Friday, December 21, 2007

Ramos all set for his first North London derby

Following two consecutive away wins and two consecutive cleans sheets I asked earlier in the week what else could we ask for ahead of tomorrow's key game. I think the obvious answer is some defenders. With Zokora suspended (rather harshly in my opinion) and injuries/illness ensuring that we don't have Ledders, Dawson, Bale, Gardner, Rocha or Assou-Ekotto, we're really stuck in defence.

But as well as needing defenders, it's also key that psychologically we approach the game in the right manner. Nigel Winterburn has been bleating on about how Spurs are scared and must address the fear factor - I think that's over the top, but it is true that we haven't beaten the ARSEnal for some time and the players can't let that play on their mind. With Ramos in charge I do feel the side will be properly prepared. I don't for one minute expect us to win, but to come away with a draw would be a great result. Remember that ARSEnal have picked up 25 points out of a possible 27 at home this season, a record that includes only conceding six goals in those nine games. Perhaps more worrying is their strike rate - at an average of more than two goals scored per home match, our make-shift defence is going to have to perform miracles, rather like we did at Eastlands on Tuesday.

As for the personnel we'll use, I guess we may well have to play Kaboul and Chimbonda in the centre of defence, with Lee and Stalteri as full-backs. With the news that Ledders has picked up another injury (his thigh this time) and Bale could well be out for the season, I imagine Ramos may bring in some new faces next month. Anyway, as for the rest of tomorrow's team I think there is plenty of competition. Keane returns from suspension and will no doubt be selected ahead of an unlucky Defoe to partner Berbatov up front. In midfield I think Malbranque, Jenas, Boateng and Lennon will start, although I'd like to see Tainio and O'Hara both figuring at some stage.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's match, despite the slim chance we have of winning it. I don't think a Ramos side will make it easy for any opponents though, and with the recent signs of improvement it should be a good game. And a decent learning opportunity before next month's double header against them in the Carling Cup.


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