Two games, three days… and two COMPLETELY different Tottenham teams?! As Jose Mourinho moans about his fixture pile-up, here’s how Spurs could field separate XIs to fight off fatigue
- Jose Mourinho has bemoaned Tottenham’s hugely-congested fixture schedule
- The Portuguese boss admitted he’d ‘like to fight for the Carabao Cup but can’t’
- Spurs take on fierce London rivals Chelsea in the fourth round of the competition
- Two days later, they take on Maccabi Haifa in a must-win Europa League qualifier
- Mourinho will have enough players to field two different sides for each cup clash
Jose Mourinho was left to curse a congested fixture schedule yet again on Monday in what seems to be an annual event for the Tottenham boss.
You don’t have to look that far back to find Mourinho bemoaning the organisation of the football calendar, but this year, he certainly has a point.
Spurs are in the midst of a hectic run of games that sees them play eight matches in the space of a 22 days, and next up is a Carabao Cup fourth-round clash against fierce rivals Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho has bemoaned Tottenham’s hectic fixture schedule ahead of clash with Chelsea
Tonight’s game against Frank Lampard’s men comes just 48 hours before Spurs host Maccabi Haifa in a Europa League play-off qualifier, which is considered as a must-win match for the Premier League outfit.
Having already played on Sunday in what was a deflating 1-1 draw with Newcastle, Spurs will need to pick themselves up if they are to advance to the next stage of the Carabao Cup.
However, after seeing Son Heung-min pick up a hamstring injury in the game against the Magpies, Mourinho insists that the South Korean’s knock will be the first of many as he looks to maintain each member of his squad’s fitness levels.
Mourinho also admitted that he will not be prioritising Spurs’ clash against his former team on Tuesday.
Spurs were handed a huge blow after Son (R) picked up a hamstring injury against Newcastle
‘I would like to fight for the Carabao but I don’t think I can,’ he said. ‘The group phase of the Europa gives us a certain amount of money that, for a club like us, is important.
‘The EFL made the decision for us. They didn’t even create us a problem, they made the decision for us.’
But as he looks to battle fatigue issues, could Mourinho send out two entirely different starting XIs? Sportsmail takes a look at the how the Special One could overcome his selection headache for Tuesday’s and Thursday’s matches.
Tottenham XI vs Chelsea (Carabao Cup)
Mourinho admitted that he ‘cannot fight’ for the Carabao Cup on Monday, which leaves many expecting him to name a completely different starting XI from the squad that faced Newcastle.
Joe Hart will likely be handed his second start for the club while left back Sergio Reguilon is set to make his debut for the club following his £30million summer move from Real Madrid.
On the opposite flank, Serge Aurier will provide width and will be hoping to stake a claim as to why he should be starting regularly following his decent showing against Shkendija in the Europa League last week.
Serge Aurier could be handed his second start of the campaign against Chelsea on Tuesday
New boy Sergio Reguilon (L) is expected to make his debut while Juan Foyth (R) could come in
Toby Alderweireld will return to marshall the defence while Juan Foyth, who has been linked with a move away from the club, could also start with Japhet Tanganga still recovering from a thigh injury.
In a midfield pivot, Gedson Fernandes and Moussa Sissoko will have the difficult task of neutralising Chelsea’s attacking threat of Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and Timo Werner, while Tanguy Ndombele will be given the green light to bomb forward and orchestrate attacks.
There is no spot for Dele Alli in the squad after it was revealed earlier on Tuesday that he has been left out of the squad to face the Blues, with his future plunged into further doubt.
The England midfielder has been linked with a move away from north London in the transfer window, and he appears to have dropped down Mourinho’s pecking order this season.
Tanguy Ndombele would be given the green light to bomb forward and orchestrate attacks
Jack Clarke (left) would also be in line to make his senior debut for the club on Tuesday
Ryan Seesegnon and Jack Clarke could be given the chance to show what they can do against tough opposition, as Mourinho looks to rest the likes of Erik Lamela and Steven Bergwijn for Thursday’s clash at the White Hart Lane.
Lucas Moura is expected to lead the line for the side as the Brazilian aims to capitalise on scoring his first goal of the season in the draw against Steve Bruce’s side.
On paper, it is still a relatively decent side but it remains to be seen whether this Tottenham team could pull off a shock result against Chelsea.
Tottenham XI vs Maccabi Haifa (Europa League)
In Monday’s press conference, Mourinho stressed how reaching the group stages of the Europa League would rake in £15m for Tottenham.
With priorities set firmly on qualifying for the group stage, it’s no wonder why Mourinho is putting all of his eggs in one basket for their clash against the Israeli team.
Club captain Hugo Lloris will reclaim his position in between the sticks while a more familiar backline of Ben Davies, Eric Dier, Davinson Sanchez and Matt Doherty will sit in front of the Frenchman.
With Harry Winks unlikely to start against Chelsea, the England international would start against Maccabi Haifa and would sit alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Giovani Lo Celso in a three-man midfield.
With Son facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Steven Bergwijn is set to feature more prominently in Jose’s starting XI going forward, and is expected to start in Thursday’s must-win game.
Harry Winks (left), Eric Dier (middle) and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (right) could start on Thursday
Steven Bergwijn (right) is set to feature more prominently in Jose’s starting XI going forward
The Dutchman has been given limited chances since arriving at the club, with Son a nailed-on starter on the left when fit.
On the opposite wing, Erik Lamela will act in a free role on the right, cutting in while acting as a No 10 behind the main man – Harry Kane.
The England captain is likely to be given a well-earned rest on Tuesday night and will need to be fully fit as Mourinho looks to get the job done.
With Lo Celso and Lamela sharing the playmaking duties, Kane will be hoping to bring up his goal tally, having acted as a provider in his last few games.
Failure to reach the Europa League group stages is not an option for Mourinho, especially when that £15m qualifying fee for reaching the group stages would be a welcomed bonus amidst a pandemic.
Kane is likely to be rested tonight so he can help fire Spurs into Europa League group stages
The big sum of money could also prove to be crucial if Spurs are to bring in any new recruits before the transfer window slams shut on Monday.
Mourinho is also aiming to win the Europa League this season, with the competition seen as Spurs’ real chance of winning silverware this season.
However, should disaster strike, Tottenham could find themselves out of two cup competitions in the space of three days, derailing their season before it’s even got going.
But should Mourinho name his strongest starting XI on Thursday, Spurs fans will be hoping for a clean sweep in Europa League qualifiers this season.
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