No Harry Kane but Tottenham can still finish the job against Manchester City: Champions League talking points
Tottenham Hotspur travel to Manchester City on Wednesday night holding a 1-0 lead in their Uefa Champions League quarter-final. We look at the main talking points for the London club ahead of the second leg at the Etihad Stadium
Winks' control needed
Sidelined for a month, Harry Winks returned to the Tottenham starting line-up for last week’s first leg. He slotted seamlessly back into central midfield, allying an industry with a big-game intelligence.
Still only 23, Winks is integral to how Tottenham look to play, comfortable in possession and quick to move forward the attack. Of the Tottenham players, his pass completion (86.8 per cent) was bettered only by Moussa Sissoko and Dele Alli.
However, Winks missed Saturday’s match against Huddersfield Town with the recurrence of his groin injury, and is a doubt for the second leg. No doubt, he would make Mauricio Pochettino’s first XI, especially since two matches in four days seems a stretch for an out-of-touch Victor Wanyama.
Winks’ participation will be key, too, to limiting Kevin de Bruyne, who seems certain to contribute more to this match than the few minutes he was granted off the bench last week.
No Kane, still able
Tottenham’s worst fears were realised in the days following the first leg, with confirmation Harry Kane will likely miss the remainder of the season. The England striker suffered ligament damage to his ankle not long before the hour when he clashed with Fabian Delph, meaning Tottenham must find a way past City without their main goal threat.
However, there is reason for optimism. Son Heung-min scored the only goal of the game last Tuesday, taking his tally for the season to 18 – matching last season’s haul, in 13 fewer matches. Meanwhile, Lucas Moura made an emphatic case for a start by notching a hat-trick against Huddesrfield.
Depending on injuries, Tottenham might line up with both, knowing their pace could catch City on the counter, especially if gaps are left at full-back. An away goal would mean the hosts require three to progress.
Cure away-days blues
Having recently gone through their worst sequence of Premier League results during Pochettino’s tenure, Tottenham have steadied the ship.
However, all three matches since the 2-1 defeat to Liverpool – culminating in a run of one point from 15 – have taken place at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with the home side clearly imbued by the atmosphere. It will be a totally different matter on Wednesday, though.
Previously boasting the division's best away record, Spurs have lost their last four in the league on the road, including defeats at Burnley and Southampton. Although they did win at Borussia Dortmund.
Pochettino’s record away to the other members of the Premier League top six makes for pretty miserable reading: three victories and 14 defeats from 24 fixtures. In four matches at the Etihad, Spurs have won one and lost two (both 4-1).
Avoiding another defeat would see them advance.
Captain fantastic, not fallible
Hugo Lloris’ premier professional achievement has been followed by arguably his worst season for Tottenham.
The France goalkeeper captained his country to World Cup glory last summer – he did blunder against Croatia in the final – but he has since made a number of high-profile errors for his club: PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona in the Champions League group stages, Liverpool earlier this month.
Supporters have called for Lloris to be dropped. To his credit, he has saved the last three penalties faced, including last week against Sergio Aguero – an early intervention that set the tone for the night. There have been recent signs, too, of his obvious ability, most notably against Dortmund away.
Yet Lloris' decision-making has for some time been poor. Given the opposition on Wednesday, he seems certain to be busy. Errors must be avoided.
Stymie City's slickers
In the first leg, Tottenham clearly rattled City.
Winks and the now-indefatigable Moussa Sissoko offered energy and tenacity in midfield, giving their side a foothold in the match. Dele Alli set the tempo with his pressing from the front, ably supported by Son. However, Alli did fade late on, understandably, and the double-break in his hand could hamper his impact on Wednesday.
In all, the initial encounter was a surprisingly feisty affair, with the return encounter most probably to follow suit. Just like last week, Tottenham will have to provide another determined and dogged display, shaking City from their rhythm.
Pep Guardiola’s men have been susceptible to bouts of panic – Crystal Palace’s goal on Sunday knocked them from their stride, albeit temporarily – although at home they have been imperious. They have scored 49 times in 12 matches this year, including six against Chelsea and seven against Schalke, while conceding three.
For Spurs, keeping City at bay, in particular during the early exchanges, is vital.
Updated: April 17, 2019 10:42 AM