Article by Matthew Comito – Follow @matthewcomito
A Tottenham side high on confidence faces a test of depth and mental strength as they travel to Rochdale in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday.
Following a string of glamour ties against Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Juventus, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is likely to ring in the changes against a Rochdale side currently sitting bottom in the League One standings.
Although the tie does not offer the same allure as their recent high-profile fixtures, Tottenham will be wary of maintaining their focus and attitude in order to avoid a potential banana skin on their way to the FA Cup quarterfinals.
They will, however, be aided by the impetus of fresh players, who will be looking to stake a claim for a spot in the first XI.
Spurs fans will be eager for Pochettino to hand star import Lucas Moura his first start since joining the club in January.
The pacey Brazilian made his debut for Tottenham in their epic Champions League encounter with Juventus on Tuesday, however was unable to make an impact, coming into the game as an 89th minute substitute.
Toby Alderweireld is expected to continue his comeback from injury and resume his partnership with young Argentinian Juan Foyth in central defence.
The Belgian was not included in the squad that travelled to Turin midweek.
In a week rife with speculation about his omission from the Champions League squad, along with reported issues with contract negotiations and transfer gossip, Pochettino will be eager for Alderweireld to put the off-field issues to bed with another solid performance in the FA Cup alongside Foyth.
Heung-Min Son, a regular starter in the league this season, was surprisingly omitted from the starting lineup against Juventus in favour of Érik Lamela.
Son could be Tottenham’s best attacking option in the game, in a forward unit that may be without Harry Kane.
Kane, who scored the first Tottenham goal in a dramatic 2-2 comeback against Juventus, suffered an ankle injury in the match and will be assessed ahead of the Rochdale tie.
Kane’s injury could hand a rare start to fledgling striker Fernando Llorente.
Llorente’s last appearance in the starting lineup came in Tottenham’s FA Cup fourth round tie against Newport County.
The Spaniard missed a raft of opportunities in the match to score his first goal since heading in against Swansea in the league at the start of 2018.
Llorente has only two goals to his name in a Tottenham shirt and will be hungry to add to his tally should Kane be rested for the Rochdale clash.
The Tottenham lineup Pochettino selects to face Rochdale at Crown Oil Arena is sure to have a different look to the one that took on European giants Juventus in the Champions League.
The question poised to Tottenham is whether they can touch down from the highs of their midweek escapades to focus on the task at hand.
If they don’t, they will find their path to the quarterfinals less clear than first thought.
Vorm | Walker-Peters – Alderweireld – Foyth – Rose | Lucas – Wanyama – Winks – Sissoko | Son- Llorente
Rochdale 0 – 3 Spurs