Spurs v Dnipro (20.05 GMT) Europa League
Tottenham are 1-0 down going into the second leg of their Europa League tie against Dnipro
Jermain Defoe will miss the opportunity to make his farewell appearance for Tottenham against Dnipro in the Europa League because of a hamstring injury.
The England striker, 31, joins Canadian MLS side Toronto on Friday after Spurs agreed to a £6m move last month. Danny Rose and Etienne Capoue miss out after both picked up knee injuries in Sunday’s 1-0 loss at Norwich.
Midfielder Sandro (calf) and right-back Kyle Walker (hip) could return against Dnipro, who hold a 1-0 first-leg lead.
Spurs suffered their first Europa League failure of the season last week, as they went down 1-0 to Dnipro in Ukraine. Liverpool target Yevhen Konoplyanka won the match with a late penalty.
Spurs missed some good chances, most notably a skied close-range effort from Roberto Soldado. He’s on a bad run of form, with just one goal in his last 11 appearances, and he is struggling to justify the hefty price Spurs paid Valencia for him in the summer.
That said, he is still getting into good goalscoring positions, and his manager Tim Sherwood has recently suggested a goal could kick-start his season.
With Sherwood’s number one striker Emmanuel Adebayor expected to be rested ahead of the weekend’s crucial Premier League clash with Cardiff, Soldado could be given another opportunity to show what he can do.
I expect Spurs to create more chances than they did last week, and if the Spaniard starts and keeps getting into the right areas, that drought may well come to an end.
In light of Tottenham’s awful Premier League record following Europa League games, there has been plenty of debate about whether Spurs should take the tournament seriously, and how many players should be rested.
Sherwood doesn’t appear as devoted to the Europa League as his predecessor Andre Villas-Boas, his hand is being somewhat forced in terms of team selection.
Kyle Naughton will once again deputise on one of the flanks, and he struggled against Konoplyanka, especially when the Ukraine international went up a gear in the second half.
There is some good news, as influential midfielder Sandro is back in the squad after missing the last 14 games with a calf problem.
Spurs will find it difficult to contain Konoplyanka (Opta tell us he has scored in each of his last four Europa League games), and there’s a worry about the cover Tottenham’s midfield can provide for the centre-backs. It’ll be another roller coaster White Hart Lane ride for Spurs to come through this…
Napoli v Swansea City (18:00 BST) Europa League
Swansea City failed to build a first-leg lead against Napoli last week and look to have blown their best chance of reaching the last 16.
Against a Napoli side that started well at the Liberty Stadium but then faded badly, the Swans wasted a plethora of chances. Garry Monk’s men found two Napoli keepers in fine form (the injured Rafael Cabral was replaced by Pepe Reina at half-time), but really should have built a lead ahead of the trip to Naples.
Napoli are enduring a sticky spell, and were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Genoa in Serie A at the weekend. That said, their overall home record at home and abroad this term is excellent.
In the Champions League group stage Rafa Benitez’ side secured home wins against Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal and Marseille, and in Serie A they have only suffered one home defeat in 13 games.
It’s also worth noting that earlier this month the team was trailing 3-2 from the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final against Roma, and they swept to a 3-0 victory at the San Paolo.
Opta tell us the Swans haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last 17 road matches, and they’ve failed to score in their last three Europa League games.
Although Swansea played pretty well in Sunday’s 4-3 defeat at Liverpool in the Premier League, Monk will have been rather alarmed at how loosely his side defended.
If they perform like that against players of the calibre of Gonzalo Higuain and Marek Hamsik, they’ll get torn to pieces. Not only do Swansea need to defend solidly, they’ll almost certainly need to find an away goal from somewhere.
The Swans are slow starters to games (Opta say they haven’t led at half-time in any of their last 18 games), and they won’t be able to afford a timid opening in this one.
Rafa Benitez will field a full-strength side, and the comments of some of his players suggest they are taking the game seriously and you can boost their price with the Asian Handicap.
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