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Oct 22, 2015 at 6pm UK at Constant Vanden Stock
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Gillet (13'), Okaka (75')
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Preview: Anderlecht vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Sports Mole previews the Europa League action as Belgian side Anderlecht welcome the visit of Tottenham Hotspur in Group J.

Belgian side Anderlecht welcome Tottenham Hotspur in Group J of the Europa League on Thursday, as they aim to claim their first three points of the tournament.

The fixture matches the 1984 UEFA Cup final won by Spurs, who will be looking to cement their place at the top of the group with a victory on away soil.


Anderlecht's forward Stefano Okaka (L) kicks the ball during the UEFA Europa League group J football match between Qarabag FK and RSC Anderlecht in Baku on October 1, 2015© Getty Images

Anderlecht come into this fixture looking to bounce back from a shock 1-0 defeat away against Qarabag at the start of the month.

The Belgian club are still searching for their first three points of the group after being defeated last week to follow on from a slightly more positive 1-1 draw against AS Monaco on matchday one.

Besnik Hasi will be slightly concerned by his side's lack of incision and cutting edge in front of goal when visiting Azerbaijan, but the coach might just put that result down to some complacency when playing in an emerging footballing nation.

Looking to build from their third-place finish domestically last year, things have been slightly more positive for Hasi and company in the Belgian Pro League. As things stand, Anderlecht sit in third place again and have won six, drawn four and have lost just once this campaign.

Things have not been so positive in the club's recent European outings, however, where Anderlecht have failed to win on five occasions on the trot, having drawn three and lost two. The club's last European win came against Galatasaray in November 2014.

With just one point from two games thus far, Anderlecht will know that picking up points at home will be vital in order to gain progression from the group. If they are unable to achieve that this winter, it would break a run of reaching the last 32 on their last four attempts.

Recent form (all competitions): DDWLDW

Tottenham Hotspur

Kevin Wimmer of Tottenham Hotspur on the ball during the UEFA Europa League Group J match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Qarabag FK at White Hart Lane on September 17, 2015 in London, United Kingdom.© Getty Images

Spurs find themselves in a slightly better position going into the group's third game, given that they opened their campaign with a win over Qarabag before battling for a hard-earned point away at Monaco.

The four points obtained early on have left Mauricio Pochettino's men in first place in the standings and that is the way that the Argentine coach will want to keep things for the remainder of the group stage.

Domestically, things have slightly gone off the boil for Tottenham since putting Manchester City to the sword at the end of September. Since then, the Lillywhites have had to settle for consecutive draws against Swansea City and Liverpool.

The trip to Belgium presents a tough task for the North London club, as they have failed to win one of their last three away matches in Europe. Added to that, Spurs will also have to overturn a record in Belgium that has seen them win just two of their last six fixtures against local opposition.

Victory away from home would be an important achievement for Spurs, moving them onto seven points at the top of the standings. Thursday's visitors will also be aware that Anderlecht are likely to take points off Qarabag and maybe Monaco again, and that could serve them well come the end of the group stages.

Recent form (all competitions): WLWDDD

Team News

rry Kane of England celebrates scoring the first goal during the UEFA EURO 2016 Group E qualifying match between England and Switzerland at Wembley Stadium on September 8, 2015© Getty Images

Frontman Stefano Okaka has been in imperious form domestically for Anderlecht, but he is yet to register in the group. It is likely that he will start up top, however, alongside Imoh Ezekiel.

Matias Suarez sought to change the game when he came on against Qarabag and he will be pushing to stake a claim for a starting place.

It will be much the same for young midfielder Youri Tielemans, but he is unlikely to displace Guillaume Gillet, who has scored the club's only goal in the group.

As for Spurs, Pochettino should continue with much the same side that was able to draw at Monaco, leaving most of the attacking work to Harry Kane and Erik Lamela.

Nacer Chadli picked up an injury against Liverpool that has left him out for around six weeks, leaving an opportunity for either Son Heung-min or Andros Townsend to start.

Anderlecht possible starting lineup:
Proto; Najar, Dendoncker, Deschacht, Obradovic; Gillet, Tielemans, Defour; Praet, Okaka, Ezekiel

Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Alli, Dier; Townsend, Eriksen, Lamela; Kane

Head To Head

The last three games between the teams have ended in 1-1 draws. The most recent occasion came in December 2007 in a UEFA Cup group fixture that was played out in Brussels. This clash also mirrors the UEFA Cup final in 1984, which Spurs won with a 4-3 victory on penalties after playing out a 2-2 draw on aggregate.

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We say: Anderlecht 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Anderlecht have a habit of making it into the knockout stages of the tournament, but they require points quickly and currently find themselves bottom-placed in the group. The Belgians are without a victory in five European games now. That said, they are coming up against a Tottenham side that has not won away from home in the competition for three games. A win for Spurs would cement them as group favourites, while three points for the hosts would pull them straight back into qualification contention without too much fuss. Both sides will look to play attacking football when possible, potentially resulting in a draw.

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Andre Ayew of Swansea City scores the opening goal past Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Swansea, Wales.
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