Why Spurs must now take a different Champions League path

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Mauricio Pochettino is suffering the same affliction that fell on Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood. He does not know his best team.

After 10 games in the Premier League, five in Europe and two in the Capital One Cup such a problem is completely understandable.

After all, the Argentine’s impressive Southampton squad came to fruition in his first full season in charge, not the 16 matches he controlled when first taking over at the back end of 2012/13.

Pairing Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado together in a 4-4-2 system for the first time this term when facing Aston Villa indicated that the former Espanyol boss is still striving for a formula he is comfortable with.

Pochettino has only been willing to play 4-4-2 from the off three times in the top-flight and Europe combined, a sign that using two strikers in tandem isn’t quite where the 20-capped international’s heart lies.

The upshot of his indecision has resulted in patchy form and just two Premier League wins from the last eight outings.

Sat in eighth place, three points off the Champions League places, Spurs are 11/2 to claim a spot in this season’s top four, but if Pochettino is smart he’d forget all about those ambitions.

The marathon nature of the league means that the high-press lover can use it to nail down his best team and system without risking losing out on a goal that isn’t all that achievable anyway (six teams stand ahead of Spurs in the top-four betting).

Instead of rotating and experimenting in the Europa League, it should be the Uefa competition that is prioritised. Lifting the trophy would not only keep Pochettino employed should he miss the top four, but it would hand Spurs a spot at the European top-table next season they so crave as well.

Tottenham are currently the 14/1 favourites to win the Europa League this term which, while a far longer shot than their chances of claiming a Champions League spot through the league, actually represents a better chance of success.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.