With the January transfer window now just over halfway through, James Hicks looks at the different ways that Spurs could line up by the start of February, including a few familiar faces as well as new signings.
- Keeping The Faith
Although results haven’t been going the way that fans would’ve liked them to recently, this team is 4th for most goals scored in the Premier League, 3rd for least conceded, and the 2nd least conceded from open play behind Manchester City.
Against Sheffield United on Sunday, Steven Bergwijn showed signs of promise to be able to become the third attacker that Tottenham so desperately need to perform alongside Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son and help the team with goal contributions.
Tanguy Ndombele scored a outrageous chip over Aaron Ramsdale at Bramall Lane and is looking fitter than ever, completing 90 minutes of football against the Blades and slowly showing signs of progression with his fitness which I’m sure every Spurs fan is loving to see his improvement and adaption recently.
The defence is always a major talking point of the Spurs line-up no matter who’s playing and I would argue that this is our most experienced back four, Sergio Reguilon and Serge Aurier give us the width and pace we need in the full-back positions. Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier have been Jose’s trusted partnership this year and their record from open play speaks for itself, conceding the joint least goals from open play, but as everyone knows, set pieces are a huge problem, an issue perhaps which could be solved with the next line up.
2. The Midfield Trio
This was the line-up Spurs fans were most looking forward to after the close of the summer transfer window with a little twist.
In this scenario, Marcel Sabitzer would join the front three in replacement of Steven Bergwijn, with the Austrian – who has a year and a half left on his contract at RB Leipzig – finally making the move having been linked with Spurs on and off for some time.
He would be a great addition to the squad and would provide a player who is extremely versatile where he can play whether it be just off the strikers in the 10 role, out wide either side of a front three or even central midfield. Sabitzer is flexible and can help with goal contributions from anywhere on the field with the 26-year-old producing 17 goal contributions in 32 games in the Bundesliga last season.
It is more likely, however, that Spurs and Levy will attempt to sign Sabitzer in the summer due to his contract situation, replicating what happened with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg negotiations due to his lack of contract, where Spurs ended up with what is looking like a bargain in the Dane.
Another attraction of this team is the midfield three everyone couldn’t wait to watch play together this season in Giovani Lo Celso, Ndombele and Hojbjerg. The trio have only started together once all season, against LASK in the Europa League where it never really gelled, however with Ndombele fitness now ever increasing hopefully when Lo Celso returns from injury we’ll be able to see these three together in action, a spectacle many Spurs were extremely looking forward to.
In defence I’ve partnered Joe Rodon next to Dier after his impressive performance in his second league start against Sheffield United, in his brief cameos in a back four this season he has been really impressive and arguably deserves a chance at a long run in the team, with Jose Mourinho evidently undecided on who he is going to partner alongside Dier in a back four.
3. Five at the Back
Mourinho first debuted Spurs playing three/five at the back against Wolves, where again Spurs conceded from a set piece, however against Sheffield United it look much more assured and controlled posing the question whether it’s worth playing that formation?
Keeping the same front three – which I would say is the best – and a midfield pivot of Ndombele and Hojbjerg, would help to provide the foundations which this team is built on.
Both Reguilon and Doherty were bought over the summer from Sevilla and Wolves respectively, however we have hardly seen either of them play in a position that they thrive in so much as a wing-back. They both offer great pace and crossing ability for one of the forward three to get their head on, especially Reguilon as seen against Fulham.
Last season Doherty had 12 goal contributions in 50 games for Wolves, while Reguilon had eight contributions in 38 games, at the moment Spurs’ highest goal contributor apart from Son and Kane is Ndombele on four, this is something that Jose needs to find the answer to and quick.
By playing this formation it would give Doherty and Reguilon much more license to get forward without having to worry as much about their defensive duties, instead helping Spurs when they go forward, this could help produce many more goal scoring opportunities with crosses and runs from both wing backs.
With the three centre-backs, it would be fair to say Rodon has more than earnt his chance in defence, here he would be alongside Dier and Japhet Tanganga, Tanganga has severely struggled for game time this season due to a back injury he suffered earlier in the season. However with him now slowly progressing back into the set-up and his superb performances last year he also warrants a chance at centre-back especially with all of Jose’s chopping and changing he has been doing recently at centre-half.
4. The Return of DESK
Is the return of DESK a possibility for Mourinho and Tottenham? Christian Eriksen has been heavily linked back with a move back to White Hart Lane after failing to impress at Inter Milan since his transfer last January.
Dele Alli has suffered a similar dip in form since last season, but is still putting up decent numbers when being put in the team with four goal contributions in twelve matches. What Dele needs is a sustained period in the first XI where he tries to rediscover his form with the full support of his manager and he’ll get back to his best.
Dele, Eriksen, Son and Kane, if both Dele and Eriksen were able to rediscover their form this front four would be formidable and could possibly resolve Tottenham’s reliance on solely Son and Kane to provide goals.
Alderweireld partners Dier in defence in this team, both of whom are accustomed to each other by now having played together for nearly 6 years, many of which have been spent alongside one another at the heart of Spurs’ defence.
Would the return of Dele and Eriksen help to improve Spurs’ creativity moving forward?