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Spurs eyeing title race ahead of FA Cup bow
Published : 07 Jan 2012 04:46:39Rss feed
Tottenham supporters traditionally view the FA Cup as the trophy they have the best chance of winning, and only Manchester United and Arsenal have celebrated more victories in the final over the decades.
This season however the famous old competition has been relegated to secondary importance at White Hart Lane ahead of Saturday's visit of League Two promotion candidates Cheltenham Town.
Harry Redknapp's side are currently third in the Premier League, six points behind leaders Manchester City and three behind Manchester United.
They are in impressive form and boast a game in hand on both rivals.
Redknapp himself is convinced that his squad has a fair chance of ending the season as champions.
"We are there or thereabouts, we just have to keep believing, keep going," he said. "You never know. I've said all along that nothing is impossible."
As a result, Redknapp has already confirmed he will rest first-choice picks for the visit of the Robins, who are currently second in League Two and will bring 52 coach-loads of supporters from Gloucestershire for the occasion.
England internationals Michael Dawson and Aaron Lennon have been pencilled in for comebacks from injury - centre-back Dawson has been out since August with an Achilles problem - and other fringe men, including Niko Kranjcar and Roman Pavlyuchenko, will get starts.
"I have to rest a few, I can't keep playing the same players," Redknapp said. "We have a tough run coming up."
"Hopefully Michael will play on Saturday, and Aaron could be fit. He's training so we have to get a game into him on Saturday if we can. People like Steven Pienaar and Danny Rose will play. Kranjcar needs a game and then there's Pavlyuchenko. They will play."
Redknapp must choose between Carlo Cudicini or Heurelho Gomes in goal while Sebastien Bassong and Vedran Corluka are set to join Dawson at the back.
Jake Livermore, Tom Carroll and Giovani Dos Santos will be looking to fill the remaining midfield berths and it is likely that Jermain Defoe, who scored the only goal of the game against West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday, will continue up front as he has only just recovered from injury himself.
Redknapp used a similar selection policy for the Europa League and although Tottenham did not get through the group stage Cheltenham know that whoever is named on the Tottenham team-sheet they will still be regarded as outsiders to pull off a shock.
Nevertheless, Mark Yates' side will arrive in north London in fine form having posted a nine-match unbeaten run, which included FA Cup first and second round victories at Tranmere Rovers and Luton Town respectively.
The Robins, who will prepare for the match with a session at Arsenal's training ground, will be looking for captain Alan Bennett, the Republic of Ireland international, to keep Defoe quiet and for Darryl Duffy, the former Swansea City forward, to cause problems at the other end.
Duffy was hoping that Dawson's lack of match fitness would hand him a significant advantage.
"If he's barely played all season he's going to be a bit rusty and not fully flying, said the 27-year-old Scot. "If he does play then I guess that could be a plus point for us.
"Cup upsets happen all the time so why can't Cheltenham Town beat Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane? That could be the fairytale story of this year's competition. We're approaching the game in the best possible shape. We've not lost away from home since September."
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