Tottenham - Reading Preview: Hosts look to continue pursuit of Champions League qualification
Spurs go into Tuesday's clash looking to cling to fourth spot, while the visitors need a win to lift them towards safety but have struggled badly away from home this season
By Alex Hess
Walker, Caulker, Dawson, Vertonghen
Lennon, Sandro, Dembele, Dempsey
Gunter, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte
Kebe, Karacan, Leigertwood, McAnuff
Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee) is close to making his long-awaited return at left-back for the hosts, having not kicked a ball since September, but this match may come too soon for him. Younes Kaboul (knee) will not be available until February.
The controversial booking collected by Gareth Bale against Sunderland on Saturday was his fifth of the season and rules him out of this match so Clint Dempsey could come in on the left flank.
For Brian McDermott's side, striker Jason Roberts (thigh) is a doubt while goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (shoulder) is likely to be a season-long absentee. Pavel Pogrebnyak should continue in attack after he scored the winning goal against West Ham.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- So far this season Tottenham have managed just 63 per cent of the goals at home (14) that they have accumulated away from White Hart Lane (22).
- Andre Villas-Boas already has two more points than he had with Chelsea last year following the New Year's Day fixtures.
- Jermain Defoe (pictured right) and Gareth Bale represent the second top-scoring pair of Premier League teammates behind Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.
- Reading have the division's joint-second-worst goalscoring record away from home, behind West Ham.
- The visitors are also the side in who have lost the most away matches in the league, with eight.
- Despite this, though, Brian McDermott's side have only scored one less goal altogether than they had after the same number of fixtures of their Championship-winning campaign last season.
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Top 3 Predictions
Tottenham 3-0 Reading
- 19.12 %
Tottenham 3-1 Reading
- 15.97 %
Tottenham 2-0 Reading
- 10.71 %
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Jan 1, 2013||Tottenham 3 - Reading 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Sep 16, 2012||Reading 1 - Tottenham 3|
|England - FA Cup (FA)||Jan 15, 2008||Reading 0 - Tottenham 1|
|England - FA Cup (FA)||Jan 5, 2008||Tottenham 2 - Reading 2|
|Dec 4, 2013||Fulham 1 - Tottenham 2||EPL|
|Dec 1, 2013||Tottenham 2 - Man Utd. 2||EPL|
|Nov 28, 2013||Tromsø IL 0 - Tottenham 2||EL|
|Nov 24, 2013||Manchester City FC 6 - Tottenham 0||EPL|
|Nov 10, 2013||Tottenham 0 - Newcastle 1||EPL|
|-||Moussa Sidi Yaya Dembélé||Midfielder|
|9||Adam Le Fondre||Striker|
The Belgian has been a quietly authoritative presence in Andre Villas-Boas' midfield since his recent return from injury. Dembele offers the slickness and zip that was lost with the summer departure of Luka Modric, but is also a more athletic presence than the Croatian, and a more effective ball-carrier. Neither Jermain Defoe or Emmanuel Adebayor tend to be the types of striker that create their own chances, and with Gareth Bale suspended for the clah, Dembele with be looking to offer plenty service to the front men, and perhaps getting forwards even more regularly than usual.
Despite his late-season purple patch with Fulham after a mid-season loan last season, Pogrebnyak is yet to establish himself as first-choice striker at the Madejski. He did, however, net an early winner in Saturday's 1-0 win over West Ham, and is likely to keep his place for the trip to Spurs. The Russian is the archetypal target man - superb in the air - and will relish any physical tussles with the likes of Michael Dawson that are likely to come his way.
Despite Reading's form having picked up somewhat with their defeat of Sam Allardyce's West Ham in their last fixture, it is difficult not to see the home side's attackers having a field day against a too-often porous visiting defence. Though that attack will be significantly blunted by the absence of Gareth Bale, there remains enough pedigree in the likes of Jermain Defoe, Emmanuel Adebayor and Clint Dempsey to promise a heathly blend of guile and ruthlessness, and enough of both to see off the visitors.
Times In BST
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed