Opinion: Why Spurs’ Europa fixture reversal is more important than we may realise

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Image: SpursWeb

Tottenham’s last 16 tie against Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb was reversed recently by UEFA, meaning the North London outfit will now play their first leg at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this week (Sky Sports).

With Arsenal being domestic cup winners, they had the fixture priority, meaning that they will be holding their Europa League clash with Olympiakos away first and home for the second tie, as per UEFA Europe League regulations (UEFA).

This regulation in section 21 essentially states that two teams from the same city cannot play at their home stadium on the same day. This is to prevent multiple fan bases from converging in the same city.

With the current lockdown measures in place, it is not too relevant, however, just in case restrictions are eased, the fixture reversal still stands.

It is deemed in the footballing world to be more beneficial for sides to play home in the first leg, as teams would hope to secure strong victories in their home stadiums leading to the second leg, in theory, being more comfortable.

However, in Tottenham and Arsenal’s case, both clubs face their respective sides in Europe just three days before the North London derby on March 14.

With Spurs having a somewhat favourable draw against Dinamo Zagreb, the fact that they play at home first and away second should hopefully not impact the outcome we all hope to see.

The Lillywhite’s will be looking to qualify with ease and, therefore, can focus their attention on the upcoming derby.

With the distance between London and Piraeus being roughly 2400km (Distance.to), Arsenal will have to spend time travelling in the build-up to the NLD and will likely only arrive back in London in the early hours of March 12.

Tottenham playing at home means they will not have to travel at all, surely putting the team at an advantage in the crunch Premier League fixture. With games coming thick and fast, this extra rest could be crucial to the side’s fitness levels come the 14th.

The one drawback from this fixture reversal is that Tottenham will be put at a ‘disadvantage’ by playing away from home in the second leg.

However with the opposition in mind and squad depth that the club possesses, it would not be too bold to assume that the team should progress with ease into the quarter-finals.

This fixture reversal may seem insignificant, however, looking closer into things, it could be crucial in our last-ditch effort to secure a top-four place in the Premier League.

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