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Chatting with Tottenham Hotspur blog Cartilage Free Captain ahead of the North London Derby

In which I talk to Kevin, and we don't even bring up trophies!

Clive Rose

Ted Harwood: So it looks like Clint Dempsey and Tom Huddlestone might be out for Sunday, as well as possibly Jermain Defoe--if none of them can go, who do you think will start? Or will it just be a keeper and Gareth Bale?

Kevin McCauley: I think that we could win most games with Hugo Lloris, Gareth Bale and nine scrubs. But seriously, Dempsey should be behind both Lewis Holtby and Gylfi Sigurdsson in the pecking order at this point, and Tom Huddlestone is a complete non-factor at this point. The only absence that hurts is Defoe, given Emmanuel Adebayor's horrible finishing and record of getting sent off against Arsenal, but his work rate and tendency to drop deep probably helps Bale score more goals. I expect to see Adebayor, Bale, Lennon and Holtby in attack, though Sigurdsson's recent performances make him a factor.

Ted Harwood: How much does it hurt you guys to not have Sandro right now? Is Flight Captain Parker a big step down at this point?

Kevin McCauley: It hurts a lot. Scott Parker has been very poor. I hope that he just needs games to regain his old form, but at this moment, he actively hurts the team. He's nowhere near as athletic as Sandro and can't cover giveaways that catch the team out of defensive position. He doesn't have anywhere near the range of passing, which is saying a lot, because Sandro is a pretty limited passer. For some reason, Parker's ended up ahead of Dembele a lot, trying to hit through balls and diagonals. He's bad at them. I think we really need to start Jake Livermore or Tom Carroll. Parker is a bad player at this point in time.

Ted Harwood: It seems like a lot of people were surprised that Jan Vertonghen started at left back against West Ham. Do you think he'll move back to the middle on Sunday, and does anyone in the Arsenal front three really worry you against Spurs' defense?

Kevin McCauley: I think he will move back to the middle, or to the bench. I think it was a tactical decision for the West Ham game, to have an extra player who is competent at defending set pieces. Benoit Assou-Ekotto should start at left back. I'm not entirely sure which two central defenders will start against Arsenal, that's anyone's guess. The Arsenal front three don't worry me at all, but set piece defending and Wilshere's runs through the middle do.

Ted Harwood: No fear of Theo Walcott, at least maybe not at 0-0, then?

Kevin McCauley: I fear Theo Walcott getting a tap-in because someone has to step up on Wilshere to clean up after Parker and Dembele. I don't fear him creating anything on his own, no.

He could very well (actually, probably will) score a goal, but it's because he's in the right spot to capitalize on a screw up and a chance created for him, not because he beats a couple defenders on his own.

Ted Harwood: That's certainly not one of his strengths, no. Do you have any thoughts about Arsenal's January signing Nacho Monreal, and how do you think he'll do against Aaron Lennon?

Kevin McCauley: Aaron Lennon has actually gone quiet recently, but he had one of the best games of his life against Manchester United, when Ferguson chose to focus on Bale and more or less left the right flank wide open. I like Nacho Monreal a lot and I don't think he'll have too many problems if he has some kind of help, which he should at all times, but Lennon abuses just about anyone in pure one-on-one battles. His success will be down to how Arsenal chooses to defend that flank. Unless they abandon it, Monreal should hold his own just fine.

Ted Harwood: If it's Podolski on that flank with him, Lennon may get some space. Do you have a favorite NLD memory you'd like to share?

Kevin McCauley: This one was a huge WTF. I think that most Tottenham fans were pretty much resigned to defeat at halftime. Hell, a lot of us thought it was over after Nasri's goal. This is my favorite one not just because we won, but because of how shocking it was. Anyone who tells you they felt that comeback coming is a liar. I still don't believe that it happened.

Ted Harwood: Even more shocking: Marouane Chamakh scored in that game.

Kevin McCauley: Who is that?

Ted Harwood: I don't remember, but my memory is a little..."cloudy".

Ted Harwood: So, given Tottenham's current form, and given that the match is at White Hart Lane, how confident are you going into Sunday?

Kevin McCauley: I think that Tottenham are the better team right now. That might not really matter. I really hate 'throw the form book out the window' derby crap (what the f*ck is a form book anyway?), but Spurs are always capable of Spursing it up. Tottenham probably get a result at the Emirates earlier this year if Emmanuel Adebayor doesn't get sent off, but that kind of stuff happens all the time. I'm confident that if a defender doesn't fall flat on his face after tripping on a pothole, and if no one gets sent off, we'll at least draw. Arsenal's current defense and defensive midfield situation, combined with Bale's form and Wenger's stubbornness, suggests to me that he should be able to have a pretty great game. If Arsenal focus in on him, I like Lennon to repeat his United performance. I don't think there's anything that Arsenal do better than Spurs at the moment, and I like how we match up against you, but Spurs are Spurs. We like inventing new ways to screw up.

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