The FA Cup third round; a great day in the football calendar when you win but losing is the most horrible of feelings. This year is different: we’re the sacrificial lambs, the minnows on their day out with the faintest of hopes at reaching the next round.
Given our record with draws this season, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we scraped a replay. OK, given our performance at Cardiff and Spurs pummelling of Chelsea, it would be a surprise to the point of qualifying as a shock. No Jonathan Kodjia today and as we found at Cardiff, goals will be a premium.
And judging by the forward line, they will remain so. Jordan Ayew, like Kodjia, has done an international bunk which leaves us with Ross McCormack, Libor Kozak and the prolific Gabby Agbonlahor. It’s disappointing that we haven’t added to the squad with a short-term loan already, especially as the situation is not a surprise. We’ve known about this for several months and yet to address it.
McCormack in particular, may consider that a harsh assessment but he’s struggling in front of goal this season. Is it the style of play he’s finding it hard to adjust to or the price tag weighing heavily on his shoulders? Whatever the case, it’s a risk to go into the next four weeks with him as our lead striker.
Not that Kozak or Gabby are any better options. That spending we did in the summer isn’t looking so brilliant at the moment; the balance needed to be weighted toward this very time of the year.
Of course, the match is one where we don’t expect to win. [Takes deep breath] This isn’t an important match in terms of the result; it matters more to put in a good performance and build some confidence. That’s not a sentence I’d ever thought I’d write. I love the FA Cup and only remember two years ago with any distress because of the final. The run to Wembley was brilliant. Our day in the sunshine though, ending cloudy with balls raining into our net.
By now you’re wondering where the ref comes into. I’m sure you know it’s Mike Dean. If you don’t know why we’re playing fourteen opponents today, here’s you’re answer:
Now you remember. It’s a better celebration than most players come up with. No ducks, faux pregnancies, sucked thumbs; straight up, no-nonsense, turn and run back to your own half. A bit Peter Withe-ish, if you like.
Just to put the stats out there. When Mike Dean has refereed Tottenham matches:
1. Spurs are unbeaten in their last seven games that he has officiated (Won 6, drawn 1)
2. Oh, look, Steve Bruce doesn’t think it’s a problem so let’s not get hung up on Dean.
Yes, he was abysmal at West Ham but why was anyone surprised? Dean’s hopeless but his appointment works in our favour. This is a man who will play things by the book, lose the flamboyance and is under intense pressure to referee the game properly. None of the ‘sway’ of a Premier League team v the Championship; he knows the eyes of the world are on him and that will work in our favour.
Famous last words? Not quite. Those are “A draw, a draw, my kingdom for a draw”. I’ll be happy with that, what about you?