It is too early to judge Jose Mourinho at Tottenham, but the midweek loss to Manchester United was a reminder of the problems facing the current squad. The first three matches offered encouraging signs for the new manager. However, this isn’t going to be a quick fix and there is a lot of work for the Portuguese coach to do. On Saturday, they welcome Burnley to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, in what will be a very tricky game for them to negotiate.
Tottenham will still have hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, but they may need to re-calibrate their aims for the season. A top-six finish and a cup run may offer a good first campaign for Mourinho considering the situation that he inherited. They currently trail Chelsea in 4th position by 9 points. Perhaps more stark, Spurs are 15 points behind Leicester City, a team who have qualified for the Champions League on one other occasion. It would be harsh to suggest that they have a losing mentality, but they don’t have a winning one, as shown by the team dropping points in ten of their 15 Premier League matches. A return to winning ways would be progress on Saturday.
Burnley have established themselves as a very good Premier League team, but they are currently in a bad situation following two losses at Turf Moor. They will want to arrest the slide as soon as possible and they will go into the weekend with confidence. Tottenham have lacked fight at times this season and the visitors could bully them in certain positions on the pitch. Sean Dyche is very good at getting a reaction out of his players and this will be a fixture that he targets for a result.
- Tottenham have conceded two or more goals in all four matches under Mourinho. Mauricio Pochettino oversaw such a run on only one occasion during his time in charge.
- Burnley have lost three of their last five matches. However, they could move above Tottenham with a victory on Saturday.
There were lots of negatives for Tottenham during their loss to Manchester United, but the continued improvement of Dele Alli provides something to build on. The England international dipped during the final 18 months of the Pochettino tenure and there were concerns over his development. However, the managerial change has benefitted the midfielder and three goals in two games over the past week have reminded the world of his quality. There are some wider concerns about Harry Kane’s form, despite his excellent goal-scoring for England and the increased threat from Alli is much needed for the team. During Mourinho’s short time in charge, the 23-year-old has attempted nine shots and created five chances in three Premier League matches. There is a clear improvement in his influence in the final third and this has led to a greater threat in the team’s attack. Some of his individual touches have shown how effective he is when operating in tight spaces. He will be the key threat at the weekend once again.
The main threat mentioned when discussing Burnley is often their strike force. Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood are a nightmare to deal with, as they offer energy and physicality. Even in matches where they don’t score, the opposition defenders will have been in a game. They will look to cause problems for Tottenham, with Davinson Sanchez having a particularly challenging season. He could be targeted by the strike pair. Although both pose a threat, Chris Wood has looked the more dangerous player over the past few weeks. This season, he has contributed six goals in the Premier League and they have all come in the last eight matches. The past couple of weeks have been frustrating, but he will still have a lot of confidence and relish his chance against a leaky Spurs’ defence.
Tottenham have the same long term injury concerns with Hugo Lloris, Erik Lamela and Ben Davies missing out. Harry Winks is a doubt, but he would be expected to be available following a knock in the week.
Charlie Taylor and Ashley Westwood are both doubts for the visitors. Ashley Barnes and Phil Bardsley face a battle to be passed fit to start in North London.
This is going to be another match that tells us a lot about Mourinho’s Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino struggled to get a reaction out of the players following disappointing defeats earlier this season. This can’t be a trend continued by the new manager. If Spurs are to emerge as a force again, they need to be able to react to a disappointing result with victory. Burnley are at a low ebb and have conceded six goals in their last two matches. They are fallible and the home side should have enough quality to secure the three points, even if their defence remains a concern.
Tottenham 2-1 Burnley