We’ve already been to north London once this year. It did not go well.
But if we’ve got any ambition about us, we probably want to get used to these big days out. I know I’m hoping for at least one more trip like this before the season’s out.
And not to the FA Cup final or anything mad like that. After what happened down at the Emirates in September, frankly, these competitions are the least of our concern.
But we’re here now, we actually had to earn getting this far, so we might as well take a look at what we’re letting ourselves in for by playing Tottingham Hotspurs down at the Lane.
How are they getting on?
In reality, it doesn’t matter how they’re getting on. They’re Premier League; we’re League One. They’re pretty rich; we’re pretty poor. They have Gareth Bale; we have.. well don’t worry about that. They have Gareth Bale.
People (Mark Lawrenson) say form goes out of the window in the FA Cup, but that usually just means it gives teams like Aston Villa the opportunity to catch up on a win or two over some mini teams (when they’re not playing Man Utd, that is).
In our case, we’re still doing mighty well away from home, but logically, a trip to Spurs should defy all comparison.
They currently sit 3rd in the Premier League having won 7 of their last 9 games. There was a minor blip back in November when they lost 3 in a row, but they’ve more than shaken that off now. Without wanting to scare you too much – they look pretty formidable.
Who could cause us trouble?
The biggest problem here is that we really don’t know what sort of side they’re going to put out. One thing’s for certain though – it’ll include some classy players, whatever shape it takes.
The big name is Mr Bale. He was suspended for the previous match, meaning there’s an increased possibility that he’ll find himself immune from a Saturday rest. The man’s become a world class piece of talent over the last couple of years, and while some refuse to see it, those people are in actual fact, massive plonkers. He’s blisteringly quick, bison-strong, with a stunning left boot. If he plays, he’s going to give young Cyrus an experience he’ll never forget.
Meanwhile, Scott Parker is making his way back to fitness and is slated to make his first start of the season, so will be looking to assert some all-action dominance in the midfield.
Little Eddie Wilson mentioned on this week’s Lamptey show about a cheeky player named Falque who’s made a few appearances in Spurs’ cup appearances this season. He’s caught my eye too. Technically, the guy’s sublime, and it’s in these sort of games when the gulf in class between even Premier League reserves and League One can become frighteningly apparent.
Saying that, we all remember a certain Gerard Piqué having a horrid time against Michael Mifsud back at Old Trafford – so don’t rule out Spurs having a struggle against our eagerness.
Sky Blues team news
So, Dave’s gone. Suddenly, things feel a little unknown again.
Big Leon Clarke is his replacement, and he’s pretty much nailed-on to get his first start as we look to pick ourselves up in this post-McGoldrick era.
Impressive loan stars Bailey and Adams have been given the go ahead to play, with Adams the certainty, while Bailey likely to return into Robins’ favoured midfield partnership alongside Jennings.
One player who will no doubt consider himself hard done by at the minute is Stephen Elliott, who after his brace against MK Dons wasn’t even considered for a cameo in the subsequent defeat to Shrewsbury. With big DMc now out the picture, expect to see an apologetic re-introduction by Robins at some point.
Cyrus Christie has struggled for portions of the last few games, so the idea of giving him a rest has been mooted. Mind you, Robins will be acutely aware of Bale’s potential threat, so may resist the temptation to bring in the slightly less imposing Jordan Clarke just yet.
I’m a bit weird. There’s very little pragmatism in me once I start watching a game. My focus is on us, and making sure we at least perform to our ability. I can’t abide sloppiness – regardless of the opposition.
In the Arsenal game, we got crucified. They lay waiting and picked off our mistakes without a second thought. Sure, there was an element of Arsenal being ludicrously clinical, but we have to acknowledge how much our own daftness contributed to that result.
If we’re to have any chance against the technically superior sides, we have to be right on our game. Valuing possession whenever we can, pressing like lunatics, and not being afraid to take any chances that do fall our way. If we do that, it’s completely feasible that we could cause them some hassle. We did it to Blackburn not so long ago.
But, if Spurs play how they can play – they’re probably going to win. And that’s what’s most likely to happen. I’m guessing it’ll be a fairly regulation 3-0 to them.
A small plea
Personally, it’s us fans I worry about.
Lord, please prevent us from singing any more self-deprecating songs. I’m pretty sure I’ll die of shame if it happens again.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re a singer I’ve nothing against you attempting to gain the initiative over the home fans, or even restore some semblance of pride with a witty sing song. Do your banter thing. Do it good.
But there’s got to be better ways of satirising their bravado than simply taking the endless piss out of ourselves?
We’re usually a fairly proud bunch, but this season our retort has often been to exaggerate our apparent uselessness. It might be a joke, but when we’re losing 6-0, I just can’t find it funny. I know I’ve spent most of this post pointing out the obvious gulf between both teams, but I’m just making the point out of fairness – we don’t need to celebrate it.
So please, let us pack away those songs once and for all. I’m sure there’s space next to Oh Gary Gary Gary Gary Gary Gary McAllister, and the one about Dion Dublin’s neck.
Image of White Hart Lane courtesy of Forthevline (Wikipedia)