Premier League: How Tottenham Hotspur Will Line Up Against Cardiff City

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Premier League: How Tottenham Hotspur Will Line Up Against Cardiff City
Michael Steele/Getty Images
Will it be high-fives all around for Tottenham's players come Sunday's game with Cardiff City?

A bad week for Tottenham Hotspur looked like turning into a bad fortnight on Thursday during their Europa League match with Dnipro. Tim Sherwood's side ultimately came through, and they now will seek a vital three points against Cardiff City on Sunday.

Last week's surprising, but deserved, loss to Norwich City has dented Tottenham's hopes of finishing in the top four this season. Though far from mathematically out of the hunt, some have written the north London club off.

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
Tottenham kept alive their hopes of Europa League success this season. Can they do similar in the Premier League?

"Tottenham needed to stay in Europe," wrote The Independent's Jack Pitt-Brooke following the Dnipro win. "They are six points behind Liverpool but have scored half as many goals, and no-one who has seen the two teams recently would back Spurs to overhaul Brendan Rodgers' side and finish fourth."

Liverpool are not without their flaws, chiefly in defence. Still, anyone who saw them thrash Arsenal 5-1 three weeks ago would likely agree with Pitt-Brooke that they will not easily be caught.

Spurs have a chance to regain ground on those above them when they face the Reds, Gunners and Chelsea all in March (with a visit from Southampton in between). Those fixtures will not matter so much if Spurs do not beat Cardiff first.

The nature of the Dnipro win could come to be regarded as important in getting the north Londoners back in the right frame of mind following the Norwich defeat. Sherwood made a point of highlighting the attitude of his players in the second half:

A similarly determined and focused start could be enough to make quick work of Cardiff. Anyone who witnessed their shambolic defending in their 4-0 thrashing by Hull City last weekend would not be surprised if that was the case.

Then again, with points just as important for the relegation-battling Bluebirds right now, they will not want to make it easy for Spurs.

In this regard, goalkeeper David Marshall will definitely hope to replicate his outstanding performance from the last time these two sides met (one that almost earned Cardiff a point before Paulinho's late winner).

Ben Hoskins/Getty Images
Kyle Naughton could well be back in his lesser-preferred position of left-back again for Cardiff.

Sherwood again faces the dilemma of how much to change from Thursday's game. Legs should not be as weary as they were following the previous week's round trip to Ukraine. Nonetheless, the manager is likely to make a few alterations to his team.

Hugo Lloris will not be one of them, with the Frenchman a safe bet to remain in goal. Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen will probably continue in central defence too (though there is a chance Younes Kaboul could feature if he is deemed fit).

No official team news had been confirmed at the time of writing, but BBC Sport's match preview has Kyle Walker "recovered from a hip problem." He should return at right-back in place of Kyle Naughton if that is the case.

The latter was much-improved against Dnipro after a timid, underwhelming game against Norwich. With Danny Rose a doubt, based on Sherwood's previous it would not be surprising to see Naughton come in again at left-back (though Ezekiel Fryers might feel aggrieved after a solid night's work there midweek).

Ahead of the defence, a four-man midfield, two-man attack could again be favoured as Spurs look to get at Cardiff and try and expose a defence that has been shifting goals.

In-form Emmanuel Adebayor will be back either way. Roberto Soldado would likely get the nod to partner him again up-front if this proves to be Sherwood's strategy.

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
Sandro was back in the thick of things on Thursday but could be rested for Cardiff having just returned from injury.

Christian Eriksen's influential display against Dnipro will almost certainly see him start again, likely operating from left midfield once more. Aaron Lennon should be back on the right.

Sandro's return to action against the Ukrainian outfit was a welcome sight for Spurs fans. Having just come back from injury, though, his manager might decide to rest him ahead of Chelsea next week.

If so, Nabil Bentaleb is likely to come back in after being dropped from the starting line-up for the first time since early January.

Mousa Dembele quietly grew into Thursday's match and did fine work in keeping Spurs ticking. He might miss out here if Sherwood favours a recall for Paulinho. If the Brazilian is selected, he will need to up his workrate and involvement considerably after being an almost non-existent presence last time out in the Premier League.

Spring is here and the Premier League season is gradually winding down. Tottenham will be desperate to ensure they have a say in proceedings beyond the month of March. Part one of those efforts comes on Sunday.

Predicted Tottenham line-up versus Cardiff City: Lloris; Walker, Dawson (c), Vertonghen, Naughton; Lennon, Paulinho, Bentaleb, Eriksen; Adebayor, Soldado.

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