Spurs: Conte must unleash Emerson vs Milan


Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to keep their slim hopes of securing silverware this season alive with victory at home to AC Milan in the Champions League, last-16 this evening, with Antonio Conte‘s side going into that second-leg clash having lost 1-0 in the reverse fixture at San Siro.

With the odds somewhat stacked against them, the Lilywhites also head into tonight’s encounter having endured a miserable week on the domestic front, first slipping up away to Sheffield United in the FA Cup, before losing to Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux just a few days later.

That latter result will likely lead to changes for the visit of the Serie A outfit later today as the north Londoners look to get their season back on track, with the returning Conte needing a big performance from his players to overturn the first-leg deficit.

One alteration that could be made from the side that lost to the Old Gold on Saturday is at wing-back, with Emerson Royal in line to make his return to the side having only featured off the bench in the weekend defeat.

While January arrival Pedro Porro produced an encouraging performance in his place, it is the Brazilian who is arguably deserving of a starting berth amid his recent resurgence, having shaken off his early woes at N17.

Will Emerson Royal play against Milan?

Despite having previously been branded a “liability” by ex-Spurs midfielder Jamie O’Hara and a ‘weak link‘ by pundit Chris Sutton in his Daily Mail column, Emerson has looked reborn in recent months, with club legend Glenn Hoddle (PL Productions, 26/02/2023, 13:15) lauding him as like a “different player” as a result of his upturn in performances.

The former Barcelona man – who arrived in England on a £26m deal in the summer of 2021 – was notably “unbelievable” in the win over Manchester City last month, according to club insider John Wenham, having won eight duels in that 1-0 triumph after expertly containing Jack Grealish.

The previously maligned full-back has since followed that up with a goal in the win over West Ham United, before again impressing in the subsequent clash with rivals Chelsea, having this time won a mammoth 12 duels, while also completing 100% of his dribbles and laying one key pass.

Now clearly making an impact at both ends of the pitch, the one-time Real Betis ace – who missed the defeat to the Blades through injury – should well be restored to the starting lineup against Stefano Pioli’s side, with Conte needing to utilise his tried and trusted figures if Tottenham are to progress.

The £40k-per-week machine – who ‘battled well‘ in the meeting in Milan, in the words of the Evening Standard’s Dan Kilpatrick – could ultimately prove vital if the Lilywhites are to enjoy a positive result tonight. That would be some turnaround for a man who has usually been such a calamity in north London.

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