After a disastrous meltdown against West Ham, Tottenham are in need of a pick-me-up. Kevin Hatchard believes a home game against Austrian side LASK will provide one.
"Tottenham should be too strong for LASK, but they are yet to keep a clean sheet this season."
Tottenham v LASK
Thursday 22 October, 20:00
Live on BT Sport 2
Mourinho calm despite Hammers collapse
You associate Jose Mourinho with teams that are compact, that snarl and fight and sometimes eschew the art of football to make sure of a positive result. None of that grit was on show in the final ten minutes of Tottenham's 3-3 draw with West Ham, as Spurs conceded one goal from a set play, one horrific own-goal and a long-range stunner from Manuel Lanzini (or the "Romford Riquelme" as he was dubbed by one amusing review of the game).
Mourinho has remained sanguine about the collapse, choosing to praise West Ham for their comeback, and there are plenty of things to be positive about. Spurs have made it into the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup, they are only a point off the top four and they are favourites to win the Europa League at 8.07/1. Tottenham have taken the tournament seriously so far, coming through three qualifying rounds and scoring 12 goals in the process. Harry Kane started two of those three matches, although with Carlos Vinicius having come in from Benfica as a genuine first-team striker, it will be interesting to see how often the England captain is deployed in the group stage.
Gareth Bale came on as a substitute against West Ham and missed an excellent chance to seal the victory, and he could start here, as could Carlos Vinicius. Dele Alli, under pressure like never before at club level, may also get another chance to stake a claim for a first-team spot.
LASK looking to rebuild after critical error
It's been a bright period for LASK Linz, as they have risen from obscurity to challenge the dominance of Red Bull Salzburg. However, much of that good work was undone by a bad error of judgement in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. As football tentatively returned, LASK were found guilty of holding full training sessions, when they were only supposed to be training in limited groups. The resulting points deduction holed their title challenge below the waterline, and they were also thrashed by Manchester United in the Europa League.
To their credit, Dominik Thalhammer's team have bounced back. They did superbly well to thrash Sporting in Lisbon in the UEL playoff round, although in the Austrian Bundesliga they have started modestly, taking seven points from four games. In their last league outing, they were swept aside 3-0 by Rapid Vienna.
22-year-old striker Marko Raguz has bashed in three goals in two UEL games this term, and has scored twice in the league. He also found the net in four separate matches in the competition last season.
Spurs to win enticing encounter
LASK aren't the type of side to just try to dig in and hope for the best, and they will carry the fight to Spurs. They'll be encouraged by the fact that Tottenham haven't kept a single clean sheet so far this season.
I believe Tottenham will win this (LASK lost home and away to Manchester United last term), but I wouldn't at all be surprised if they conceded at least one goal along the way. I'll back Tottenham to win and Both Teams To Score on the Sportsbook at 6/4.
Bale to get off the mark?
Gareth Bale should've scored on his second debut against West Ham, but he's likely to get a chance to put that right on Thursday night. The Welsh wonder is 10/11 to score at any time, as is Heung-min Son. Harry Kane is the favourite at 8/13, but it's not clear whether he will start.
On the LASK side of things, the in-form Marko Raguz is priced at 7/2 to score at any time.
Kevin Hatchard 2020-21 P/L
Points Staked: 50
Points Returned: 50.2
P/L: +0.2 points