It's time for the final of Tottenham Hotspur's four consecutive games and they're hoping to come out of the homestand as joint leaders of the Premier League. No joke, a win over Wolverhampton and no other team in the league will have more point. Sure, Manchester City could jump right back up on top on Sunday and joint top isn't really joint top until the weekend is over, but I smell 24 hours of glory and I'm happy with it.
Spurs have come a long way and now stand on the verge of moving atop the league, but the most Spursian thing for them to do would be to get into this position and then lose at home to a team like Wolves. Mick McCarthy's side haven't been intimidating by White Hart Lane either, splitting their matches there in the last two years since being promoted to the Premier League and scoring on both trips to Tottenham.
Success at the Lane or not, Wolves are going to have little to do with this match. They will come out in either their 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 (likely the latter), do their best to defend and then fly forward with abandon when given their few chances. Who knows? The ball could actually hit one of their boots and find the goal and McCarthy is the coolest thing since sliced bread (tied with Ian Holloway), but this match is on Spurs.
Tottenham are the better team and should get three points, but that's assuming they can keep their heads about them like a real title contender does. A fourth consecutive home game after hearing for several days about how good they are and how they can challenge for the league title is a recipe for a Tottenham letdown where they come out flat, take a while to be woken up by Wolves then scramble for a draw. If Spurs can avoid such a letdown and can play 90 minutes to their ability, Wolves don't have a shot in hell at the Lane, but that's a big if.
The reality is that Richard Stearman does not have what it takes to keep Gareth Bale in check and Karl Henry can only hack at so many legs before someone gets free in the center of the pitch, which should be all Tottenham whether Scott Parker plays or not. It's not that Wolves are stocked with a bunch of terrible players, but they are a bottom table team without an impact player (don't let an airhead pundit convince you that Matt Jarvis is one).
This being January, neither team is healthy. Spurs will miss William Gallas, Ledley King, Sandro, Tom Huddlestone and likely Parker, while Wolves will be without Roger Johnson, Ronald Zubar, Jamie O'Hara and Jody Craddock. No teams are healthy in January and these two teams are no exception, but Wolves do have Mick McCarthy and fantastic everythingness.
Title contenders get three points at home against bottom table teams. Spurs expect to prove the doubters who are convinced they will have a Spursian let down because they really fancy themselves title contenders and they have no problem saying as much.
"Of course we can push for the title," said Rafael Van der Vaart. "It was important we beat Everton, really important we got the three points. Now everybody knows Tottenham have a great team and if we can keep playing like this we will be one of the favourites to win the title. Nobody likes to come to White Hart Lane to play us because at home we are unbelievable."
In conclusion, Spurs better beat Wolves or Rafa will look like an idiot. For Rafa!
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Game Date/Time: Saturday, January 14, 10:00 a.m. ET, 3:00 p.m. local
Venue: White Hart Lane, London, England
TV: FoxSoccer.tv (USA), None (Canada), None (UK)