The last time these sides met was in the 1998/99 FA Cup, with David Ginola’s goal earning Tottenham the victory that day. At that point in time, Barnsley had just suffered relegation from the Premier League but famously beat Manchester United in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup in the same season.
The situation hasn’t improved much for the Tykes, as they still languish in England’s second tier, with intermittent relegation to the old Division Two (League One).
Spurs, however, are a club on the rise, though the one thing Mauricio Pochettino’s reign is lacking is a trophy.
With the club competing on four fronts, the Argentine has to get his priorities straight, but the Carabao Cup offers a great opportunity to win his first piece of silverware as a manager.
Last time out
TOTTENHAM 0-0 Swansea City [Premier League]
Despite enjoying 75% possession and firing 26 shots at goal, Spurs were held to a 0-0 draw by a resolute Swansea City side that sat deep and packed the box with ten men behind the ball, proving difficult to break down.
Pochettino experimented with his starting XI, with Heung-Min Son starting the game at left wing-back, before Kieran Trippier was moved to that side and Moussa Sissoko dropped to right wing back.
It proved ineffective and Spurs were poor at Wembley, with the best chance of the game falling to Harry Kane, who hit the bar from Sissoko’s cut back.
Spurs should have arguably had three penalties, all of which were denied by Mike Dean.
Two could have been given for Martin Olsson’s handball on different occasions, whilst Jordan Ayew clipped substitute Serge Aurier’s heels in the box, though Dean wrongly awarded the Swans a free kick for a perceived handball.
BARNSLEY 0-3 Aston Villa [Championship]
Aston Villa eased comfortably past Barnsley to end a run of three consecutive draws and earn only their second win in the Championship this season.
Albert Adomah capitalised on a piece of poor goalkeeping from Tykes ‘keeper Adam Davies to tap into an empty net, before doubling the lead from the penalty spot.
Keinan Davis headed home after the break to put the Villains up three to the good and spoil Barnsley’s 130th anniversary at Oakwell. The defeat leaves the Tykes 20th with two wins from seven games.
The Carabao Cup offers Pochettino a chance to rotate his squad and hand further chances to several talented youngsters.
Kyle Walker-Peters, Harry Winks and Tashan Oakley-Boothe are expected to feature, though the Argentine suggested that widely heralded teenager Marcus Edwards is not yet ready.
Summer signings Fernando Llorente and Juan Foyth could also make their first starts since joining the club.
Ryan Hedges picked up a slight knock on Saturday though he should be fit enough to feature. The game comes too soon for injured duo Lloyd Isgrove and Dimitri Cavare, however.
Key Battle: Juan Foyth vs Tom Bradshaw
Tom Bradshaw has been at Barnsley since 2016 and a record of 10 goals in 48 appearances (one so far in this year’s Championship) isn’t a fantastic record, but he’s the Tykes’ danger man up front and they’ll be looking to him to lead the line.
As a lower league striker, the focal point of Bradshaw’s game is his physicality, rather than his technical ability. Bradshaw will look to disrupt the two Tottenham centre-backs and use his strength and size to be a strong presence both in the air and on the ground.
It’s why this battle is so important, as it’s likely to be the first taste of English football for 19-year-old Juan Foyth. The Argentine teenager is new to the country and is used to defending against more technical South American players during his limited game-time at Estudiantes.
Whether he can raise his game and adapt the physicality of the English game against a striker that specialises in winning aerial duels is a key talking point of this game.
An opportunity to impress
As a Carabao Cup game, the storyline for the Premier League sides typically revolves around their youngsters and how well they can perform against lower league opposition.
For Spurs, it’s a chance for Harry Winks to impress once more, but as he’s already an established member of the first team squad, the microscope will be on Kyle Walker-Peters and Tashan Oakley-Boothe.
Walker-Peters impressed in his debut against Newcastle United, winning the Man of the Match award in the first game of the season, and Pochettino will expect another high-quality game from the 20-year-old.
For Oakley-Boothe, it’s a chance to establish himself ahead of Aston Villa loanee Josh Onomah and teenager Marcus Edwards after receiving game-time in pre-season.
The only game at Wembley
For many of Barnsley’s players, this will likely be their only chance to play at the national stadium, Wembley.
Despite the relevant low-profile of the occasion for a club of Tottenham’s size, this is momentous for Barnsley and their players and the expectation will be that they can raise their game.
How Tottenham cope depends on what mental state their players are in. Often in these sorts of fixtures, professionals find it hard to motivate themselves, but against a Barnsley side looking to make a major statement in their only fixture at Wembley, Spurs can’t afford to switch off.
PREDICTION: Tottenham 3-0 Barnsley
Irrespective of the rotation in Tottenham’s starting XI, their squad overall is far stronger than that of Barnsley and Spurs should really find this game very comfortable, using it to get used to playing at Wembley.
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