Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to build on Saturday’s impressive win over Premier League leaders Manchester City when they return to Lancashire to face Burnley at Turf Moor this evening.
This is a rearranged game from December after the initial clash was postponed due to snowy conditions at the very last minute and another three points would see Spurs move into touching distance of a place in the top four.
The other side of Manchester hold that lucrative fourth spot and are currently seven points ahead of the north Londoners heading into tonight’s fixtures, though Antonio Conte’s outfit will still have two games on them in the coming months.
Sean Dyche’s men will head into the encounter also buoyed by confidence after Wout Weghorst’s first goal for the club helped steer the Clarets to a 3-0 victory at Brighton.
Spurs will need to be at the top of their game if they are to break down a usually resolute and tough Burnley side and as such, Conte will need to select the right sort of players.
One area of concern could be out wide.
If the Lilywhites are to find a way past Dyche’s defence, then the wing-backs will play a crucial role in providing some much-needed creativity. This is where Conte will have a big decision.
He ought to opt for Matt Doherty over Emerson Royal on the right with the Italian having doubts over the latter’s ability in the final third, as revealed by The Times during the January transfer window.
The Irishman played an important six-minute cameo up at the Etihad, not only did he put in a crucial late block to deny Bernardo Silva but he was also involved in the build-up to Harry Kane’s dramatic 95th-minute winner.
Emerson had picked up a knock, so he may not be risked here today with Leeds United on Saturday lunchtime, too.
Once dubbed a “weak link” of the side under Jose Mourinho, Doherty’s time at Spurs has always been dubious with inconsistent performances on the pitch but there won’t be a greater time for the £74k-per-week wing-back to impress than in an encounter like this.
Conte must be bold and hand the former Wolves dynamo one last chance tonight. It could prove to be a game-changing call, albeit one with high risk.