It’s fair to say that the Wembley experience hasn’t gone according to plan for Tottenham what with back to back defeats there at the hands of both Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen. Those two losses played a major part in Spurs failure to reach the Round of 16 and tonight they play CSKA Moscow for what is in all intents and purposes a Europa League play-off
The question now is whether or not Mauricio Pochettino decides that the Europa League is not a competition worth worrying about and subsequently plays a reserve team. It’s an interesting dilemma on the one hand that it will free his players to compete on just two fronts but on the other a win would give them the opportunity for more Wembley experience before their sabbatical from White Hart Lane next season.
You would have to imagine regardless of what Pochettino really thinks about the Europa League it will be a much changed line up from their 5-0 win over Swansea on Saturday. That was a first win in 6 league matches and the hope now is that they can use that as a springboard to close the gap to the quartet of teams above them.
Also with Manchester United away on Sunday it gives another reason as to Pochettino resting his star players. He has come in for some criticism in this competition for resting players such as Danny Rose and Kyle Walker for such important games. You can’t really take their absence as the sole reason as to why Tottenham won’t progress but it certainly hasn’t helped proceedings.
The last time these two sides met was back in September when Tottenham ran out 1-0 winners in Moscow. After defeat in Matchday 1 to Monaco the hope was then that the North London side would move up the gears in this Champions League group to secure a top two finish.
Unfortunately as we well know by now that was not the case and now Tottenham could be consigned to another season of Europa League purgatory. This is a topic that has split the fanbase many feel that Spurs are better off out while others feel that they should give the competition a fair crack and who knows earn a Champions League spot that way.
The trophies don’t get handed out until May and Spurs are still in with a chance of a second successive top four finish but the chance would be arguably enhanced should they only have to play once a week like fellow rivals Liverpool and Chelsea will do due to their lack of European competiton.
As for the result in the most ‘Spursy’ of ways, Pochetino will probably put out the kids and watch his side romp to victory over CSKA Moscow. Whether that is a good thing or not I’m still unsure but one thing that is for sure like all masochists I’ll be there in the freezing cold cheering them on. I’ll go for a ‘home’ win.