After consecutive wins over Mura, Aston Villa, and Newcastle, Tottenham Hotspur appeared to be headed in the right direction after some nasty defeats. Instead, a completely rotated side lost to Vitesse on Thursday in the Netherlands, only for the rested first team to fall 1-0 to West Ham over the weekend.
At this point it is fair to say that Spurs are who they are. This is a team that will compete for a European place in the table and has an outside chance in a few cup competitions, but appears to be less than the sum of its parts. On paper the best XI looks very good and the depth is decent, but neither unit has been close to consistent this season.
Expect the reserves to get another opportunity with yet another midweek match. Perhaps a few regulars will start against Burnley in the Fourth Round of the League Cup, but Nuno Espirito Santo seems to have found his ideal lineup now and likely wants to keep their legs as fresh as possible with Manchester United coming to town on Saturday. Frankly, the backups need to be able to win these ties anyway.
Burnley vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Date: Wednesday, October 27
Time: 2:45 pm ET, 7:45 pm UK
Location: Turf Moor, Burnley, England
TV: ESPN+ (USA)
Burnley is having a terrible time this season, having yet to record a league win and seriously facing relegation. This is not a good defense like some previous iterations, and the scoring has been very sparse as well. Even though there are plenty of similar issues from Tottenham’s perspective, especially with the likely-to-start second unit, the hosts are barely top-flight quality this season.
Spurs advanced from the Third Round on penalties after a 2-2 deadlock against Wolves. That side was somewhat rotated but did feature regulars like Harry Kane and Tanguy Ndombele. Meanwhile, Burnley eked past Newcastle on penalties in the Second Round and dispatched League Two side Rochdale last month.
- The biggest challenge in the Conference League last week was the complete lack of chemistry amongst the attackers. Giovanni Lo Celso, Steven Bergwijn, and Dele Alli rarely looked on the same page, and the legitimate chances were few and far between. These players absolutely must find a way to work together and get on the front foot.
- Spurs’ last three trips to Turf Moor include a win, a draw, and a loss. The most recent visit was last fall, where a late Heung-Min Son header secured the three points. In almost exactly a month from Wednesday, the teams will again meet on this same pitch for a league contest.
- Some might argue Tottenham is better off having fewer competitions to deal with, but it is not like these matches are coming at the expense of the Premier League. Most of the country’s top sides are still alive in the League Cup, so the odds of a trophy are low, but the club is at the stage where even rotated lineups should be able to be trusted; sadly that just has not been the case.