Best odds: 11/5
Tottenham Hotspur are set to welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to their shiny new stadium in North London on Sunday afternoon, for a game that will close the 28th round of the Premier League season together with the one taking place at Goodison Park between Everton and Manchester United. Both of these encounters are likely to have a significant impact on the way places leading to European competitions are distributed.
It’s been quite a turbulent season for Spurs. The start was far from a dream one and having dropped down to 14th in the Premier League table in November, they parted ways with Mauricio Pochettino and hired Jose Mourinho to take the dugout hot-seat.
The experienced Portuguese is yet to convince the wider public that he’s the right man for the job, even though the team’s position in the table has improved significantly. They entered the matchday from sixth, just four points off top-four. With Manchester City’s involvement in Europe next season still under a question mark, it’s quite obvious Spurs are well within a shot of playing in the Champions League again next season. Speaking of City, the two teams met in one of Spurs’ last five league games, and Spurs won by 2-0. They also beat Norwich City at home and Aston Villa away, while drawing away to Watford and losing away to Chelsea.
As for their campaign in UEFA’s elite club competition this term, they finished second in their group behind Bayern Munich, and above Olympiacos and Red Star Belgrade. They were drawn to face RB Leipzig in the round of 16 and surprisingly beaten at home by in the first leg by 0-1. A tough task awaits them in Germany on March 10th.
Spurs are still without their star striker Harry Kane (thigh), as well as fellow forward Son Heung-min (arm) who is out for the season. Winger Ryan Sessegnon (groin) and midfielder Moussa Sissoko (knee) are also out. Defender Juan Foyth is on his way back from a groin strain, but even though he hasn’t been ruled out completely, he’s unlikely to take part in this game.
The season Wolves have been having can easily be described as the complete opposite of that of Spurs. They’re playing with very little pressure on their backs and continuing the good results from the previous campaign. Manager Nuno Espirito Santo has indeed put together a formidable team, one that gave runaway leaders Liverpool arguably the toughest 180 minutes in the league so far, and one that did a double over defending champions Manchester City.
At the moment Wolves are eighth, but the difference between them and Spurs is only a point and they will also have their sights set on a Champions League place at the end of the season. Their recent form seems patchy at first glance with two wins, two draws and one loss from the last five games, but the fact that the loss was to Liverpool and the draws away to Manchester United and at home against third-place Leicester City gives a slightly different perspective.
The positive vibes in their game domestically have spilled over to their Europa League campaign too. Having finished second in their group, a point behind Sporting Braga and well above Slovan Bratislava and Besiktas, they did a great job in the round of 32 by dispatching Spanish side Espanyol from the competition in style. It’s Olympiacos next, and the Greek team that knocked Arsenal out certainly won’t be happy with the prospect of playing them.
Espirito Santo doesn’t have wing-back Jonny Castro Oto at his disposal at the moment due to an ankle injury, but his squad is well-equipped to deal with his absence. Ruben Vinagre is more than a capable replacement.
This game is very hard to call in advance. Wolves are a well-oiled machine, their system is tried and tested with everything put in place. On the other hand, Spurs still have players of highest quality in their ranks and with Mourinho, you can bet he’ll have some kind of strategy prepared to counter and try to dismantle Espirito Santo’s machine. The bookies have the home team to win at shorter odds, but a draw is perhaps a more plausible outcome at the moment. It’s certainly just as likely as any other, despite the fact the odds on it are the longest.
Best odds: 11/5
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