A Spurs fan five years ago in the lead up to a game against Chelsea would’ve had the optimism of a new born puppy taking a last look at the light reflecting from the waters below as it was being hurled into a sack with the rest of his litter and a brick. These days it’s different. Whilst I’m not saying that our visitors on Thursday have taken over the role of the unwanted mewling pups, there’s been a massive psychological shift. Whilst we have injury concerns, the stats, the form and the recent history are all on our side and we’ll kick-off with confidence. When was the last time we went into this game ahead in the table? No idea but it’s the case this time. We sit deservedly third, two points ahead of our visitors with a game in hand.
Chelsea have been unconvincing this season. Occasionally, led by Mata and Sturridge they’ve looked like a side that’s ready to evolve from the Terry-Lampard-Drogba beast that we’ve known for so long but often too, they’ve looked tactically suspect with the players exuding a lack of confidence in their coach as he attempts to stamp his rather loose-limbed playing style on to a team brought up on the Mourinho stifle first ask questions later approach.
Inconsistency is one charge that can’t be thrown at our players of course. Eleven wins, one draw and one defeat in the last thirteen games. The architect of that loss, Chris Foy will be at White Hart Lane on Thursday as he’s scheduled to be the fourth official. I suppose Redknapp won’t mind too much as at least he knows that if he’s standing next to him, he’s not out in the middle wreaking havoc. That job goes to Howard Webb, the man who sent off John Terry in this equivalent fixture in 2006.
With Lennon out and Defoe, Bale and King all doubtful to one degree or another Harry has some pondering to do. Given the lack of straight one-to-one replacements for the two wide men someone is going to end up playing out of position. Redknapp is keen on using Van der Vaart and Modric as substitutes; neither though looks as comfortable on the touchlines as they do in the middle. We limit ourselves when either of these two are put wide. There are a number of formation possibilities depending upon who is fit. The manager can write in Adebayor and Parker on the team sheet but he’ll then have to visit the physio room before he decides who else to jot down and where to put them.
At the back, assuming Ledley does make it (and we should hope he does as he’s generally done well against Drogba) there’s a decision to be made between Gallas and Kaboul. The former did well on Sunday, Kaboul’s strength and speed has been impressive so far this season. Chelsea’s main threat is likely to come from Sturridge and thus Benny will have to be on his game. In the narrow (in two senses of the word) win against Sunderland he apparently made more passes than any other Spurs player, an unusual state of affairs made in the special circumstances of the game and something of a contrast to being subbed at half-time the weekend before.
We won’t be at full strength, but even so as I hinted at the beginning we should still be confident. A friend of mine reckons the key difference between the two teams could well be the managers. Theirs still ranks as untried and trying to find his feet. Ours is a man who owns his team and has dragged memorable performances from them on a regular basis in the last few seasons. We go into the game the top team in London, if we keep our composure and take our chances, we’ll come out even further ahead. COYS.
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