Tottenham Hotspur vs Cardiff City
K/o: 15.00 hours
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Referee: Mike Dean
Tottenham Hotspur will host a winless Cardiff City at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday as the hosts look to put their woeful European form behind them and pile more misery on the Welsh side.
Spurs lost to Barcelona in midweek and their Champions League aspirations have taken a knock after two consecutive defeats. Qualifying for the knockout rounds seems to be out of their reach, but they can seek solace from their league campaign which to date has been fairly consistent. They sit four points off the top in the Premier League and it has been a solid start despite a blip last month.
Cardiff have endured a horrendous start to the season, and they have accumulated just two points from seven games, both courtesy of goalless draws. The Welsh side were relegation favourites before the season began and the ‘trust’ in them was validated. Their attack has been woeful and the defence has failed to live up to expectations which could result in a non-memorable trip to the capital.
Spurs should be hopeful of bouncing back after their midweek loss and Cardiff will do well to even get a point from the game. Neil Warnock must be feeling the pressure right now and failure to manufacture a change in fortunes could have fatal effects.
Mauricio Pochettino has to deal with a host of injuries which include the likes of Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli in midfield. Both of them missed the clash against Huddersfield last week, and they will watch from the sidelines again.
Spurs are lacking numbers in other positions as well as Jan Vertonghen and Serge Aurier are both ruled out. Vertonghen has a hamstring problem whereas Frenchman Aurier has a thigh injury that will see him miss the clash. Mousa Dembele is another absentee, as he too has a thigh problem and can’t be risked for the fixture.
Captain Hugo Lloris has returned to training and featured midweek, which will provide a boost for Spurs. Yet the rest of the squad looks threadbare and many players will play for the third time in a week due to lack of replacements. Promising midfielder Harry Winks will make his first league start of the season and perhaps Kyle Walker-Peters might get minutes as well.
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing is still out for Neil Warnock but Junior Hoilett will make a welcome return for the Bluebirds. Josh Murphy and Victor Camarasa have looked solid as well, so Hoilett could start the game on the bench.
Influential figure Aron Gunnarsson remains unavailable and he might make his return after the international break. Lee Peltier is another long-term absentee after the defender dislocated his shoulder against Manchester City two weeks ago.
Warnock may well put forward an unchanged lineup, where Kenneth Zohore and Callum Paterson will be the front two instead of Bobby Reid and Danny Ward. Paterson, in particular, displayed his versatility against Burnley and he will provide a defensive presence as well.
Predicted Starting XI’s
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Rose, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Trippier; Dier, Winks; Lamela, Son, Moura; Kane
Cardiff City: Etheridge; Cunningham, Bamba, Morrison, Ecuele Manga; Murphy, Ralls, Arter, Camarasa; Paterson, Zohore
Score Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2 Cardiff City 0
Cardiff will try to make it a scrappy game and remain compact, but expect Spurs’ quality to make the difference. Talisman Kane is looking to be on the rise again and although the Bluebirds managed to score two and make it difficult for Spurs city rivals, home advantage and a need to bounce back favours Spurs in this one.