As Harry confirmed yesterday, both Aaron Lennon and Emmanuel Adebayor are struggling to be fit for tonight’s match with hamstring problems. Here’s what the manager had to say about the situation.

“Ade’s struggling,” said Harry. “He’s not quite right and has to be doubtful.

“Aaron Lennon isn’t ready to play yet with his hamstring problem either, but it’s improving.

“Other than that, we’re pretty much okay.”

That could result in a similar side to the one that started the Bolton game although presumably Brad Friedel will return in goal. In front of him, Younes Kaboul should also walk back into the side but will it be at the expense of William Gallas or Ryan Nelsen?

Up front, Harry has tended to go with 4-4-2 even when VDV has been fit so will he stay with that or can we expect a return to 4-5-1?

Here’s our team to face Stoke – what’s yours?

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27 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds about as good as we can muster without the width of Lennon. Bit concerned our right is going to be exposed. Dos Santos instead of VDV anyone?

  2. we need to stop trying to fit players into our team in positions that do not suit them. VDV is best in behind a front man and against stoke can help tighten up the middle of the park. He must play there, and nowhere else. I’d put either Niko or even livermore on the right to do a job there. Its a crazy situation to be in given than pienaar should have been held onto as back up.

    • I agree that players should be in their best positions such as Bale on the left, Modric in the middle etc. but I think VDV plays a free role no matter where Harry puts him.

      Walker can attack up the wing as VDV will float into the middle. I suppose the problem is tracking back – Lennon works hard to help Walker, whilst VDV does not.

      • This is what we miss from Lennon. He tracks back. When we lost to Stoke earlier on in the season, we had BOTH Walker AND Lennon, yet Etherington STILL scored 2 goals whilst playing on their side. This is how important our right side is tonight.

  3. EssexSpur – So what you are saying is that playing GDS on the right will give Walker more support at RB?? are you sure?

  4. Agree with Ross that that was exactly the reason why we had Pienaar in the first place – to back up Lennon & Bale. Without providing the same pace and fear, but at least a player that is tough to play against. Sadly Niko is not that, and Vdv is not disciplined enough for the RM role. I would go for Livermore on the right (no not Gio who would be worse…), and it is time to abandon the 4-4-2 – Vdv behind Saha please. Not sure what people expect 8 stone 5-footer Defoe to do vs the Stoke Giants…

  5. Personally, I think EssexSpur has a point. I’ve always enjoyed the way we play when we have two natural wingers on the pitch, rather than a centre mid on Lennon’s side and only Assou-Ekotto racing forward to make up for space Bale doesn’t occupy these days. Give GDS a run out tonight and play Vaart just behind Defoe or Saha.

    • But Gio is not a natural winger… And worse still he will not make an impression against a strong physical opponent. We all would like to see the 2 wingers – but we do not have them available. So plan b…

      • Play our key players out of position and let another three points slip?
        I believe David Bentley has recovered from injury. Obviously, he’s not going to be ready for the next few weeks, but it would be great for him to play a part in our season if Lennon doesn’t shake off these injuries once and for all.

        • No. Play key players IN their favoured positions. Modric in centre. Vdv behind Saha. Bale on left. Everyone else who has played on right has generally flattered to deceive – vdv, niko, gio – so give simple job on right to Livermore. Bentley is not going to help either….No pace, no work ethic.

  6. Just figured that Gio would at least stay out wide so we’ll have a presence there. Might not do much defensively would would at least give us some width.
    6 months ago Niko would have been the obvious choice, but he’s not impressed recently.
    Livermore could be a good option, never seen him in that role before. Just don’t want Bale or Modric ending up over there!

    • I have seen Gio play right a few times for Spurs against tough opposition. He does not have any presence there – no one passes to him, he does not demand the ball, and as you say he offers nothing defensively – plus he will get beaten up by Stoke. The only place I can see him have a presence would be in the hole behind striker – but he is never played there.

  7. I think Gio can make an impact on the wing and will do given the change, even if its the last half hour to run constantly at their full backs tired legs

