Out of form Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to bounce back to winning ways when they welcome Serbian side Red Star Belgrade to the capital in the Champions League on Tuesday night, heading into what is a crucial game for both clubs.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side have won just once in their previous seven competitive matches (W1, D3, L3) and have only won six Premier League games since February. The terrible run of form has left Pochettino’s future as Spurs boss in major doubt with the Argentine the bookmakers 3rd favourite in the Premier League sack race.
They were very lucky to come away with a point at home to Watford at the weekend admit more VAR controversy. Dele Alli appeared to control the ball with his upper arm before scoring a late equaliser which VAR decided not to overturn. They were also fortunate not to conceded a penalty in the first half for a clumsy tackle by Jan Vertonghen on Gerard Deulofeu which went unpunished by both the referee and VAR.
The Champions League retuning to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will continue to haunt the Lilywhites after their embarrassing 7-2 home defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in their previous group match. It was the very first time in the club’s 137-year history that they had conceded seven goals at home in any competition. They also threw away a two goal lead in their first match away to Greek side Olympiacos and that start has left them sitting bottom of the group.
Visitors Red Star Belgrade have made a good start to their Champions League campaign having saw off Olympiacos in their most recent group match. They did lose 3-0 away to Bayern Munich in their first game, but are sitting above Spurs by three points in second place. With Spurs having very little league form to help boost their confidence going into this game, it wouldn’t surprise me if Red Star managed to get something out of the game.
The two sides come face to face for the first time since way back in 1972/73 in the UEFA Cup when Spurs ran out 2-1 aggregate winners. Goals from Martin Chivers and Alan Gilzean gave the Spurs a 2-0 first-leg win at White Hart Lane and that proved enough to progress despite Vojin Lazarević’s strike in Belgrade.
Most of the team news is positive for Pochettino. Both midfielder Giovani Lo Celso and winger Ryan Sessegnon have returned to full training this week and will be available for selection.
Son Heung-min is also expected to be back to full fitness and in with a chance to start. The winger appeared as a substitute against the Hornets at the weekend after a lengthy journey back from South Korea during the international break.
Attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen will continue to be monitored after playing no part on Saturday due to a dead leg suffered on International duty with Denmark. Although he remains a doubt, there’s an outside chance that he could play some part.
Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is the only player who definitely won’t be involved as he continues to recover from a dislocated elbow which will leave him out long term.
The visitors are still without defensive midfielder Branko Jovicic, who sustained torn knee ligaments during the summer, while right-back Milan Gajic remains side-lined since October.
This game looks great for goals. Seven of Tottenham’s previous nine competitive games have featured over 2.5 goals whilst visitors Red Star have scored 2+ goals in five of their previous eight competitive matches. Only Glasgow Celtic in 2016-17 have conceded more goals (10) than Spurs this season (nine) in their first two Champions’ League group-stage matches so I am expecting both teams to score and over 2.5 match goals.
England captain Harry Kane has scored 14 goals in 16 Champions’ League group-stage games and is priced at just 1.57 to add another to his tally. However, if you’re looking for something with more appealing value then winger Son Heung-min, who has scored three goals in his last three home starts, can be snapped up at 2.2.