Tottenham Hotspur vs Burnley
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Referee: Kevin Friend
TV: Sky Sports
Tottenham host Burnley this Sunday afternoon in desperate need of three points. Only Southampton have accumulated fewer points than the North London club in the previous five matches and a loss here will almost certainly see Jose Mourinho turn his focus to the Europa League.
Burnley are yet to beat Tottenham away from home during the Premier League era – step in Dr. Tottenham to secure the win for the Clarets. Burnley enter the fixture unbeaten in three league matches, conceding only once during this time. They’ve picked up form at the right time to push themselves up the league and away from the relegation zone, form Tottenham need to find themselves.
Jose, the self-proclaimed “Special One” has the worst win percentage of any Tottenham manager since Juande Ramos. He needs to find some consistency in his starting XI and tactical approach, a lesson he could learn from his weekend rival, Sean Dyche. You know what to expect when you’re playing Burnley, an organised structure that rarely gives away cheap goals. Whereas with Tottenham at present, all you can expect is mistakes being made at the back.
Tottenham simply need to find some rhythm, with their upcoming three matches a great opportunity to do so. They face Burnley, Fulham and Palace within eight days. A good run of results here could set Tottenham up for the rest of the season, but they need to find some consistency. Pick a central defensive pairing, a tactical approach and stick to it, plus give Dele Alli and Gareth Bale a chance. It may be a bold statement but if Bale can find some form, Tottenham fans may see the same match-winner who carried the side the season before he departed, scoring winner, after winner, after winner each week. You add Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min into the mix and you create one of the scariest front three in Europe. Tottenham v Burnley may just be a warm-up for the fans before the weekend’s big clash of United and Chelsea, but a game which may steal the show.
Serge Aurier may again be available for selection this weekend, a welcome return Spurs fans would have laughed about in the previous season. Though still mindlessly erratic at times, he’s cemented himself as the side’s first-choice right-back before his injury. Matt Doherty just doesn’t seem to fit the mould at Tottenham, with Japhet Tanganga too inexperienced in this position. However, I doubt this is a concern from any Tottenham fan at present, who will be licking their lips at the thought of a Gareth Bale start.
He was quite simply a breath of fresh air against West Ham last weekend, showing poise and flair that Tottenham fans remember. They may have lost the game but his performance certainly caught the eye of Jose Mourinho, who excluded the winger from the starting XI against Wolfsberger AC midweek. A not so cryptic way to tell the fans he’s starting against Burnley. The Tottenham faithful will also hope Dele Alli will be given a chance after his impressive performance against Wolfsberger, but will more than likely feature from the bench at some point.
Ashley Barnes, Robbie Brady, Erik Pieters, Dale Stephens and Chris Wood are all doubts for the visit to Tottenham, though, touch wood, the Kiwi striker is likely to make a return. It’s looking like injuries are starting to ease up for Sean Dyche, who is going to need a fully fit squad for the remainder of the season and potential relegation battle. A few losses and all of a sudden you’re right back in the thick of it. I doubt we’ll see any changes to the Clarets’ starting XI this weekend, even with the return of Wood. With three matches in a week against Tottenham, Leicester and Arsenal, I cannot envisage Dyche risking another injury to the club’s top scorer.
Predicted Starting XIs
Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Tanganga, Sanchez, Dier, Reguilon; Ndombele, Hojbjerg; Bale, Lamela, Son; Kane
Burnley (4-4-2): Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Brownhill, Westwood, Cork, McNeil; Barnes, Vydra
Score Prediction: Tottenham 3-1 Burnley
As mentioned already, the one thing you can expect from Tottenham at present is that something calamitous will happen at the back. Tottenham’s defence screams mistake and is probably Burnley’s best chance of claiming a victory this weekend. However, there’s something about the potential inclusion of Bale that makes me believe Tottenham will be going for the jugular this Sunday afternoon. I just can’t see Burnley stopping this Tottenham team from scoring and more importantly Tottenham’s front three. I could be wrong and Jose may look to sit on a 1-0 lead or defend from the get go against the second lowest scoring team in the league. But I believe this to be a great game for the neutrals, with the front three of Tottenham all scoring. Though I still expect a Tottenham defensive mistake of some kind.