Harry Kane scored goals, Spurs were eliminated from the group stage of the Europa League on Thursday. Tottenham’s fate was not in their own hands as Greek side PAOK needed to beat Rubin Kazan by several goals for Spurs to have any chance at advancing. PAOK drew Rubin Kazan at 1-1 with the Russian club down to 10 men for most of the game, which was a good enough result to see each team through. This news was met with glee by some and even though Harry Redknapp was on record saying it may not be in the best interest of the club to advance in order to chase after loftier goals (Champions League qualification) it does hurt some to drop out of the competition.
Spurs would have breezed into the Europa League knockout stage if they were able to come through against PAOK on one of two occasions; on the road in September (a 0-0 draw) or at home last month (a 2-1 PAOK victory). These matches were played with mostly fringe first team members and youth players in order to keep the focus on league play and with the impressive streak of form Spurs had from September to the Bolton match it is hard to argue against the selection policy used in the Europa League. If more first team regulars featured, would we be in as good shape as we are today in the league? It’s hard to answer that question but at this point in time I would not trade Euro League advancement for a few less points in the premiership.
So where do Spurs go on from here? Currently sitting at 4th in the table just 7 points behind league leaders Manchester City with a game in hand a title chase is possible although it may not be realistic given the riches of the City roster. A final season placing among the EPL’s elite (top four) is certainly possible and should be the main focus of the club. Let’s not waste the run of good fortune we have had after facing the early season battering ram of the Manchester’s. I don’t expect another 11 match unbeaten streak in the final two-thirds of the season but I do expect us to play consistently good football putting the other clubs near us under pressure to do the same. Other than the league, Redknapp could set his sights on making a run in this year’s FA Cup with a home match versus Cheltenham Town coming up in early January. I think the club will be keen on advancing deep into the FA Cup this season as it would provide a major boost to morale to lift some silverware.
Check back in here on Saturday for a preview of the Sunderland match.
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