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Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Tottenham Hotspur League Cup Preview: Someone stop the bleeding

Nuno and Spurs return to Molineux in much worse shape.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

It took until just Matchweek 2 for Nuno Espirito Santo to face his old club, and exactly one month later, the new Tottenham Hotspur manager will be a visitor at Molineux for the second time in this young season. After a 0-1 Spurs victory in the league, the two sides meet again in the Third Round of the League Cup this Wednesday.

Since that win, Spurs have been on the decline. Wins over Watford and Paços de Ferreira quickly turned into a pair of bad league defeats and a Conference League draw, leaving the club winless over its last three. While this League Cup tie might not be the most important fixture, another loss will only exacerbate the current issues.

Wolverhampton Wanderers, meanwhile, have not fared significantly better since the last meeting, also beating Watford but losing to Manchester United and Brentford to find themselves on just three points and near the relegation zone at this early stage in the season. Four second half goals against Championship cellar dweller Nottingham Forest propelled them into the Third Round.

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Date: Wednesday, September 22
Time: 2:45 pm ET, 7:45 pm UK
Location: Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton, England
TV: ESPN+ (USA)

Sunday’s defeat against Chelsea at least saw Tottenham’s strongest starting XI in quite some time, which came as a surprise given the injuries faced by many regulars over the past couple weeks. While the team was still not quite up to par, it was encouraging to see Nuno lean on his best combination of players in a key match.

With the North London Derby on tap this weekend, Wednesday’s squad should be heavily rotated. Spurs have had trouble scoring all season, so finding some sort of attack will be the main task yet again. Expect some younger players like Bryan Gil and Dane Scarlett to get another opportunity to prove they can bring some life into the squad which desperately needs a jolt.

Three themes

  1. Spurs’ last trip to Wolves featured plenty of defending and absorbing the oncoming attack. This strategy worked as the home team failed to find the net, which has been a common theme for them: Wolves have been shut out in four of their five league matches this season. xG suggests they are a bit unlucky, but by no means is this the most lethal offense, despite how intimidating Adama Traore can look dribbling.
  2. The best part of Tottenham’s lineup against Chelsea was the much improved midfield which finally featured both Tanguy Ndombele and Giovanni Lo Celso. That will certainly not be the case on Wednesday, so Spurs need to find players who are able to control the middle of the pitch and bring the ball forward. Until a solution is found, this team is going to struggle to score.
  3. One has to wonder just how big of a priority this competition will be for Nuno given the current state of affairs at the club. Spurs are in the midst of a rough stretch, so a win could be a nice boost heading into the weekend, but the depth is really being challenged by fitness right now and the League Cup could end up as just a distraction.