Wolves vs Spurs: Pre-match analysis
Two of tonight's key players - Willy Boly and Son Heung-Min challenge each other for the ball the first time they met, in a 3-1 Wolves victory at Wembley on 29 December 2018. Son assisted Harry Kane's opener, before Boly scored the equaliser | Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images.

Tottenham Hotspur sit 8th in the Premier League table ahead of their clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers, but things are close at the top of the table.

A draw would see them move up to 5th, while a win would lift them to 3rd, only a point behind Everton and three behind Liverpool (six if Liverpool beat West Bromwich Albion), going into winnable matches against Fulham (30 December) and Leeds (2 January).

Despite picking up only five points in their last five matches, things are looking up for Jose Mourinho and his players, who are still very much in contention for the title.

Tottenham will look to make a statement by putting struggling Wolves to the sword at Molineux, with Matt Doherty potentially facing his old club for the first time since his £15million summer move.

Formation and lineup - Spurs

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Mourinho almost always uses a standard 4-2-3-1, which relies on central players for largely simple passing and defensive solidity, on the front four for quick, vertical attacking play, and on the full-backs to push high and provide attacking options and numerical superiority from the wide regions when in possession.

Without the ball, Spurs sit deep in a low block, using a 4-5-1 to draw the opposition forwards, creating large pockets of space between and behind the defenders, which can then be exploited with quick, overwhelming bursts of attacking play, especially by faster players such as Son Heung-Min.

At centre-back, Spurs are missing Japhet Tanganga through a shoulder injury, so a pairing of Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier seems most likely. Two attacking full-backs are likely to play, so the two centre-backs could find themselves badly exposed when facing a rapid Wolves front three of Daniel Podence, Fabio Silva and Pedro Neto.

To defend against this, one of the Spurs midfielders, likely Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, will drop further back and create a makeshift back three if Wolves surge forward while both full-backs are out of position. Hojbjerg will probably be partnered by Moussa Sissoko, who will have more license to go forwards with Hojbjerg covering at the back.

Adama Traore will cause a major problem at the back for Spurs if he features for Wolves, and he will negate the attacking capabilities of the left-back who will have to stay deep to cover him. Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo has revealed in a press conference that Traore has recently been nursing a foot injury picked up on international duty with Spain, so Mourinho will probably bet on Traore not starting.

This should allow Sergio Reguilon to start at left-back, giving Spurs a major attacking strength from deep on the left. If Traore enters the game later on, Reguilon will likely be replaced by the much more defensively-minded Ben Davies.

Both right-backs at Mourinho's disposal are heavily attack-minded, and essentially play as wing-backs, looking to push very high and overlap the right winger. This week, he has a selection dilemma in this position.

Doherty featured against Stoke City in the Carabao Cup on 23 December, so it would make sense to rest him against Wolves. However, Serge Aurier had an awful time in the defeat Leicester City in Spurs' last league match, conceding the first-half penalty which put the Foxes ahead.

Mourinho, deeply interested in sports psychology and in the development of elite mentality, is fully aware of the potential confidence boost Doherty could get from defeating the club he has spent the majority of his career with. As a result, Doherty seems more likely to start at his old home ground.

In attacking midfield, Tanguy Ndombele seems the most obvious choice to start, with Steven Bergwijn and Son on the wings. Giovani Lo Celso is unavailable through a thigh injury, and Gareth Bale's calf problem picked up at Stoke will prevent him from starting. However, he and Erik Lamela, who recently received the all-clear from the Spurs medical staff, could both make cameo appearances off the bench.

Up front, Harry Kane is certain to start - his creativity and physicality will be crucial to unlock Wolves' back five. If Wolves are chasing the game and becoming defensively undisciplined later in the game, Kane could be substituted for Carlos Vinicius, whose pace could punish Conor Coady if he allows the Brazilian to get the wrong side of him.

Players to watch: Wolves

Fabio Silva

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Silva now has a goal to his name, and will be brimming with confidence going into this clash. With Wolves' two wingers likely to play quite narrow looking for shooting opportunities, and one of the central midfielders likely to push forwards, Silva should have a plethora of options around him, and his passing intelligence should become a major feature of the Wolves attack.

Willy Boly

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Boly has not been in his usual brilliant form since the start of the season, with a few uncharacteristic mistakes hurting his performances. He will face a major challenge in the form of Son cutting in from the left - if he can keep Spurs' top scorer quiet, he will receive a major confidence boost. This could be the turning point in Boly's season.

Daniel Podence

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Mourinho instils aggression and passion into his teams, teaching them to be "intelligent c*nts, not stupid c*nts, b*stards in the sense that you are going to win matches". Podence seems like he was born with the mentality Mourinho craves, and the rough treatment he will undoubtedly receive is only going to make him tougher.

When his young couterparts in the Wolves attack are repeatedly hacked down, his 'fight back' mindset will inspire them to keep pushing on and to not become disheartened.

Also, he carved the left side of the Spurs defence to pieces when his Olympiacos side travelled to North London in the group stage of the Champions League last season.

Players to watch: Spurs

Sergio Reguilon

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The right side of the Wolves defence has been singled out repeatedly as a weak point, with Boly underperforming at times and Nelson Semedo struggling to take care of more than one attacker. Reguilon's surging runs will cause massive problems whether he's on the overlap looking for a cross or moving into the half space to shoot or thread a pass. If he and Son get two-on-two with Boly and Semedo, it would be foolish to bet against the Spurs men.

Son Heung-Min

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Son needs no introduction. His attacking instincts are world-class, and with every other Spurs player trying to get the ball towards him in the final third, a goal from him at some point seems almost inevitable. He will likely occupy the space between Ruben Neves, Semedo and Boly, then attempt surging diagonal runs into the space between Boly and Coady.

Harry Kane

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Kane has flourished under Mourinho, going from being simply a world-class number 9, to being one of the most complete centre-forwards in world football. His lethal finishing poses a huge threat to Wolves 'keeper Rui Patricio, and his tendency to drop deep in the build-up could drag Coady forwards if his concentration lapses, opening up acres of space for Son to run into and giving Kane time to look for the pass to his strike partner.

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