Next week I will have the immense pleasure of seeing my beloved Tottenham Hotspur play live. While this will be the second time I see Tottenham, second time at Red Bull Arena in fact, this match will be very special for me as two of my favorite teams face off.
Spurs brought a fairly strong squad along for their U.S. tour. The only notable missing players besides Olympic players (Danny Rose, Steven Caulker, Gio dos Santos, Sandro) are injured Scotty Parker and hoping-to-be-transferred players Luka Modric and Steven Pienaar. Youth players like John Bostock, Massimo Luongo, Dean Parrett, Iago Falque and Souleymane Coulibaly are still in Europe training with Tottenham’s development squad.
We’ve seen in the past that Red Bulls’ head coach Hans Backe and his coaching staff play full strength teams during these mid-season international club friendly matches. Look for Thierry Henry to play 45 minutes against the team he tormented for so many seasons in the Premier League. Jermaine Jenas, Jermain Defoe, Tom Huddlestone, Aaron Lennon, Michael Dawson and Benoit Assou-Ekotto will all remember playing in those North London Derby slugfests against Henry’s Arsenal in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
It will be interesting to see how Tottenham lineup under new head coach Andre Villas-Boas. The prospect of seeing a true 4-3-3 at White Hart Lane has spurred much debate and discussion. This tour’s roster only includes two true strikers (Defoe and youngster Harry Kane), so it looks like a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 is in the cards. Recent signings Jan Vertonghen and Gylfi Sigurdsson are likely to slide right into the new look starting XI, as they did against the Los Angeles Galaxy this past Tuesday.
In that game, AVB lined the team up in a 4-2-3-1 with Livermore and Sigurdsson as the deep two in central midfield. Rafael van der Vaart was flanked by youngster Andros Townsend and Welsh-sensation Gareth Bale in behind Jermain Defoe up top. Jan Vertonghen started the game partnered with Younes Kaboul who captained the side. Kyle Walker started in his familiar right back position and Sebastien Bassong got a chance to impress playing left back. Veteran Italian goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini played the whole match and showed AVB what he can offer as a backup to Brad Friedel during the season.
Tottenham has a friendly against Liverpool in Baltimore on Saturday before making their way to Red Bull Arena. Tuesday’s match between Tottenham Hotspur and the Red Bulls is a clash of two of my footballing loves and I can’t wait. I would always be a little conflicted if any of my teams (Tottenham, Red Bulls, Rochester Rhinos, Club América or Lobos BUAP) met in any meaningful competition, but since this is merely an exhibition I will not hesitate to sing my lilywhite heart out.
Both Kyle Walker and Rafael Van der Vaart, who left the game in Los Angeles with slight injuries, will skip Saturday’s match against Liverpool in hopes of recovering in time to play against the Red Bulls on Tuesday. The New York Red Bulls will hope to announce the signing of Tim Cahill by Tuesday and we may even see him get a run out late in this friendly game against Tottenham.
I will be part of a 5-person group driving from Rochester to Harrison, New Jersey, to see the match. We will also try to take in some of the pre-game festivities with the NY Spurs supporters’ club. Hopefully we’ll get some great pictures of players or even a signature or two as we document our 730 mile road-trip.
Sorry Red Bulls… but Come On You Spurs!