PL Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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  • Spurs (21 points) sit 5th in the PL
  • Wolves (15 points) in 10th
  • First meeting since 2011-12 season

What constitutes a “good” or “bad” start to a season is highly subjective. Take, for instance, Tottenham Hotspur and their still-young 2018-19 Premier League campaign. Through nine games, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side won 21 points — the best-ever start to a season in the club’s 136-year history (prior to Monday’s defeat at the hands of Manchester City). On the other hand, Pochettino and Co., sit fifth in the PL table, this coming on the heels of top-three finishes in three straight seasons. While Tottenham have been as good as they’ve ever been, so too have the PL’s other giants.

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Throw in the fact that their new stadium at White Hart Lane won’t open until January (at the earliest), and there’s a far greater feeling of pessimism around the club than their early-season results might suggest. Sunday’s trip to Molineux (Watch live, 3:45 p.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com) will be a tricky test with one eye perhaps already turned toward next week’s do-or-die scenario in the Champions League.

Wolves, meanwhile, have taken 15 points from their first 10 games and sit 10th in the league table. This is, obviously, exceedingly positive for a club back in the PL for the first time since 2012. Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side hasn’t set the world alight with goals (just nine in 10 games, fifth-fewest in the PL), but has proven a terribly tough opponent to break down (nine goals conceded, also fifth-fewest in the league). Much of that production came in the first two months of the season, admittedly, as Wolves have lost two straight games and enter Sunday’s clash on the wrong side of a 214-minute goal-less streak.


What they’re saying

Nuno Espirito Santo, on his respect for Spurs: “We are conscious that we are going to face one of the best teams in the league, there is no doubt about it. The quality of the manager, the quality of the squad — Tottenham are very, very strong. I admire Mauricio because of the quality of the work they’ve been doing. It’s amazing. The core of the squad, the amount of success they’ve had — success can not only be measured in titles — and there is no doubt Tottenham play very attractive, organized football. What I admire is what I see on the pitch, that reflects a very good coach.”

Spurs defender Toby Aldeweireld, on the wait to return home: “We never used Wembley as an excuse and we will not do that now. But it has affected us. I am grateful to play at Wembley, it is a very historical place, but it is not the same feeling as White Hart Lane. There we had a special home feeling. But in that way, we did very well to be successful at Wembley. But I know the club is doing everything in their power to play as quickly as possible in our stadium.”


Prediction

If Spurs can survive the opening half-hour and the onslaught of energy and emotion it’ll bring, they’ll likely only need one goal to secure all three points. Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli have returned from injuries, and they’ll make an impact, whether from the starting lineup or off the bench.