Notebook – NS Mura v Spurs
Thu 25 November 2021, 12:00|Tottenham Hotspur
Our Europa Conference League group stage campaign continues in earnest this evening as we take on NS Mura (5.45pm kick-off). Ahead of the clash, take a look at the key notes of interest ahead of game…
1 - Last time out in Group G
Antonio Conte’s reign as our Head Coach got off to the best possible start in our last outing in the Europa Conference League. Hosting Vitesse on Matchday Four and in need of a victory, we flew out of the blocks against our Dutch visitors and put three past them before the half-hour mark. The Vites, though, responded and reduced their deficit to just one before the break. Then, while the first half had produced a glut of goals, the second was all about red cards with three – the most seen in N17 for two decades - produced by referee Marco Di Bello as Cristian Romero and Vitesse duo Danilho Doekhi and Markus Schubert were dismissed. The scoreline stayed 3-2 in our favour.
2 - Last meeting
It was a comprehensive victory for us last time out against NS Mura as we ran out 5-1 winners in Matchday Two at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Dele opened the scoring, firing in a fourth-minute penalty, before Giovani Lo Celso doubled our advantage with a fierce, angled strike four minutes later. The visitors did pull one back just after the break – a stunning volley by Ziga Kous – but, after Harry Kane came off the bench on 59 minutes, we took full control and secured the points with the striker netting a 20-minute hat-trick – his 13th treble for the Club.
3 - How it stands
We head into this game sitting second in Group G, three points behind leaders Rennes and one point in front of third-placed Vitesse. NS Mura currently sit bottom without a point on the board. We can seal a place in at least the knockout round play-off draw with victory on Thursday night - if Vitesse lose to Rennes in the group’s other game. If we win each of our final two games in the group, we will secure the group’s top spot and earn a place in the round of 16 draw.
4 - The sunny side of the Alps
To date, we have never suffered defeat to a Slovenian side. Having taken on a side from the eastern European nation four times in our history, we have won three times and drawn once. In our first encounter with a Slovenian outfit – Rudar Velenje in the 1995 UEFA Intertoto Cup – we came out on top with a 2-1 victory in Velenje. We later faced Maribor in the Europa League group stages in the 2012/13 season and earned a 1-1 draw at the Stadion Ljudski vrt – home of tonight’s game - before winning 3-1 at White Hart Lane. Then, in September, we hosted Mura at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and, as aforementioned, we cantered home to a 5-1 win.
5 - Domestic difficulties for NS Mura
Despite being reigning Slovenian Prva Liga champions, the new season in Slovenia hasn’t got off to the best start for NS Mura. After 16 games of the new campaign, tonight’s opponents sit fifth in their domestic league table, 11 points off leaders Koper, having won just five games thus far. They are also without a win in three games in the league while, in all competitions, they have won just once in their last 11 outings.
6 - A rocky patch for Mura
It has been somewhat a rough spell in Europe for NS Mura of late. In the Slovenian side’s last six games in European competition, they have lost each time, conceding 15 goals and scoring just three. They have lost all four of their group stage games so far this season and are yet to pick up a single point in a European group stage game in their history.
7 - Changes afoot
Antonio Conte confirmed in his pre-match media duties that he would be rotating the team in Slovenia. With 12 games in the next 38 days, the importance of strength in depth will become all the more prevalent. So far this season, we have been far from reserved with our use of players in the Europa Conference League having used more different players (24) than any other team in the competition.
8 - Team news: three players out
Antonio also confirmed in his pre-match press conference that we will be without Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Dane Scarlett for the clash in Slovenia with all three unavailable through injury.
9 - A chance for Ryan
Our Head Coach also revealed that Ryan Sessegnon would start the game after making his return from injury in Sunday’s win over Leeds United. The former Fulham man, who made the switch from west to north London back in the summer of 2019, had missed 14 games for us after picking up a knock on international duty back in September, however, he is now set to appear in back-to-back games for us for the first time since January, 2020.
10 - Ryan keen to take his opportunity
Fit again and with the chance to impress Antonio, Ryan has admitted that the responsibility rests upon his shoulders to take his chance against NS Mura and kick-on in his Spurs career.
After his spell out through injury, the wing-back is set to make his first start for us since August this evening, and just his 11th in our colours to date.
“All any player wants to do is to play football, and I’ve not had the opportunity to do that because of injuries,” said Ryan. “Like I said, I’m positive now. I’m in the right frame of mind. I’ve worked on a lot of things and I’m raring to go.
“It’s about me going in there and taking my opportunities now. I’m not new to the squad anymore, it’s my third season here, it’s now or never, really. I have to take every opportunity with both hands. Sunday gave me a little boost and I just want to repay him (Antonio) with good performances. It’s been a long time, a difficult road, but it’s great to be back.”