Tottenham Hotspur shift their focus entirely to the Premier League as they take on Sheffield United on Sunday.
Tottenham Hotspur are hoping for a positive start to the new month as they welcome Sheffield United on Sunday. It has been a miserable past few months for the north London giants, who were shockingly eliminated from the UEFA Europa League by Dinamo Zagreb.
It was coupled with a series of poor, inconsistent performances in the Premier League and the Super League debacle as well as the untimely sacking of Jose Mourinho. Tottenham capped off their poor April with a defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final.
The Lilywhites, though, still have a lot to play for and following their elimination from all the cup competitions, they can prioritize the Premier League as they hope to finish in the top six.
Tottenham are currently sitting seventh in the league table, just trailing fourth-placed Chelsea by eights points with a game in hand. Although a top-four finish seems unlikely at this stage, the club must secure European football next season – making their upcoming tie quite critical as they look to put pressure on Liverpool and West Ham.
In Sheffield United, Spurs will come up against the worst performing team in the division with just 17 points in 33 matches. The Blades, though, did gain some momentum with their recent win over Brighton & Hove Albion and will fancy their chances against a Tottenham side led by the inexperienced Ryan Mason.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this crucial Premier League encounter at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 29, 2021
Ryan Mason has to make some key tactical decisions on Sunday, up against a Sheffield United side who are likely to defend for the most part. As such, the interim coach could be tempted to recall Gareth Bale into his starting eleven as the Welshman can offer the additional attacking flair alongside the usual combination of Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min.
Things do get interesting in the midfield department, where Mason might want to recall Dele Alli. The Englishman was mostly frozen out of the squad by Jose Mourinho, but the poor performances of Giovani Lo Celso should offer an ideal opportunity for the 29-year-old to field Alli in the attacking midfield role.
Alli’s off the ball movements, combined with his understanding with Son and Kane could be useful in probing Sheffield United this weekend. The former MK Dons prodigy could be additionally supported by Tanguy Ndombele.
The Frenchman was not included in the starting eleven against Manchester City, in favour of Harry Winks. Mason, however, is likely to call him back into the setup, as his ability in tight spaces coupled with his technical prowess are always useful for a Tottenham side that is expected to dominate possession.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg should provide the security in midfield and screen the central defensive combo of Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier, as Mason looks to retain the main defensive core of his side, especially considering their performances in recent matches.
The Tottenham coach might face a selection dilemma at right-back with Matt Doherty in contention. However, we do expect Serge Aurier and Sergio Reguilon to retain their respective places in the starting eleven, as they hope to provide the width going forward for the hosts.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon; Hojbjerg, Ndombele; Bale, Alli, Son; Kane
Sheffield United interim manager Paul Heckingbottom secured his first win after replacing Chris Wilder in early March. It suggests that the 43-year-old might not want to make too many changes from the side that faced Brighton.
A lot could depend on how Chris Basham and Sander Berge recover from their respective injury woes. While both are likely to be back in contention, it remains unlikely that either of them could be rushed back into the starting eleven.
Paul Heckingbottom on Berge. 🇳🇴
“I’ll include Sander in the squad.
He’s had plenty of training days with us and is feeling stronger and more confident every day.” 💪 pic.twitter.com/Z2I5xToRLV
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) April 30, 2021
As such, George Baldock may once again feature in central defence, alongside John Egan and Kean Bryan as Sheffield United look to shut Tottenham out. Basham’s absence forcing Baldock to play in central defence has paved the way for Jayden Bogle to emerge as a starter at right wing-back. That is unlikely to change unless Basham does start, while Enda Stevens is a shoo-in, on the opposite flank.
In midfield, Ben Osborn will once again be given the license to attack the opposition, thanks to assurance from Oliver Norwood and John Fleck in the double-pivot. This method served Sheffield United well against Brighton and Heckingbottom will be hoping for a similar result this time around.
And finally, in the attacking department, the Blades will continue to miss out on the services of frontline strikers in Oli McBurnie and Billy Sharp. Therefore, Heckingbottom will have no options but to persist with the offensive combination of Rhian Brewster and David McGoldrick, although Lys Mousset and Ollie Burke can be considered as potential alternatives.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Ramsdale; Baldock, Egan, Bryan; Bogle, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens; Osborn; Brewster, McGoldrick
- Under 1.5 Match Goals @ 4.000
- Full Time Result – Draw @ 5.50
- Tottenham are looking to complete their first league double over Sheffield United since the 1975/76 campaign, following their 3-1 win at Bramall Lane earlier this season.
- Sheffield United are winless in all four of their Premier League away games against Spurs, with their last away league win against them coming in November 1991.
- Sheffield United have won just one of their last 25 Premier League games in London, beating Crystal Palace 1-0 in February 2020. The Blades have lost all five of their league games in the capital this season by an aggregate score of 12-2.
- Tottenham Hotspur have scored at least once in each of their last 10 Premier League games, the longest current run in the competition.
- Sheffield United beat Brighton 1-0 last time out in their first game since having relegation confined. The Blades last won back to back league games in July 2020.
Player to Watch
Following the Carabao Cup defeat to Manchester City, Harry Kane has a point to prove as the striker looks to return to Premier League action following a slight injury scare.
The English international has often been the lone spark in the Tottenham attack, in a season filled with mediocrity. And with goals dying down even for his solid attacking partner in Son Heung-Min, the onus will be on Kane to deliver for Ryan Mason’s side as they look to brush aside bottom club Sheffield United.
It is also fair to point out that Kane has been linked with an exit from Tottenham in the summer, so ending the campaign positively and helping the Lilywhites potentially sneak into European places could be an ideal parting gift from the striker’s perspective.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Sheffield United
Sheffield United are not an opposition to be taken lightly despite their placement in the league table. However, Tottenham Hotspur are likely to perform well in this encounter, given the quality they have in Kane and Son while the defence has been performing decently of late. Their only challenge could be the lack of chance-creation, but do we expect someone like Dele Alli to make a breakthrough this weekend and get them over the line.