Everything is starting to look at bit rosier for fans of Tottenham. The consistency under new boss Tim Sherwood has continued and after a rampant demolition job last week over Newcastle the performances seem to be there as well.
But on the back of that win it has been a relatively quiet few days for the North Londoners, free from the rigours of FA Cup and Champions League action it will mean more than week off until they face Dnipro on Thursday.
There are always two schools of thought on this issue of time off; the first says that a team that is winning wants games coming thick and fast. When you are playing well the physical strain of Premier League action just isn’t quite the same as when you’re in a rut, and for Spurs it seems as though they have missed out on the chance to capitalise on their recent good form.
But the fact that the majority of Spurs’ new rivals have been battling hard over the weekend, it is difficult not to see it as advantageous that the Spurs team have been able to have their feet up and relax. By this stage of the FA Cup it isn’t so much about rotating your squad, and for teams like Liverpool, Arsenal and Everton it has mean expensive exertions over the weekend. Spurs can look on in envy at FA Cup and Champions League participation, but when it comes down to it this could help Spurs out a lot come May.
So does it mean Spurs will be bold on Thursday?
Sherwood’s attitude towards the Europa League remains untested, and he would do well to recognise that Dnipro are no pushovers. I expect to see a strong side, with an element of rotation given an important tie with Norwich at the weekend. Europe will always come behind the league in the list of priorities this season, but this doesn’t mean that Spurs cannot win it. After their summer spending spree they now have the squad to challenge on both fronts, to think that the likes of Lamela, Soldado and Chadli are finding themselves as squad players only emphasises the strength Spurs have in depth.
Dnipro are a side dominated by Ukrainian players from the national side, and in Yevhen Konoplyanka they have genuine quality in the final third. This will be Spurs’ toughest test so far, and one if underestimated could prove difficult. But this is what European football is about, and it should be a challenge embraced by the North Londoners who are again trying to emerge as one of the continents top club sides.
Spurs’ challenge last season was derailed by fixture congestion and an apparent lethargy within the ranks come the last few weeks. Some argue this is overplayed, that footballers in the peak of fitness should be able to play ever few days, but you only have to look at results during congested runs of fixtures to see the issues.
This is in part the reason why Mourinho has tipped Liverpool for the league, a side now out of both domestic cups and one that never featured in Europe this season:
“There are teams with more potential than others, obviously. There is another, like Liverpool, with a big advantage with the fact that they don’t play in the Champions League.
“Playing in this is going to take concentration and energy from the teams that are involved in it.”
Is he just making excuses, or does he actually have a point here?
In the case of Spurs we will find out on Thursday, will we find a rejuvenated side lining up or one that is a little rusty from a lack of action over the weekend? In either case Spurs will have to be on their guard against an extremely dangerous Ukrainian side in the Europa knockouts.