Martin Keown has compared Spurs’ upcoming Champions League games at Wembley to Arsenal’s spell back in 1998-2000.
White Hart Lane is currently under construction and, as a result, Spurs are having to temporarily host their Champions League home games at Wembley – something Arsenal had to do when the Emirates was being built.
The Gunners struggled, only winning two out of six ‘home’ games. Keown doesn’t believe Spurs will have the same problem, given the youth and fitness of their current squad, but he does wonder whether they will be able to continue playing their high-pressure football so convincingly on a larger pitch.
“The Wembley effect on us was clear – when we dropped down into the UEFA Cup in 2000 after Gabriel Batistuta’s Fiorentina knocked us out, we reverted to playing at Highbury and got to the final,” he said in his column for the Daily Mail.
“However the expansive football Spurs play should help them. They are quite a young, fit team so the size of the pitch shouldn’t bother them.
“It’ll be interesting to see if they can maintain their high-pressing game on a bigger surface though. The quality of the playing surface and facilities at the new Wembley should also work in Tottenham’s favour. The old pitch was energy-sapping, while the stadium’s facilities had been surpassed by most Premier League grounds at the time.”
Mauricio Pochettino is known for keeping his teams incredibly fit and this Spurs one, although I hate to say it, is one of the fittest. He’s a fantastic manager and I’m sure he’ll have prepared the squad for what they’re to face. However, it’ll be interesting to see whether it pays off or not.