Three Things to Look for if Tottenham is to Beat Burnley in Premier League

Tottenham Celebrate October 26, 2020. (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Tottenham Celebrate October 26, 2020. (Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

Tottenham Hotspur host Burnley in a Premier League match on Sunday afternoon in north London. Both teams are looking to improve on their position in the league and neither want nor can afford to drop all three points. In a match where the defenses are likely to concede, what should we look for as Spurs host the Clarets if Tottenham is to win.

Tottenham Center-halves Must be Ready

Midweek it was back to Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld. Based on the rotation and the fact nothing in the backline remains constant, other than believing Davinson Sanchez is going to play, we do not know much. Sanchez has sort of taken back over as the most trusted of the right center-halves in the last month or so.

Of course who is going to start on the left side of the back line is always a question. Eric Dier has probably been most consistent there despite the mistakes. Personally, I would like to see Joe Rodon get the minutes, but it is unlikely both Rodon and Sanchez would be lined up together.

Regardless of who the pairing is, they really need to be ready. With both Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood questionable heading into the match, expect to see Jay Rodriguez playing up front for Burnley. Whereas Barnes and Wood are both target men who play with a lot of physicality, Rodriguez is still a burner.

Despite the years and knee surgeries, Rodriguez can still flat out run and provides the same kind of threat up front for Burnley as does Jamie Vardy for Leicester City. With a player who excels at movement and is athletic up front for Burnley the Sanchez and Rodon pairing really is the best option.

Scoring first is important but it will take more than one goal to win

Neither of these teams are really good at coming back once falling behind. Tottenham have not had a come from behind victory since October and Burnley has not won once after falling behind this season. That said, Burnley has managed to draw the the last two matches where they fell behind – against Bright and Fulham.

Even bigger than having to come from behind, the team that falls behind then has to come out their shell more than either manager really wants. Both teams like to attack on the counter with stout defending. That said, Spurs have struggled defensively this term and Burnley has not exactly been great on the counter.

A more open game favors Tottenham as they are the deeper and better football team. The more open the game becomes the more space there will be to operate and the more likely Spurs are to score multiple goals. Of course if the opposite happens and Burnley scores first, expect the Clarets to hunker down and force Tottenham to break down a team with two rows for four defensively.

Ultimately the team that scores first has no guarantees other than it will force the opponent out of their comfort zone and odds are Spurs will score first.

What role do Dele Alli and Gareth Bale play in the game

The hope is that at least one, if not both of Dele Alli and Gareth Bale start for Tottenham on Sunday. Spurs have been struggling of late in the league and both Dele and Bale have done their part to help Tottenham advance in Europe. More importantly both players seem to be playing with some motivation and confidence.

Confidence seems to have been the biggest thing missing from Gareth Bale so far in the season. You could see in his eyes early in the campaign he was not sure if he could open it up or not and it was holding him back. Over the last few weeks, we have seen a new Bale, whose head is up and alert, not down and dower. That confidence leads to things like the training camp display he put on for Spurs third on Wednesday.

Dele Alli seems to be getting back to form, making both the spectacular play – his bicycle – the big play – his assist to Vinicius – and the smart play – his assist to Bale. Altogether, we have a player who is once again on the ball and in the game. Dele Alli is best when he can find pockets of space, players like Bale and Kane on the pitch with him make that easier.

Of course, the performances coming from Dele and Bale mean little if it does not translate in the League. Even if Tottenham make a run and win Europa League, no one will be happy with a midtable finish in the Premier League. For Dele and Bale to make a difference, they both have to get a real chance to do it. If both playmakers are truly in Mourinho’s plans for the Tottenham rebirth we will know it after tomorrow.

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