Tottenham Hotspur will not move back to White Hart Lane for their European games in the second half of this season. Spurs have been knocked out of the Champions League but are still likely to be in the knock-out round of the Europa League when the competition resumes in February.
While some at Tottenham have considered playing those games at White Hart Lane, and Moussa Sissoko went as far as to say he would like to switch back, Mauricio Pochettino and the club have since decided that Wembley will stay their European home for the rest of this season.
Spurs are set to play all of their home games at Wembley next year while the White Hart Lane redevelopment continues. They have found Wembley very difficult so far this season, losing badly to both Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League. But that is precisely why Pochettino wants Spurs to continue there, to “make it their home,” and to give Spurs the best possible chance of acclimatising to the national stadium before next season.
“The players need to be focused on playing, to talk on the pitch, that is the most important thing,” said Pochettino when asked about Sissoko’s comments. “The decisions of the club are down to the chairman and the board and us, and me in this case. It's sure that if we are in the Europa League, we will play at Wembley.”
Tottenham need to make Wembley familiar if they are to succeed there. “We need to make it our home,” Pochettino explained. “It's a good opportunity to play our next game at Wembley [against CSKA] and then to play the Europa League games there, if we have the possibility to play Europa League. Because next season, we need to play 19 games, and cups and European competition [at Wembley]. We need to make Wembley our home and it's a great opportunity to play.”
Spurs have one more scheduled game there, in their Champions League dead rubber against CSKA Moscow in early December. Unless Spurs lose that game, they will go into the Europa League last-32, which resumes in February. That means they could, in theory, play another four Wembley games in the spring if they make it all the way through to the final next May.
Monaco vs Tottenham player ratings
Monaco vs Tottenham player ratings
1/22 Danijel Subasic - 6
Did well in his one-on-one with Son to deny Tottenham an early lead but will have known he should have done better to stop Kane's penalty.
2/22 Djibril Sidibé - 8
One of Monaco's stand-out players. A real menace down the right, bombing up and down the wing throughout. Found the space well in between Spurs' centre backs for his goal and set up Lemar with an inch-perfect delivery for Monaco's second.
3/22 Kamil Glik - 6
Bullied Tottenham's forward all night as he pulled at their shirts and nipped at their ankles. Eventually got called out for it when he brought down Alli in the box to hand Spurs a penalty.
4/22 Jemerson - 7
Sold defensive performance. Rarely beaten, using his strength and pace to marshal the Monaco backline.
5/22 Benjamin Mendy - 7
Pressed on well like Sidibe and provided the home side with a constant stream of deliveries. Fulfilled his defensive duties for much of the match.
6/22 Bernardo Silva – 8
Fantastic ability to spot gaps and spaces in the game. Both created and enjoyed a number of chances on goal. Such a prospect.
7/22 Fabinho – 7
Comfortable and composed on the ball. Limited Tottenham’s options within the Monaco final third.
8/22 Tiemoue Bakayoko – 7
Defensively solid behind the ball. Linked up well with those around him.
9/22 Thomas Lemar – 8
A menace early on as he pumped ball after ball into the Spurs box. Fired in the winner from a tight angle. A pesk throughout.
10/22 Valere Germain – 7
Not Moncao’s most threatening player but a nuisance nonetheless. Got in well behind the Tottenham defence early on. A bright spark.
11/22 Radamel Falcao – 6
Kept the Spurs back line busy but not his best of games. Enjoyed a few half-chances but never really got in the right space to challenge Lloris.
12/22 Hugo Lloris – 8
Sensational between the sticks. Pulled off a series of phenomenal saves that kept Spurs in the game and denied Monaco an early goal with a penalty stop.
13/22 Kieran Trippier – 5
Provided a reliable source of deliveries on the right, but defensively weak. Both goals came from his side. Out of his depth.
14/22 Eric Dier – 4
Clumsy defending from the England international. Handed Monaco their penalty and never looked comfortable in the position.
15/22 Kevin Wimmer – 4
Lax in his marking, particuarly under the high ball. Struggled to establish a solid partnership with Dier.
16/22 Danny Rose – 6
Far from his best but one of Spurs’ better players. Lively on the ball and kept going to the very end.
17/22 Victor Wanyama – 6
Picked out some good central passes early on but was repeatedly caught in possession as the game proceeded.
18/22 Harry Winks – 6
Showed his ability and potential in getting out of tight positions. Enjoyed some neat, tidy passing but couldn’t offer anything to help save Spurs.
19/22 Mousa Dembélé – 5
Scrappy, haphazard performance. Battled hard but his frustration clearly got the better of him at times.
20/22 Heung-Min Son – 5
Squandered an early goal-scoring opportunity and repeatedly wasted the good positions he found himself in. Ineffective.
21/22 Dele Alli – 6
Incisive with his passing and enjoyed a few chances in front of goal. Couldn't provide the spark to save Spurs though.
22/22 Harry Kane – 6
Worked hard and registered a few shots on goal but nothing overly testing. His penalty handed Spurs a life line but it wasn’t to be.
Ultimately, Spurs need to break their Wembley jinx if next season is to be successful. They need to take a longer view and realise that there are more important things than succeeding in the Europa League this season. That was the forward-thinking attitude that made Pochettino decide that they have no option but to make Wembley work for them.
“In football, you always need to look forward,” he said. “You cannot stop and try to complain or blame. I am looking forward to try to get more possibilities to play at Wembley. So that the players and the team start to feel at home, that is the most important thing. Because the new stadium is coming and we need to move to Wembley next season. We cannot complain next season. We need to avoid all the negative things about Wembley. It doesn't help us today and it won't help us in the future.”
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