There have been fewer stretches in recent Tottenham Hotspur memory that have been more exciting than the past three outings, with two late winners and a key North London Derby draw on the road after coming back from behind twice. As a result, Ange Postecoglou has earned 17 points from his first seven matches in charge which included three Big Six battles.
Spurs now get a much milder stretch, with Luton Town, Fulham, and Palace on the October schedule. Though no match is a given — as the near buzzkill against Sheffield United showed — these are absolutely nine points for the taking. With how Tottenham has been flying so far, that has to be the expectation.
Luton’s dramatic promotion to the Premier League was one of the stories of last season, but the Hatters have struggled to date as many expected. A 1-1-5 record through seven matches is not all that surprising, and the fixture list is not getting any easier going forward, but it still is nice to see different clubs cycle through the top flight.
For Tottenham, it has been a few weeks since a comprehensive win, and while late winners deep in stoppage time are enthralling, a straightforward end-to-end three points would be welcome. Kenilworth Road is the type of ground where strange things could happen, but the better team should come out swinging Saturday and can hopefully put this away early.
Luton Town (t-16th, 4pts) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (t-2nd, 17pts)
Date: Saturday, October 7
Time: 7:30 am ET, 12:30 pm UK
Location: Kenilworth Road, Luton
TV: USA Network (USA), TNT Sports 1 (UK)
I suppose the numbers for Luton could be worse? Most of the standard metrics have the home side outside the bottom three, though not significantly better than that. The results have been slightly better lately with four goals scored and four goals conceded in the past three matches after a 2-to-10 ratio in four straight losses to open the season, but this does correlate to level of competition.
The Hatters will surely decline possession and employ a low block similar to how Sheffield United and nine-man Liverpool nearly found success against Spurs. The defense is not impervious but not leaky either, and Tuesday’s loss to Burnley did feature plenty of attacking desire as well. Additionally, Tottenham will be the biggest opponent to come to Kenilworth this season, so the atmosphere could be a boost if the score stays close.
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Realistically, this should not be a tight match. After the intensity of the past three contests, a smooth 90 minutes heading into the international break would go a long way. The squad has proven that it will not back down against any opponent and not stop fighting until the final whistle blows, but the team is also good enough to take care of business earlier as it did against Bournemouth and Burnley.
The other advantage of a low-stress match is allowing some of the regulars to rest. It is clear both Heung-Min Son and James Maddison are not at full strength, and many of the other starters have played many high-intensity minutes. Winning teams find ways to grind out points, but not every match can be a trial. Spurs need an easy victory and give the regulars a chance to head off early, even if the bench options are becoming quite limited.