Match Preview: Tottenham Hotspur v RZ Pellets WAC
At the Tottenham Stadium at 5pm on 24th February (Wednesday).
Somebody said to me, “is this the worst period you’ve seen Spurs in the League?” God, no! I’ve seen some shit in my time, I’ve also seen us relegated in the 70s, and there were many other times we’ve dangled our feet just over the relegation line. And we’ve had far worse teams than we’ve got now. In fact, the team we have now isn’t that bad. They just need a good kick in the nuts to motivate them. We’ve got the quality there; they’ve just got to be organised. Whether Mourinho is the man, only time will tell. But it is too early to judge. Mourinho hasn’t even completed a season yet.
Pochettino took five years to win nothing and was finally given the boot. Keith Burkinshaw took us down to the second division before coming back up and building a good team that won trophies. Further afield, Alex Ferguson was at United for five years and won bugger all and was only a couple of games away from getting the sack, but finally managed to turn it around to become a United legend. So it isn’t over yet for Mourinho, however, what Daniel Levy is thinking is anybody’s guess. He could panic and fire him or keep his fingers crossed and hope that he will turn things around. At the moment, it is a waiting game. Good results for Mourinho will make any possibility of him getting the sack fade into the background.
But let us not dwell on what might or might not happen, but look at what did happen 13 years ago, unlucky for some, and that some were Chelski. Yes, 13 years ago, on the 24th February, we played them in the League Cup final at Wembley. I remember that day, a brilliant day out, a good game (not brilliant, but good enough) and a joyous ending.
Yes, the 2008 Football League Cup Final was the first League Cup Final to be played at the new Wembley Stadium, and the first to be played in England since the old Wembley was demolished in 2000. The final was contested by us; we beat Arse-anal 6–2 on aggregate in the semi-final, while Chelski beat Everton 3–1 on aggregate to give them the privilege of playing us at the new stadium.
Abramovich’s girls took the lead in the 39th minute through a Didier Drogba free-kick. This goal made Drogba the first player to score in three League Cup Finals, having also done so in 2005 and 2007. A Wayne Bridge handball gave us a 68th-minute penalty, and Dimitar Berbatov converted from the spot. Three minutes into extra time, Jonathan Woodgate headed a Jermaine Jenas free-kick onto Petr Čech, who in turn pushed it straight back onto Woodgate’s head to score the winning goal. Sadly, that was the last time we won a trophy, however, this season, we are also in the League Cup final where we will face City. We now have a chance to end that long wait for a bit of silverware. I just hope that by the time the final comes around, we will be allowed to witness our team lift the trophy in person.
That win was an important one for us as we secured UEFA Cup qualification for the following season, something we would not have achieved in the Premier League, as we finished 11th. Some good news to end on before going straight into my preview of this Europa League tie.
Before we go on to that, I like to comment on something Jose Mourinho said, “I have problems I cannot resolve myself,” and then added that he doesn’t believe that the team are in crisis after losing at West Ham.
What does he mean by “I have problems I cannot resolve myself?” Very cryptic. Was this directed at Levy, that he didn’t get the players he wanted in the transfer window, and that is why we are shit? Or that some players are not up to the job? Or that some might have mental issues? Obviously, there is a crisis there, somewhere. Clearly, he wasn’t pointing the finger at himself, but then no finger pointer will point at himself, it is always the others. Why did he need to mention it on national TV, though? It was a very open message to somebody in particular. A battle behind the scenes… or he read the papers and realised he might get the sack and thought, if I go, then somebody is going to be named and shamed.
Giovani Lo Celso and Serge Aurier are our only injury truants for this game. Joe Rodon will also play no part as he was not registered to play in the Europa League.
Son will probably be rested, while Harry Kane, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Tanguy Ndombele will likely be given a breather.
Vinicius is set to return to the starting lineup after coming on as a substitute last week.
Mourinho also has an assessment to make at centre-back; Japhet Tanganga may be asked to fill in to give Davinson Sanchez and Eric Dier the night off.
Jose Mourinho says Gareth Bale does not need to convince him of anything as they prepare for their Europa League against Wolfsberger. Bale had scored and assisted in the first leg, a 4-1 win, and then set up a goal in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to West Ham.
What Mourinho said about Bale: “Of course we’d love him to play every minute of every game. He’s a player with special qualities. He had a positive impact against West Ham, a cross, a couple of assists, a shot, he hit the post. He’s doing that better and better. But he’s not playing 90 minutes, he’s not playing every game. We’re still managing his evolution. He needs to do nothing to convince me.”
No team in Uefa Cup or Europa League history have overturned a three-goal deficit from the first leg at home to progress. Mourinho says he will name a near enough full-strength side.
My thoughts, prediction and possible team selection.
We were beaten 2-1 by our London rivals West Ham United on Sunday to leave us nine points off the top four in the Premier League, however, we did play well, and I can’t see our opponents even drawing, let alone beat us. I think the fringe players will use our opponents as target practice to get their goal tally up.
Winning a cup of any sort for Mourinho ould make this a successful campaign. In fact, he would have achieved what no other Spurs manager has achieved since 2008 if he should at least win one trophy. To win two would put him up there with the Spurs Gods.
We will definitely score more than four goals and probably as many as six. But I shall keep it simple and go for 5-1. I’ve given them one goal as Spurs have a habit of late in conceding a goal… so much so it has become a tradition.
My Prediction: 5-1
A possible starting lineup:
Hart; Doherty, Alderweireld, Tanganga, Davies; Sissoko, Winks; Bale, Alli, Lucas; Vinicius
We have won all three of our home matches against Austrian sides and are yet to concede – including a 3-0 win against LASK earlier this season
We have won each of our past four home matches in all European competitions, scoring 16 goals while conceding only twice. We last won five in a row at home in Europe between August 2013 and February 2014.
Wolfsberger have played eight away games in all European competitions and have won more games (four) than they have lost (three).
No Spurs player has scored more Europa League goals this season than Carlos Vinicius (four, same as Lucas Moura), netting each of these in his past three appearances.
That is it, folks, all the best and Up the Spurs,