Given the atmosphere last week in Belgium I suspect we’ll get an impressive Big Noise per Capita quotient from the 7 or 8 thousand Gent supporters who’ll be at Wembley on Thursday hoping their lads will be able to hold on to the one goal lead they gained over us in the first leg.
Not that a loud away following is necessary to see us off at the Home of English Football as Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen found. We may have stopped the rot by defeating CSKA in our final Moneybags League group game but it’s still with as much trepidation as expectation that home fans will be making their way on to the Met and Jubilee lines and heading out west.
Another sellout crowd is expected and maybe the fact that the bottom tiers were put on sale first will mean that the top tier tickets have been bought by the tourists with the more committed concentrated below and closer to the pitch. This should assist creating an atmosphere hopefully, but it is Wembley, so probably not.
Sunday’s remarkably straightforward win over Fulham was very welcome from a confidence point of view as well as a reminder of several things –
1. How much better we are against teams that don’t press properly
2. How much better we are defensively with Vertonghen playing
3. How key an in form Eriksen is to our attacking success
4. And last but most definitely not least, how important Kane is to just about everything we do. His goals justify the rest of the set up particularly as the rest of the team are so unreliable in their goal production.
A below strength Gent pressed us like maniacs last week and shut us down creatively. We looked sluggish in comparison and the Belgians deserved their win. Whether they will be able to commit to the same sort of style given the large pitch at Wembley I’m not so sure, but given the success that they, Man City and Liverpool have had against us recently though, they may well give it a go.
Gent are 8th out of 16 in the Jupiler League with one away win all season. They drew 1-1 at Standard Liege at the weekend. The beautifully named Foket started as he did against us, they did make four changes though as they, presumably, strengthened their line up for the domestic league game.
It’s anyone’s guess as to what side we’ll put out of course. A week ago you’d have guessed that Pochettino would have gone down the kids and reserves route for the first leg and also the game at Craven Cottage but in fact he went the other way. One suspects that it’s quite important to the coach to make Wembley seem more homelike and obviously the more good results we get, the more likely that is so I’d predict a strong line up, maybe with Dier in for Toby from the weekend and Dembele in midfield.
We’ve conceded first in every European home game so far this campaign, to do the same here would leave us needing three to go through – so let’s not try and do that.
The officals are from Portugal.
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