Spurs are through to the fourth round of the FA Cup following a comfortable victory over Peterborough. Although the Championship side are struggling at the foot of their division, cup ties against lower league opposition can often have a "banana skin" quality to them, as Man. Utd. illustrated on Sunday. Harry Redknapp took no chances, making only a few changes to the side that last faced West Ham in the league. In fact, all five players drafted in - Hutton, Bale, Bassong, Kranjcar and Keane - are full internationals and all performed well. Both full backs gave the team an added attacking dimension, with Bale setting up two of the goals, and even Keane managing to look livelier than he has done for most of the season.
The outstanding performer, however, was Niko Kranjcar. At £2.5 million, he must surely be the bargain buy of the season to date. Already an FA Cup winner under Redknapp at Portsmouth, he not only scored twice but also combined well in midfield with his fellow Croatian, Luka Modric - a fact not lost on his manager:
"The two Croatian boys move the ball about fantastically. They are just fantastic boys. Not a minute's problem. They get on with it. They've got great football brains, great ability. They are a dream for a manager. They just enjoy playing football and are technically gifted ... There's no reason why they can't have a good run together because Aaron is going to be out for a good while."
With Lennon sidelined, it would appear that Redknapp intends to continue to play both Kranjcar and Modric together, and it will be fascinating to see how this pans out. If nothing else, it should be a treat for the Spurs fans to watch two such adept and intelligent footballers working in tandem.
The only other player who might have wrested away Kranjcar's man of the match award on Saturday was to be found between the sticks for the opposition. At first glance it may seem strange to be praising a goalkeeper who has conceded four times, yet but for Joe Lewis, the score could easily have been double that. The England U-21 keeper clearly impressed the home crowd, who were acclaiming him as "Tottenham's Number Two", and there are rumors that Redknapp will move for both him and the Peterborough captain, George Boyd, in January. The 22 year old Lewis would be a more logical understudy for Gomes than the 39 year old David James, especially when Carlo Cudicini comes back into contention following his motorcycle accident.
The draw for the next round has not been overly kind to Spurs, pitting them against a Leeds side who will be brimming with confidence following their thoroughly deserved victory at Old Trafford. The Leeds manager, Simon Grayson, did not seem daunted by the prospect of another away tie against a top four Premiership team, but noted that "we've got a few league games in between and that's our bread and butter". The same holds true for Spurs, who now face Liverpool at Anfield and Hull at home before the encounter with Leeds later this month. Four points from those two league games would do nicely.