And so begins our biggest week since the last great big important week we had. Two wins from the upcoming three games? The feeling here at AANP Towers is that we’re certainly capable of winning at least one of the two home games against l’Arse and Chelski, and with one Aaron Lennon due for return at some point this week this really could tee us up for a ruddy marvellous finale to the season.First things first however, and frankly it would take quite a monumental effort from our heroes to fail to make the FA Cup Final from this position. Admittedly Tottenham Hotspur FC has quite an eye-catching history when it comes to un-winning the most winnable of contests, and FA Cup Semi-Final complacency is not unknown around these parts (see 1995 name-on-the-Cup, Klinsmann, Everton and all that) but even at my most pessimistic I can only envisage us churning out a sloppy first half, prompting ‘Arry’s twitch to go into overdrive at the break and our lot upping their game sufficiently in the second half.
Portsmouth are falling apart at the seams, and were unable even to bring a full squad of 18 players to the Lane a couple of weeks ago. While I sympathise with their off-field plight (as Best Man to a Pompey fan that’s pretty much in my contract), today is a day for kicking them while they’re down. The official company line is that there are no easy games, and Pompey will certainly apply themselves with a darned sight more commitment than in the League meeting a couple of weeks ago, but for all their willing we should have more than enough quality, particularly going forward.
The usual headaches apply to selection, particularly in defence. The absences of Kaboul and Walker would hardly be lamented if we were at full-strength, but with Daws, Corluka and, most curiously, Ledley all due for late fitness tests it is still possible that the likes of Palacios or Livermore may be shunted into the back-four, with BAE switching to ad hoc right-back. Hudd (I think) is an absentee; Lennon is not yet match-fit; and Portsmouth are no doubt quaking in their boots at the news that Jenas is also undergoing a late fitness test.
The outlook is far rosier going forward. All four strikers are match-fit, and we have the usual array of string-pullers from which to choose going forward. ‘Tis this abundance of attacking riches which provides the main grounds for optimism. Cup upsets happen, but if Pompey’s ramshackle bunch of reserves and kids can repel the combined might of Defoe, Pav, Crouch, Gudjohnsen, Bale, Modders, Kranjcar and Bentley for an hour and a half then they each deserve knighthoods.
Having recently held a public training session for supporters, our heroes have no doubt been informed that failure to win today will result in them being marched out in front of supporters and publicly flogged. AANP’s wish-list is straightforward – a win, by whatever means, and no mention of Sergeant Wilson’s name in the referee’s little black book. Enjoy the day-out.
Gary Mabbutt will be signing copies of AANP book Spurs’ Cult Heroes for the masses on the following dates: