Wednesday night’s hysterics following a 1-2 loss in the North London derby were quickly forgotten when Tottenham saw off title favourites Manchester City 4-1 on Saturday.
The absolute perfect response to a derby defeat, this looked like the Spurs that makes us proud – fast, hungry and ruthless.
As proven on Monday Night Football, Mauricio Pochettino has completely transformed the club, or as Gary Neville called it, a “culture”. When the Argentine arrived at White Hart Lane, the team he was picking up was aging, lazy, and lacked direction.
Since then, Poch has lowered the average age (from 26.2 years to 23.6 years), improved a lethargic work ethic to a committed one (leading the table in terms of outrunning opponents, compared to the 2013/14 season where we finished 17th) and, perhaps most importantly, instilled a true belief at the club that we are going places.
With the club up to 6th and only four points off the top, focus switches back to our efforts to win the UEFA Europa League, as we face our toughest challenge this side of the season – a trip to AS Monaco.
Whist our French-principality hosts aren’t quite the same team that knocked Arsenal out of the Champions League last season, they’ll still pose a considerable threat. Former Tottenham transfer targets Joao Moutinho and Fabio Coentrao ply their trades at Monaco, whilst the likes of Bernardo Silva, Stephan El Shaarawy and Jeremy Toulalan also represent Les Rouges et Blancs.
The 2015/16 has started rather slowly, with the club yet to record back-to-back wins, and their top scorer doesn’t even play for the club anymore (Layvin Kurzawa, who has since moved to league rivals Paris Saint-Germain). Originally a part of the Champions League, Monaco were dumped down into this competition following a play-off round to Valencia.
Hours of research (and by “hours” I mean a few minutes, and by “research” I mean a quick scroll through the first few pages of Google) has concluded that Tottenham have only met Monaco once in recent memory…
Monaco 5-2 Tottenham Hotspur (03/08/2013, Friendly)
Beautiful scenery and holiday-esque weather couldn’t mask Tottenham’s flaws without the soon-to-be-departing Gareth Bale.
Defender Andre Raggi gave Monaco an early lead, with his sweetly struck volley beating Hugo Lloris.
Shortly after the interval, Lucas Ocampos and Radamel Falcao put the hosts 3-0 up, before substitute Harry Kane pulled one back for Spurs.
Further strikes from Falcao and Mounir Obbadi ensured Monaco a resounding victory, but Andros Townsend scored late on to make the final score line 5-2.
Long gone are the days where Monaco throw insane amounts of money at players, since streamlining their squad and wage budget. Obviously, this has weakened them, but we shouldn’t take them lightly, especially considering we’re likely to play a weakened team.
Since he started vs Qarabag and didn’t in the North London derby, I expect Hugo Lloris to captain the side (and more importantly, ensure a safer set of hands between the sticks).
At the back, Kieran Trippier, Federico Fazio and Kevin Wimmer to the back line, whilst Danny Rose, despite being one of our best players last season, seems to have been relegated beneath Ben Davies.
If Ryan Mason and Mousa Dembele are able to shake off their injuries, I reckon they can be given starting berths, allowing Eric Dier and Dele Alli to take deserved rests.
Clinton N’Jie, Andros Townsend and Nacer Chadli could also start in midfield, and an injury to Heung-Min Son could mean Harry Kane starts once again at Stade Louis II.
In a principality with a population of only 32,000 and a stadium with capacity of only 18,000, we won’t have to worry about “the atmosphere on the continent”. Victory in this picturesque city would immediately make it look like an inevitability that we’ll qualify from the group, which is the absolute minimum expectation.
Predicted XI: Lloris; Trippier, Fazio, Wimmer, Rose; Dembele, Mason; N’Jie, Chadli, Townsend; Kane