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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Belgian fun looks set to come to an end

Spurs unlikely to make same mistakes

Tottenham's Harry Kane takes a shot
1 of 1

Europa League last-32 second leg
BT Sport 1, 8.05pm Thursday

Tottenham experienced a double dose of Wembley woe in the Champions League – losing against Monaco (2-1) and Bayer Leverkusen (1-0) – but they can find their feet at the national stadium by overturning a 1-0 deficit against Gent in the Europa League round of 32.

Mauricio Pochettino's side made a hash of last Thursday's first leg in Belgium, creating few clear-cut chances and succumbing to Jeremy Perbet's 59th-minute strike.

It looked a strong Spurs side on paper but the balance wasn't right with Dele Alli uncomfortable in a wide position and Moussa Sissoko again failing to impress.

Spurs missed the creative vision of Christian Eriksen, kept on the bench until the 79th minute, and were out of sorts at the back, where centre-backs Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier looked strangely uncomfortable.

They were poor in all areas of the pitch and made their opponents – a highly-motivated but ordinary mid-table Belgian side – look far better than they are.

Gent will have taken huge confidence from the performance and result and will be supported by more than 7,000 travelling fans at Wembley as they strive to complete a famous victory.

But they are likely to be facing a very different Spurs side, buoyed by a superb 3-0 victory at Fulham in the FA Cup fifth round.

Mauricio Pochettino learned his lesson from Thursday and got his selection spot on at Craven Cottage.

Alli played in behind Kane and looked back to his best, setting up the hat-trick goal for the England striker. And Eriksen was outstanding, providing inch-perfect deliveries for the first two goals and starting the move which led to the third.

Spurs are a much better team when the Alli-Kane-Eriksen attacking axis clicks and they should have beaten a dangerous Fulham side by a wider margin.

Pochettino's problem is working out when to give any of the key trio a breather but it is hard to imagine him repeating the selection errors made in Belgium.

Tottenham looked far better in defence at the weekend with Jan Vertonghen back from injury and renewing his rock-solid partnership with Alderweireld.

They miss Danny Rose's pace and energy down the left but there is still enough quality in the side to give Gent a hard time.

The Belgians will be targeting an away goal to give themselves a big chance of qualifying and will look to the penalty-box instincts of Perbet and the pace of winger Moses Simon to cause Spurs problems.

But their lack of quality showed during group-stage defeats to Shakhtar Donetsk (5-3 in Belgium and 5-0 in Ukraine) and they could be on the wrong end of a heavy defeat against a Spurs side capable of performing much better than they showed last week.

Tottenham -1.5 on Asian handicap
1pt Evs bet365

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Probable line-ups
Tottenham (4-2-3-1):
 Lloris; Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dembele, Wanyama; Eriksen, Alli, Son; Kane.

Subs: Sissoko, Trippier, Dier, Nkoudou, Janssen, Wimmer, Winks.

Gent (3-4-2-1): Kalinic; Mitrovic, Asare, Gigot; Foket, Dejaegere, Esiti, Saief; Simon, Milicevic; Perbet.

Subs: Rinne, Gershon, Kalu, Coulibaly, De Smet, Renato, L Verstraete.

Team news
Danny Rose (knee) and Erik Lamela (hip) remain unavailable but no fresh injuries have been reported since Tottenham's 3-0 win at Fulham on Sunday.

Jeremy Perbet and Moses Simon are likely to return to the starting line up after dropping to the bench for Sunday's 1-1 draw away to Standard Liege.

Key stat
Tottenham have won their last nine home games – including a 3-1 win over CSKA Moscow at Wembley

Spurs are a much better team when the Alli-Kane-Eriksen attacking axis clicks and they should have beaten a dangerous Fulham side by a wider margin
E.W. Terms
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