So this is the Big Game. It seems that with the current injury list, Harry will not have a selection dilemma, but will simply have to put out those that are left. Hopefully we can rely on Dawson and Gallas at centre back. That is of course if Gallas decides to wear the right boots.
Our players unavailable for this game include: Bale (back), Modric (appendix op), Van der Vaart (calf), Jenas (suspended), King (groin), Huddlestone (ankle) and Kaboul (knee) with Woodgate (fitness) and Crouch (back) a doubt. Sandro is now eligible after we decided it might be a good idea to name him on the 25 man squad for the knockout stages.
So to the team selection. This is not normally the case but for Europe, Peter Crouch would be one of the first men on the team sheet for me. No matter what people may think about him in the domestic competitions, in Europe he is fantastic and a weapon that European teams just don’t seem to be able to deal with. I would have to consider starting Crouch as the lone striker with a 5 man midfield.
In midfield then, Kranjcar should be an automatic choice. His technical ability and goal scoring prowess should warrant his starting place, especially in the absence of Modric, Bale and VDV. Lennon no doubt will play right wing and should look to take on players where possible, using his speed and agility to beat the aging forces of AC Milan. After an impressive game for us on Saturday, Sandro, now included in the 25 man squad, may get the nod. I would certainly favour this decision as Sandro showed some ability going forward against Sunderland as well as making some good tackles and losing the ball a lot less than our Honduran usually does. With Jenas missing through suspension, Pienaar will most probably start. The South African has not set the world alight in a Tottenham shirt but has been decent and fairly consistent, keeping some pace within the team. With all the injuries and suspensions the next midfield place becomes a bit tricky, however I can see Harry starting Wilson in the final midfield slot alongside Sandro, to try and keep a strong central midfield and look to attack through the flanks with Lennon, Kranjcar and Pienaar.
At the back, providing we get no fresh injury problems and they can decide on the correct boots to play in before we start, I would presume our fairly sturdy centre back duo of Gallas and Dawson will remain. Left back will doubtlessly go to Benny, and Corluka may well keep his place at right back. The Croat is not as good going forward but instead utilises Lennon far better than Hutton does and is better at defending than Hutton. However with our current injury crisis we could well see Hutton pushed into midfield.
AC Milan will be without the services of new signings Antonio Cassano, Mark van Bommel and Urby Emanuelson. Milan are also without the influential Pirlo as well as Massimo Ambrosini. Although this would seem like a good time to play AC Milan, I would have felt much more confident facing their full strength side and us fielding ours.
This is as good a time as any for some of our squad players to shine, and they will need to be at their best to overcome this strong AC Milan side. I don’t want to see us play for a loss and damage limitation, but I don’t want to see us go gung ho either. We need to get this one tactically right. Hold strong, keep possession and attack on the break. Use our speed as our strength, especially against aging, albeit experienced side.
If you offered me a high scoring draw now I’d happily accept, regroup with our full team and play what will still be near enough the same AC Milan side at The Lane. But realistically, even a 2-1 defeat wouldn’t be the end of the world. Because at WHL we are a savage beast that cannot be tamed, even by the likes of AC Milan’s flat mate, Inter. I say play it careful on Tuesday night, try not to make mistakes; But when we get the opportunity, run at them. We need to make sure they know that Bale isn’t the only fantastic player for us.
So who would you play with so few choices in such a massive game for us; and how?
P.s Van der Vaart has recently twittered: “Good news. Back on the pitch tomorrow, can’t wait to put on my shirt again!” This would be fantastic news if he is fit. Even one of the holy trinity (Bale, Modric, VDV) is a major boost for us.
Written by Davyid