Tottenham know that they are facing a difficult task at Elland Road against Leeds United in the FA Cup 4th Round tie. Leeds showed their fighting qualities in the last round to come from behind in both matches against Birmingham City. They had to overcome a goal deficit at the interval to earn a replay and then again recovered to score two second half goals at St. Andrews to make it through to this meeting with Spurs. El-Hadji Diouf was involved in both goals in the replay, creating the equaliser for Ross McCormack and scoring a penalty, which he chipped into the net, six minutes later.
It is such fighting qualities and commitment that Tottenham will have to be prepared to counter as they face Leeds, knowing that Neil Warnock will have his team well psyched up for the match. Leeds had a run of five home matches in the Capital One Cup earlier in the season. They defeated Shrewsbury Town (4 – 0), Oxford United (3 – 0) before claiming the scalps of two Premier League teams – Everton (2 – 1) and Southampton (3 – 0). They eventually ran out of steam losing 5 – 1 to Chelsea. Leeds are currently, 11th in the Championship, six points off a play-off place. Their progress has been hit by losing their last four away games in the League but at home they have six successive wins since late November, including a 1 – 0 defeat of Bristol City last weekend.
Renewing Acquaintances at Elland RoadLennon is a native of Leeds and started his footballing career with the United Academy, progressing to the first team where he made 43 League and Cup appearances before signing Tottenham for a fee of £1 million in the summer of 2005 at a time when Leeds were in financial difficulties. Aaron Lennon has been in outstanding form in recent weeks and will hope to impress on his return to his former club.
Kyle Walker and Kyle Naughton will meet up with Neil Warnock who was manager at Sheffield United when they first joined the Sheffield United Academy in their introduction to life at a Football League club.
Michael Brown joined Tottenham in January, 2004 from Sheffield United. He was signed by David Pleat to bring graft and bite to a team that was struggling against relegation. He made 50 appearances for Spurs before signing for Fulham two years later. Brown has been with Leeds since the summer of 2011, having signed from cash-stricken Portsmouth.
Leeds United Team
Leeds have a number of players with considerable experience at a higher level with Paddy Kenny or Jamie Ashdown in goal. Kenny followed Warnock from Quen’s Park Rangers with Ashdown joining from Portsmouth. In defence they have a mixture of experience and youth with young players like Tom Lees and Aidan White. In reserve they have Adam Drury who had over 300 appearances for Norwich before moving to Elland Road in the summer. The midfield has been strengthened by the permanent signing of Michael Tonge who was on loan from Stoke City. McCormack has made 89 appearances for Leeds since joining in 2010 but they also have young players who have progressed through their Academy – Sam Bryam played last week against Bristol.
Leeds top goalscorer is Luciano Becchio with 19 goals but he didn’t play in the previous round. During the week, Leeds announced that he had handed in a transfer request after negotiations over a new contract broke down. Diouf who joined Leeds last August from Doncaster Rovers has 6 six goals with Tonge on 5.
Andre Villas-Boas will be well aware of the strengths of the Leeds team and his selection will probably be similar to last weekend. Brad Friedel may return in goal to maintain match fitness and in defence Jan Vertonghen, recovered from the sickness which caused his late withdrawal from the match with Manchester United could return alongside Michael Dawson, another Yorkshireman. Benoit Assou-Ekotto will be considered at left-back where his presence enabled Gareth Bale to be more effective late on last weekend. That would leave the two Kyles in contention for the other full back position with the possibility of Naughton starting. There are few options for change in midfield or up front with last week’s six starting once again.
Team: (possible) Friedel; Naughton, Dawson, Vetonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Parker, Dembele, Bale; Dempsey, Defoe
I wouldn’t be surprised if the match ended as a draw, Leeds will look to stifle and frustrate Spurs with their work-rate and effort, hoping to take advantage of a counter-attack or a set-piece to get a goal. Spurs will have to match Leeds’ endeavour to earn the right to play and will need to be more clinical in front of goal where Defoe has not been as sharp as earlier in the season.
With a busy schedule over the next few weeks and the resumption of Europa League matches, a replay at White Hart Lane in ten days time is not what Tottenham will want from the game but it may be what they have to accept.