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Tottenham vs Forest: a preview stuffed with optimism

Matt Davies has taken a look at the team Tottenham are likely to put out in the League Cup on Wednesday night and decided that Forest will definitely win. Well, sort of...

Julian Finney

These are heady days for Forest supporters. Starved of the oxygen of tangible success for a generation, anything approaching a good run of form has become a reason to be cheerful. Things feel different this time, for obvious, Stuart Pearce shaped reasons and as Psycho readies the Reds for the visit to White Hart Lane on Wednesday, to take on one time perennial cup adversaries Tottenham Hotspur in the third round of the League Cup, there’s every reason to believe the Forest feel good factor will be increased in North London.

Tottenham have made an inconsistent start to the season. Four wins from their first four games in all competitions hinted at a bright new future under yet another new manager, Mauricio Pochettino having being pinched from Southampton in the summer.

However, since then, they’ve failed to win any of the subsequent four and have suffered a couple of embarrassing home defeats, with Liverpool easing to a three nil win and, on Sunday, a very average looking West Brom side picking up their first victory of the season at the Lane after a wretched display from Pochettino’s team.

Tottenham are once again competing in the Europa League this season. Viewed at best as a chore and at worst as a threat to Premier League survival by the majority of English clubs in recent years, the fact that this seasons winner gains entry into next seasons Champions League means that this competition is now at least Spurs second highest priority, if not in the top one.

If they are to reach the Europa League final, Spurs will have to get through a mammoth 16 games, three of which they have already completed. No mean feat, but when you consider that their opponents in that competition are largely of equivalent or inferior standard to themselves and that to finish in the top four of the Premier League would mean usurping one of Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal, whilst finishing above both Manchester United and Everton, Pochettino and chairman Daniel Levy may well feel the club are likely to have a greater chance of winning the Europa League than qualifying for the Champions League.

Either way, the Europa and Premier Leagues will both require much of Tottenham's attention. That means the domestic cups are likely to be considered by those in charge as extra games weary limbs could do without.

Having been widely lauded since his initially unpopular arrival in English football as Nigel Adkins surprise replacement at Southampton, Pochettino received rare criticism in February when he made wholesale changes to his first choice Saints eleven for the fifth round FA Cup defeat at Sunderland. Gary Lineker accused him of "disrespecting the competition" as his team meekly lost a terrible game.

For Pochettino it was worth the sacrifice. As far as he was concerned, finishing as high up the Premier League table as possible took precedence. One can expect a similar approach to the Forest game. The Argentinean has already shown his preference for pack-shuffling when it comes to juggling domestic and European matters, making ten changes to the line-up that started against West Brom to that which took the field in Belgrade three days prior.

One other key distraction that could aid the Reds is the fact that four days after the Forest tie, Spurs are at Arsenal in the Premier League. Pochettino is unlikely to risk key players for Wednesday’s match so close to his first meeting with his new clubs biggest rivals.

Forest can therefore expect to be facing a second string Spurs side containing the likes of Andros Townsend and Aaron Lennon, two wingers who look incapable of crossing the road on current form, never mind a football. Federico Fazio and Benjamin Stambouli are also likely to line up (providing Tony Soprano gives them the night off of course) whilst Roberto Soldado may well be the lone striker. The Spaniard has managed just two goals from open play since arriving from Valencia for twenty six million quid in the summer of 2013.

Of course, whatever side Pochettino fields is likely to be stuffed with experienced internationals and players with a point to prove but given the potential for distraction and the rut that Spurs currently find themselves in, there’s every reason for Forest to believe they will be in the hat when the draw for round four takes place after the match on Wednesday.