After a disappointing performance in their last league game, a 4-0 defeat at Chelsea, Tottenham return to European action this Thursday against Benfica at White Hart Lane, for the first leg of their Europa League Round of 16 tie.
Spurs beat Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the previous round, with Tim Sherwood’s side losing 1-0 away to the Ukrainians, but winning 3-1 in the second leg to get through. With Arsenal awaiting next Sunday for the North London derby in the Premier League, the manager is expected to make some changes in his starting lineup against the Portuguese side, probably reverting to a 4-4-2 formation. Let’s take a look at the options at Sherwood’ s disposal.
Tim Sherwood gave Brad Friedel some playing time in the group stage and the first leg against Dnipro, but Hugo Lloris was restored for the second leg against the Ukrainians and should keep his place for this match.
Kyle Naughton played at right back last time out against Chelsea with Kyle Walker playing as a right midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The latter is expected to revert to his right back spot and Naughton may move on the left, although Zeki Fryers could start as he did in the second leg against Dnipro. Danny Rose is out. Captain Michael Dawson is doubtful for the Benfica game with a hamstring injury and with Vlad Chiriches still absent, Younes Kaboul and Jan Vertonghen should form the central defensive partnership.
There are some problems for Sherwood in midfield, with Moussa Dembele and Ettiene Capoue still out. Aaron Lennon could have a rest with Andros Townsend occupying the spot in the right side of midfield, while Paulinho and Nabil Bentaleb could play as central midfielders, with Sandro taking a breather. On the left, Sherwood has Christian Eriksen available again after an injury and he could select him from the start, given his great performance in the last European game against the Ukrainians. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Nacer Chadli are alternatives.
After playing with one up front against Chelsea, we expect Sherwood to restore Roberto Soldado alongside Emmanuel Adebayor, as Spurs need to score against the Portuguese side.
Possible lineup (4-4-2): Lloris; Walker, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Fryers; Townsend, Paulinho, Bentaleb, Eriksen; Adebayor, Soldado.