Preston North End v Tottenham, Carling Cup, September 23, 2009
Tottenham head to Deepdale as they look to reach their third successive Carling Cup final and return to form following successive defeats to Manchester United and Chelsea. (Tottenham are 8/1 to win the Carling Cup.)
Spurs saw off Championship opposition in their first Carling Cup fixture this season, a 5-1 win over Doncaster, although Preston will likely provide a much sterner test on Wednesday night. PNE are currently fourth in the Championship and have already established themselves as a promotion contender for the season ahead.
In particular Prestonâ€™s home form has been good. This has included a pre-season friendly win over Stoke, two Carling Cup victories (against Morecambe and Leicester) and they have also picked up 10 points from a possible 12 at Deepdale this season.
Former Liverpool striker Neil Mellor (7/1 to score first) is probably the main threat for the home side, the 26-year-old striker has five goals to his name this season and will fancy his chances of scoring against a weakened Spurs defence. Alongside him, we can expect Chris Brown (11/4 to score) to start after his brace against Coventry in the 3-2 win on Saturday.
If given some time on the pitch, burly striker Jon Parkin (11/4 to score) could bully some of the Spurs defenders and in midfield the likes of Chris Sedgwick and Ross Wallace will be eager to impress.
At the back Preston have nearly as many injury problems as their Premier League opponents. Neil Collins is cup-tied and Callum Davidson has a torn hamstring. Youl Mawene is expected to be drafted in alongside Liam Chilvers to face Peter Crouch and co. (Spurs are 13/8 to score in both halves.)
The lanky England striker (15/1 to score a brace) is one certain starter for Spurs after Harry Redknapp admitted he will rotate his squad. David Bentley and Giovani Dos Santos (11/4 to score) will make their claims for regular football on either wing and Jermaine Jenas (11/2 to score) will probably start in central midfield.
Roman Pavlyuchenko is set to miss out with an Achilles problem which could see Defoe (4/1 to score first) up front with Crouch whilst Heurelho Gomes may be able to stake his claim for a start against Burnley on Saturday.
Redknapp has much tinkering to do at the back. Sebastien Bassong has been given the all clear after his nasty fall late on at Stamford BridgeÂ but has picked up a knee injury which means the returning Michael DawsonÂ will likely start withÂ Vedran Corluka in the centre of defence. Gareth Bale has also been tipped for an appearanceÂ and Kyle Naughton should also get an opportunity. (Spurs are EVS to keep a clean sheet.)
A number of factors, including Prestonâ€™s solid home form and a weakened Tottenham side suggest this will be a close encounter. How Preston deal with Peter Crouch, who has been in excellent form this season, could be key to them causing a cupset. It could even take an extra half hour for one team to prevail and Redknapp could well be forced to throw on his big guns, such as Wilson Palacios and Aaron Lennon, to force a result.
101predicts: Preston 2 â€“ Tottenham 3 (25/1)
Full match odds here.