Tottenham Hotspur vs Sheffield United
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Referee: Graham Scott
Sheffield United travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday afternoon to take on a Spurs side sitting five places below them.
Tottenham’s ugly start to the season was typified during most of last week’s match at Goodison Park, where they conceded in the 97th minute to Everton, who had an extra man after Son’s bewildering red card. The horror injury to Andre Gomes rather overshadowed the fixture, but Tottenham must not let the situation drag them down any lower – the team will be looking to rebuild and pick up their first league win in over 40 days.
Pochettino’s men are far closer to being in the relegation zone than they are to being in the top four, which is a huge worry for the Argentinian manager. Just when you think they are gaining a little more confidence, the team puts out a performance that resembles a mid-table side rather than the creative and exciting team that Pochettino nurtured over the last few seasons.
Despite the horror show that Spurs have been putting on for their fans this season, most of the games in their new stadium have gone relatively well so far. However, Sheffield’s away record has been very strong this season and the Blades certainly have the confidence to take down the disgruntled Tottenham side if they bring their A-game to London.
Sheffield’s performances all-round have been nothing short of stellar in their first season back in the top division for twelve years. With the joint-best defensive record in the league, not much has been able to break Sheffield’s defence, despite their ambitious and potentially risky attacking style. Chris Wilder will know that coming to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is still a real test for his team and will have likely been working on his defensive strategy during the week as a result.
Last week saw Sheffield execute a masterclass in counter attacks against Burnley. The Blades put three past Nick Pope without return from the Clarets. John Lundstram was instrumental in that particular match – the Englishman impressed with a brace after a couple of games where his involvements have not been reflective of his exploits earlier in the season. No doubt plenty of Sheffield players will be licking their lips at the defensive frailty of Spurs this season.
While Chris Wilder has implied it is too early to be looking at the league standings, the rest of us might not be disregarding the possibility of Sheffield sneaking into the fifth spot this weekend. Although it’s impossible to make any definitive statements at this stage of the season, the prospect of a Europa League spot for Sheffield is certainly not out of the question – Wolves managed it last season and are currently excelling in the competition.
The red card and resulting suspension Son picked up against Everton has unsurprisingly been rescinded by the FA, however the South Korean’s mentality seemed to take a big hit once he saw the extent of Andre Gomes’ injury. Having said that, Son featured against Red Star in midweek and his distress at the situation may have been short-lived.
It looks like Harry Kane has recovered from the illness that kept him out of the matchday squad against the Toffees. The striker has lagged behind in the race for the golden boot and will be keen to make up for it in the coming weeks.
Erik Lamela, who started the season in promising fashion, may remain out with a hamstring injury he picked up about a fortnight ago. Likewise, Jan Vertonghen also has a hamstring injury that will keep him out until after the international break. Meanwhile, Hugo Lloris continues to recover from the dislocated elbow he picked up against Brighton.
Sheffield’s injury list extends to just the one player – John Egan – who is a slight doubt after he was taken off shortly before the end of proceedings against Burnley last weekend with a knock. Although the injury doesn’t seem too serious, we may see Phil Jagielka take Egan’s place in the starting lineup on Saturday.
Predicted Starting XIs
Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1): Gazzaniga; Davies, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Foyth; Ndombele, Sissoko; Alli, Eriksen, Lucas; Kane
Sheffield United (3-5-2): Henderson; O’Connell, Egan, Basham; Stevens, Fleck, Norwood, Lundstram, Baldock; McGoldrick, Mousset
Score Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2 Sheffield United 2
Every match that Spurs play at the minute seems to be a challenge and we will likely see a tasty affair between Tottenham and Sheffield on Saturday. Either team has the ability to come out on top.