MX23RW : Thursday, January 17 15:48:29

Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between in-form title hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Tottenham Hotspur could temporarily close the gap at the top of the Premier League table to just three points when they host Wolverhampton Wanderers at Wembley on Saturday.

Mauricio Pochettino's side go into their final game of 2018 having established themselves as genuine title contenders, while Wolves sit 11th at the halfway stage of the campaign.


Tottenham

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino on December 23, 2018© Reuters

Just a week ago, Tottenham were considered outside title challengers at best, but a stunning spell of form - coupled with unexpected slip-ups for Manchester City - have seen them storm into the position of Liverpool's closest competitors.

Jurgen Klopp's side remain six points clear at the top of the table, but with matches against Arsenal and Man City to come for the leaders, Spurs will see their double-header against Wolves and Cardiff City as a real chance to close that gap further.

The North Londoners have enjoyed a memorable Christmas so far, plundering 11 goals in their last two games with a 6-2 triumph over Everton being followed by a 5-0 thrashing of Bournemouth on Boxing Day.

Spurs have never before scored five or more goals in three successive top-flight games, but with the likes of Son Heung-min, Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen all in such good form it is an achievement which is not out of the realms of possibility this weekend.

As a team, Tottenham have now won 12 and lost just one of their last 14 games across all competitions, including each of their last four.

Should they make it five in a row on Saturday then it would pile the pressure on Liverpool ahead of their match against Arsenal later in the day, while also ensuring that they remain in second place heading into 2019.

To even be in this position is a huge credit to Pochettino and his players, having failed to make a single summer signing, been hit hard by injuries and all the while being uncertain of when they will end their time at Wembley and move into their new home.

Spurs have been better on the road than they have in front of their own fans so far this season, but they have won each of their last six home games and victory on Saturday would see them equal their best-ever streak at the stadium.

Pochettino's side will be heavy favourites to do just that, having won 36 and lost none of their last 39 Premier League games against promoted teams - a run stretching back to April 2012.

An extension to that run would set Spurs up nicely ahead of a 2019 which they will hope will bring a first piece of silverware under Pochettino, and their recent charge has ensured that they remain firmly in contention for all four trophies available to them this season.

Recent Premier League form: LWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): WDWWWW


Wolves

Nuno Espirito Santo gives instructions during the Premier League game between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea on December 5, 2018© Reuters

Wolves will look back on 2018 fondly having secured promotion to the Premier League and then quickly set about consolidating their place in the top flight.

However, much of their form so far this season will have frustrated and delighted Nuno Espirito Santo in equal measure, with his side performing well against the top teams but suffering too many slip-ups against those they are expected to beat.

Wolves took points off Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal during the first half of the season - with Spurs and Liverpool the only top-six teams to have beaten them - but they have also dropped points against the likes of Huddersfield Town, Cardiff and, most recently, Fulham.

Nuno's side were fortunate to come away with even a point from their visit to Craven Cottage on Boxing Day as Romain Saiss rescued a draw with an 85th-minute equaliser, making it now two games without a win having won three in a row prior to the recent slump.

Of course, Wolves' form must be kept in context; as a promoted side they are only two points behind seventh place and enjoy a 14-point cushion to the relegation zone - as many as separate them from the top four too.

A top-half finish must be considered a success for their first campaign back in the top flight, and if they enjoy an identical second half of the season to the first then they would finish on a respectable total of 52 points - a tally which would have secured eighth place last term.

One aspect Nuno will be hoping to improve in the second half of the season is his side's away form, having won just one of their last five games on the road and scored only eight goals in nine away games so far this term.

Indeed, goalscoring has been a problem for much of the campaign, with every other team in the top 13 having found the back of the net more than Wolves during the opening 19 games.

It is keeping the ball out of their own net at the other end which may be their biggest concern against a free-scoring Spurs side, although Nuno has insisted that his side will not alter their own approach in an attempt to stifle their hosts.

Recent Premier League form: LWWWLD


Team News

Dele Alli in action for Tottenham Hotspur on September 2, 2018© Reuters

Spurs will assess the fitness of Dele Alli during the buildup to this match, with the England international having missed the win over Bournemouth due to a hamstring injury.

Serge Aurier is back in full training for Spurs but may be eased into action, with Kieran Trippier available to return at right-back despite Kyle Walker-Peters recording three assists against Bournemouth.

Eric Dier, Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama all remain sidelined for the hosts, but Pochettino was able to rest the likes of Davinson Sanchez and Ben Davies during the rout of Bournemouth.

Further forward, the Argentine faces the enviable problem of having a number of players in such good form that it is almost impossible to rotate, with Son, Kane and Eriksen all set to start once again.

Wolves, meanwhile, will still be without Diogo Jota due to a hamstring issue, while Leander Dendoncker is a slight doubt as he suffers from illness.

Ruben Neves is expected to come back into the team, although Nuno must decide whether to leave goalscorer Saiss or Morgan Gibbs-White out in order to accommodate the Portuguese playmaker.

Tottenham possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Trippier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies; Skipp, Winks; Son, Eriksen, Lamela; Kane

Wolves possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Neves, Saiss, Jonny; Moutinho; Traore, Jimenez


Head To Head

Spurs are unbeaten in their last five meetings with Wolves, stretching back to a 1-0 defeat in February 2010.

That was one of only two victories Wolves have managed in the last 15 meetings across all competitions, with Tottenham winning 10 of those including the reverse fixture in November.

Wolves have won just one of their last 12 away games against Tottenham too, with that triumph coming in December 2009.


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We say: Tottenham 3-1 Wolves

Wolves have not made it easy for big teams this season, but Spurs are flying at the moment and show no signs of slowing down just yet. We are going for a comfortable home win for Pochettino's in-form side.


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Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Tottenham and Wolves?

Tottenham
Draw
Wolves
Tottenham
86.4%
Draw
9.1%
Wolves
4.5%
Harry Kane celebrates scoring for Tottenham Hotspur against Everton on December 23, 2018.
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How Spurs could line up against Wolves
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool22183150104057
2Manchester CityMan City22172359174253
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs22160646222448
4Chelsea22145340172347
5Arsenal22125546321441
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd22125544321241
7Watford229583232032
8Leicester CityLeicester229492625131
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham229493032-231
10Everton228683331230
11Wolverhampton WanderersWolves228592328-529
12Bournemouth2283113142-1127
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2275102430-626
14Crystal Palace2264122028-822
15Burnley2263132343-2021
16Southampton2247112339-1619
17Cardiff CityCardiff2254131941-2219
18Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2246121631-1518
19Fulham2235142049-2914
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2225151337-2411

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