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Big game experience

When Mark Hughes first opened up Sheikh Mansour's chequebook, in addition to adding quality to the squad he targeted a certain type of player as he sought to overall the squad from that which had a perceived flakiness to it to one that was more mentally strong for the battles ahead.

Having brought in the likes of Shay Given, Nigel de Jong, Vincent Kompany and Craig Bellamy, last summer Hughes went one step further as he looked at the squad and identified players who had a winning mentality, had won trophies and medals and had the experience and wherewithal to take the club to the next level.

Specifically, in came Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure and Carlos Tevez whilst in January, Roberto Mancini also sought to add this experience and savvy-ness as he turned to the trusted Patrick Vieira, bringing in a wealth of experience but importantly someone who was used to winning.

Looking ahead to Wednesday, it looks a very difficult game to call. City have home advantage, but Tottenham the weight of recent history. Both will aalmost certainly adopt a 4-4-2 formation, with an emphasis on pace and attacking play from the wings. And form wise, there is little to seperate the sides of late as both have fended off the challenges of Aston Villa and Liverpool to be the last two standing.

Now it comes down to one game, a 'winner takes all' showdown that will have Sky positively drooling in anticipation. Both clubs have in the past been tarred with the similar brushes - 'typical City' or 'classic Spurs' and it will be a game that requires not only confidence, but composure. An ability to seize fourth spot when it matters most.

Given the expected tightness of the game, is there we hold an advantage? We saw a perfect example against Aston Villa of a side that didn't panic when they fell behind and once they had their noses in front, played a very good second half to virtually control the game and seal the win.

Looking at Saturday's side, there was only really Marton Fulop and Adam Johnson who you could class as inexperienced. The remainder of the starting eleven boasts FA Cup and Premier League winners in addition to being regular internationals. Whilst Tottenham's side contains plenty of international experience, there are not too many players who have won titles or lifted cups.

This factor shouldn't be underestimated. The experience of what it takes to be able to fend off a rival at the crucial moments of the season. Yes, it now comes to down to just one game but you do sense that in recent weeks Roberto Mancini has been building everything up to this moment where the fate is still in the players own hands.

Throughout the season, I've often referred to the small margins that can influence or differentiate events - could this be the one factor that tips the balance?