Is it clean sheets against Manchester City, West Ham, and Chelsea, or is it laughers against Leicester and Sheffield United and struggles in Milan? The story of the season for Tottenham Hotspur has been two steps forward, two steps back, and that sort of inconsistency is not very welcome come March.
Wednesday’s crash out of the FA Cup killed off the club’s best shot at a trophy this season, but if it allows the squad to focus in on what remains then at least there could be a silver lining. However, with next week’s all-important second leg against Milan on tap, the pendulum needs to swing back quickly.
Ahead of that is a trip to Molineux to face a Wolves team that is winless in its last three. The home side is one of essentially nine clubs in the relegation battle and represents another shot at a clean sheet and three points for Spurs. Anything less will be amplified following the loss to Sheffield United, so hopefully Antonio Conte is ready to hop back in.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (t-14th, 24pts) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (4th, 45pts)
Date: Saturday, March 4
Time: 10:00 am ET, 3:00 pm UK
Location: Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton, England
TV: Peacock Premium (USA)
Wolves have scored just one goal in their last three league fixtures, which should be a great advantage for a Spurs defense that has been renewed as of late. It has felt like overkill to opt for the more defensive-minded wingbacks, but as long as the goals keep coming it does seem to benefit the lineup as a whole. On the season, Wolves are tied for 18th in goals and 17th in xG.
The West Midlands side has been slightly better on the other end, but far from impenetrable. Wolves are averaging just one goal allowed per match over the last five in the league, so goals on either end of the pitch may be a challenge. Either way, this is not a particularly good squad, but is one that could cause some frustration for the visitors.
- Aug 2022: 1-0 win, home (Kane)
Wednesday was bad, but the previous two matches were good, so the hope is that Tottenham can quickly bounce back from a contest the rotated XI was clearly not up for. Perhaps that level of effort can be excused in a cup tie against a lower-level club, but if those same issues carry into the weekend then there is a big problem.
It will be interesting to see if Conte continues with the same options at wingback, as well as Richarlison over Heung-Min Son. The choices seem justified, but this again will be a challenge against a team that will likely bunker down. The issue in the FA Cup was not tactics, though, and ultimately it comes down to whether the individual players can perform up to standard or not.
The reverse fixture was decided by a Harry Kane goal that looked similar to his tally against Chelsea last weekend, poaching a headed ball off a corner. Spurs remain one of the best set piece teams in the league, and in a match where opportunities project to be limited, capitalizing off a corner could be the difference.