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MATCH PREVIEW

Four things Spurs could try against Maribor

It’s make or break time if Spurs are to break out of Group J in their pursuit of European glory. With three draws in the opening three games, a win over Maribor tonight is essential. However, it is also a chance to mix things up, especially with a tough trip to Manchester City on Sunday, as Nick Harris explains.

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The Europa League encounter against the Slovenian outfit will be vital in determining Tottenham Hotspur’s progress in the competition, but also offers a chance for Andre Villas-Boas to look at some possible adjustments to his injury-hit line-up.

Tom Carroll

The 20 year old midfielder made his Premier League debut in the last ten minutes against Wigan Athletic and could offer a solution to Spurs’ injury worries in the centre of the park. Carroll is more mobile and comfortable playing possession football than Tom Huddlestone and Gylfi Sigurdsson have looked recently, and was rightly praised by the manager for his performance in the Capital One Cup against Norwich City. While Carroll may not bring a huge amount of creativity into the final third, he could improve Spurs’ control of the game against Maribor, and would be a more attacking option than pairing Huddlestone with Jake Livermore.

Iago Falque

Still relatively untried in the Spurs side, the recent signs have been encouraging for Falque. He provided some of the few moments of real penetration against Norwich, and looks a more natural advanced playmaker than Clint Dempsey. At 22, if Falque is going to make a name for himself at Spurs, it needs to be sooner rather than later, and with Sigurdsson and Dempsey both generally unimpressive so far, he deserves a chance.

Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor

It seems to be an assumption of English football that all teams will eventually stop messing around with complicated systems and go back to a 4-4-2 at some stage. Adebayor was one of Spurs’ best players last season, and with Defoe playing well so far this year, there is a clear argument for trying them together in the traditional formation. But if Villas-Boas is likely to use the 4-2-3-1 system or something similar in the long term, then it makes more sense to try other players in that formation than change it entirely for the Europa League.

Adebayor instead of Defoe

Perhaps the better option would be just to start Adebayor. The Togolese striker is more adept at bringing others into the game than Defoe, and you could see the likes of Sigurdsson, Falque and Dempsey being more comfortable playing off the former rather than the latter. It would be harsh to drop Defoe, as he has mostly been isolated rather than performing badly himself in recent games, but Adebayor could well be a more natural fit for the current system.

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