Spurs To Put Cypriots To The SwordStats
Tottenham v AEL Limassol
Having made a blistering start under the stewardship of Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham return to Europa League action against AEL Limassol on Thursday aiming to continue their fine run.
With a perfect record of three wins from three, it’s been a fantastic start for the former Southampton boss since he took the reins at White Hart Lane.
The most recent of those came with a 4-0 drubbing of QPR on Sunday when two goals from Nacer Chadli were added to by Emmanuel Adebayor and new signing Eric Dier as the hosts cruised past former boss Harry Redknapp’s lacklustre side with ease to put Spurs top of the formative Premier League table.
It was a second strike in two league games for Dier as the defender also grabbed the only goal of the game a week previously away to West Ham.
In between Pochettino’s men ran out winners in their maiden European outing of the season when they came away with a hard-fought victory in Cyprus in the first leg of Thursday’s tie.
AEL Limassol opened their domestic campaign with three points thanks to a 2-0 win at NEA Salamis on Sunday thanks to second half goals from Valentinos Sielis and Brazilian Luciano Bebe.
The champions of Cyprus had only taken part in European fixtures up until that point this season but were knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers at the first hurdle after being handed a tough draw against Zenit St Petersburg. They gave a good account of themselves though, winning the home leg 1-0 and coming within a couple of minutes of extra-time against the Russians before two late goals gave Zenit a 3-0 home win for a 3-1 aggregate victory overall.
The Europa League draw was also an unkind one to pit them against a strong Spurs side although they again put in a strong performance to take an early lead through Adrian Sardinero.
Again they couldn’t quite hold out though as late goals from Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane gave the visitors a 2-1 win in southern Europe and the Cypriots are really up against it to reach the group stages now.
Pochettino is again expected to shuffle his pack for this game after making seven changes to his starting XI between their win over West Ham and the trip to Cyprus.
Defenders Vlad Chiriches and Kyle Walker are the only absentees through injury for Tottenham but the likes of Soldado, Kane, Ben Davies, Lewis Holtby and Paulinho are all in line for a recall from the start.
Bulgarian coach Ivaylo Petev has a hugely multicultural squad to choose from for AEL, including five Brazilians, three Spaniards and two Ghanaians while former Liverpool forward Florent Sinama Pongolle will be familiar to many but the Frenchman has yet to feature for his new club as he lacks match fitness.
Head to Head
The first leg clash between the teams was the first time these teams have met in a competitive game.
Their electric performance at the weekend and the relatively poor standard of opposition have Spurs priced at a restrictive 1/7 for the win with the visitors a massive 12/1.
Often in games where the boss makes wholesale changes the performances will be markedly inferior but with many of the lineup playing for their future’s at the club, it suits the Tottenham manager perfectly as it’s in the players best interest to give it their all.
With that in mind the 4/6 on more than 2.5 goals looks the best odds-on punt available while the -2 handicap shouldn’t put anybody off at 7/5.