For a club supposedly in crisis, Tottenham Hotspur can potentially move into the top four with a win at home to Everton on Sunday. However, Spurs fans won’t be confident knowing they’re coming into a game at White Hart Lane off the back of a Europa League tie. Before this fixture, Tottenham will have played six Europa League games thus far, but have lost four of the following Premier League games.
Thursday night action in North London was marred by three pitch invasions, forcing play to be suspended for 10 minutes- one more and Tottenham would have had to forfeit the match. Fortunately, Spurs saw off the challenge of Partizan 1-0 through Benjamin Stambouli’s first goal in lilywhite.
But everyone associated with the club knows results and performances just haven’t been good enough, and whispers of a dressing room divide are starting to make sense. Although some fans are already starting to point the finger at Mauricio Pochettino, it would certainly be the wrong thing to remove him.
Blame is also being put on chairman Daniel Levy and owners ENIC, which again (in my eyes), isn’t the way to go. Levy and ENIC have kept the club financially stable, and in their time at Tottenham, have taken them into the world’s 20 biggest clubs.
Unfortunately, fickle fans will undoubtedly blame the men upstairs for the inevitable setback surrounding the new stadium, thanks to Archway Steel going up in flames.
Despite many injury worries last week, five players are back in training and in contention once again- Younes Kaboul, Emmanuel Adebayor, Danny Rose, Etienne Capoue and Nacer Chadli. Kyle Naughton serves the second game of his domestic suspension and Andros Townsend is still doubtful, but Nabil Bentaleb could play a part following his comeback vs Partizan.
It’s possible that Harry Kane could lead the line again for his boyhood club, with the academy graduate already becoming a fan favourite. The big decision for Pochettino, however, will be who partners Ryan Mason in midfield.
Mason has injected into the Tottenham team what’s been missing since the days of Luka Modric- creativity. Long gone are the days of needless sideways passing, whilst the 23 year old also adds bite to the midfield, winning four tackles and regaining possession on four other occasions vs Hull.
Ever since the ‘real’ Sandro passed in the 2012/13 season, Tottenham have lacked a character who would scare the opposition, who would perfectly cover the back four. Etienne Capoue has tried, but he’s been susceptible this season. Benjamin Stambouli wasn’t really in contention for this role until his magnificent display vs Partizan, and I expect him to retain his place in the team.
On the wings, I suspect Erik Lamela and Aaron Lennon will keep their places. Both produced some wonderful stuff in midweek, and the pair also have the work rate to pin down the threats of Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman.
There isn’t an excuse for a substandard performance or result vs Everton, considering the Toffees were also in action on Thursday night. Like Tottenham, Everton are also two points adrift of the top four, and the Blues have only won once following Europa League commitments.