COMMENTARY | A trio of Tottenham Hotspur players picking up injuries and not the 2-2 scoreline was the big story coming out of the April 4 Europa League match involving Spurs and Basel. Tottenham have received some good news regarding those injury concerns heading into the first weekend of the month and a pivotal Sunday showdown with Everton at White Hart Lane.
The club announced via their official website on Friday that Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and William Gallas are all expected to return to training within two weeks following Thursday night's Europa League fixture. Lennon left the Basel game before the half-hour mark due to what has been referred to as a "soft tissue contusion below the knee," Gallas hobbled off the pitch at the cusp of stoppage time because of a calf strain, and Bale was stretchered off the field in stoppage time because of an ankle injury that initially looked very worrisome.
Gallas is the least troubling of the team's most recent injury woes. Manager Andre Villas-Boas had relegated the veteran defender to Europa League duty earlier this season, and one could easily argue that Gallas was the worst overall player on the pitch during Thursday's contest. From what I've seen in 2013, I'd take Steven Caulker over the former Arsenal man in a heartbeat.
Lennon and Bale are where the real concern begins. Lennon never looked right from the opening stages of play on Thursday, and I can't help but wonder after the fact why he was even in AVB's starting XI for the Basel match. All "one-man team" jokes and essays about the greatness that is Gareth Bale aside, Lennon's importance to Tottenham's success cannot be overlooked. The width the speedster gives the team and Lennon's knack for tracking back into the defensive third have, in my eyes, made him Tottenham's top two-way player this season.
One needn't go too deep into what Bale being sidelined could mean for Spurs. Tottenham's top star and perhaps the Premier League Player of the Year when all is said and done, Bale being fully fit is a must for Villas-Boas and company if Tottenham are to earn a return to Champions League football and also continue on their current European tour.
Friday's news means that four players, the three men listed above and also striker Jermain Defoe, will miss Sunday's match-up against Everton. Tottenham currently sit in the third spot in the league table and on 57 points, six points ahead of The Toffees. Everton defeated Tottenham back in December, but that contest took place at Goodison Park. Everton have won only four times when away from home this Premier League season.
Injuries to Bale, Lennon, Gallas and Defoe may also force Villas-Boas to unintentionally abandon his Europa League dream. Following the April 11 match at Basel, Spurs will be off until they host Manchester City on April 21. Tottenham were originally scheduled to be away to Chelsea on April 14, but that match was postponed after Chelsea advanced in FA Cup play. No new date for the Chelsea vs. Tottenham game has yet been announced.
All things considered, Tottenham fans everywhere should be breathing a bit easier than they were on Thursday evening. While it would certainly be better for the club if Villas-Boas had a full squad for the Everton game, I'd rather the team be without key men for that contest than for the upcoming matches against City and Chelsea. It also should be pointed out that Spurs being bounced out of Europa League next Thursday, if that were to happen, wouldn't be the worst thing for Tottenham's immediate future.
Perhaps the "earn Champions League vs. go all-in on Europa League" debate has been answered by something other than the Tottenham manager.
Zac has been covering Tottenham Hotspur, Major League Soccer, RBNY, the USMNT and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tottenham Hotspur
- Gareth Bale
- Aaron Lennon
- William Gallas
- Europa League