UEFA Europa League Preview: Tottenham v Anzhi Makhachkala
By Football News
Tottenham will be aiming to complete a 100 per cent UEFA Europa League Group K qualifying record when Anzhi Makhachkala visit on Thursday.
Andre Villas-Boas' side have already guaranteed top spot with five consecutive triumphs but will be eager to emerge from the group with an unblemished record.
The White Hart Lane outfit are one of the favourites to win the competition and have lived up to that billing in a campaign that has seen them concede just one goal.
Anzhi, who reached the round of 16 last season, could not find a way past Tottenham's defence when the two met in Russia in October.
First-half goals from Jermain Defoe and Nacer Chadli secured the visitors' triumph on that occasion, but a run of seven points from three subsequent games has seen Anzhi qualify anyway.
Gadzhi Gadzhiyev's men are in deep trouble on the domestic front, languishing at the foot of the Russian Premier League table without a win all season.
Finding the net has also been a struggle for Anzhi, who have not scored in seven top-flight matches.
Tottenham have remedied their own troubles in front of goal recently, scoring eight in their last four across all competitions.
Defoe has been Villas-Boas' most reliable provider of goals in Europa League contests.
His seven strikes in the tournament this term, including two in the qualifying phase, have elevated the England striker to the top of Tottenham's all-time scoring list in European matches.
Back-to-back league victories, which followed a 2-2 home draw against defending champions Manchester United, have lifted the London club up to sixth, just three points shy of second-placed Liverpool.
With European progress assured and a fixture against Brendan Rodgers' side coming up this weekend, Villa-Boas is likely to make changes to his starting line-up.
The likes of goalkeeper Brad Friedel, defender Ezekiel Fryers and midfielder Erik Lamela could be drafted in.
Gadzhiyev does not have the luxury of a large squad so will need to rely on the same group of players who have defied their lowly league status to book a place in the next round.