With less than 24 hours remaining till our crucial game at Manchester City my thoughts turn to our line up, particularly the absence of Emmanuel Adebayor as a condition of his loan from our opponents. Consequently this may be the first game when Peter Crouch is missed having signed off his Spurs career in the 1-5 reverse at White Hart Lane back in August.
When he played a good part of his game was the part that related to defensive duties at set pieces and corners and Adebayor has more than made up or him since his arrival. He may not put away enough chances he does one heck of a lot of work moving the defence around taking defenders with him, conceding less free kicks than Crouch did and actively participating in defensive corners.
Whoever replaces him tomorrow will be unable to fulfil that duty. Defoe can only support on the post or sit up field and Pav is extraordinarily poor in the air in aerial challenges. Whilst this shouldn’t affect our game going forward, where it is in our interests to keep it on the deck, when we haven’t got the ball it could be a problem.
One of Harry’s biggest concerns is how he might get over this to increase our chances of keeping City out and giving us the prospect of a clean sheet. I don’t see a high scoring game if we are to win it and if the goals start to go in it is more likely to suggest another defeat to the Champions elect.
So what can we do? Firstly it depends upon the fitness of Ledley King. Whilst Harry is suggesting that Ledley might or might not train on Saturday he will be desperate to name him in the starting line up. If he does should someone drop out or do we add him to the back line?
In my opinion Kaboul has done so well that he doesn’t deserve to sit it out andDawsonwill not be dropped. So it is a decision as to whether we are brave enough to start with 3 across the back? For the reasons set out above about attackers not being able to offer assistance I think I would choose that route pushing Walker and Benny into wing back positions allowing them to add extra to the defence or be able to use their ability and pace to assist the attack.
If Ledley remains unfit then we have to continue with a 4 across the back as I doubt we will experiment with Bassong for this game despite his role in the defeat at Stoke.
Harry’s press conference also suggested that Sandro is not yet ready to play despite stepping up to outside work along with Gallas. That leaves a decision as to whether to play both Parker and Livermore. Parker had his worst Spurs performance last week but was settling back in after injury. He needed the game to prepare for this match and I expect him to be ready to put in a decent performance leading them midfield from the front.
If Ledley plays then we might keepLivermoreback and play Modric a little deeper with Parker in the middle with Van Der Vaart and Bale ahead of them. If he doesn’t then Livermore and Parker with Modric and Bale ahead of them with Rafa and Defoe further forward seems likely.
Up front I cannot see anyone else than Defoe getting the start for his pace and direct approach. As long as he can stay onside and being on the counter attack that should be easier we have to hope that he can hit the target and make Joe Hart earn his money. Pav is at his best around the edge of the box but, for me, his work rate is insufficient to make the type of contribution required.
That unfortunately sacrifices Lennon but only because I cannot see Rafa, Luka or Gareth Bale being dropped before him. That is a disappointment because for me he gives us our width and was always a decent threat with Defoe in days gone by. You can get away with a lack of width more easily away from home as we showed atNorwichbut, with no disrespect to them, this is the next level up. Nevertheless we still have Aaron from the bench should we need an injection of pace.
So to recap, a choice of sides depending upon the man with one knee (who’s better than anotherEnglandcentre back). With him:
Kaboul Dawson King
Walker Parker Modric Benny
And without him:
Walker Kaboul Dawson Benny
But what do I know I am sure you have a variety of other line ups in your mind. Whatever, lets hope for a great result tomorrow. Without YaYa and Kompany I fancy our chances are improved and hopefully we can put the cat in amongst the pigeons and put pressure on United to win.
Come on You Spurs make us proud!