Wigan Athletic (H) preview
After a drab international break, Spurs are back in action on Sunday, playing Wigan Athletic at White Hart Lane. We stuttered to a 2-0 win against Sunderland – only our 2nd clean sheet in the league this season – but should be boosted by the return of Aaron Lennon for this one.
If Lennon starts, Redknapp will surely drop the narrow diamond that he started with against Sunderland, in favour of a more orthodox 4-4-2. It was a strange selection – we’re not blessed with the attacking full-backs that Chelsea have (well, we do have two, but they were both on the bench!), and it was clear to most in the stadium that it wasn’t working.
Roberto Martinez uses the 4-2-3-1 formation, and now seems to have settled on Jason Scotland leading the line, Hugo Rodallega playing from the left, and the left-footed Charles N’Zogbia playing from the right. Paul Scharner, initially unhappy at being left out the team (due to the relatively successful centre back partnership of Bramble and Boyce) has been one of their star men of late, playing in an unusually advanced position just off Scotland, with Hendry Thomas and the impressive Mohamed Diamé adding muscle and energy behind him.
Their last away game resulted in a 4-0 battering at the hands of bottom-of-the-table Portsmouth, but before that they beat Burnley 3-1 at Turf Moor. Hugo Rodallega has already managed 5 goals this year and, now he’s settled, he looks a really decent player (and one that I’d love to see at Spurs in the future).
The two deep-lying holders will mean that Keane won’t find as much space as he may normally expect and, therefore, it must be tempting for HR to start with Crouch and Defoe. However, we then have the question of whether our centre backs will resort to lumping the ball long every time they are under the slightest pressure. I’d personally start with Keane and Defoe up front, but ask Keane to play a more advanced role than usual.
The other main selection headache is central midfield. Fresh from England duty, Huddlestone and Jenas will both expect to start, whereas Palacios has played poorly of late in my opinion, and can perhaps expect to be on the bench. I still think Wilson has an awful lot to offer us – he has attributes that no other player at the club has, and his partnership with Jenas was, for me, the best thing to come of last season. However, whilst he’s on this run of form, I see no harm in dropping him (it’s just a shame that O’Hara, probably his most natural replacement, is out on loan). Another option, given that Wigan tend to play with one up front, is to accommodate Huddlestone at centre back, and use him as a libero.
So long as we try to play our natural game, keep the ball on the deck where possible, and get Lennon on the ball in advanced areas, I fancy us to win convincingly.