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Europa League

‘I’ll Never Forgive Him’ Spurs Fans Slam This Man Following Champions League Exit

Spurs were dumped out of the Champions League after just five group stage matches following a shambolic 2-1 defeat at the hands of group winners Monaco.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men went to Monaco knowing that they realistically needed a win to stand a reasonable chance of progressing to the last 16, but they had the fact in the back of their mind after CSKA’s 1-1 draw with Bayer Leverkusen, that a point would have been enough for now.

However, Spurs put in a shambolic first half performance, the highlight of which being Heung-min Son failing to convert a one-on-one chance with the Monaco keeper, failing to even get a shot off. Minutes later, Hugo Lloris saved a penalty and kept Spurs in the game, and were lucky to go into the break level.

Spurs fell behind shortly after the break, but were handed a lifeline when Dele Alli was fouled inside the box, and the referee pointed to the spot. Harry Kane stepped up to score his third penalty in three and fire Spurs back into contention. But in less than a minute, Spurs found themselves behind again. This time they did not recover and were dumped out of the Champions League.

Question marks were raised at the start of the evening regarding Mauricio Pochettino’s team selection, that saw both Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen drop to the bench. It seemed that the Argentine was looking ahead to the Premier League clash with Chelsea on Saturday.

This caused huge anger among many Spurs fans, and failed to see how Pochettino failed to field his strongest team in a match of such great importance. Here is how they reacted on Twitter following the defeat, directing a lot of criticism towards the Spurs manager.

4 Reasons Spurs Can Win The Title Ahead Of Arsenal, Manchester City & Manchester United

With the top of the Premier League too close to call, Tottenham cannot be ruled out in what is turning out to be one of the strangest title races in recent history. 

In fact, Spurs actually have the advantage over their title rivals in many areas. Here are four of the main reasons.

1 – No Champions League

Yes Tottenham have to play in the Europa League, but the quality of opponent is much lower than in the Champions League, which will allow Mauricio Pochettino to rest key players if he felt a winning the title was realistic. Whilst Arsenal are due to play Barcelona and Manchester City will have to travel to Ukraine, Spurs play Fiorentina in the next round. If City or Arsenal progress, they are likely to face a team of immense quality, whilst Spurs could reach the final of the Europa League without meeting any of the best clubs in Europe – putting less stress on the squad. The extra focus Tottenham can afford to place on the Premier League could be a decisive factor as the title race enters its final stages.

Press the navigation below to reveal the other three reasons.

Player Ratings: Spurs 2-1 Anderlecht

It wasn’t exactly a pretty victory, but we very rarely win well in the Europa League, but a 2-1 win gives the boys a good boost ahead of the always important North London Derby this coming Sunday.

Let’s talk about the player ratings, shall we?

Hugo Lloris: 7

A solid performance once more from the Frenchman, who is looking so good between the sticks as of late. Rarely troubled in this game except for the goal, but there was hardly anything Hugo could have done to stop it.

Kieran Tripper: 6

Again, a solid performance, which wasn’t entirely spectacular. Most of the team tonight just put in a good shift, and at the end of the day, these lads got the victory for us to send us top of the group.

Toby Alderweireld: 7

I said it the other day, but what a signing this boy is turning into! Every time he steps onto the pitch, he just oozes class, and his partnership with Jan Vertonghen is looking like one of the best in the Premier League. I’m sure Jermaine Jenas agrees me.

Jan Vertonghen: 7

I would love to comment more, but if you want to know how Super Jan played, see Toby Alderweireld.

Ben Davies: 7

A solid performance yet again from the Welshman, who played well, with one exception. If only he was alert on the Anderlecht goal, Ezekiel wouldn’t have snuck in around the back. With that one exception, Davies had a good game, but he will probably be back on the bench for Sunday.

Eric Dier: 6

Quiet is the word I’d use to describe Dier this evening. Not in a bad sense, but he just didn’t really do anything of note. We all know of the big news about Dier, so congratulations on a well deserved call up to the England squad.

Dele Alli: 6

Sloppy passes were littered all out for the Milton Keynes boy, but at 19, I think you can allow games like this, especially considering how good he has started his Tottenham career.

Erik Lamela: 6

He could have had a much better game and rating, but Lamela didn’t really connect with the flow this evening. I think he changed boots twice, but that didn’t work, and after having a decent looking penalty shout turned down, Lamela looked down and out.

Christian Eriksen: 6

A quiet game from the Great Dane by his standards. Not much to discuss for this one, except for the fact he subbed off early to give him some rest ahead of the North London Derby.

Ryan Mason: 6

Again, not much to talk about except that his return to fitness has put him back in contention for a spot against Arsenal this Sunday.

Harry Kane: 8

Scoring once more can only mean good things for Tottenham. If there was ever a time for Kane to come back to form, it would be before our three toughest games so far of the season. If we can feed Kane like we did against Bournemouth, then we could see the return of the HurriKane.

Subs:

Mousa Dembele: 8

My Man of the Match for this game, as his impact on the game, as well as the goal, won this match for Spurs. His thunderbolt was an absolute dream to see fly into the top corner, and if we can keep Dembele going in this vain of form, we could be finally seeing the complete attacking midfielder we all know he has the potential to be.

Josh Onomah: N/A

Heung Min Son: N/A

Player Ratings: Monaco 1-1 Spurs

After taking the lead through Erik Lamela in the first half, this was a Europa League game that Spurs should have won. However, we travel back to England with a point, and here are our Spurs player ratings.

Lloris (2.5/5)- Didn’t look his usual composed self. Pushed a couple of shots back into dangerous areas and will feel he could have done better for Monaco’s leveller. A very rare off night for our captain.

Trippier (3/5)- Did well on the overlap but was caught sleeping on one occasion allowing an attack from the right. Final ball could have been better.

Alderwiereld (4/5)- Read the game superbly and was dominant in most aspects of his game; continues to impress.

Vertonghen (3.5/5)- Dealt with the massive Traore well enough, not allowing him much space. Was beaten once or twice in the air but they’d understandable considering the size of his opponent.

Rose (4/5)- Impressive. One superb run should have been finished off by Kane. Not much to do in defence due to Monaco lacking a real outlet on his side.

Dier (3.5/5)- Decent on the ball but struggled to cope slightly as Monaco grew into the match late on.

Alli (4.5/5)- Best player on the pitch by a mile. Was clearly on a high after his England call up and he showed exactly what he’s all about. Passed with intent and showed superb composure in the lead up to our opening goal. Another superb turn and pass should have been finished by Kane. Delightful player to watch.

Lamela (4/5)- Lovely skill in the build up to the goal which he finished off himself. Three goals in his last four games is a very good return for the Argentine, who is beginning to show some real consistency. Slowly but surely we may be seeing the real Erik Lamela.

Eriksen (3/5)- Neat and tidy in the final third, however wasn’t able to truly impose himself on the game.

Chadli (3/5)- His superb nutmeg set us on our way for the opening goal, and he’ll feel he could have had one himself with an open net to aim at midway through the first half, however the angle made it difficult.

Kane (2.5/5)- A real struggle. Touch and hold up play was poor and he should have had at least one goal after missing from 9 yards when set up by Alli.

Substitutes

Townsend (2.5/5)- Couldn’t provide an extra dimension in attack as Monaco grew in strength.

N’jie (2.5/5)- Similar to Townsend. Buzzed around with pace but any dangerous moments were snuffed out quickly.

Player Ratings: Spurs 3-1 Qarabag

Well, Tottenham managed to open their Europa League campaign with a victory, but they didn’t half make it harder than it should have been. Qarabag were actually the ones who took the lead, much to the disapproval to many on social media, finding a few excuses. Thankfully, Spurs managed to score three goals, and got the victory to save our blushes wherever we would have been tomorrow. Some players had a poor game, whilst others stood out compared to those who just put in a shift, but who scored the highest on the Tom Scholes Spurs ratings!

Hugo Lloris: 6-

He failed to keep a clean sheet due to the early penalty, but Hugo did well enough to prevent Qarabag from establishing a larger lead. He showed his commanding of the area, which is key to our squad, and kept the opposition at bay, and cleaned up when called upon.

Kieran Trippier: 5-

I was looking forward to seeing what Trippier could do on his debut, unfortunately he gave away a penalty almost immediately. He looked shaky to start with, but as the game progressed, he grew into the game and looked more assured. Trippier may not be world class, but in my opinion, he looks more of a safe bet at right-back than Kyle Walker.

Toby Alderweireld: 6-

Just a solid game from the big Belgian, which could have been made better if only he could have kept his headers down. He falls into one of the players who put in a good shift at the back tonight, getting his fitness up for the Sunday clash between Spurs and Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace.

Kevin Wimmer: 5-

On his debut, he was rather quiet at the back, and he wasn’t really tested either, which was a shame, as many fans were looking forward to seeing his debut. One for the future, but he needs game time in matches like this to gain experience and to work his way into the first team.

Danny Rose: 5-

Danny didn’t look like himself in the game tonight, as he looked rather lackadaisical at the back. He didn’t advance on the wing as he normally does, and he just let the game go by him. Rose has the potential to be a top quality full back, but I feel that tonight showed he should work on his concentration just that little bit more.

Tom Carroll: 5-

If I’m being perfectly honest, I forgot Carroll was even playing. He didn’t assert himself on the game, and was almost like a bystander for the whole ninety minutes. Some fans think he will come good, but I unfortunately don’t fall into that category. If he was going to make it into the first team, he would probably be there by now.

Eric Dier: 7-

As each week passes, Dier is looking better and better in the holding midfield role, and tonight was no different. He broke up play with ease, and had some good distribution at times. Him and Bentaleb in the middle could be a great partnership.

Dele Alli: 8-

My Man of the Match for his attacking display, and his energy. All game he was on top of his game, setting up Son for his second, and as someone said on Twitter, “Dele Alli looks like what Jermaine Jenas would have been if he had been bitten by a radioactive Zlatan”. Couldn’t put it better myself!

Erik Lamela: 4-

If it wasn’t for the fact he scored, I would’ve scored him a 2. He was awful from first minute to last, he couldn’t keep the ball for more than 5 seconds, and he was wasteful whenever he did keep the ball. Many thought that Sunderland could have been the game to change him, but no, I’m sorry but Lamela is a lost cause. One of the first things we need to do in January is sell this man!

Andros Townsend: 5-

Similarly to Carroll, Townsend was a passenger on this taxing Tottenham first team. Another player who can’t seem to grasp a first team place, despite most people knowing he can do it. Maybe he needs to prove his worth in training before he gets an extended run in the team.

Hueng Min Son: 8-

A brace as well as a energetic performance means that Tottenham might have a player who can add energy and pace into a dire front line. He took his goals well, and harried around to the Spurs’ fans delight. He could grow into a fans favourite, and his partnership with Alli is shaping up very, very well.

Qara-who? Five Things To Look Forward To As Spurs Return To Europa League Wilderness

Thursday night marks the start of Tottenham’s annual foray into the existential wilderness that is the Europa League. Our opponents are FK Qarabag, winners of the Azerbaijan Premier League the past two seasons.

FK Qarabag are from the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the South Caucasus, which is a de facto independent state within Azerbaijan. The Horsemen, which fits rather nicely with Spurs I guess, play their home games in the Azerbaijan capital Baku due to conflict.

For pure existential wonderment, we’ll never beat our Europa League group of two years previously. We faced Anzhi Makhachkala, from Dagestan, but had to play them in Moscow as the region wasn’t safe for visiting teams. We had Moldovan powerhouses Sheriff Tiraspol, who are actually from from Transnistria, a state that is not internationally recognised. And we had Norway’s Tromso, which involved a trip to the Arctic Circle on a winter’s night. Baku may be a five-and-a-half hour flight away, and will be freezing in late November, but at least we can get to Brussels by Eurostar and Monaco is civilised no matter the weather.

Oddly, for the first time in several years, I’m looking forward to the Europa League.

While in previous seasons it has been a distraction and an impediment to our quest for Champions League qualification, in this new age of long-term strategy and minimal realistic hope of gate-crashing the Top Four, it feels like a bonus. More watching Spurs for us fans, and a more game time for Mauricio Pochettino to blood our young team.

It’s a bit like on Football Manager, where the Europa League gives you a bunch of easy games which do not matter but enable you to accelerate the development of all the young studs you are bringing through the academy.

So here are five things to look out for on Thursday night:

THE ERIK LAMELA SHOW: As mentioned previously, I predict Lamela to be a mainstay of the Europa League team. If he performs well, it is a route back into the Premier League team as a starter, and failing that, it is essentially an advert for his talents and he can use the competition to ensure he gets a move away from Spurs. Lamela’s rabona was the highlight of a mediocre Europa League campaign last season, but he is just the sort of unpredictable but exciting player who can make things happen against the mediocre opposition that we will face in the group stages. I imagine he will start in the centre on Thursday, with Townsend on one flank and either Son Heung-min or Nacer Chadli on the other. I’d like to see Alex Pritchard given a start, but it seems unlikely.

HARRY KANE HAMSTRING WATCH: Given he is the only out-and-out striker in the squad, one presumes Harry Kane will start up front. It’s not necessarily a bad shout to give him another run-out while he is looking for a Spurs goal. Kane will get a breather eventually, especially if qualification is looking secure. One assumes, Pochettino will like to use the Europa League to test Son and Clinton N’Jie in the striker role. Son showed his talent in flashes against Sunderland but lasted less that an hour, and N’Jie is not yet match-fit. So until then, we’re praying to the hamstring gods that Kane gets through another 90 minutes.

CENTRAL PERKS: Perhaps the most interesting selection will be in central midfield. One assumes, Eric Dier gets a breather as his midfield protection shouldn’t be needed against such lowly opposition, while Ryan Mason is continuing to recover from the knee injury he picked up against Sunderland. Nabil Bentaleb is out for three or four weeks, and Dembele isn’t yet fit. So it will be a raw central midfield — likely Tom Carroll and Harry Winks. I was surprised that Carroll wasn’t sold in the summer as I find him an underwhelming player, but he has one hell of a chance to impress and prove that he has a future at Spurs. He’ll not only have to control the midfield, he’ll also have to lead with someone as inexperienced as Winks alongside him.

INTRODUCING KEVIN WIMMER: The big Austrian defender hasn’t yet seen any competitive action for Spurs, but this should change Thursday. I’ve not been impressed with the partnership between Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen due to a lack of physicality, but it is early days and Mauricio Pochettino will stick with it for a while. For Wimmer, good performances in the Europa League will secure him status as first choice replacement should injuries or suspensions strike our Belgians, or if the partnership fails to improve. From the pre-season games, he looks big and strong. It will be interesting to see how he does on the ball, and what he is like temperament-wise in a big game. One imagines he partners Federico Fazio, who Spurs failed to sell this summer. Personally, I’d rather see Cameron Carter-Vickers or Milos Veljkovic — Fazio has no future at Spurs, so why waste precious minutes on him?

POCHETTINO PHILOSOPHY WATCH: I was very disappointed by last season’s Europa League campaign. While it provided the basis for Kane to springboard to first-choice striker, and a goal of the season in Lamela’s rabona, Spurs achieved little else. The team struggled mightily against average opposition like Besiktas and Partizan, and too many squad players like Andros Townsend, Benjamin Stambouli and Roberto Soldado failed to take the opportunity these games presented. The performances were listless, and there was no evidence of the Pochettino philosophy in action. This season, I would like to see evidence that the philosophy is taking root beyond mainstays such as Dier, Mason and Kane. It’s not hard to spot — fast, organised football with an intense press and defensive solidity. I’m not too bothered by results — the Europa League is a brutally long competition, and the inability to move Premier League game to Sunday evenings or Mondays leaves the English sides at a disadvantage to teams from Spain and Italy. Spurs may be among the bookmakers favourites, but the chances of victory and a Champions League place feel as remote as, well, Azerbaijan.

Charles Richards blogs over at The Spurs Report. Please follow him on Twitter (@crg_yeah) and follow Fresh Spurs (@Fresh_Spurs_)

Tottenham Hotspur Season Preview!

Oh not another transition season? Unfortunately, that seems to be the feeling for the upcoming season for Tottenham Hotspur, but with a lot more influence from the manager Mauricio Pochettino than last season. As fans, we have some expectations for where we want our club to be this season, but this season will be the typical rollercoaster that we have all grown accustomed to recently, whether we enjoy it or not.

With the club lacking in the transfer department, I would expect that in the next few weeks, Daniel Levy might flex his business muscles and bring in a few players for a reasonable price, but as a fan, I would like to see a striker and midfielder be signed, just so we have some depth in the team.

Season Targets:

Well, we all know what we want, and what we aim for, and that is the Champions League places. But in the real world, where Tottenham only have one fully operating striker, we know it is going to be a while before Spurs are near them places again.

However, we were only 6 points off Manchester United last season, so if one of the big teams doesn’t live up to expectation, combined with us putting in fine performances week in and week out, then maybe we may be able to sneak back into the top 4.

 

Alongside our hopes to gain Champions League football, but also retaining Europa League football, we will want to go far in all the Domestic trophies and the Europa League. In the previous season, we all remember our run to the Capital One Cup final, and Pochettino will want to go one better and win the trophy this season, as well as doing well in the FA Cup.

With the Europe League, however, it offers a completely different prospect. If Tottenham win the Europa League (and at this stage, it is looking like a big if), then we will be automatically entered in the next seasons Champions League. The club may see the Europa League as the best and easiest way to enter the competition if our league season isn’t going great.

 

I would expect that Spurs will do well in at least one of these cups, with the Capital One Cup possibly the best chance of capturing the cup, but Pochettino will be ambitious enough to try for the Europa League.

 

Manager: Mauricio Pochettino:

A man that I can only imagine was rather frustrated at how last season went for Tottenham. Brought in from Southampton amongst their mass exodus from 2 years ago, Pochettino has been allowed time to develop his own tactics, bring in young players and get after transfer targets that are clearly his own.

 

This season, as shown by the Pre Season, Pochettino is looking to blend in a good mixture of youth in his first team, with Dele Alli, Shaq Coulthirst and Josh Onomah playing big parts in the Pre Season, and unless any clubs come in with loan bids that could benefit the players, these youngsters could play a part in our season.

Let’s just hope that Levy and the board give Pochettino enough time to work his magic at Spurs, and hopefully, we could have a successful reign at White Hart Lane, and the new stadium!

 

Key Players:

 

Harry Kane:

This one is a simple one. Without Harry Kane, we would not have had as nearly as great as a season as we had. But the only thing that is stopping us from being even better is the worry that whether Kane can do it again? We know it will be difficult to replicate the form he had, but as long as he keeps banging in the goals, then we have the first genuine goal scorer since Jermaine Defoe and Robbie Keane.

 

Hugo Lloris:

Our new captain! Hugo was arguably our most important player last season, and hopefully if our defense improves this season, he could be one for the Fantasy Teams. Keeping hold of Lloris this summer is one of the best pieces of business that Tottenham have done. Our summer could have been a lot worse if we didn’t have Lloris keeping the goal. Lets hope to another season where he performs as well as he usually does.

 

Christian Eriksen:

Our creative gem in the midfield last season, Eriksen has proven to be pretty much the only player from the “Magnificent Seven” summer spending spree that hasn’t fully flopped. His set piece threat, coupled with his occasional touch of class can turn games on their head at the touch of a button, and hopefully another year in the Premier League can enhance his performances.

Europa League – How Far Can Spurs Go This Season?

As the season draws ever closer we look ahead to the various competitions we play in and try to gauge how far we, realistically can go, and that leads us to this question, how far can we progress in the Europa League. Like Carroll, Alli, Pritchard

In recent season we’ve made it to the last 8, last 16, last 32, and have always been ousted by teams who we should’ve been able to defeat and progress further in the competition. We feel on Penalties against Basel, we should’ve took Benfica to Extra-Time and we should’ve got past Fiorentina last season has a Spaniard put the ball into the back of the net.

With improved squad depth this season in defence and midfield courtesy of returning loanees like Carroll, Alli, Pritchard should increase our ambition of going further in the competition, plus with the incentive of a guaranteed Champions League place for the winner, Mauricio Pochettino will be looking to win this competition this season.

The only hiccup in our plans is the entry of the relegated Champions League sides as the Europa League enters the knockout phases which have affected us in the past. So in summary, ambition from the manager, combined with an improved squad and clever rotation policy and effective performances on the pitch, means we could go very far in Europe this season.

 

Player Ratings – Fiorentina 2 – 0 Spurs (3-1 agg.)

jan fioren

Our European adventure came to a disappointing end at the hands of Serie A side Fiorentina tonight as individual errors cost a sloppy Spurs dearly.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side went into the clash at a disadvantage having conceded the away goal in last week’s 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane, but a period of early pressure saw Spurs in the driving seat for most of the first half.

The turning point came towards the end of the half when Roberto Soldado was sent clean through on the Fiorentina goal, before squandering a tap in for Nacer Chadli with a pathetically weak assist.

The Italians broke the deadlock in the second half when Mario Gomez capitalized upon Federico Fazio’s limp pass to slot past Hugo Lloris, before Jan Vertonghen had a similar moment of madness to allow Mohammed Salah in to seal the deal.

The Egyptian’s goal was the sucker punch that ended the tie and came with a hint of irony thanks to the winger’s loan from Chelsea…

Player Ratings

Hugo Lloris 6 – Little to do for the majority of the game but was beaten easily by Mario Gomez’s low finish. Thankfully the captain made it out of the game unscathed in time for Sunday…

Vlad Chiriches 6 – I thought he had an *alright* game at right-back considering it’s only his 2nd or 3rd game there this season, and some of his deliveries were surprisingly decent. Still a bit sketchy.

Jan Vertonghen 6 – Bad timing for Jan who has a big test ahead of him this weekend. Absolutely gifted Salah his goal having dealt with Gomez well in the majority. Subbed early-ish and is a cert for Wembley.

Federico Fazio 5 – A liability due to his (lack of) pace and responsibly solely for the Fiorentina first. Looks fairly likely that Eric Dier will regain his place in the side for the Cup final.

Ben Davies 6 – Disappointing final product and was dominated by the rapid Salah. Overlapped Chadli well in the first half but couldn’t pick out a man. Rose in.

Benjamin Stambouli 6 – Drifted in and out of the game with some moments of eyebrow-raising skill mixed in with the odd suicidal moment. The tricks are all well and good as long as they don’t hand the ball to the opposition…

Nabil Bentaleb 6 – Was involved in a lot of good in the first half, carrying the ball out more than his midfield partner. Subbed early also, meaning the Arch surely awaits for the mature 20-year-old.

Erik Lamela 5 – Back in Italy where he made his name (and pricetag), but again there was no final product from the Argentine. Way too lightweight for the system at the minute, and no shots at goal registered.

Christian Eriksen 6 – Certainly not the best performance I’ve seen from the Dane, who failed to create much in front of goal. Saving himself for Sunday? I hope so. Plus two of his free-kick hit the wall…

Nacer Chadli 6 – Carried the ball to the byline as much as anybody but couldn’t unleash at goal. The goals have dried up but Nacer has to start on Sunday for me.

Roberto Soldado 4 – I’ve said it before, but tonight might just have been the final straw for Bobby. His squandered chance for Chadli in the first half has to be seen to be believed and it didn’t get much better. Cue Capital One Cup Final hat-trick…

SUBS

Andros Townsend 5 – Ran it into corners. Frustrating.

Harry Kane 5 – You can tell he’s trying hard when he’s got the ball on the halfway line. But had little impact.

Kyle Walker N/a

Some Top Players Rested! Tottenham Team News And Predicted Lineup To Face Fiorentina

Thursday marks the start of a crucial four days in the context of Mauricio Pochettino’s first season at Tottenham, and it starts in Florence, the second leg of our last 32 Europa League clash with Fiorentina. The Argentine boss will have to make many selection decisions ahead of Sunday’s Capital One Cup Final clash with Chelsea. Here is the team news and predicted line-up.

Team News:

Mauricio Pochettino has a fully fit squad to chose his starting eleven from. However, he has left Brad Friedel, Younes Kaboul, Etienne Capoue, Cristian Ceballos, DeAndre Yedlin and Emmanuel Adebayor all back in London.

Predicted Line-Up (4-2-3-1):

Goalkeeper: Michel Vorm:

With goalkeepers, it’s not really about fatigue and fitness as to who you pick to start. Although your initial decision would be to start Hugo Lloris, Michel Vorm has guided us through most of the cup rounds, and therefore, I think he should start in between the sticks in Florence.

Defence: Kyle Walker, Federico Fazio, Eric Dier, Ben Davies:

Eric Dier has proved to us all in recent weeks that he is a capable defence. Although I do not think he will start regularly in the Premier League, he is a great player to have in your squad should injuries plague your defence. Federico Fazio has been involved in a recent battle with Eric Dier for a Premier League starting spot, and I think the former Sevilla man could resume normal service very soon.

Midfield (Holding): Benjamin Stambouli, Paulinho:

I expect Pochettino to mix things up a bit for this second leg ahead of the cup final on Sunday, and the first big changes to the side could be made here in the holding midfield. Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb should be rested ahead of the showdown against Chelsea, giving Paulinho and Benjamin Stambouli a run-out in the side after spells out of the side.

Midfield (Attacking): Andros Townsend, Mousa Dembele, Nacer Chadli:

This attacking three could be much changed come Sunday. However, Nacer Chadli could remain, and I think he should start against Fiorentina to gain some much needed playing time ahead of the final. Mousa Dembele has been playing well recently, but could miss out on a cup final spot.

Striker: Roberto Soldado:

This is a good chance for the Spaniard to build on his volley last week in the first leg. He could well start up top to rest a player called Harry Kane.