A trip to Middle Eastlands used to be a journey to look forward to. After they first took over the Commonwealth Games stadium Calum Davenport, Tom Huddlestone, Darren Bent and pretty much anyone else who put on a Spurs shirt appeared to be guaranteed the chance to fire a winner past a helpless Citizen custodian. The petrodollar changed all that of course as Benjani, Richard Dunne and Paul Dickov were replaced by Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva.
The status of the City of Manchester stadium as unofficial Second Home culminated in Crouchy’s famous winner in May 2010, since when things haven’t gone quite so well. The Happy Hunting ground has morphed into a Desert of Disappointment. We were the better team when we lost there in 2011, were Howard Webbed in 2012 and last year started well but were ultimately beaten.
And so to another Sunday lunch ruining kick off time this weekend. It doesn’t take even the insight of Robbie Savage to note that given the big spending – were we the two teams that splashed most cash in the summer? – neither side will be satisfied with their opening quarter of the season. City have had a series of shockers away from home whilst we’ve started to struggle to get a result anywhere. The loss to Newcastle was unfortunate but is still there in the record books. It was an outstanding performance by Tim Krul but it’s our own fault we didn’t end up with a comfortable win, you’ve got to take your chances.
One of the plusses on a day mostly filled with minuses was the performance of Christian Eriksen who showed a level of involvement and influence we’ve not seen since Norwich, this makes his injured ankle induced absence all the more irritating. I suspect that it would take a braver man than AVB to replace Eriksen with Erik behind Soldado from the start; it’s far more likely that Holtby will get another chance. In midfield the manager would be a fool not to start Sandro and Dembele might get the nod over Paulinho given that the latter’s arms will be tired from all the flying he’s done this week. There’s an opening on the left for someone who’s prepared to give it a go, Siggy is likely to get a run out, unless Villas-Boas wants to try Lennon either here or on the right with Townsend swapping. What’s happened to Chadli? Rose is still out I believe so assuming that Kaboul has made it through a fortnight without picking up a knock it’s most likely that he will start alongside Dawson with Vertonghen filling in on the left. Hugo played for France during the week so should be back between the posts.
City have got their injury problems but have so many players to call on it won’t bother them particularly.
We’re in need of a boost and a result and a couple of goals from this one would do the trick just nicely. The fact that we’re 4/1 to win with Ladbrokes suggests this is unlikely unfortunately but if we build on the positives from the Newcastle game – and there were some, then we’ll give ourselves a chance. Martin Atkinson is down to referee. COYS.
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