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Tottenham preview

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A key game for both sides which has been given extra significance after a pair of frustrating results at the weekend that allowed Aston Villa to move up into fourth place in the table.

Both ourselves and Tottenham have been the two sides tagged as those most likely to be the side to break in to the Champions League positions and I would do some football betting on it, and importantly, both have plenty of scope to strengthen in January to bolster what has been a good - but could have been better - start so far during 2009/10.

There are similarities between the two sides this season. Both have plenty of pace and attacking intent, and are capable of scoring. Both however, have struggled at the back at times with Tottenham conceding 22 and ourselves 21 times so far. It therefore throws up the possibility of an open game between two evenly matched sides, and one that suits the strengths of both teams.

Team wise, the growing importance of Nigel de Jong was evident by his absence at Bolton and the hope is that he has recovered from swine flu to resume his place in the side. A forced change will be to replace Craig Bellamy, and to counter the threat of Aaron Lennon, it has been speculated that Hughes may bring in a more defensive option (possibly even Javier Garrido) on the left hand side of midfield. I would hope that Hughes goes for a positive approach with either Robinho or Petrov to put pressure on Tottenham's right hand side.

Shaun Wright-Phillips will definitely be absent, and again, whilst Vladimir Weiss may be more of a like for like replacement, Hughes will surely opt for Stephen Ireland, the only downside being the loss of pace out wide in what will be an area that may well decide the outcome.

Our record at White Hart Lane is as dismal as can be, losing our last five trips there by the same 2-1 scoreline and it would not be a shock if that was the result again, and I would make Tottenham marginal favourites by virtue of having home advantage.

That said, there is a reason why we have only lost once during 2009/10 and a trip to White Hart Lane is an opportunity to contine to shed some of the past. I think we come away with at least a draw tomorrow, but key to achieving this is to start far better than we have done on more than one occasion this season.