STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp looks dejected after the Carling Cup Third Round match between Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur at the Britannia Stadium on September 20, 2011 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Earlier this week our own John Murphy sat down with Kevin McCauley of Cartilage Free Captain, SBN's Tottenham Hotspur blog, for a question and answer session ahead of today's tie. Make sure you head over there to see the other half of this preview. (Apologies for not getting this up until this morning. I was...preoccupied.)
Tottenham have met expectations so far. Some feel we're exceeding expectations a bit with six points over Liverpool and Arsenal, but I feel like that was more due to those teams underachieving than Spurs playing above their level. I think we can maintain our current level of play, and that will probably be good enough to compete for fourth place.
2. What do you think the game-plan might be for breaking Newcastle's defense, which has been stalwart this season?
Well, I think Newcastle's defense has been great this season against average opposition, and I think that some of the decent opposition you've played (like Fulham) just didn't bring their finishing boots. Also, even if Newcastle were 1970s West Germany, Harry Redknapp wouldn't cook up any kind of super special gameplan. He's going to pick the players he thinks are playing best and hope they get it done.
3. The central midfield combination of Cabaye and Tiote has been absolutely pivotal to Newcastle's success. How do you see Modric and Parker matching up?
This is easily going to be the best matchup of the day. Cabaye and Tiote are easily the best central midfield pairing outside of the teams who are generally accepted as in competition for Champions League spots, and they could both get into the 18 of any team in the league at the moment. However, Parker and Modric are, in my completely and unabashedly biased opinion, the best central midfield pairing in the Premier League when they play together. I'm confident in our midfield against anyone, but Cabaye and Tiote will make things tough.
4. Since opening the season against the Manchester teams, you've earned all 12 points possible in the next four games. Newcastle, meanwhile, remains undefeated, coming off a win a Wolves. Who has the momentum going into Sunday?
After the international break? No one, it totally kills everyone's momentum and everyone's form is irrelevant after the international break. But, gun to my head, I'll go with Spurs since they recently won their local derby.
5. What will the implications be if Adebayor rests? How crucial do think he will be your success?
He's huge, and I think we'll struggle to score without him. Jermain Defoe is pretty useless other than as a poacher in a 4-4-2, while Roman Pavlyuchenko is just useless, period. If Adebayor is out, Rafael van der Vaart becomes far and away the most important player on the pitch. He's an absolutely brilliant footballer, but his fitness and work rate are questionable and he's not necessarily someone I want to depend on to take over the game.