Tottenham and Andre Villas-Boas have to pick themselves up after the disappointing 2-4 home defeat to Chelsea and travel to Slovenia to player Prva Liga leaders NK Maribor, in a UEFA Europa League group stage game.
AVB was on the brink of an emotionally momentous win over Premier League leaders and reigning European champions Chelsea, before Spurs succumbed to the heroics of Spanish playmaker Juan Mata. The 24 year old former Valencia winger scored twice to lead the Blues to a 4-2 win at White Hart Lane and deny his former boss the chance for revenge.
The defeat was a setback for the White Hart Lane club certainly and so this trip to East Europe, in some ways, comes as a good break away from the pressures of playing at home... and while Maribor are by no means weak opponents - they lead the Prva Liga by nine points after only 14 games - AVB will be confident of a strong showing and all three points. Tottenham will certainly need all three points. They are presently third in Group J, behind Maribor and Italian side Lazio and have yet to win a game so far. On the flip side, they are unbeaten in the competition so far.
Where to Watch Live
Coverage starts at 5.30 pm BST on iTV 4. The two other teams in the group - Lazio and Greek side Panathinaikos will play each other in Rome and live coverage of that game can be found, from 6 pm BST on ESPN and ESPN HD.
Spurs started the season with a lot of expectation and promise. The summer appointment of former Chelsea boss AVB was a surprise but despite the sale of key players - Luka Modric to Real Madrid and Rafael van der Vaart to Hamburg SV - the fact the club managed to beat London rivals Arsenal to Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen and signed Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor (who was very impressive while on loan last season), in addition to highly-rated Icelandic international Gylfi Sigurdsson, heralded good times for Tottenham fans.
The side took some time to get going though and an opening day defeat at Newcastle United didn't help matters. It wasn't till a 3-1 win at Reading that Spurs began to show some promise and the historic 3-2 win at Old Trafford seemed to indicate the squad was finally beginning to deliver to its potential. Unfortunately, the defeat to Chelsea has knocked a good bit of that confidence out.
There are two primary points of concern for AVB ahead of this game. The first is his defence is struggling to keep a clean sheet. Spurs have only managed two shut-outs this season and the bad news is both were at White Hart Lane. The second problem for the manager is the lack of goals in Europe. Tottenham have scored seven goals in their last three league games but only once in two Europa League fixtures. And against a Slovenian team that has conceded only once so far (and scored thrice), AVB could have a few problems on his hand.
The biggest loss for Spurs, however, will be the absence of Welsh winger Gareth Bale. The 23 year old is the undoubted star of Tottenham's attack but he will miss the game because he is about to become a father for the first time and has been granted extended leave.
Meanwhile, Spurs' Slovenian hosts have been dominant at home this season. Darko Milanic's side are unbeaten in seven home league games so far, scoring 13 and conceding only once. Brazilian Marcos Tavares and the Slovenian trio of Goran Cvijanovic, Alen Ploj and Robert Beric have scored 20 goals between them and all four are available for this game.
- Last Five (most recent first): W L L W W
- Last Match: Maribor 1 - 0 Olimpija
- Last Five (most recent first): L W D W W
- Last Match: Tottenham 2 - 4 Chelsea
NK Maribor: Manager Milanic has a few injury problems ahead of Spurs' visit, notably to his defensive options. The Slovenians will have to do without Jovan Vidovic, who was shown the red card in the last round of games and, worse still Nejc Potokar, who would have covered for him, was injured in the game against Panathinaikos. The good news is Brazilian defender Arghus is ready to return from his suspension and will probably slot straight into the centre of defence.
Probable Line-Up: Handanovic; Milec, Rajcevic, Arghus, Mejac; Cvijanovic, Filipovic, Mertelj, Ibraimi; Tavares; Beric
Tottenham Hotspur: The absence of Bale aside, AVB will also have to do without Belgian midfielder Moussa Dembele, after he was injured in the defeat to Chelsea. Long-term absentees include defenders Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou-Ekotto, while midfielder Scott Parker is unlikely to return before Christmas. French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is likely to replace American Brad Friedel in goal, as AVB continues to rotate both players. Finally, expect Michael Dawson to start this game.
The surprise, though, is the fact Adebayaor has been dropped for this game. The former Arsenal and Manchester City forward was injured early this season but has since made a recovery. The official explanation is AVB is resting his striker but Bale already absent, it would have made sense for the Togolese to travel with the squad, even if he does not play. In any case, his exclusion, despite positive comments from both player and coach, raises questions about his future at the club.
Probable Line-Up: Lloris; Naughton, Dawson, Caulker, Vertonghen; Livermore, Huddleston; Townsend, Sigurdsson, Dempsey; Defoe
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