Thursday 23 March 2017

Redknapp blames injuries for Spurs slip-ups

Harry Redknapp today pinned the blame for Tottenham's Jekyll-and-Hyde form squarely on injuries and pointed out that even Chelsea cannot cope without their best players.

Spurs came crashing back down to earth on Saturday when they lost 4-2 at Bolton just four days after recording one of their best ever wins against European champions Inter Milan.

The week was a microcosm of what has been a season of extreme highs and lows for Redknapp's side, who have had to juggle the demands of the Champions League and Barclays Premier League for the first time.

Injuries to key players such Ledley King, Michael Dawson and Jermain Defoe have not helped their cause, while knocks for Rafael van der Vaart and fellow midfielder Tom Huddlestone have also left them depleted in crucial areas.

Manager Redknapp said: "When you're playing Saturday-midweek-Saturday-midweek in the Champions League and Europe, it takes a toll.

"It takes a toll in terms of picking up the injuries.

"When you lose three or four players, it very difficult; it's hard to be as good as you are when everybody's fit."

Using the Chelsea team beaten 2-0 at Liverpool yesterday to illustrate his point, Redknapp added: "You look at Chelsea yesterday without (Frank) Lampard, (Michael) Essien, (Didier) Drogba: suddenly they're a different team.

"When Liverpool don't have (Steven) Gerrard or (Fernando) Torres or key players there, they're a different team.

"Every team is the same, and we've had our share recently.

"One or two vital players, when they come back, you get stronger again; that's how it works."

Unfortunately for Redknapp, he may be once again without new talisman Van der Vaart for tomorrow's visit of Sunderland.

"He wants to see how he feels this morning but I still think he'd be doubtful," said Redknapp of the Holland star, who is carrying a hamstring strain.

"You can't take a chance and he tears it and he's out for six weeks or something."

Redknapp admitted Chelsea's defeat yesterday was bad news for his side's hopes of finishing fourth for a second straight season.

The result moved Liverpool level on 15 points with Spurs, who are now five adrift of the top four having taken just one point from their last three league games.

Redknapp said: "If we're all realistic, a top-four finish is what you're looking for and, if you're doing that, you want Liverpool out the way.

"I'd be a liar if I sat here and said I thought it was a great result for the rest of us."

He added: "It's going to be even harder this year to get a top-four place.

"Man City are definitely stronger than last year; they've improved, bought some big players.

"People wrote Liverpool off a few weeks ago; I thought that was nonsense because they were always going to come good.

"To keep them out of the top four is going to be difficult again this year."

Although they have not kept a clean sheet in the league since the opening day, it is a lack of goals at the other end that has let Tottenham down this season when compared to the same juncture last term.

Redknapp, who is eager for arch-finisher Defoe to return as quickly as possible, said: "You can look at your team at the start of the year, I always think, and you can more or less judge how many goals you'll score.

"You can go through them and say, 'He'll get us 18, he'll get us 10, he'll get six, he might get two, he might score a goal if it's Pancake Day.

"This time last year, we obviously had a lot more goals because Robbie Keane was on fire and scoring plenty of goals, and so was Jermain.

"It's different; Rafa van der Vaart is scoring goals since he's arrived.

"Crouchy (Peter Crouch), who you'd expect to score a few, hasn't in the league.

"It'll turn and Jermain is on his way back, so not too far away now."

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