3rd October, 17:00 BST
Tottenham Hotspur travels to Russia to face Anzhi Makhachkala in their next encounter in the Europa League. Both the sides have had highly contrasting starts to their domestic league campaign, while Tottenham are at the top of the Premier League, Anzhi are currently in the relegation zone in the Russian Premier League. It will certainly make for an interesting contest.
The Russian club have undergone massive changes this summer. From being one of the most wealthiest and free spending clubs in Europe, they have been transformed into a selling club now as owner Suleiman Kerimov looks to cut down on his loss. They have sold a lot of key players this summer and are now struggling in the Russian Premier League under new manager Gadzhi Gadzhiyev.
Anzhi are currently 15th in the Premier League table and are yet to win a match in any competition this season. They are coming into this game on the back of a 2-2 draw against Amkar at home as Pavel Solomatin scored a later equalizer for the home side.
The Eagles started their Europa League campaign with another draw, this time against FC Sheriff. This tournament has been reduced to nothing more than a distraction for Gadzhi’s side. They have bigger worries to deal with domestically at the moment, as they look to survive in the top division of Russian football.
Gadzhi also faces a lot of injury problems at the moment. Striker Lacina Traoréis yet to recover from his shoulder injury and will definitely miss this game. Alexandru Epureanu and Ilya Maksimov are the other names who are still on the side lines.
Traore’s injury means Solomatin will start upfront with Burmistrov, Gatagov and Sobolev supporting him in attack. Gadzhi used 4-4-2 formation in their last Europa league match against FC Sheriff, but will revert back to a more circumspect 4-2-3-1 against Tottenham. Only one change is expected at the back for Anzhi as Grigalava replaces the injured Epureanu.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1-): Kerzhakov (GK); Angbwa, Adeleye, Girgalava, Gadzhibekov; Jucilei, Ahmedov; Sobolev, Gatagov, Burmistrov; Solomatin
Spurs have made a fantastic start to their league campaign. They are currently third in the points table and just two points behind league leaders Arsenal. Spurs have lost just once in their last 11 matches and will look to maintain that momentum in the Europa League.
They are coming into this game on the back of a 1-1 draw with Chelsea at the home. Tottenham started the match brightly and dominated the first half with Gylfi Sigurdsson giving them the lead, but Chelsea came back in the second half with a stronger performance and grabbed an equaliser. Spurs have also made a confident start to their European campaign with a 3-0 victory over Tromso as Jermaine Defoe scored a wonderful brace.
Tottenham will be without Aaron Lennon and Etienne Capoue for his match as the due is yet to recover from their injuries. Emmanuel Adebayor has turned to training with the first team, but there are some concerns about his fitness for this game.
Andre Villas Boas are expected to make nine changes to the side that was fielded against Chelsea last weekend. Jermaine Defoe will return to the starting line-up in place of Soldado, while Lamela, Holtby and Chadlii, who has returned to full fitness, will start behind him. Dembele will retain his place in the starting eleven, while Sandro replaces Paulinho. In defence Fryers will start at the left back, while new signing Chiriches and Kaboul form a partnership at the back. Walker will retain his place at the right back spot.
Spurs will look to take advantage of Anzhi’s current predicament and this game has perhaps come at the right time for them. The Europa League once again represents a fantastic opportunity for Andre Villas Boas to win a silver ware with this club this season.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Lloris (GK); Walker, Kaboul, Chiriches, Fryers; Dembele, Sandro; Lamela, Holtby, Chadlii; Defoe
Players to watch out for: Odil Ahmedov (Anzhi Makhachkala); Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur)
Prediction: Anzhi Makhachkal 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur