Tottenham face Fiorentina in the second leg of the Europa League last-32 on Thursday night. The first leg in Florence finished 1-1, so Spurs are very much still in the tie.
However with Mauricio Pochettino’s team still in the race for the Premier League title the Europa League is the north London clubs priority this season.
Pochettino has used squad rotation to good effect this season in an attempt to challenge on all fronts.
Spurs suffered a surprise fifth round exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Pochettino will not be discouraged by that defeat though, as Spurs experienced one of those days were nothing seemed to go right. Dele Alli’s effort that hit both posts summed-up Tottenham’s off day.
Not got a giant squad
Tottenham in truth have not got a giant squad. They have a very good first eleven, but after that there is not much quality cover in crucial positions. Pochettino has been rotating his full-backs for much of the campaign.
At left-back Ben Davies and Danny Rose have rotated, while the same has happened with Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier on the other side of the pitch. An injury to Belgian star Jan Vertonghen meant that Austrian international Kevin Wimmer has got his chance in the heart of the Spurs defence.
The summer signing has been a very able deputy for the injured Vertonghen. However, beyond three centre-backs Spurs have no other cover. Just like up front if Harry Kane was injured, Spurs would be very short up front.
I suppose that goes for every team though, if City were without Sergio Aguero or Leicester were without Jamie Vardy they would not be the same teams either.
Concentrating on the league
Concentrating on the race for the Premier League title may be the key to Spurs becoming champions. Arsenal have one more game in Europe and the FA Cup, while City look to be heading into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Leicester are the only team in the title race with no other distractions. If Tottenham go out of the Europa League it will mean fewer games for Spurs talented, but young squad this season.
A run in the Europa League may just prove a distraction in the Premier League title, which is so open at the moment. Tottenham have never really took the competition seriously in previous seasons, so this is probably not the right season to change their attitude to the Europe’s secondary competition.
Best chance in years of the Premier League title
This season is an opportunity for any of those top four in the Premier League to claim a rare title. The current top three of Leicester, Tottenham and Arsenal are strangers to winning the top-flight title.
Leicester have never won the top-flight title in their history, while Tottenham have won just two top-flight titles, but the last of those was 55 years ago. Arsenal have won the title more recently in 2004, but have frustrated their fans by challenging on an annual basis without becoming champions.
Tottenham have come a long way under Mauricio Pochettino who has built a very talented young team at White Hart Lane. I am sure most people associated with the north London club did not expect them to be challenging for the title this season, but they are right in the thick of the title race in a highly unpredictable campaign.
Spurs are currently odds of 5/2 to win the Premier League title, which with most bookies makes them second favourites to win the league this season. Spurs boss Pochettino may well rotate his squad again for the game against Fiorentina with a crucial Premier League home clash with Swansea on Sunday.
I am not usually an advocate of teams sacrificing competitions by playing weakened teams, but this is a completely unique situation, as Tottenham may never get a better chance of winning the Premier League title than this season.
Going out of the Europa League against Fiorentina may not be the worst thing for Tottenham, although Spurs squad are probably young enough and fit enough to challenge for both under the shrewd management of Pochettino.
Should Tottenham field a weakened team in the Europa League?