Tottenham v Hull, Premier League, January 16, 2010
A crucial period of five games in 14 days begins for Spurs with the visit of Hull City to White Hart Lane. Like many sides around the country, Tottenham have been kicking their heels after playing just one game in January, the 4-0 FA Cup win over Peterborough.
For Harry Redknappâ€™s side, the enforced winter break came at a bad time after five successive clean sheets including three league wins which had pushed Spurs up to fourth in the league. (Tottenham are 20/21 to keep a clean sheet, 20/21 against.) Tottenham go into this encounter in fifth position after Manchester Cityâ€™s 4-1 win over Blackburn but with Arsenal and Manchester United drawing last week, they should feel anything is possible in this most topsy-turvy of seasons.
With a trip to Liverpool next Wednesday and then the FA Cup clash with Leeds next Saturday, Redknapp has some thinking to do over his team selection. Ledley King could well be set for a rare start after playing in the victory over West Ham and Gareth Bale will definitely fill the left back slot with Benoit Assou-Ekotto out injured. (8/11 against both teams scoring.)
The main injury concern for the home side is over Aaron Lennon, the England winger that has been a major part of their slick attacking football in 2009/2010. The former Leeds speedster was a major doubt for the postponed clash at Liverpool last week and Redknapp may prefer to rest Lennon for a few more days before the rearranged trip to Anfield.
Without Lennon, the creative responsibility will rest upon Croatians Luka Modric and Niko Kranjcar, the latter in particular has been one of the buys of the season as proved by his two-goal hauls against Manchester City and Peterborough in the last month. Up front Robbie Keane may lead the line due to the congested fixture list although Jermain Defoe will be chomping at the bit to get stuck into the Tigers after scoring a hat-trick against them earlier in the season. (Tottenham are 8/5 to win both halves, 1/2 against.)
Hull head to London keen to repeat their famous 1-0 win (37/1) at White Hart Lane last season. Geovanni was the scorer that day and with Jimmy Bullard still missing the Brazilian remains their best hope of unlocking the home defence.
Phil Brown will be hoping for a turn in results after the Tigers also failed to play since the second day of January due to the weather. The 4-1 defeat at Wigan ended Hullâ€™s interest in the FA Cup and with echoes of last season, they seem to be hitting poor form at just the wrong time. (Hull are a massive 69/1 to win both halves.)
Hull have not won a Premier League game since beating Everton at the end of November and in 19th place in the table look like favourites to go down. They can take heart from the fact that they came back from two-down to draw 2-2 with Bolton in their last league game thanks to Stephen Huntâ€™s double.
The Republic of Ireland wideman is undoubtedly their main asset as has been proved with transfer speculation in recent days about the former Reading winger. Without Daniel Cousin who scored the winner for Gabon at the Africa Cup of Nations against Cameroon on Wednesday, we could see one or two of the likes of Jozy Altidore, Kamel Ghilas or Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink up front.
Hull have in their ranks two ex-Spurs players in Anthony Gardner and Nick Barmby who made his Tottenham debut nearly eighteen years ago. Andy Dawson will also be chomping at the bit to get one over his brother Michael who has been in fine form in recent weeks. The Tigers must take heart from both Stoke and Wolves who have stunned Spurs at home this season but the home side should have enough firepower to win comfortably.
101gg predicts: Tottenham 2 â€“ Hull 0 (6/1)
Full match odds here.