Tottenham Focus - Is the FA Cup a perfect opportunity for rotation?
The first weekend of 2013 sees Tottenham begin what many will hope is an FA Cup run to a Wembley date in May with a home tie to Coventry City. The match is sandwiched between what has been a hectic but successful festive period for Spurs and a run of four Premier League fixtures in three weeks, including a visit from Manchester United.
Coventry are in a decent run of form as well, but the side currently in League One are a far cry from the Sky Blues team that contested the 1987 cup final against Spurs. With Tottenham in the middle of such a congested period, does the match offer Coach André Villas-Boas an opportunity to rotate and give a needed rest to some players?
Now that Hugo Lloris is the established first choice, the ever-professional Brad Friedel could be given a start. At full-back Benoit Assou-Ekoto could be in line to make a long awaited return from injury. With Assou-Ekoto coming in, Kyle Naughton could be switched to his preferred position of right-back, allowing Kyle Walker a break. With Steven Caulker coming in alongside either William Gallas or Michael Dawson, the defensive unit could be changed without any noticeable weakening.
The match offers Spurs a chance to show the strength and depth of their squad and to revert to a 4-2-3-1 formation. Villas-Boas has recently gone with a 4-4-2 which may partly have been to help get Emmanuel Adebayor back into form, without dropping the proven goal scorer Jermain Defoe. Playing the lone forward would allow the Togolese to build upon his goal against Reading as well as play Gylfi Sigurdsson in the hole behind him.
The Icelander struggled at the start of the season but has looked sharp in recent appearances off the bench and may have earned a start, though he may be vying for this place against Clint Dempsey, who looks as though he is coming back to form himself.
Considering the form, speed and ability of their wide men, it may be a surprise if either Gareth Bale - back from suspension - or Aaron Lennon were not in the starting XI but there would be no surprise to see Scott Parker welcomed back into the team, to continue his comeback from injury.
Who lines up with the Englishman may be a choice of three - Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore or Tom Carroll. However, given that Spurs appear to have struggled to breakdown teams at home more than away, there may be an argument that the extra creativity is needed in the other holding role. Consequently, does Carroll fit the role? His comparison to a young Luka Modric is not without reason. He may not have the experience of the other two but his mobility, consistent willingness to take and make the pass and eye for the pass may give him an advantage over his team mates.
The beauty of the FA Cup is the David versus Goliath tale but Spurs should have too much for Coventry and a depth of squad to make changes without effecting their chances.
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