MF’s Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs Portsmouth (FA Cup semi-final)

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Things were going too well, I think we all knew that. The five successive Premier League wins plus the emphatic second half performance against Fulham mean that being a Spurs fan has been a pretty happy occupation of late. Some of us made the mistake of starting to believe the hype, a Moneybags League place and a Wembley final would be ours. The seemingly endless run of injuries and loss of our fourth place spot at the weekend mean that whilst the lit fag of disappointment hasn’t been applied to the balloon of hope yet, you can’t help but feel that there’s a distinct hissing noise coming from somewhere.

As we take stock ahead of this weekend’s visit to Wembley there’s much to ponder and be concerned about. It’s easier to name those not under an injury cloud than those being rained on. Of the potential first teamers for Sunday, Gomes (thank God), Bassong, Bale, Kranjcar, Modric, Crouch, Gudjohnsen and Assou-Ekotto are the only ones who have (as far as we know), not been near the treatment table in the last month or so. Just the eight. It makes you glad we missed out on the Europa League if nothing else. 

Last week’s team at Sunderland was a patched up affair, and it’s one that you have to subtract the cup-tied Kaboul and Walker from when thinking about the line-up for Sunday. (What must Kyle Naughton be thinking?).  Fit and available defenders then? Bale, Assou-Ekotto & Bassong. That’s it. Dorian Dervite anyone? Ledley featured in some of the pictures from the open training day on Tuesday so must be in with a shout but there’s no news of Dawson or Corluka.  It goes without saying that we need as many of our players back as possible but even though it would be fantastic to see Aaron Lennon return to in the side, the missing defenders are probably those with the highest priority at the moment. Ironically despite Corluka’s almost ever present league record, we’ve already used a selection of right backs in this year’s FA Cup with Assou-Ekotto playing against Bolton and Palacios moving there when Corluka was taken off against Fulham. Neither option was entirely satisfactory however.

Pompey also have more than their fair share of wounded, but their news is better than ours. Portsmouth Today led with the headline ‘Pompey given triple Injury boost’ on Tuesday as Boateng, Yebda and Diop have all returned to training this week. They still have doubts about Tommy Smith, Marc Wilson and Hayden Mullins and Hreidarsson, Webber and Ben Haim are all definitely out. Vanden Borre is suspended and Jamie O’Hara an unfortunate victim of the loanee rule. As well as Boateng, other former Spurs who we might be facing include Michael Brown and Ricardo Rocha. 

We sleptwalk through the league game against an unconcerned looking Pompey at White Hart Lane recently and won fairly comfortably. We’ll need to up our game for this one. The Portsmouth players & fans have had non-stop shiteyness to put up with this season and will be keen to make sure they don’t let Sunday’s chance to redeem something from the campaign go without a fight.  We will enter the game as favourites and whatever team we manage to cobble together should be good enough to justify that title however we’ll need the stars of the side to stand up and be counted. In Defoe, Crouch, Pav, Modric, Bale and Kranjcar we have the potential to score goals. If they all play at their best and we can field a defence that doesn’t have to be introduced to each other then we have every chance of reaching our first final since 1991.


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