PREVIEW: Tottenham v City

Faye, Abdoulaye (v Bristol C 19-3-2013) 18

To Tottenham, then. And not without concerns. Form and results, no, they’re fine. The defeat at Everton was the slenderest of setbacks, coming as it did in slightly luckless circumstances away to a very strong side. But suddenly, our team has been shorn of some of its leading lights, and it’s far from a full-strength City that will be lining up at White Hart Lane.

Allan McGregor was ruled out on Thursday with a thigh injury that’ll keep him out until December. We’d already lost captain Robert Koren, James Chester – now Danny Graham and Sone Aluko are victims of Evertonian skulduggery, and with Jake Livermore ineligible to play against his parent club, that’s over half a side out. Troubling.

But there’ll be those who view it as an opportunity, and we must hope they’re right. In goal will be Steve Harper, while either Stephen Quinn or David Meyler will replace Livermore. We’ve coped reasonably well without Chester and Koren so far, while Yannick Sagbo will doubtless be bursting with excitement at starting, presumably alongside Nick Proschwitz if we play up two front – unless the manager decides an extra midfielder is the way forward. Which he probably will, actually. They’re (mostly) solid replacements.

But Tottenham are more than solid, they’re excellent. They’ve had a decent start to the season as well, berthed in fifth, and their single frustration will be that they’ve taken “only” seven points from a possible 12 at home so far, scoring just four times along the way. Their Thursday night win against Moldovan champions FC Sheriff Tiraspol was a little streaky, though perhaps explained by a few absentees who’ll be restored to duty tomorrow.

So a mighty task awaits. Do the recent fixtures between us at White Hart Lane count for much? To us, perhaps; but of the XI that were agog participants in the Boaz Myhill Show in January 2010, only Paul McShane and Tom Cairney remain at City (though Tom Huddlestone started for Spurs that day). So memories of that and the 1-0 win the previous season lie chiefly with us and not the City squad.

This game has been called a shot-to-nothing, and there’s something in that. The admirable early-season form meant that the testing brace of away games we’re presently halfway through could yield nothing with no major damage. Contrast how we’ll feel if we leave north London empty-handed with how supporters of Crystal Palace and Sunderland must feel at the moment. So there really is very little pressure on City. Defeat, and that’s what was supposed to happen given the gap in resources – though it would make a result against Sunderland in seven days time even more essential.

But bring anything back to East Yorkshire, and it’d be a superb outcome. We know we can compete with the best, let’s see if we can start taking points off them. Sure, the bookmakers, those sour pedlars of truth, make Tottenham emphatic 4/9 favourites. You can get 15/4 on a precious point, 8/1 on a priceless three. Odder things have happened.

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