Really not sure how to call this one. Back in August I would have pencilled in Birmingham away as a solid point and a good chance for all three, but it’s a different kettle of fish here in January 2010. Our win over Fulham was bizarrely comfortable, but hardly suggested that the Tottenham juggernaut is revved up to full throttle, ready to blitz aside all-comers.Birmingham for their part had been unbeaten in about five years until they were soundly despatched by Chelski midweek, so no obvious indication as to how they will amble up either. This will be no stroll in the park, but a stirring performance from our lot would not be too much to ask, and a convincing win at St Andrews would give us a most welcome second-wind going into spring. Of course, the alternative, of an insipid, uninspired defeat, would be the cue for the voices of doom to bellow forth their scathing critique once again.
With neither the signings of Gudjohnsen nor Kaboul confirmed as yet I presume there will be a fairly familiar look about the team tomorrow. Bassong for Ledley; Bentley to return no-man’s land (presuming Kranjcar has recovered from his sniffles); a choice of Crouch or Keane in attack. Defoe has been relatively quiet in recent weeks, but I sneer in the face of the man/woman who dismisses his goal-threat. He may not have had many chances recently, but the lob against Leeds and disallowed goal against Liverpool suggest that he has not forgotten where the netting is moored.
Sergeant Wilson has given a few encouraging indications over the past seven days that he may be returning to form, and away from home his will be an important role. As will that of the boy Bale. Speed on the counter-attack always helps on our travels, and with Lennon’s “two-week” groin strain now a month-long absence our primary pace outlet appears to be the reborn left-back. However, Bale has yet to be particularly given a severe test defensively since returning to the starting line-up, and tomorrow might be an occasion on which that side of his game is of primary importance.
In a season in which all the pretenders for fourth are resolutely taking one step back after every two steps forward, a run of four or five consecutive wins would do us a world of good. With Villa at home and Wigan away to follow, opportunity knocks for our heroes tomorrow.
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