The Carling Cup returns to tonight with another trip to White Hart Lane, our second in as many weeks.
During the Carling Cup’s pomp, that’s in the days when it was known as the plain old League Cup, this tie would be seen as an opportunity for us to exact revenge on Spurs for the recent league defeat. However I suspect tonight will be viewed as nothing of the sort not least because both line ups will probably differ significantly from those that played two Saturdays ago?
I guess it’s inevitable that such changes will be made as European and Premiership games are coming thick and fast for both clubs? Rafa has already announced that Steven Gerrard will miss tonight and I don’t for one minute expect he’ll be the only one.
“Stevie needs a bit of rest. He was injured during the international break and it is important to try and keep players fit all the time.”
However, it looks like Rafa will be tempted to continue Torres’ rehabilitation by giving him a game, or at least part of one. Robbie Keane has been penciled in for a rest however if he does make the trip he will return to his old club in a better position than he was two weeks ago thanks to his two goals on Saturday.
“Like any player, it takes time to get to know the players around you and how they play. Even though I’ve played against them so many times and watched them many more it’s still different when you play with them. It’s probably taken a little bit longer than I would have liked but with every passing game I feel more and more confident and I think you’ll see the best of Robbie Keane now.”
Many have commented about the way Keane has gone about his business in the past and said that his goals are like London buses ie. long periods of sod all and then all of sudden you can’t move along the road for them! We shall see. It’s understandable that Keane should be judged by his goal return however this shouldn’t detract from the less glamorous, but equally important, hard work he has put in for the good of others since he joined.
Widening the issue. After announcing Gerrard’s omission, Rafa has also been commenting on how it’s going so far without making too many rash assumptions.
“We have confidence and are playing well, so we know we can be up there at the top. We know it is a long race and must keep going. It is still too soon to be thinking in those terms about other teams. There are too many games, in league and cups, and many things can happen. But things are very positive.”
And on the “mini gap” that has opened between us and Chelsea and rest of the pack?
“I don’t think I will be celebrating until the gap is 20 points. If you spend the whole time with a calculator considering what others are doing, it will drive you crazy. You must concentrate on what you are doing.”
Which is what we should always do, starting with tonight’s game. Prediction? I don’t know how many changes there will be made so I might as well put a load of numbers in a hat and draw out a score? However, I hope our strength in depth runs much deeper than Spurs’. Even though we lost in the league we dominated for long periods and besides it about time Harry Redknapp came down from the stars! I’ll go for it, put my neck on the line and say 3-2 and why not, let’s say it will be after extra time!