I had a nice little chat with Kevin McCauley today while I should have been studying civil procedure. KMac is the founder of Cartilage Free Captain, SB Nation's newest Premier League footy blog, and we both decided that it's probably better to let a person more familiar with the opposition give their verdict on how the team is playing, and what we might expect from the match on Saturday. While I certainly pay attention to the rest of the league, it's great to have someone else provide more depth and knowledge, and so I hope this becomes a regular feature on 7500.
My views on Villa can be seen on Kevin's site, while his thoughts on Spurs are after the jump.
PS--In case you haven't noticed, Eric Lichaj earned himself a call up to the USMNT. Expect to hear more from Aaron soon, unless he's fainted with glee.
With Spurs managing to give FC Twente a resounding thumping in the Champions League yesterday, the conversation started off with a question about Tottenham's CL form versus its league form.
Kirsten: Given Spurs questionable form in the Premier League recently, do you think it's the CL taking its toll, or is it something else?
Kevin: I don't think we've played enough CL games for that to be the main reason we're struggling. Even if it was, there are too many other negative factors present for us to know. First of all, injuries have hit hard. Jermaine Defoe and Michael Dawson would be first choice if they were fit, and I suspect that Younes Kaboul is our best right back. This is probably the biggest factor in our poor form. The second biggest factor, in my opinion, is that Harry Redknapp has no idea what his best XI is right now.
Kirsten: I saw you ranting on twitter about playing Gareth Bale in a certain position. Not having a chance to pay that much attention to the Twente match yesterday, I have to ask, how was he being played and how did that affect the team? (Unless I was hallucinating and you didn't say that)
Kevin: Against Twente, he was playing on the left wing, which is his best position. Against West Ham and in a couple of other games previously, he has been used at left back. Seeing as Bale is our best attacking player and a defensive liability, I see playing him at left back as an incredible waste.
Kirsten: So against Villa, do you think 'Arry will wise up and continue playing him on the wing? Who else should our defense be concerned about?
Kevin: Obviously, Peter Crouch is always a threat in the air and he's been playing pretty well. Rafael van der Vaart managed to get himself sent off after 60 minutes yesterday, so he should be available to go 90 minutes. Other than Bale, he has been our best player. I expect him to play in the hole behind Crouch. Last year, not including Defoe, our other two most dangerous attacking players were Aaron Lennon and Luka Modric. Both are in pretty poor form right now and I would guess that one will start and the other will sit. Both of them are incredibly dangerous despite their current form. Conceivably, Harry could play all of Crouch, VDV, Bale, Lennon, and Modric, but that is asking a lot of Tom Huddlestone in a defensive midfield role. Tom isn't the kind of guy who can run his tail off and cover 10k + in 90 minutes.
Kirsten: You mentioned that Redknapp hasn't figured out his best starting XI yet. What would be your ideal starting XI for the weekend, and how important is the shape they take on the pitch?
Kevin: Gomes / Assou-Ekotto, Bassong, Corluka, Hutton / Bale, Sandro, Huddlestone, Lennon / van der Vaart / Crouch is the team I want to see. Unlikely that Sandro starts in reality. Almost certainly, what we play will look like a 4-4-1-1, no way we start Pav and Crouch next to each other again. I think that we can set up in something classified as a 4-4-2, 4-5-1, or 4-4-1-1 and it's not terribly important for this game and our personnel.
Kevin: 2-1 Spurs
Kirsten: 3-1 Spurs. Yeah, I'm a pessimist. This is your test, Houllier. Viva la revolucion!