Following a tedious international break which left most if not all football fans yearning for the return of the Premier League, Spurs stumbled to a 1-1 draw with bogey team West Brom. Despite failing to win against the Midlands outfit last season, Spurs would have been confident heading into the fixture after the dominant 2-0 victory over Manchester City which had preceded the international fixtures. A dominant first half saw the team go close through Ben Davies, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli but it was ultimately the brilliance of Ben Foster that kept us at bay. The former England international continually thwarted Spurs’ attempts to gain control in the game and it was his work that enabled the Baggies to take the lead in the 82nd minute. Foster’s brilliance kept the score at 0-0 and when Nacer Chadli was presented with the opportunity to score against his former club from a matter of yards, he slammed the ball home. However, his refusal to celebrate with his teammates revealed the level of respect the Belgian international has for his former club, he himself stating after the match that he has a huge amount of respect for Spurs fans. Dele Alli rescued a point for Spurs in the 89th minute and Ben Foster denied Christian Eriksen a winner in stoppage time by acrobatically diverting the ball behind for a corner.
Janssen’s lack of goal threat
Despite Vincent Janssen’s clear talent at holding the ball up and allowing others into play (for example, when Dele Alli was put through for a one on one by Janssen), Pochettino would have brought the Dutch striker to the club with the view that he would fulfil his attacking potential and be a capable second option if Harry Kane became side-lined. The 22 year old has struggled to transfer his scoring capability to the Premier League; nevertheless, he still highlighted his scoring abilities with a superb individual goal for the Netherlands national team against Belarus but as yet hasn’t scored in the Premier League. With the return of Harry Kane imminent (he recently started training with the first team again) and the incredible early form shown by Son Heung-Min, Janssen might in fact become third choice striker for Spurs. However, game time is guaranteed as Pochettino is in the process of rotating his squad with a cramped fixture list coming up and his next opportunity may well be Bournemouth this weekend or Liverpool in the EFL Cup on the 25th if, as expected, Son starts in the Champions League against Leverkusen.
The failure to bring away three points coupled with the injury of Toby Alderweireld ensured it wasn’t an overly happy trip home on Saturday. Although first indications suggested that the Belgian had a serious injury, the Guardian and the Times revealed that the central defender only suffered nerve bruising and is likely to recover quickly. Alderweireld’s fitness will be crucial if Spurs want to win the title; the Belgian’s ability has transformed Spurs’ defence and Kevin Wimmer and Eric Dier, although both are capable deputies, don’t possess the same talent as Alderweireld. His partnership with Vertonghen provides the defensive solidity that has ensured Spurs have conceded the fewest goals of any Premier League side this season and the fact that Alderweireld won’t be out for long can only be seen as beneficial for Spurs.
However, the game versus Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League will obviously come too quickly for Alderweireld and Pochettino has several options to take into consideration:
- Kevin Wimmer – the Austrian international has fallen out of favour with Pochettino but is the most obvious change that could be made. Wimmer gained experience last season in the Premier League and on the European stage when Vertonghen picked up an injury but the fact that he is struggling to make match-day squads indicates that Pochettino could be reluctant to play him in a crucial Champions League away fixture.
- Eric Dier – another option for Pochettino would be to push Dier back into central defence, the position where he made a name for himself during his time at Sporting. Dier came on for Alderweireld at the weekend and early indications are that Pochettino will play the Englishman in central defence instead of Kevin Wimmer. His performance for England following his injury wasn’t convincing so Pochettino will be hoping for a solid display on Tuesday evening.
- Cameron Carter-Vickers – an academy product, Pochettino has been favouring the US defender this season and has a reputation for developing youth. However, Pochettino probably won’t risk thrusting such an inexperienced player into the Champions League before first integrating him into regular first team football.
The performance against West Brom was a plunge back into reality for Spurs fans after enjoying a week knowing that we had comfortably beaten Guardiola’s Manchester City. Bayer Leverkusen will be a tough test for Pochettino’s men but with Son and Dembele likely to return to the starting eleven for the game, let’s hope for a positive performance. COYS!
What do you think? Will Janssen come good? Who should Pochettino play in defence against Bayer Leverkusen? Can we realistically challenge for the title? Let me know in the comments section below or send me a tweet @Hotspur_Huddle