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Tottenham face tricky away task against prickly Partizan crowd

| 18.09.2014

Mauricio Pochettino will face one of his toughest tests as Tottenham boss yet, as he takes his team to Serbia to face Partizan Belgrade.

Spurs are odds-on favourites at 4/7 to secure victory against Marko Nikolic’s men, in what looks set to be a tantalising first encounter between the two sides.

Following former captain Michael Dawson’s departure to Hull City, Pochettino recently named centre back Younes Kaboul as his pick to be new Spurs skipper. The former France international misses a trip to the Partizan Stadium, however.

Also spared the hostile atmosphere are new vice-captain Emmanuel Adebayor, Belgium international pair Nacer Chadli and Mousa Dembele and left back Danny Rose, as all are rested. Travelling fans have urged not to wear club colours whilst in the city centre of the Serbian capital.

Super stopper Hugo Lloris will be stand-in skipper behind a defence containing summer signing Federico Fazio and Jam Vertonghen, though Kyle Walker remains sidelined. Tottenham will be given a further boost by the timely return of Spanish striker Roberto Soldado.

Soldado missed Spurs’ last two Premier League games with a neck injury, but has already opened his Europa League account. The Spaniard netted in the first leg tie against Cypriot side AEL Limassol, when Tottenham triumphed 2-1, and is available at 5/4 to hit home the last goal in this encounter.

Midfield maestro Christian Eriksen, meanwhile, is 6/1 to fire home first after netting Spurs’ opener against West Bromwich Albion last time out. Coral also have a matchday special of enhanced 4/1 odds on Tottenham winning both halves in Serbia, and you can stake a maximum of £20 on that market.

Whilst Spurs have racked up an impressive four wins from six games in all competitions so far this season, only tasting defeat once, they have picked up just one point from their last two Premier League matches.

Pochettino will be demanding an emphatic victory in this encounter, to put his team back on track, but Serbian Superliga leaders Partizan will not be pushovers on home soil. The capital club are unbeaten in all competitions this term, and are on a seven game winning streak that should make Spurs sit up and take notice.

After netting eight goals in their last two league games, Nikolic’s team will be eager to take advantage of the absence of Vertonghen, with Vlad Chiriches likely to step in again.

Former PSV Eindhoven and Zenit St Petersburg Danko Lazovic (7/1 to fire home first, or 11/1 to score two or more) has been on target three times in his last two games, and is the main dangerman in Partizan’s potent attack. The academy product, now 31, returned to his boyhood club permanently last season and could pounce on any Tottenham error.

The Serbian side also boast a promising, homegrown core of talent, whose exuverance could pose a serious threat to Spurs.

Attacking midfield starlet and apparent Spurs target Andrija Zivkovic, who is currently the youngest player ever to have captained Partizan, is 11/2 to score anytime. Fellow teenager Danilo Pantic, who netted in Partizan’s last league game, is also available at 16/1 to draw first blood.

Despite Partizan’s potential, it will be crucial for Spurs, who are odds-on at 4/6 to win Europa League Group C, to utilise their experience and take the spoils from this encounter, if they are to top a hazardous pool which also contains Turkish giants Besiktas.

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Holly Thackeray

Holly is a member of the content team, and can often be found on the sports desk writing about favourite topics Serie A and East Asian footballing nations. A recent darts convert, she is also a fully-fledged member of Barney's Army and a proud Leeds-born Manchester United fan.