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Rupert Wyman 4th May 2010 - 16:19

No King could mean that Man City reign supreme

Ledley King, as always, is an injury doubt for Tottenham's crucial Champions League shootout against Manchester City on Wednesday night.

King's dodgy knees means that he struggles to play two games in a week and as he played in Spurs' 1-0 win over Bolton on Saturday it is unlikely that he will be able to make the Eastlands match.

If that is the case then I can't entertain backing an away win (11/4) as the central defender brings so much to Harry Redknapp's side. His likely replacement would be Sebastien Bassong and while the Cameroon international has been impressive since his summer switch from Newcastle he is not in the same class as the injury-prone King.

Redknapp has stated that Fabio Capello should take King to the World Cup and when he is fit no one can argue with that assessment as he truly is a class act. With the fitness and form concerns over England's first-choice pairing of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, King could be an invaluable asset in South Africa.

Nevertheless he will, in all likelihood, not be playing against Man City and it will be a huge blow to Tottenham. Another area of concern would be the continuation of Younes Kaboul playing out of position at right back.

Kaboul will come up against Craig Bellamy and if the Welshman is on his game it could prove fruitful for City to give him the ball as often as possible.

On a more positive note for Tottenham is a likely return to the starting XI for Aaron Lennon. The flying winger has been a huge miss for Spurs and much like City might try with Bellamy, I expect Tottenham to give much of the ball to Lennon to exploit Wayne Bridge's defensive failings.

On the opposite flank the red-hot Gareth Bale will also be a good outlet for Spurs but with their strikers misfiring in recent weeks it is to be seen whether Jermain Defoe and Roman Pavlyuchenko will be able to take advantage of the good service.

Tottenham's performance against Bolton was shaky at best and one has to wonder if they will have the mental strength, without King at the back, to get over the line and claim their first top-four finish since 1990.

Therefore I fancy City at least to get a point in this do-or-die game for Roberto Mancini's side. The draw is a 12/5 shot and the home win is evens.

This is despite the fact that Tottenham have a fantastic record against the Citizens as they have won 11 of the last 12 meetings in all competitions plus 10 of the last 11 in the Premier League.

However, Tottenham never fully convince me away from White Hart Lane, which is hardly surprising as they have only won three of their last 12 league matches on the road.

I still expect Spurs to be able to breach the often shaky Man City defence so the best bet in the whole match for me is for both sides to score at a very backable 8/13.

Of course if Ledley King makes a surprise appearance at Eastlands then Spurs look a much more attractive proposition, especially at the price and when you consider they won the reverse fixture 3-0 earlier on in the season.

Yet it appears he is unlikely to play so I do not fancy their chances of sealing Champions League football on Wednesday night.

 

 
 
 

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