Younes Kaboul, Paulinho, Sandro and Jan Vertonghen all started in a win for Spurs’ reserve team last night and should be available for Wednesday’s game against Manchester City. Assuming they are fully fit this will create some interesting selection dilemmas for Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood.
Vertonghen’s return is particularly welcome; Tottenham’s defense has looked shaky since his injury and he is probably our most accomplished defender, if not Spurs’ best player full stop. He should go straight back into the starting eleven. The question is who will make way.
Manchester City play two up front which means both central defenders will have strikers to mark. They will also have to watch for David Silva’s runs into the box.
City are equal second in the league in number of through balls played per game, level with Arsenal (see http://www.whoscored.com). Liverpool are the only team who have played more. These are the three teams we have had the most trouble with this season – City and Liverpool in the league and Arsenal in the cup – highlighting our issues with passes played through our defense.
For these reasons I would play Chiriches with Vertonghen. Dawson has had problems with balls played behind him all season. He is good in the air but this game calls for more speed and ability on the ground. Vertonghen and Chiriches are therefore a better fit.
City are third for both passes played and possession, although strangely enough Spurs shaded possession (53%) in the debacle at the Etihad. They also have the immense Yaya Toure in midfield. Therefore I would stick with the 451 that worked well against Sawnsea but play Sandro in midfield in place of Bentaleb to add some power and bite. Bentaleb hasn’t done a lot wrong but Sandro is too effective to leave on the bench.
If we move Eriksen to the left, Paulinho could replace Chadli who has done nothing to keep his place. Alternatively Dembele could make way but he has played well recently. I would probably leave Paulinho on the bench for now.
Kaboul has been injured for so long I would ease him back slowly with more time in the reserves.
Of course this is all dependent on whether they are truly 100% fit.