If our manager was Jose Mourinho and we had the players available to play with a five-man midfield, then I’d be very confident in our ability to go to Manchester, play for a draw and return with a vital point.
Instead our manager is Harry Redknapp, who has done brilliantly for us, but always seems to balls things up when he starts tinkering with the tactics. We’re also blessed with a squad of players that can only play in an attacking 4-4-2 formation. Neither of these facts should pose a problem, just as long as we don’t get any silly ideas about playing for a draw and instead go all out to win the game.
City have a good home record, having only lost to United and Everton this season, but there’s reason to believe that we can go there and win. Both those defeats have come in recent weeks, suggesting that the pressure is getting to them and perhaps more importantly, this is a game that City know they must win.
We play better against sides that attack us, while often getting lost for ideas against those that defend in numbers. So an open game will suit us and allow players like Modric and Huddlestone the time and space they need to pull our strings.
One of Harry’s big decisions tonight is to whether to stick with the Modric/Huddlestone partnership, or to bring back Palacios for what will surely be a keenly fought away game. Personally I’d leave Palacios on the bench and only introduce him if our playmakers start getting outfought.
I’m not so sure that I’d stick with the status quo up front though. Neither Pavlyuchenko or Defoe has been in great form, but at least the little man shows willing when he’s not playing well. The trouble is, do we want to bring in Crouch for such a vital match after he missed our best chances in the FA Cup semi-final? Then there’s Gudjohnsen, who would be a perfect player for this game, but for the doubt as to whether Defoe can hold the ball up well enough alongside him?
At the back the only selection headaches concern our injuries. King and Gomes will both start if fit, but will they be? If the latter is missing we could have some big problems.
Whoever plays it is vital that we show confidence and really go at them. We can rely on Bale to do that from the left and hopefully we might start with Lennon to do the same from the right. City aren’t blessed with great full backs and this is where we can get at them, before delivering crosses into a penalty box where their central defenders are unfamiliar with their on-loan goalkeeper.
It City qualify for the Champions League rather than us, then their team could be light years ahead of ours and everyone else by next season. However, at the moment, it is us that have the stronger team and though I don’t believe all this talk that this represents our one and only opportunity to break into the top four, it makes sense to take your chances when you can.
Come on you Spurs!