After Tottenham’s failure to get the better of Manchester United last Friday, questions remain regarding the rest of their season and with hopes of a Champions League return all but evaporated, Jose Mourinho must decide on whether a Europa League tilt is worth the effort.
It’s a difficult situation for the North London outfit and although a return to any form of European football will be welcomed by Daniel Levy and the Tottenham board, having a season away from the continent may just make as much sense.
As both Leicester and Chelsea have proved in the past, no European action can subsequently lead to much richer prizes and with them gaming the system (albeit not necessarily on purpose), fresher legs did eventually lead to a Premier League title.
It’s an incredibly risky strategy because if Tottenham were to fold their cards this season and play nothing more than eight training exercises, it would put an almighty amount of pressure on the club next season.
If a break from cross-continental football did not result in a top four finish that season, the knives would no doubt be out, and questions would be asked regarding Tottenham’s end of campaign strategy in 2020.
Not only that, but can Tottenham even afford to look down on the Europa League? Especially when you consider how tight the race for a top six slot has been this season – a race that Tottenham are not guaranteed to win by any stretch.
Therefore, the encounter with West Ham on Tuesday is certainly not going to be a training exercise and with both sides from the capital needing a win for far differing reasons, its not just local bragging rights that are up for grabs.
As far as the Hammers are concerned, they will be looking to bounce back from a 2-0 home defeat to Wolves on Saturday and although they looked resolute in the first hour, they simply could not deal with Adama Traore’s pace from the bench.
His introduction was the catalyst for Wolves to snatch all three points and although other results did not go against the Hammers over the course of the weekend, David Moyes’s men would have been looking for a quicker start out of the blocks.
When the two teams met earlier in the season, it was Jose Mourinho’s first game in charge of Tottenham and one that was highly entertaining, as the London Stadium played host to a hard-fought 3-2 away win.
West Ham’s porous display that afternoon was mainly down the hapless Roberto in goal and with Lukasz Fabianski back between the sticks, manager Moyes will be hoping his players can instead repeat their away day efforts from last season and earn all three points.
Michail Antonio’s goal halfway through the second half was the difference in a 1-0 win, as Tottenham looked more concerned with progress in the Champions League and subsequently took their foot off the domestic pedal.
With no such distractions on Tuesday, Tottenham will aim to be not such generous hosts and although they looked leggy against Manchester United late on, they will be more rested than West Ham and this could up being the key advantage come full time.