After the fantastic comeback in the Europa League, Spurs are brought back down to earth with a home game against Cardiff City. Cardiff are second bottom of the form table, with just one victory in their last 11 in the league, a period that has also seen them exit the FA Cup to Championship side Wigan.
The Welsh side are owned by the idiosyncratic Vincent Tan. He controversially replaced Malkay Mackay with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the start of 2014. So far it hasn’t worked. In the Norwegian’s 8 league games in charge, he has amassed 4 points from a possible 24 – relegation form. They currently lie second bottom, three points from safety. In fact Solskjaer’s only league win came against Spurs’ conquerors last week, Norwich City.
Cardiff have tended to play a variation on 4-5-1 this season but in the last two games have switched to 4-4-2, with Frazier Campbell and Kenwyne Jones leading the line. They generally attack down the wings, especially the right hand side. They have the best disciplinary record in the league – equal lowest yellow cards, no red cards and least fouls per game. This could be regarded as a sign of their lack of competitiveness.
One player to look out for is Wilfred Zaha, on loan from Manchester United. Zaha is an exciting prospect and has that priceless ability to do something out of the ordinary. Steven Caulker returns to face his old side. Some in the Tottenham end may wish young the England international was still lining up in a Spurs shirt.
For Spurs, Sandro should be available in a league game for the first time this year. He was a positive influence on Thursday, but Sherwood may consider two games in four days a risk while he is feeling his way back from injury. Walker should also return. Capoue, Chiriches and long term injury victim Lamela, will miss out. Rose is a doubt after missing the game in midweek and faces a late fitness test.
The big question is whether Eriksen will start. He appears to have been out of favour in recent weeks but after his man of the match performance against Dnipro, he must surely be included. I would like him to play in the centre rather than out wide. He is our most creative player and I think he is wasted on the left. He ends up drifting inside, which means we don’t have a wide threat on that side and he leaves the fullback unprotected.
I would play 4-5-1. I think with our players, this actually carries more of a goal threat than 4-4-2. It allows us to get two conventional wingers into the side, and play Eriksen in the centre. We sacrifice a forward, but with an out of form Soldado this is no great loss.
In addition it allows for a holding midfielder, protecting the defence and providing a base for our attacks. This frees the other midfield players to get forward and support the striker. If Sandro is available to play he should slot straight into the team in this role. If not I would play Bentaleb in his place. If Rose is unfit Fryers should start at left back. He is a more natural alternative to Naughton on that side.
So my team would be:
What do you think of my formation? Please leave your comments below.
Spurs are big favourites to win at 1.37, the draw is 5.4 and a Cardiff victory is way out at 11.5.