Tottenham Hotspur vs. Coventry City
Only Coventry City have beaten Spurs in an FA Cup final, but for some to talk about revenge tomorrow, perhaps need to get real..
An FA Cup defeat from almost twenty-five years ago is hardly the most relevant rivalry, especially as Coventry are now sitting just above mid-table in league one, whilst Spurs are having their most successful era in years. Coventry have of course hit upon a series of hard times. In fact we could say that it is so many that it almost merges into one very long spell of decline and financial headaches. Drawing a Premiership side away in the Cup isn't a bad income generator, however, you know it will either take a very generous benefactor and long term development on and off the pitch to see our opponents return to anywhere near their levels of 25 years ago and even that seems like a very far fetched dream.
Coventry have been dealt the blow of losing their's and League Ones top scorer in David McGoldrick, who has today joined Ipswich until the end of the season. He has been replaced by Leon Clarke, who assuming completed the paperwork before mid-day will perhaps get a very nice debut tomorrow, but otherwise I see a few players from the recent times such as Kevin Killbane and Garry McSheffrey, though certainly in the case of Killbane, he hasn't played since October, so I doubt we will be haunted by names from the past, though as with any supposed David vs. Goliath game, you underestimate your opposition at your peril, though I can't imagine AVB will let his players do that for one minute. However, irrespective of a managers demands, player still do their own thing and just a few percent below their usual levels and who know, as you expect Coventry to be right up for the game and also well drilled for the occasion.
As seems to be the norm lately, Spurs are facing a side that are in improving form and with six straight away wins, and prior to Tuesdays defeat at home Shrewsbury, they were unbeaten in their last ten games, with seven of those being victories. Confidence is a funny thing and I can imagine that if Coventry can stick to their game plan and stop Spurs scoring, they will gain in confidence and hope Spurs and their fans become frustrated. As for Tuesdays rare defeat, how much of that was due to the players having one eye on White Hart Lane and not the job in hand?
To a degree it could be big changes for Spurs. Can we expect to see starts for Friedel, Naughton (at Right back) BAE, Parker and a few others that haven't played as much as they would have hoped? This is perhaps a great opportunity to rest a few tired legs, such as Walker, Vertonghen, Sandro, Dembele, Lennon and Defoe, who have all worked really hard to date or in the case of Dembele, still has questionable fitness issues. I would go as far as suggesting a few simply take the weekend off and relax to recharge their batteries. You would like to think we have enough quality in the squad to comfortably cope and in a few cases such as Parker and BAE, game time is much needed for fitness, whilst with a few others it represents a chance to prove their quality and regain some form or confidence.
I would be quite happy to see a team along the lines of Friedel, Naughton, Dawson, Caulker, BAE; Livermore/Hudd, Carroll; Sigurdsson, Dempsey, Townsend/Falque and Adebayor, however that may well change should any of the players be close to a move and therefore won't want to be cup tied for their new employer. I always feel the 3rd round of the cup can occasionally give a hint at moves that may well be close or at least at players who are available this month. If for example one or both of Hudd and Livermore were potentially moving, I would love to see Siggy dropped into the middle and Falque and Townsend get plenty of playing time. You feel this team or something close still remains good enough to win without too many hiccups, however, if it isn't, then perhaps it gives the manager and board a better indication of the hunger and quality of his squad and perhaps we should even consider using a bench at least part filled with younger players, to give them the experience of a day and also allow others a total rest...