  8. This is like last season Harry loane every player who was on the bench then we got injury’s and had kids sat on the bench. I think we are in free fall and we could be in 5th by 3 on sat and we could have ruined a great season. This started in January when the Window closed you could here the tapping noises coming Defoe thinking of Liverpool from the Lane Modric wont sign and Utd are swooping along with Chelsea Ady we cant afford King ready for Stokes medical staff Barcelona courting Bale with every Goal. We also have two terrible injury’s Hudds and Daws Lennon constant leg troubles for last two seasons spoiling his great form Defoe upset with every missing game and he plays best with Ady Harry disagree’s. Th final nail in our season was Harry winning his trial and two timing the Club with miss England. This is th problm we have our ground is too small to generate enough revenue to pay big wages followed also we dont have room for Champions League crowds Arsenal have a 60,000 stadium Chelsea have loads of money. Enic have done a grat job but they haverached there peak and unless the fair play league is adhered too then we need to sell to get and stay in the Champs league. Our Team was flying ten points ahead then January window opened a big hidden Shortcoming in our fixtures with bad team selection along with bad refereeing Arsenals sudden surge in work rate and form along with Chelsea sacking there manager and there sudden work rate our ten points have disappeared. This could mean David Moyes coming and a new rebuilding with some of our youngsters lets face it Chelsea and Arsenal are ahead of us and we are ahead of our time off the field and this is a shame greedy clubs are hovering to break it up. I hope like we all hoped Fabrice Muamba recovered we for th sake of Football stay in the top four and greed doesn’t win once again. I wont pick a team because we should have beat Stoke and Everton and maybe Utd and we should have beat Arsenal. But one thing i have learned about Football work rate can beat any team if they score first in the prem. We face a crossroads in our season lying in Waite is our ex players Crouch Palacios Woodgate then Chelsea i wish we could win both or win one and draw the other but our defense is so weak with Friedel and crosses and other areas we have not scored first in our last four games. Stoke are the wrong team to play with there long balls and Crouch Ethrington Delap throws we need luck like Chelsea who played ten men. When poor Muamba collapsed it has left us vulnerable to a no win situation in the replay on Tuesday and another game i will be dreading i now feel like a Spurs fan again on a roller-coaster of emotions.Spurs 3-1 Everton 2-1 City 2-1 will make me not feel like a Spurs fan after January.

  9. I’d bet my life (Well, maybe not, but definitely my Twitter account) on a former Yid coming back to haunt us tonight with a goal or two. If so, it had better not be WilsonpassestheballawayPalacios. Predictions, anyone? I’ll go with a 3-2 win.

  10. Well if ade is out I’d put this team out and I will explain my reasons after. Frediel, Kaboul, Gallas, Nelson, Assou. Walker-Modric-Parker-Bale. VDV-Saha. My reasons for this are because stoke are very physical. They have a lot of height and we don’t if we play a back 4 of walker-kaboul-gallas-assou. In fact the only other height throughout the team would be Bale if the above (this sites team) was started so I’d bring in Nelson who has looked alright since joining. Walker can run the wing for a match. Defoe can come on later in the game and score his token ‘from the bench’ goal. Stoke are dangerous from set pieces and of course throw ins. Would be nice to see everton (especially pienaar) do us a favour tonight and also man city to beat chelsea would also be nice. We need to get back to winning ways! COYS!

  11. No to Nelson please and a definite no to: modric, VDV, Bale and Kaboul out of position. We’ll be fine with either Sandro or Livermore on the right. Gallas/King and Kaboul will be more than enough.
    We will win. I can see Louis getting a few tonight.

    • Playing Sandro and Parker in the same team disrupts our game as both get in each others way. Livermore is NOT a winger. Also sticking Sandro there is suicide unless we play a 4-3-3. Kaboul was originally a RB before CB so isn’t out of position on the right back role. Similarly walker would be fine as a right winger. As for Nelson, he has height, is good with his head and still has very good pace. All of which are vital to combat stokes set piece play. I’d of said king but I feel we need him for chelsea.

  12. Good call Jay, that is exactly the side I would pick. Give Carl a go at RM and play one of our central defenders at RB.
    Then bring back the 4-4-1-1 that worked so well for us earlier in the season

    • We must keep the balance and shape of the team. Having walker play RW gives us that. He does it anyway only this time with kaboul behind him he won’t have to get back everytime. Could go all out and play a wing back system: Kaboul-King-Gallas. Walker-VDV-Parker-Modric-Bale. Defoe-Saha. Even add Sandro/Livermore in mid and push vdv up with saha in defoes place…But we can’t risk trying it. We need to win!

  13. Sandro, who we all remember was a beast in midfield before he got injured, is now fit and can fill in that gap on our right by backing both Kyle’s runs and VDV playing just behind striker.

    We have not created enough for a top4 team, maybe that’s why Bale began roaming as all our forward players were dropping deep ( Ade, VDV in particular ), and with no Lennon compounding this, we lost the shape that got us to 3rd place.

    So if Arry can get VDV to play a more advanced role, and get back in the goals too, Scottie to hold , allowing Luka to venture more too, then Bale can keep far left, and Kyle bombing from the right with Sandro covering…that would get our shape back, with JD finishing as he has been doing so regularly lately.

    ————-Brad
    Walker Kaboul Gallas Benny
    ————Scottie
    —-Sandro
    ————Modric———Bale
    —–VDV
    ————Defoe

  14. In the words of the song…

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    They’ve burst your pretty balloon
    and taken your dreams away.

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