Here we go again.
You can always tell when a North London derby is fast approaching, because Spurs start talking about the possibility of overhauling us in the coming season. Blithely ignoring the considerable gap between us, the youth of our squad, and the number of crippling injuries we’ve had, Harry Redknapp is confident that Spurs’ season will not be the New Dawn Mark XXXVI, but instead the beginnings of superiority:
“It’s not a massive gap any more. We’ve got terrific players and a good squad and I think we can be bang up with them next year. I feel we are improving and given a fair run next year…we’ve got a lot of players who can only get better, like Aaron Lennon, Tom Huddlestone, Michael Dawson and Sebastien Bassong”
Well, he has a point that Dawson can only get better, but probably not in the way he means.
In all seriousness, it is typical fare, and frankly we should be delighted – so far this season, every time Redknapp has proclaimed the strength of his squad, they have followed up his comments by crashing back down to earth. One of these days he might learn to keep quiet.
Team news is mixed – Van Persie is available but Song isn’t, and given the Dutchman will probably start on the bench, it is likely to be the same eleven from the Nou Camp, with the exception of Sol in for Silvestre, and perhaps Eboue for Walcott. Although there are calls for Theo to start the game, his pace against tired legs could be critical in the latter stages.
Spurs have issues of their own – Palacios is suspended, while Jenas, so often a thorn in our side despite the fact he is essentially crap, is out, along with Lennon, whose equaliser in last season’s 4-4 at the Emirates still rankles. Another notable player from that night, Bentley, may feature, since he is yet to put in his one good performance of the season.
Despite their weekend travails against Portsmouth, it would be foolish to imagine tonight will be a walkover. I imagine it’ll be tight for a while, but in the end we should prevail, so my bet of the day is for the match to be level at half time, but for us to win. You can get odds of 21/5 on that with Sportingbet here.
Whatever happens, it should be a great match. Spurs are looking to end their 20 game winless run against us in the league, and must pick up three points if they are to have any chance of catching City in the race for fourth. Our need for the win is equally pressing, because after Chelsea’s fortuitous victory over Bolton last night, we simply cannot afford to drop any more points.
Enjoy the game.