No romance allowed

Lyon in the Europa League at the Lane tonight and then tomorrow night Bolton again at the Lane in the FA Youth Cup. I'm missing both games, but I'm probably more disappointed I wont be watching the Spurs kids tomorrow.

It's another 1882 gathering, with a couple of blocks allocated by Spurs to people who want to be vocal. 300 or so tickets sold already. You can buy on the door on the night for neighbouring blocks if you've not managed to escape Valentines Day for tonight's first team encounter (which has a fair few tickets still available) and desire a Tottenham fix before the sabbatical.

Friedel and Gallas starting. With no game until West Ham away I half expected us to field the strongest side possible. Win the match and not be too concerned with the return leg. Instead, we're resting Lloris (placing on hold any reunion with Lyon) and making other changes that are for...rotation to rest? Game time to fringe players? I'm wondering at what point we're going to decide we'll need our best eleven to proceed to the next round and win it. Unless we're not prioritising it. Which we're obviously not. We've hardly been aspiring in Europe with our application. Those group games do however feel like they took place an age ago. Plenty has changed since then. And with injuries to players (Defoe, Huddlestone) we might not be able to rotate as much as we could.

This might be a (over-used word alert) catalyst for Adebayor who could do with goals alongside a  solid performance. The home faithful blowing kisses to the maligned forward? Or will Emmanuel give us an x-rated performance?

That's as good as the jokes are going to get today so deal with it.

I was initially surprised that Hugo wouldn't be starting but it only took seconds to remember our coach doesn't do narrative. He'll play the team he wants rather than cater to expectations. Brad needs to keep up the odd appearance for the sake of match-fitness. I guess that's how the Europa League fits into our preparation.

Once again, it might turn out to be about playing a side good enough to win but not good enough to perhaps give us a comfortable win. We saw what happened at Leeds away in the cup. That was a mess. Treated like a distraction and subsequently lost. I guess if another perishes then we can go all out for the only true priority. Champions League. Let's drop the romantic notions, shrug and just admit that openly so if anything spectacular does happen in Europe, we'll be overjoyed with it.

Amsterdam is pretty much a nigh perfect away trip for a cup final. I'd prefer to have my heart broken there than get knocked out now. But looks like if we're going to get there it will be with a cautious approach, with league variables dominating our selection. If we had a game this weekend you would understand it. Maybe if we proceed past Lyon we'll have no choice to treat the next encounter with a slightly elevated dose of the serious.

AVB also cited how we wont start another season with five centre-backs.

Vertonghen. Caulker. Kaboul. Dawson. Gallas.

Spot the odd one out.

Still, Andre Villas-Boas remains confident we can win this competition even with tonight's test of Champions League calibre standing in our way. None of the aforementioned concerns will matter if we ease past Steed and his team-mates. So I'll just shut up now and watch. 

Just ease up on the high line please guv, just for tonight.