Tottenham – Cardiff (Premier League)
Tim Sherwood’s hopes of reaching 4th spot were severely hit last Sunday. European mid-week action brought the Spurs a memorable night, one they can draw inspiration and momentum from. They now return to Premier League hosting Vincent Tan’s Bluebirds that are now red and in the bottom three.
Last weekend’s 1-0 loss to Norwich City was exactly what Tottenham did not need. They saw Liverpool wide the gap that separates the Spurs from the precious forth spot, right before an Europa League fixture that could knock them out of the competition. Surprisingly enough Thursday ended up being one of those European nights for Tottenham’s fans to cherish. The visitors had a 1-0 advantage from the first leg and when Roman Zozulya headed to put Dnipro 2 up the hosts fate seemed sealed. What happened then was memorable. Tim Sherwood’s side went forward and step by step turned the tie and tide around. Roberto Soldado netted but was offside and it was disallowed. The Spurs gather a few free kicks in the attacking half and in one of them Christian Eriksen scores. One done, two to go. Zozulya gets sent off in a controversial head clash with Jan Vertonghen and the Spurs make the most of the advantage. Emmanuel Adebayor makes the second for Tottenham and 4′ later the third. Spurs go through to Europa League’s last 16, Benfica on their horizon. But right now they have to suspend the cheers and concentrate. Cardiff is coming for a visit and there’s a tricky month ahead – Chelsea, Arsenal and Southampton. No margin for errors.
Eric Lamela and Vlad Chiriches are the confirmed injuries. It will probably be too soon for Capoue, Kaboul and Sigurdsson to return to action just yet. Danny Rose and Kyle Walker are more likely to be back, having both miss out on the mid-week action.
Probable line-up: Lloris – Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose – Paulinho, Bentaleb, Dembélé – Lennon, Adebayor, Eriksen.
No matter how many times owner Vincent Tan cries he is a gentleman and not the villain English media portraits him to be. If it was love or gratitude he wanted he made all the wrong moves. Yes, he put a lot of money and saved the club from bankruptcy. But then he started to make executive decisions that went against the supporters. Changing the colors unilaterally, diminishing Malky Mackay work and role in the promotion to the top division, are not the actions prone to win the fans. It all comes down to the fact that it is money and he will do as he sees fit, he owned it by saying the disgruntled were welcome to buy him out. At least when Mackay left, in the beginning of January, the Bluebirds were just above water. Now they are under, 19th with 22 points to their name to be exact. The outing to White Hart Lane will be Gunnar Solkjaer’s tenth game in charge. So far he has a record of 2W/ 1D/ 6L in all competitions which translates to 7 points in 24 possible and being sent off the FA Cup by Wigan Athletic. Not a proper u-turn, is it? Just last Saturday they fell to Hull City, in their home ground, conceding 4 without response.
Gary Medel and Mark Hudson are Cardiff’s casualties for this tie. Jordan Mutch is likely to return to the starting XI.
Probable line-up: Marshall – Théophile-Catherine, Caulker, Turner, John – Noone, Mutch, Kim, Zaha – Campbell, Jones.
The Spurs got an 0-1 win over in Whales in the reverse fixture, back in September.