Tottenham Hotspur Look to Get One Back Against Antwerp

ANTWERPEN, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 29: Harry Winks of Tottenham. (Photo by John Berry/Getty Images)
ANTWERPEN, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 29: Harry Winks of Tottenham. (Photo by John Berry/Getty Images) /

After losing to Royal Antwerp 1-0 in Belgium, Tottenham Hotspur have the chance to now get revenge on Antwerp and win the group with a victory Thursday.

We know Tottenham want to win the game and frankly so does Antwerp as the winner has a better chance a good draw for the Round of 32. However, Royal Antwerp has already beaten Tottenham once, and have only given up three goals in five Europa League matches as Tottenham Hotspur look to bust out and beat Antwerp.

Offense versus Defense

While Antwerp can score, with 8 goals in the five Europa League matches, their defense is really the team’s calling card. In five games Antwerp has only conceded three goals, including a clean sheet on matchday 2 against Spurs. The success Antwerp has defensively is not from sitting back and parking the bus, rather it is from a possession-based game.

Through five Europa League matches, Antwerp has held a slight majority of possession at 51%. More importantly that possession leads to shots, with Antwerp averaging 13 shots per Europa League contest. While the Big Old have not been fantastic offensively with eight goals in the competition thus far, however, three of those eight goals have come on set pieces. This may be problematic for Tottenham as Spurs struggled earlier in the season defending set pieces but have been better of late.

Tottenham need to score early to help break the air of impenetrability Antwerp has been building defensively. Gent did manage to get 4 past them on the weekend in League, so we know it can be done. If Spurs are on their game, they can double the goals Antwerp has conceded in the competition.

When we Last Met

So, Tottenham and Antwerp has only played the one time back at the end of October. In many respects Spurs must feel a bit hard done by the loss, considering it was a defensive slip by Ben Davies that led to the goal. Tottenham held more possession and had more shots but as we have seen in recent weeks, more possession really means little if you cannot be clinical with your chances.

Antwerp was clinical and took the game 1-0 while Tottenham were sloppy completing less than 80% of their passes and being dispossessed some 13 times. On the day no one really played well for Tottenham and several of the Antwerp players played out of their minds. This is not to say something could not happen again, but it does feel like Spurs were just caught at the wrong time at this point.

Tottenham to Top the Group

We have already written about the import of winning the Group, so will try not to belabor the point but so much here. However, beyond the fiscal windfall of winning the group and beyond the potential advantage of getting a better draw for the next round. There is one other big reason to win the group, which is more about the mindset Spurs have been trying to instill.

If we are honest with ourselves as Spurs fans, we know fans of all the other big clubs are just waiting, they are waiting for that moment when Tottenham slip up in some way and they will scream about how “spursy” Tottenham is and how Spurs cannot win the big one. Well, you get rid of labels like that and close people’s mouths by not losing games you should win.

Yes, Antwerp are a good team, yes Antwerp beat Spurs, but Tottenham are the better team on paper and in form. If Tottenham Hotspur are truly going to do something special this year, the team must step up in big moments. Up to this point in the season Spurs have been rising to the occasion so there is no reason to think that will end here, but it still must happen.

Given the overriding need to win the game and the group we get a good showing from Spurs and they get the revenge they are seeking and then some on a 3-0 win.