Date:Monday January 5 2009
White Hart Lane
Tuesday 6th January 2009
Well the Clarets play one of their most important matches for ages at White Hart Lane tomorrow with a potential final on the hallowed turf of Wembley at stake.
It is the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final with the return match at Turf Moor scheduled for the night of Wednesday 21st January later this month.
Could Tottenham Hotspur become the fourth London club to endure Capital Punishment at the hands of the Mighty Clarets in this cup competition this season? Can we really add yet another scalp to an impressive list of hairless London clubs that now include Fulham, Chelsea and Arsenal?
If I had a pound for every time I have said to myself, 'Surely We Can`t Do It Again', I would be able to buy Turf Moor back for the club!! Let`s make it plain though, this will be harder in many ways than beating a weakened Chelsea squad team and the Young Gunners of Arsenal.
For one thing, we have to face Spurs twice and Harry Redknapp will be keen to add some silverware to Spurs trophy room in his first season in charge. He has already put some fire into their belly after they had a poor start to their 2008/9 campaign and were struggling in the relegation zone.
You only have to look at their emphatic win against Wigan in the FA Cup on Saturday to show what we will be up against and we are probably playing them at the worst possible time with their tails up and scenting blood. They will certainly want to retain the Carling Cup crown after winning the trophy last season.
Two legs will be tough but if we can come away with a 1-0 or 2-1 defeat,a draw or better at the Lane, I would fancy our chances at Fortress Turf Moor on a cold, winter`s day up North!
Owen Coyle is under no illusions either and is quoted saying to BBC Sports:
'We are under no illusions that we are massive underdogs on Tuesday. If Tottenham play to their maximum and we do, they will think they have the better players.
'But what I know is that the group of players I have will give everything they've got to try to achieve a result, so that home advantage will hopefully play a part in the second leg.
'We have to make sure we give an accomplished performance and we keep ourselves right in that game, but we go there with no designs on being negative.'
Come on you Clarets, do us proud once more!
If we are to put the wind up Spurs, we will have to do it in the first leg without our captain, Steven Caldwell sadly suspended and sitting out the second of his two match automatic ban following his red card against Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat over Christmas. Thompson is also cup tied so wont feature.
The back four could have been a problem but with Jordan returning after his one-match ban against QPR following five yellows and with his replacement Kalvenes playing his first game last Saturday since October following a persistent leg injury we should be able to plug the gaps in the back four.
There is also speculation in the Irish media that we are close to signing Celtic`s Republic of Ireland under-21 defender Darren O`Dea on a season-long loan with the move completed in time to allow him to make a high-profile debut in Tuesday night`s Carling Cup semi-final first leg. I will believe that though when I see it so will leave him out of the equation.
One player who will definitely not feature is van der Schaaf, who is awaiting news of a scan for a kidney problem.
We also await news of Chris McCann and Kevin McDonald. Chris McCann (knee) and Kevin McDonald (groin) remain doubtful at the moment and both missed our last match against QPR on Saturday.
I predict the team could look as follows assuming McCann and McDonald don`t make it to the starting eleven:
Jensen, Alexander, Duff, Carlisle, Jordan, Elliott, Gudjonsson, Mahon, Eagles, Blake, Paterson
Subs (remember we are allowed seven) from Penny, Kalvenes, Kay, MacDonald, Rodriguez, Akinbiyi, McCann (if fit), McDonald (if fit)
There is however an alternative option to play 4-1-4-1 with Alexander in the holding midfield role and Coyle might be tempted to line up with the following (or similar):
Jensen, Duff, Carlisle, Jordan, Kalvenes, Alexander, Elliott, Gudjonsson, Eagles, Blake, Paterson
Spurs were believed to be closing in last night on a deal to re-sign Jermain Defoe, the England striker, from Portsmouth for a fee thought to be about £15 million. If the deal goes through today, he could be registered in time to play against us tomorrow.
One player who will be suspended for this game will be defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto, He was sent off for a straight red in their 2-0 defeat at West Brom over Christmas following a dangerous stamp on Gianni Zuiverloon after 34 minutes.
We will all be wondering whether Redknapp will field a full strength side against us tomorrow night or whether he might be tempted to play some of his squad players. The betting suggests the former and we will bring you further team news below this article as soon as we know.
Well that`s obvious, although Roman Pavlyuchenko looks a particular handful and was impressive against Wigan on Saturday in their FA Cup game getting a brace of goals in their 3-1 victory at the Lane.
Thompson is cup tied and Caldwell suspended. Jordan though returns after his one-match ban.
Chris McCann (knee) and Kevin McDonald (groin) remain doubtful and van der Schaaf is definitely sidelined after news broke today that he has a suspected kidney problem and is awaiting results from a scan.
Kalvenes played his first game on Saturday after his persistent leg injury had kept him out of the side since October. He should be available for selection again giving Coyle options in the back four.
Pato is a key striker for us and we will need his tireless energy and work rate to give us a chance of getting something at the Lane.
Hopefully he can score a goal or two as well!
We have played Spurs five times in this competition since January 1983 and have won two, lost two and drawn one.
Our last game against them was at Turf Moor in November 2004 and we were convincingly defeated 3-0 although two years earlier we did knock them out of the competition after a 2-1 victory at Turf Moor.
In September 1993 we drew 0-0 at Turf Moor only to lose 3-1 on aggregate at the Lane a few weeks later. Most Clarets fans of a certain age though will recall the thumping 4-1 victory at White Hart Lane back in January 1983 in a season that saw us relegated to the 3rd division which was the beginning of a slide that would lead ultimately to our League survival in the Orient game.
Martin Atkinson, a Premier League referee from West Yorks.
Very nervous about this one but got my tickets for both ties now. I wouldn`t be too disheartened by defeat at the Lane providing we can hold them to just a one goal deficit. We are massive underdogs and they are on a roll, maybe that will unnerve them and we can get a draw. Go on then 1-1!!
Pretty humdrum after the Spurs match but we return to our league promotion campaign and face Swansea at home in front of the Sky Cameras this Saturday on January 10th.Note in particular the late kick off at 5:20 pm
Date:Monday January 5 2009
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