For the second time in three days, Tottenham play host to newly-promoted Hull City in north London, this time in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup.
A controversial penalty awarded by referee Michael Oliver in the 80th minute of this corresponding fixture on Sunday was enough to settle the tie in Spurs’ favour, as Roberto Soldado sent veteran goalkeeper Steve Harper the wrong way to give them an unconvincing 1-0 home win.
Hull manager Steve Bruce will be hopeful of better officiating from John Moss tonight as his side bids to upset the apple cart to progress to the League Cup quarter-finals at the expense of Andre Villas-Boas and his misfiring men, who have scored only nine goals in the league this season.
Of the nine, six have come from open play, with the other three coming through penalties. Hull are not faring too well in this department either, having scored only seven goals. Surprisingly enough, Spurs are yet to score from set-play this season.
A look at the two clubs’ head-to-head record does not bode well for Hull City, having lost four of their last six meetings in all competitions. In fact, one has to go back five years for the last Hull win over Tottenham.
Three of these six games were decided on the odd goal, and on the evidence of Hull’s resolute defending and Spurs’ goal-shy forwards, one may be forgiven for expecting a low-scoring affair when they meet tonight.
On the way to the fourth round, Hull have won by identical 1-0 scorelines against lower league opposition in the form of Huddersfield and Leyton Orient. In contrast, Spurs steamrollered Aston Villa at Villa Park, routing the Villans 4-0 en route to the fourth round.
A look at the team news now, and the home side will be without the services of midfielder Etienne Capoue (ankle); and defenders Younes Kaboul (abductor) and Danny Rose (ankle). Left-back Ezekiel Fryers is a doubt with a groin strain. Steve Bruce has more injury woes however, as he faces this tricky tie without Allan McGregor (thigh), James Chester (hamstring), Abdoulaye Faye (knock), Sone Aluko (calf) and Danny Graham (hamstring).
Andre Villas-Boas will definitely look to rotate his squad with one eye on the trip to Merseyside to take on Everton on Sunday. This may see some players with a point to prove given the chance to do just that tonight, with the likes of Erik Lamela and Jermaine Defoe widely expected to start for Spurs.
B. Friedel- K. Naughton, V. Chiriches, J. Vertonghen, E. Fryers- Sandro, M. Dembele- G. Sigurdsson, C. Eriksen, E. Lamela- J. Defoe.
S. Harper- M. Figueroa, C. Davies, A. Bruce, L. Rosenior- P. McShane, G. Boyd-D. Meyler, T. Huddlestone, M. Elmohamady- Y. Sagbo.
Tottenham’s “cup forward” Jermain Defoe already has eight goals to his name this season, six of these coming in European competition. Will he add to his two-goal tally in the League Cup so far, or will old boy Tom Huddlestone get one over his former club?
Spurs will be spurred on by the realisation that their North London rivals Arsenal are out of the tournament, and may just prove too strong for Hull once again.
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