Have we ever had a less important match in our schedule? Friendlies aside, this is one of the greatest non-events in our history. With Sunderland and Chelski coming up in the League over the next week, and the cyanide-laced chalice of Europa qualification limited to mathematics equations of the absurd, ‘Arry would be forgiven for just leaving Clive Allen and Tim Sherwood to take care of the kids tonight, or maybe fielding Allen and Sherwood themselves.Our Europa failure will prove quite the barely-disguised blessing as the second half of the season begins and we continue the Top Four (or higher) push. If there is one worry about the absence of Thursday night non-events, it is that our gaggle of bench-warmers will become even more disillusioned and less match-ready, should injuries necessitate their promotion to Premiership duties. Gomes, Bassong, Corluka, Pienaar and Pav have at least had a chance to stretch their legs every couple of weeks – without the Europa league they may as well be replaced by a team of highly-paid cardboard cut-outs on the Tottenham bench.
These, however, are concerns for another day. Tonight we sign off, against an Irish troupe we really ought to demolish. Of the kids, Walker (and to a lesser extent Livermore) have earned first team status; Carroll and that moodiest of teenagers Townsend have looked handy; while for all his red-cheeked endeavour Kane has by and large looked out of his depth. Tonight, and possibly Cheltenham in the FA Cup, represent last chances for this lot to rub shoulders with the first teamers. If nothing else I rather hope they enjoy themselves.