Match date & time: Wednesday 17th December 2014. 7:45pm GMT KO.
Competition: Capital One Cup Quarter Final.
Venue: White Hart Lane.
TV: Not televised in the UK. Worldwide TV listings HERE.
After our 2-1 away win against Swansea in the Premier League on Sunday, our focus quickly turns to the Capital One Cup Quarter Final at the Lane. For me, it’s our biggest game of the season so far. To make it into the semi finals would be a big achievement – and being three games away from Wembley is tantalising. At White Hart Lane, we have to be hoping that we will make the Semi-Finals, but, against a decent Newcastle side who have already beaten us at the Lane this season, we cannot underestimate the threat that they possess. Our home form has been difficult this season to say the least, but in the cups, we are unbeaten, so hopefully we can continue that form and triumph into the semi-finals. Realistically, it will be a very hard competition to win, but in one off games, anything can happen if we take it seriously. This close to the Final, it’s necessary to put out a strong, competitive side, even with the amount of games thrown our way during the Christmas period. A trophy is something that would give the club a lift like nothing else can. People have banged on about the top four and the Champions League for a long time, but I think fans are starting to realise that whether or not we get in, it’s almost impossible to win. So what’s the point? A trophy is a memory that can last a life time, and goes down in the history books. It’s what football fans crave – a day at Wembley. A glory, glory night. There is a long way to go, though, and first, Newcastle stand in our way.
Newcastle are a decent side, with good quality players. They sit 8th in the Premier League, and in 10 games they have only lost twice. Including wins against Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea. They cannot be underestimated, as I say. In the last round of the Capital One Cup, Newcastle travelled to Manchester City as big underdogs, but came away from the game as 2-0 winners at the Etihad and secured a place in the Quarter Finals. This just highlights how difficult the game will be for us – but we’ll be hoping that they won’t recreate the form showed against Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham, but instead recreate the result of when they last visited North London and faced our rivals – Arsenal – as they fell to a 4-1 defeat at the Emirates. If we can find our form, if we are direct and show the quality that we possess, we can triumph and get through – but, if we are too relaxed, slow and complacent, then Newcastle will come to the Lane and steal the dream of Wembley away from us before it’s even been comprehended. In our last two games against Newcastle at White Hart Lane, we have lost both by one goal – so we’ll be looking to buck the trend before this becomes a habit!
The team news for Newcastle is that goalkeepers Tim Krul (ankle) and Rob Elliott (hip) are both ruled out, while Ryan Taylor (knee), Gabriel Obertan (hip), Siem De Jong (thigh), Davide Santon (knee), Curtis Good (groin) and Rolando Aarons (hamstring) are all ruled out, while Mehdi Abeid (ankle) will undertake a late fitness test ahead of the game. Also, right back Daryl Janmaat (suspended) is out of the game. Newcastle have some good players, and none are better than driving midfielder Moussa Sissoko; he has power, pace and can effect games and change their momentum – and we saw the brute force of that the last time Newcastle made the journey to White Hart Lane, as he changed the game in Newcastle’s favour with his driving runs and quality on the ball. To deal with him, it’s important that we enforce our midfield upon them, and make sure that we are efficient on the ball and are energetic defensively to counter act Sissoko’s big threat. Another of Newcastle’s big threats, scored against us in our last fixture – Ayoze Perez has pace, technique and energy up front, as well as the ability to stretch a defence and run in behind – not forgetting his eye for goal, and he’s netted 4 goals in 8 games, including 3 against Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham.
The team news for Tottenham is that Emmanuel Adebayor (match fitness), is out of the game. And that’s it. Hurrah! Kyle Naughton has returned to the squad after injury and completes a full squad, excluding the absence of Emmanuel Adebayor. It really is important, coming into the Christmas period, that we have fully fit squad to choose from, and hopefully the players step up and play & train for their places in the first team. We’re very lucky to have a fully fit squad; and now we have to utilise that to our advantage and put a run of results together, building consistency.
It’s difficult to predict what sort of starting eleven Mauricio Pochettino will select in this game – as it is difficult timing in between extremely important Premier League fixtures, and we all know that Pochettino preaches his faith in the squad, and isn’t afraid to make changes and use his team – but, we also have to take into consideration that this is as big as a Premier League game, if not bigger – and the fans will want a performance as well as most importantly – a result. It’s a big game for our fringe players as well as our key players, as it is an opportunity for them to showcase their talents, as it is every time they step on the pitch. The players that I’m referring to are Mousa Dembele, Etienne Capoue, Aaron Lennon and Benjamin Stambouli, who all in my opinion have the quality to be in the Premier League first team, but have a fight on their hands with the performances of the likes of Nabil Bentaleb, Ryan Mason, Nacer Chadli and Christian Eriksen – which is a tall order for the fringe players. The key player in this game, excluding Harry Kane, who is likely to be rested, is Nacer Chadli who if he finds his form again, can win us a game with his goals and ability on the ball. It’s likely that Nacer will play just behind Roberto Soldado, which if they can form an understanding, could be quite a profitable partnership.
It’s a big game! I hope White Hart Lane will find it’s voice for a Quarter Final of a major domestic trophy. The game isn’t televised. I will be attending the game, but I will attempt to update as much as possible from the stands. Hopefully I’ll be reporting a win! Follow me on Twitter for it all, here: @AddictedToSpurs. COYS!!
My predicted/preferred team to face Newcastle at the Lane:
Naughton – Dier – Vertonghen – Rose
Capoue – Dembele
Lennon – Chadli – Townsend
Mauricio Pochettino’s pre Newcastle press conference: