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Tottenham Hotspur v Wolfsberger AC – UEFA Europa League Round of 32, second-leg – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – Wednesday 5pm – Preview
I’d imagine the solace of a reasonably low-key Europa League tie is quite appealing to Tottenham Hotspur boss, Jose Mourinho right now.
Five defeats in their last six outings have seen the Lilywhites Premier League aspiration alarmingly hit the wall. The most recent – a 2-1 reverse at West Ham – left Spurs floundering towards the middle of the table and had supporters taking to social media to air their discontent.
Of course, Wednesday’s clash with Austria outfit, Wolfsberger AC doesn’t come without its own particular pitfalls. Spurs lead 4-1 from the first leg and are expected to complete the job with style and panache. Anything less will draw further questions from the discontented fans, concerned that they are witnessing yet another false dawn.
Mourinho will undoubtedly ring the changes for the N17 tie. The likes of Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane are all more than likely to sit out, while Joe Hart could be offered a start in goal, with Hugo Lloris continuing to receive criticism from sections of the support.
Tottenham’s qualification for the round of 16 is all but guaranteed. But the fixture will hold interest in who Mourinho does choose to select. Gareth Bale and Dele Alli featured as second-half substitutes at the London Stadium and notably offered a spark.
Despite having already booked a place in the Carabao Cup final, many believe Tottenham’s best hope of ending their long wait for silverware is in the Europa League.
Mourinho attempted to deflect some of the flack aimed his way, stating; “mine and my coaching staff’s methods are second to nobody in the world,” after the loss in East London.
The expectation remains high. Selecting Bale and Dele – coupled with a similar response from the duo as to what they offered on Sunday – might give the Portuguese chief a little more breathing space as he and his side look to dig themselves out of a sizable hole and show signs that this is part of the course towards a brighter, more successful future.
Jeevesie’s prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Wolfsberger AC