Tottenham Hotspur have the best recent form in the league, taking 14 points from their last six games. This includes a mid-week win over Everton, a result which moved Spurs equal with Manchester United on 45 points and within three points of the top of the league. In doing so, Tottenham may be confirming their status as genuine title contenders.
Saturday sees the Lilywhites host Wolverhampton Wanderers. The fixture is one Spurs are expected to win, and perhaps must do, to challenge for the league – home against a team in the bottom five, who have not won in their last nine away games.
Perhaps as with many teams visiting White Hart Lane, Wolves will be set up in a defensive formation in an attempt to negate the attacking menace of the home side. Their manager, Mick McCarthy may send out his team in a 4-5-1 formation with Arsenal loanee Emmanuel Frimpong replacing injured ex-Spur Jamie O’Hara in anchoring midfield, whilst Steven Fletcher may return in the place of Kevin Doyle as the lone frontman.
Wolves will not be without their own threat. The Midlands outfit like to attack down the flanks, particularly the left channel through Matt Jarvis, and get crosses into the box for Fletcher. The striker has scored more headers than any other player since the start of last season and has registered five goals in his last six starts. Wolves may also bring on Doyle at some stage, with the Republic of Ireland striker having scored four goals against Spurs in the Premier League. However, Spurs are a different defensive proposition this season and since August have conceded just three league goals at home. The victory over Everton may have also finally broken the myth that Spurs labour to win without their talisman players of Ledley King and Scott Parker – probably missing from the match.
This season Wolves have suffered in defending the throughball and fast break as well as wing play. Spurs’ style should allow them to take advantage of these weaknesses. With the pace of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon and attacking full back play of Kyle Walker and Benoit Assou-Ekoto [arguably shading Jake Livermore for man of the match against Everton], Spurs will carry a real threat down their flanks. Couple this with the skill and probing of van der Vaart and Luka Modric through the centre, as well as their wingers cutting in when switching flanks and the Lilywhite’s fans should expect goals.
Perhaps the one question when it comes to selection is up front. Whilst Emmanuel Adebayor and van der Vaart appear Spurs most natural combination, the Togolese seemed slightly below par in mid-week. The striker has also been caught offside 36 times this season and playing the offside trap is one of Wolves strengths. This may be a chance for Jermain Defoe to make an appearance, if not start. The England striker likes to shoot from distance [another Wolves defensive weak spot], and has scored four goals in five Premier League games against the Wanderers.
Throughout, Spurs should have too much strength and class for the Midlands team and maintain their title challenge. Perhaps key is that this Tottenham team seem to have the belief as well.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Tottenham