Tottenham are facing a must-win fixture in the Champions League as they attempt to keep their hopes of qualification alive. They will travel to the Netherlands to face the Eredivisie champions PSV Eindhoven. Neither team have managed to pick up a single point in this season’s competition and a defeat for either could prove fatal. Last season, Spurs managed to impress in Europe and made it to the knockout stage. They will be disappointed if they fail to make it past the group stage in this campaign and it would represent a backwards step.
It won’t be an easy match for the Premier League side, as they are coming up against a team that is flying in their native country. PSV have won all nine of their Eredivisie matches and have scored 36 goals in the process. That is an average of four goals per game. There is a lot of debate regarding the strength of the Eredivisie, but there is no doubting the individual quality that is possessed by the current league leaders. They have a number of players that are attracting interest from bigger leagues and they will see this match against Tottenham as an opportunity to raise their own profile.
Since their defeat to Barcelona, Tottenham have won back-to-back Premier League matches against Cardiff City and West Ham United. Although neither performance was great, it has given them momentum and that is important at this stage of the season. The most pleasing thing for Mauricio Pochettino will be that his team has kept successive clean sheets. Their defence has been a real strength during recent seasons and it is important that they return to keeping teams out if they are to continue their upwards trajectory.
- PSV’s attack is impressive, but they have also managed to keep clean sheets in their last six Eredivisie matches. This included an impressive 3-0 victory over Ajax.
- Erik Lamela has scored five goals in eight matches across all competitions this season. This is more than he managed in 33 appearances last season.
The Mexican international caught the eye at the World Cup and attracted interest from several big teams during the recent summer transfer window. However, he decided to stay with PSV and it could prove to be a great decision as he is taking his game to a new level since the start of this season. The 23-year-old has already contributed eight goals and three assists in the Eredivisie, which ranks him as the joint top-scorer in the division. Lozano is direct and he looks to offer a goal threat from the right-wing. Furthermore to that, he can create chances and cause problems for an opposition team with his crossing ability. In the league, he is averaging 3.3 shots and 1.7 key passes per game. It is obvious that he has a future at a higher level and he will be one of the main concerns for Tottenham on Wednesday. If they can keep him quiet, they have a great chance of picking up the victory.
The midfielder wasn’t risked from the start at the weekend as he steps up his return from injury. However, he was brought on as a late substitute and it is likely that he will return to the starting eleven against PSV. This is a crucial match for Tottenham and Pochettino will want Eriksen to be on the pitch from the start. There isn’t a like-for-like replacement in the squad and that has been evident in his absence. Although Spurs have won their last two matches, they only scored one goal in each game and they weren’t creating as many clear-cut chances. Eriksen hasn’t been at his best this season, but his consistency over previous years suggests that his attacking contribution will increase over the coming weeks. PSV are a good team, but they don’t often play teams with the quality that Spurs have. There will be gaps to exploit in their defence and the 26-year-old is the man to do that.
PSV could name an unchanged team from the side that beat FC Emmen convincingly at the weekend. That will mean starts for Hirving Lozano and Steven Bergwijn, both of whom have been linked to Premier League clubs. Former Newcastle United striker Luuk de Jong will lead the line.
Mousa Dembele and Christian Eriksen are both pushing for starts after making their returns as substitutes during the weekend’s win over West Ham. Danny Rose is out injured, while Jan Vertonghen remains a long-term absentee. Dele Alli is a doubt.
This is going to be a difficult match for Tottenham as they will face a team that is capable of scoring goals and has nothing to lose. It will be a lot trickier to beat them in the Netherlands than it will be in the reverse fixture. The pressure is on the visitors as they are expected to compete in this competition, unlike the Dutch champions. The return of Eriksen and Dembele will be important as they provide creativity and physicality to the Spurs’ midfield. There will be goals in this one, as it is difficult to see either team keeping a clean sheet. However, the Premier League team should have enough experience to pick up a massive three points.
PSV Eindhoven 1-2 Tottenham