Tottenham – West Ham United (Capital One Cup)
The Capital One Cup quarter-finals bring two London neighbours face to face at White Hart Lane. The Spurs are in a turmoil after André Villas-Boas has been sacked. Being hammered by Liverpool 0-5 must have had something to do with it. A new era begins for Tottenham and West Ham is the first to cross their path. Threat or opportunity?
This will be Tim Sherwood’s début as Tottenham Hotspur Acting Manager. The news came out Monday morning, André Villas-Boas had been axed. Surely the 5-0 demolition against Liverpool was the final drop, after all it was the second time this season the Spurs were heavily beaten. The performances have been far from convincing and they didn’t manage to win over any of the top ten squads of the Premier League. On the other hand, and that may shock many, he leaves as Spurs’ most successful Boss, when it comes to winning percentage, since the late nineteen hundreds. No, no mistake her. Also, he led the club to the 5th place last season and came really close to the Champions League spot. And now Tottenham are 7th with 27 points, 8 behind Arsenal. Hardly a calamity when we look at the numbers. Some argue the high defensive line costed him the two Premier League jobs, and it is hard to justify why he insisted in such a model when it was giving such poor results. Ultimately he lost those positions because he consistently failed to fulfill the hype that built around him in Porto. He should have allowed himself to mature there a little more. But mostly because his personal relations both at Chelsea and Tottenham were a disaster.
Michael Dawson and Paulinho are both suspended. Apparently the reintegration of Emmanuel Adebayor was one of Daniel Levy’s demands, let’s see how that goes. Vlad Chiriches is likely to start at the back. Danny Rose is doubtful. Jan Vertonghen, Younes Kaboul and Sandro remain unavailable for Sherwood.
Probable line-up: Friedel – Walker, Capoué, Chiriches, Rose – Dembelé, Holtby – Townsend, Eriksen, Lamela – Defoe.
West Ham United are one point clear of the relegation zone: 16 gathered in 16 matches grant them the 17th place in the table. Not comfortable at all. In October Sam Allardyce’s men notched a surprising 0-3 victory at White Hart Lane, courtesy of Winston Reid, Vaz Te and Ravel Morrisson. They’ll be hoping for a rerun and to get something out of the ordeal Tottenham is going through. A success in the Capital One Cup would be a welcome distraction from the third consecutive tie without a win. And a motivation extra for the hard challenges ahead. Next Saturday they’ll visit Old Trafford and as a Boxing Day treat they’ll host Arsenal. Unlike their opposition that has everything to prove, the Hammers are fight for survival and the League is their primal goal. It’s understandable that Allardyce fields Carlton Cole, Alou Diarra, Joey O’Brien and Matt Taylor. But the roster is already stretched enough. Kevin Nolan is serving a three game ban. Downing, Reid, Petric, Vaz Te and the inevitable Andy Carroll are still in the injury list.
Probable line-up: Adrián – Demel, Tomkins, Collins, O’Brien – Noble, Diarra – Joe Cole, Diamé, Taylor – Carlton Cole.
What is next for the Spurs has taken over this League Cup fixture. What will be Sherwoods next moves? How will the squad respond to the sacking of AVB? And perhaps the most juicy and interesting one, who’s next in line for the Boss role? But just until the ball starts rolling. Then it’s game on and only one goes through to the semis.