Spurs make the long trip east to face CSKA Moscow tonight, for a game that is more pressurised that it should have been. Navigating your way through a Champions League group is typically based on picking up maximum points at home. Going down 2-1 to Monaco at Wembley means Spurs will have to pick up at least one win on their travels, something that is never easy in European competition.
CSKA drew their first game with Bayer Leverkusen meaning Spurs are only a point behind a qualification spot. Trips to Russia are always viewed as less than ideal by English clubs, though the good news for Tottenham is that the game will be played on turf rather than an artificial surface. Like Spurs at Wembley, CSKA are playing in unfamiliar surroundings too at the new CSKA Arena which opened less than two weeks ago.
Around 250 Spurs fans have travelled to the game, and have been advised not to wear club colours amid fears of violence following clashes between England and Russia fans in Marseille this summer. The Russians are unbeaten in eight in the league, but have not exactly flourished in Europe recently; not reaching the knockout stages since 2012 failing to keep a clean sheet in 23 attempts. Former Everton striker Lacina Traore and Manchester United winger Zoran Tosic will be familiar names to English audiences. Alan Dzagoev, absent at the Euros for injury, is the hosts’ main man in midfield.
Spurs have not quite reproduced the dynamic and effervescent performances of last season, but remain unbeaten in the Premier League. That shows they are a strong and well-balanced unit. Pochettino’s side picked up a valuable three points on Teesside with a 2-1 win against Middlesbrough. Spurs have seen off Crystal Palace and Sunderland at home, but the high point of the season was their 4-0 win away at Stoke. CSKA have made and unbeaten start to their league campaign.
Spurs starting XI
Injuries and Suspensions
Harry Kane’s scan was not as bad as many at Spurs feared, but he remains absent with an ankle ligament league. Moussa Dembélé, Eric Dier, Moussa Sissoko and Danny Rose have also failed to recover in time to make the trip.
This has the makings of a tricky encounter for Spurs, with the heart of their midfield out injured. Dier and Dembélé had a terrific understanding last season, and the Belgian in particular has been sorely missed at the start of this season. However, Pochettino’s side have showed recently that they can rely on the outer reaches of their squad in recent weeks. Heung Min Son has stepped up with some impressive performances, and Vincent Janssen looks a very useful player who needs a few more goals to get him well and truly settled at White Hart Lane.
For all the talk of the difficulty of long-haul away trips, English sides are unbeaten on their last four visits to CSKA, and Spurs have lost only one of their last five against Russian opposition. The visitors might be under-strength, but they still have enough about them to come away with a point.
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