Inside Lane: Spurs stars should be rested in FA Cup ahead of top-four clash with Leicester
Tottenham blogger George Lacey says Mauricio Pochettino should rest his key players in Sunday’s FA Cup game against Leicester City and prioritise next week’s top-four showdown instead.
“Now the FA Cup is an occasion next best to Christmas Day” goes the Chas and Dave song, and for many years Spurs supporters would have echoed that sentiment, given the eight glorious occasions when we have lifted the trophy.
However, when Premier League high-fliers Leicester City make the first of their two upcoming visits to White Hart Lane on Sunday, in the pick of the FA Cup third-round ties, will Mauricio Pochettino have an eye on domestic silverware or Champions League qualification?
He seems to have found a settled starting XI. But, with the likes of Nacer Chadli, Nabil Bentaleb and Heung-Min Son lacking match fitness, Sunday’s cup clash could be the ideal game to afford them starting berths. Not only do they need minutes, but competition for places is healthy and would keep the likes of Christian Eriksen, who has been below-par in recent matches, on his toes.
Spurs will face Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester for a second time at the Lane on Wednesday – this time in a league clash under the lights. And, with Spurs just six points behind north London rivals Arsenal at the top of the table, and four points off second-placed Leicester, it would be wise to rest key players ahead of that game.
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Dele Alli has been outstanding, but it remains to be seen whether he and regular starters Harry Kane, Eric Dier and the outstanding centre-back pairing of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld will be given Sunday off. There’s certainly a case to be made for rotation. That said, given the lack of cover at the back, I’d assume we will only rest one of our Belgian defenders.
And what of Kane? Just how many games can we squeeze out of him before he’s ruled out by an injury? As fantastic as he has been for Spurs, it’s at times like this where you can afford to give over-worked players a breather and, in Kane’s case, a much-deserved one. He looked shattered against Everton.
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Wednesday’s match against top-four rivals Leicester is of greater importance than the cup tie and a win for us would narrow the margin between the two sides to a solitary point.
If we can avoid a replay in the cup, we then have two games in January where we should be aiming to pick up maximum points – at home against Sunderland and then away at Crystal Palace.
Sorry to the romantics but Pochettino needs to prioritise the league.
Follow me on Twitter @GeorgeLacey_