Tottenham v Newport: Poch's men can assert cruise control

Fernando Llorente has featured throughout the cup for Spurs
Fernando Llorente has featured throughout the cup for Spurs
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Tottenham were given the fright of their lives at Rodney Parade 11 days ago but Wednesday's televised FA Cup replay on a pristine Wembley pitch should be straightforward, says Mike Holden...

"The tone (from Newport) is entirely different coming into the replay. The determination to cause an upset that was so evident first time around has been replaced by a desire to enjoy the occasion as fair reward for their overall efforts in the competition, then put all of their focus back on reviving their fortunes in the league."

No shocks in store for Spurs this time

This is an FA Cup replay that Tottenham could do without but there was no disgrace in their draw at Rodney Parade 11 days ago. The conditions were ripe for an upset and a Spurs team still shaking off the draining effects of a sickness bug that swept through the camp a week earlier might have easily crumbled. In the end, on balance, a draw just about suited everyone.

Second time around, and with home advantage, things ought to be more straightforward for Mauricio Pochettino's men, although a breathtaking 2-2 draw against Liverpool on Sunday, plus the small matter of a north London derby on the horizon at lunchtime on Saturday, might be enough to spare the League Two minnows from a hiding.

The game at Anfield was packed with late drama as Harry Kane bagged his 100th Premier League goal to snatch a point from the spot deep into stoppage time, having missed a penalty just seven minutes earlier.

Tottenham were in the ascendency for much of the second half on Merseyside but that initial Kane miss looked like it would prove costly when a brilliant solo goal from Mo Salah in the first minute of added-on time appeared to have put the Reds on course for victory.

Understandable shift in tone from Exiles

Newport have suffered back-to-back league defeats for the first time in Michael Flynn's 11-month tenure since wowing a national audience and a fervent 10,000-capacity crowd with their heroics in the first meeting.

The Exiles were ninth in League Two heading into away games at Lincoln (1-3) and Colchester (0-2) but have subsequently been leapfrogged by both clubs and currently sit 11th, five points off the play-off positions having played one game more than most of their rivals.

So now the tone is entirely different coming into the replay. The determination to cause an upset that was so evident first time around has been replaced by a desire to enjoy the occasion as fair reward for their overall efforts in the competition, then put all of their focus back on reviving their fortunes in the league.

The Welsh club are still capable of causing problems from set plays but their chances of getting up the pitch to fashion such opportunities might be severely reduced on a surface that will suit Tottenham.

Five changes the benchmark for Pochettino

Pochettino will surely rotate to give some of his high-tempo players a breather but Kane will be eager to play as he looks to maintain a hot streak of 13 goals in his last nine starts.

The England striker played 78 minutes in the last round against Wimbledon, scoring twice in a 3-0 win before he was withdrawn, and he also managed the full 90 against Newport, eventually finding the equaliser on 82 minutes.

Michel Vorm, Juan Foyth, Kyle Walker-Peters, Moussa Sissoko and Fernando Lllorente have all started both games in this competition so far.

Flynn is threatening to ring the changes as punishment for what he considered to be an abject display at Colchester last time out but it would be a surprise if he actually follows through on that reaction with anything drastic after a few days to cool down.

Time of the essence to Tottenham, not goals

Minimal fuss is the priority for Spurs here. The objective will be how soon they can establish their superiority rather than by how many.

Punters looking for precedents have two examples to follow. Cambridge and Exeter both enjoyed lucrative replays at Old Trafford and Anfield after holding Manchester United and Liverpool at home in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Both lost their replays 3-0 with the breakthrough arriving inside 25 minutes.

All things considered, it's hard to look beyond this game following a similar pattern and the correct score market provides the biggest attraction. Point for point, the [19.0] available on Newport to win the game first time around was miles better than the [36.0] available now.

However, backing Tottenham on the -2.75 Asian handicap line carries scant appeal because they might have no real desire to grab to extend their advantage should they establish that three-goal cushion. Let's just keep things simple and stick a point on 3-0 at [7.00].

Mike Holden Profit/Loss 2017-18

Staked: 90 pts
Returned: 46.92 pts
P/L: -43.08 pts

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