MF’s Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs Bolton Wanderers

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Undoubted success that this season has been so far, it is the three fixtures in eight days that begin with Bolton at home on Saturday afternoon that will define just how smug Spurs fans can feel during the long hot summer in front of us. Rarely has the maxim ‘take each game as it comes’ been more appropriate. Thoughts drift naturally towards next week & the Wastelands but there’s a game here to be played first that will determine exactly what depends on the outcome of next Wednesday’s showdown.

Win against Bolton and we’ll go into the last couple of games as favourites for fourth, especially if Villa get something at City. Draw or lose and more than likely we’ll be playing catch up to one of those two and even Liverpool may come back into the reckoning.

This’ll be Owen Coyle’s third visit to White Hart Lane in charge of an opposing team this season. Robbie Keane’s four goals saw off Burnley in the league in September, two goals from Pav helped us to a comfortable win against the Trotters in the cup replay in February. Given this plus Bolton’s position in the league, (and thus hopefully their motivation levels), we could’ve been presented with tougher opponents at this stage of the season. Still, it should be remembered that they did outplay us comprehensively in the first half of the cup tie at the Reebok plus they’ll be playing with no pressure or expectation. In Davies, Wilshere & Klasnic at least, they have the ability to hurt us.

Harry has decisions to make in defence, midfield and up front. It’s a strange affair when you start the season with four potential right backs (Charlie, Hutton and the two Kyles) and end up going into the last half dozen games of the season without any. As Joni Mitchell once declared “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” and that’s certainly the case with Corluka. It’s hard to believe that the Assou-Ekotto experiment will be repeated. Redknapp will think long and hard before deciding who he’s going to trust to replace the big Croat should he not make it this week but Kaboul is probably favourite.

For the first time since very early in the season Harry has a nearly full complement of midfield players to pick from. If Bale starts on the left then who of big Tom, Modric, Bentley and Wilson gives way? Palacios was poor last week but he’s been a reliable and important cog in the team all season long and if he’s remotely back on song we’re guaranteed more possession than without him. Maybe Modric will start on the right until the time is right for Lennon? It’s a tough call. The decision of who to play at right back will play a part in the format of the midfield. David Bentley of all people played with great discipline against Arsenal and Chelsea.

Up front there’s been a lack of spark recently with both Pav and Defoe off their game. Those are the two with the greatest potential for goals though so will probably start. City’s goal difference is one better than ours. We missed an opportunity against Chelsea to open a gap in our favour, we should make sure we don’t miss out if we’re lucky enough to get another chance in this game.

Chris Foy is due to be the official in charge.

As Spurs fans we’re just waiting for it to all go horribly wrong. We now know that if it is going to go tits up it’s going to be some time between now and five o’clock on Sunday week. Surely it won’t be Saturday though?

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