Spurs still struggling to adjust to Conte's ethos
Tottenham Hotspur welcome fellow London side Brentford to the northern area of the capital for a rare Thursday night Barclays Premier League encounter. The hosts' visit to Burnley at the weekend was postponed just 45 minutes prior to kick-off as a result of Storm Arwen, whilst the Bees shook off some poor recent form with a deserved 1-0 win at home to a faltering Everton. Spurs will be favourites on paper, but they have a long way to go under Antonio Conte's auspices and ambitions. Read our preview here:
Hop, Skipp, jumped
The home side will certainly be fresher than their opponents, though many of the likely XI for Thursday were involved at least in part during their 2-1 defeat to Slovenian outfit Mura in the UEFA Europa League on the same day last week, a game they spent the vast majority of a man light due to Ryan Sessegnon's dismissal. Conte is likely to name the side that would've faced the Clarets, meaning berths for Davinson Sánchez on the right side of a three man backline and a show of faith for Oliver Skipp in midfield. The 21 year old will find an increased onus on his shoulders to shuttle between boxes in a rejigged system, and whilst he is an excellent screener and passer, he rarely troubles the scoresheet, even indirectly. The dearth of creativity in the ranks has been well noted, but he still he has a key role to link the defensive and attacking units, given he and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg will be outnumbered.
The life of Bryan
Thomas Frank's men were more than good value for their triumph over the Toffees, but are unlikely to find their next opponents quite as feeble offensively, despite scoring six fewer than their newly promoted adversaries on Thursday. Goalkeeper David Raya remains an absentee, as do Kristoffer Ajer and Zanka; naturally, the defence has taken a hit because of this, and it still makes tactical sense to try to take the game to Spurs. Ivan Toney's coolly taken penalty should give him the confidence he needs to go on a goalscoring run, whilst the selflessness and craft of Bryan Mbeumo alongside him have drawn plaudits, too. The woodwork has denied him seven times in the league already, just three off equally legendary striker Robin van Persie's unwanted record. The persistence he has shown should bear more fruit, especially when backed up by a positive five-man midfield.
Constructing an Ant hill
An open affair is on the cards at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The hosts don't have the creativity, but still have the elite individuals up top to decimate any side in the league, whereas Brentford have already shown they can go toe-to-toe with any of their contemporaries. bet365 have 'enhanced' odds of 4.30 for a draw at the time of writing.