Spurs hope to jump start Emmanuel Adebayor. And advance too.
Tottenham Hotspur head into the second leg of their Europa League round of 32 tie ahead 2-1, but that away goal that Lyon picked up at White Hart Lane looms large. A simple 1-0 win for Lyon, hardly a unlikely scoreline in France, is all it will take to knock Spurs out of the competition.
Being knocked out of the Europa League wouldn't hurt most Tottenham supporters, who don't put much stock in the competition, but Andre Villas-Boas has made it a priority. At this point, with the effort that has been put into it, the club and Villas-Boas would hate to be eliminated in the first knockout round. A full-strength squad will be on hand and the pursuit of a trophy will continue.
But Thursday's match in Lyon is about more than just winning, it is about giving the side a kick in the rear. Only Gareth Bale's scintillating form has kept the team humming along, but eventually he is going to need help if Spurs are going to compete for the Europa League crown and hold onto a top four place in the league. Ideally, that help would come from a striker -- someone like Emmanuel Adebayor, who Villas-Boas will start on Thursday in hopes that his best form can resurface for the first time this season.
"We're trying to unlock the best out of the player," Villas-Boas said. "Last year shows as an example for what we're trying to get out of him."
Adebayor has scored just three goals and has zero assists in 20 matches this season, so it's safe to say he hasn't been at his best. For comparison's sake, he had 18 goals and 12 assists last season. So yeah, that's quite the difference.
One goal may be all it takes to get the old Adebayor back, though. Or so Villas-Boas hopes.
"Strikers live off goals and we're doing everything we can to try and unlock his full potential," an optimistic Villas-Boas added.
Bale will be there to set up the chances, and so will Aaron Lennon, but some help from Lewis Holtby wouldn't hurt either. He has been solid and a step up from Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson, but that isn't enough and it's certainly not the most he has to offer. If he, too, can create some chances for Adebayor, the striker would have to actively try not to score goals to keep his scoresheet barren.
A goal from Adebayor might be all Spurs need to advance, too. A second would almost certainly put the team through. The defense has been good for Tottenham and Brad Friedel, who will start versus Lyon, has spelled Hugo Lloris just fine.
Two goals may be a little much for Lyon to grab and three and four certainly is, but one is not. Should Tottenham fail to find the net, one goal is all Lyon need to advance and ruin Villas-Boas' Europa League dreams.