Ten days. It’s a long time in politics, but a very short time in football. However, the events of the hours and days since the players of Bolton Wanderers last stood on the turf of White Hart Lane have made the time passing seem very long indeed. With tonight’s rearranged game, there is a chance to put a full stop, if slightly smudged, on what has happened and get on with the business of football, survival and maybe, just maybe, another visit to Wembley.
In our way, in what will no doubt be another enmotional affair, will be a Spurs side whose edge has been blunted in recent weeks. Since the abandoned game they have salvaged a late draw at Stoke and played out the most boring of goalless draws with Chelsea. Just as they were supposed to be pushing on for Europe, they are in danger of falling at the penultimate hurdle.
Which Spurs and Bolton turn up tonight is anyone’s guess. T’Wanderers are probably still running on raw emotion whilst Spurs will be looking to do a professional job. With games stil having to be rearranged, St Owen will be looking to have the game done and dusted tonight. So he’ll probably pick Zat Knight…
‘Will Tuesday evening be emotional? Absolutely. it will be emotional before, throughout and after the 90 minutes. I can’t say how the day is going to be until I physically get there but the two teams have to go out and play the game and we will do that to the best of our ability. Once again I will go around the players and ask if they are all ready to play the tie. Once I have done that, I will look to pick the team to play the game. In the original match there were five changes to the team and again there will be changes if everybody is fit and ready.‘ St Owen, explaining the selection of Zat Knight
‘Bolton were playing really well in the original tie, had a couple of good chances and could have gone 2-1 up. It will be a hard match and we`ll have to play well. Bolton had a big result on Saturday. They are one of five teams in the middle of a relegation battle and you wouldn`t like to pick the three who would go down at the moment.‘ Honest Harry tells it straight. Well, as straight as Honest Harry can.
‘Fabrice’s recovery has probably helped us a lot and I’m sure it’s helped Bolton as well. It’s a big prize and we would like a trip to Wembley and not just for the semi-final, we’d like to go to the final, so we are looking forward to it.‘ Scott Parker making sure we all know that this is not just a collective love in and that there is a football match to win.
Tottenham Hotspur Team News:
Honest Harry may recall Aaron Lennon and Ledley King after they didn’t play in the first tie. With FA Cup games, it is difficult to judge just who will play and who will not and, as we all known, no one juggles players, and figures, around better than Mr Redknapp.
Player to watch: Gareth Bale
Bolton’s goalscorer in the first tie, we all remember the game at The Reebok last season when the Welsh Wing Wizard Wonder was put in the pocket of Gretar Steinsson and stayed there for the whole game when the footballing intelligensia all thought that Steinsson would have to unscrew himself at the end of the game.
Since then Bale has got better and better and was starting to be in the ascendancy of the first game as it was abandoned. To avoid a fixture pile up of their own, Harry will want to get this game won first time.
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
No new injuries from the Blackburn game so it will be the usual suspects lining up. Expect to see pretty much the same line up as the first game.
Player to watch: Darren Pratley
Another site tweeted that Pratley was Bolton’s best player of the game just before Fabrice collapsed. Whilst there will be those who would argue with that, Bolton need Pratley to step up to the plate for the rest of the season. He performed well against QPR, even scoring a goal, and ran around a lot against Blackburn. But we don’t need someone who runs around a lot, we need someone to play like Muamba. Dazza Prazza has to be that man.
Match Facts & Stats
Spurs and Bolton have met six times and played eleven games against each other in the FA Cup, starting with a second round tie in 1925 that went to a replay. Since then just two ties have been completed within ninety minutes and the 1935 fifth round tie had to be decided at a neutral venue after the first two games ended in a stalemate.
The last time the two teams met, two years ago, Bolton overpowered Spurs in the first half but only managed to score once through SKD. Spurs came out in the second half and a mirror image of the first half ensued with Spurs equalising. In the second game, they beat us 4-0, so let’s not talk about that.
In head to head’s therefore, Spurs lead 4-2 overall.
Howard Webb returns to the scene of what was quite possibly his greatest triumph. Forget FA Cup, European Cup and World Cup finals, the cool head he showed when taking charge of the situation during the first game showed that you can take the man out of the police but you can’t take the police out of the man. His quick thinking was part of what saved Fabrice’s life and he should be applauded for his actions, regardless of his affinity for Manchester United….
Naturally I will say 2-0 to Bolton as to change it now would be stupid. However, I am also putting a fiver on 2-1 to Bolton and any winnings will go to the British Heart Foundation.
Wolves on Saturday for the final game of this run of fixtures against the other relegation candidates for which we have sold out our allocation. The Racist tweeter, Liam Stacey, won’t be there as he has just been given 56 days at Her Majesty’s, and possibly Mr Big’s, pleasure.