Tottenham: Europa League fate; pundit tips forward to join United; defender speaks following loss
Away from the disappointment of Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford on Sunday, Spurs fans had Monday’s Europa League Round of 32 draw to look forward to. The draw, taking place on Monday, paired Spurs with Belgian side Gent, who are fifth in the Pro League, the nation’s top-flight, who progressed to the knockout stages of the Europa League courtesy of a stoppage time winner at Konyaspor in their final group game.
Spurs meanwhile sealed their place with a 3-1 win over CSKA Moscow which saw them finish third in their Champions League group and drop into the competition, which they have now competed in for six straight seasons. The legs of the tie against Gent will be played out on the 16th and the 23rd February, with a trip to Belgium coming before the return leg at Wembley. This tie will be the first hurdle for Spurs on the route to the final, which will take place at the Friends Arena in Swedish capital Stockholm.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 12, 2016
The reaction to the draw was largely positive on both sides, with supporters from both clubs chipping into the reaction on social media:
Perfect draw. Not far to travel. Good team to face. Hope we can win both legs #COYS
— Andrew (@Datey11) December 12, 2016
— Matt Elrick (@Melric24) December 12, 2016
There's no doubt that it'll be a tough tie, but I am confident we have the squad to progress. #COYS
— Nick Davison (@nick_davison10) December 12, 2016
— Michel (@dewildemichel) December 12, 2016
Although the disappointment of exiting the Champions League still looms large, there seems to be a determination about Spurs going into the competition this year, despite the fact that the club haven’t gotten beyond the quarter-finals in their last five attempts. Though in the past, it has been a competition where Spurs have opted to rest players, which has certainly proven their downfall in the last two years, where under-strength Tottenham teams were dispatched by Fiorentina and Borussia Dortmund.
Speaking ahead of the draw, defender Jan Vertonghen told the London Evening Standard: “I believe we can win the Europa League, I think we can.
“Maybe the experience of the Champions League will help.
“We are very hungry to win trophies. It is a shame it will not be in the Champions League this year but we are one of the better teams in the Europa League. Now we have to show it.”
Moving on from the excitement of a European tie, in the wake of Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat against Manchester United on Sunday, pundit Jamie Redknapp, a former Tottenham midfielder in his playing days, has tipped Spurs striker Harry Kane to one day don the red of Manchester United, according to a report in the Daily Express.
Redknapp went on to admit that he’d prefer to have Kane in his starting line-up over Manchester United’s own mercurial front man Zlatan Ibrahimovic, suggesting that the England international offers more as a centre-forward than his Swedish counterpart.
Kane has scored nine goals for Spurs already this season despite spending 10 games out on the sidelines with injury, whilst Ibrahimovic has 13 to his name in an impressive start to his first season in England since a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain.
Former Tottenham midfielder Redknapp, whose father Harry Redknapp once managed the club, believes that 22-year-old Kane could be the perfect replacement for veteran striker Ibrahimovic, at Old Trafford in years to come.
“I’d rather have him (Kane) in my team than Zlatan. It’s not even a question,” Redknapp told Sky Sports, as quoted in the report.
“He offers a lot more for his team. He is a player in a few years you could see wearing the number nine shirt for United.”
Kane has been the subject of much speculation in recent years regarding a move to United, but signed a new long-term contract at White Hart Lane earlier this month, reported to be worth around £100,000 a week, which will keep the forward in North London until 2022.
Elsewhere, Spurs defender Toby Alderweireld has discussed the determination of himself and his teammates to put Sunday’s defeat at Old Trafford behind them and seek to get back to winning ways in their next match against struggling Hull on Wednesday.
The Belgian has urged his teammates to channel the “anger” from their 1-0 defeat to Manchester United into the showdown with the Tigers at White Hart Lane.
Despite falling to Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s winner on Sunday, Mauricio Pochettino’s side are one point better off than they were at this stage last season but cannot realistically afford to lose further ground on their title rivals ahead of a congested Christmas period, if they are to firstly be in with a shot of the title and more importantly to remain in target range of the top four.
Alderweireld, who made first start since October on Sunday following his comeback from a knee injury, told the Spurs Official Website, as quoted in the London Evening Standard:
“It was lost in the minor details. If we could’ve made it 1-1 it would have been a different game. We have to learn.
“Everyone is sad because we felt we could get at least a point here, so that’s frustrating.
“We have to put those frustrations and anger and use it in the right way.
“We can’t change this now so we have to put it in the next game and get the three points at home,” Alderweireld added.
Spurs will go into the Hull clash as strong favourites, particularly given their unbeaten record in seven league fixtures at White Hart Lane this season. Mike Phelan’s Hull side in comparison have won just one of their last 13 games and have not secured three points on their travels since a 2-0 win over Swansea in August. They do however come off the back of a confidence boosting draw from their match with Crystal Palace over the weekend.
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