The sting of Tottenham Hotspur’s Champions League loss to Monaco yesterday still hasn’t faded from the minds of Spurs fans, but now attention turns to Saturday’s huge league match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. It’s the third consecutive London derby for Spurs, and unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot of positive news to soften the blow of Tottenham crashing out of Europe’s top competition.
Mauricio Pochettino apparently confirmed after yesterday’s match that Toby Alderweireld will not be fit to play against Chelsea in the Battle of the Bridge II, and Ben Davies is also confirmed out for the next few weeks. According to ESPN, Alderweireld is said to be another week away from returning to the team, which is essentially the same status that he’s had for the past month.
With Danny Rose suspended for picking up his fifth yellow card against West Ham last weekend, that means Spurs fans are very likely going to see another patchwork back line against Chelsea. The most likely solution is to shunt Jan Vertonghen, who was rested against Monaco yesterday, out to left back and Kevin Wimmer deputizing alongside Eric Dier. Kyle Walker will almost certainly play, assuming he’s recovered from the knock he picked up against the Hammers.
This is obviously far from ideal, but there isn’t a whole lot of choice unless Pochettino opted to try three at the back again and play a left sided midfielder out of position as a wing-back. That strikes me as a significantly riskier move than moving Vertonghen wide left, a position he has played with regularity for Belgium, and hoping for the best.
If you want a bit of light in the darkness, none of the team news articles I’ve found have mentioned Erik Lamela, so there’s perhaps a glimmer of hope that he could return to the team in time for Saturday. However, it’s unlikely that Lamela would be 90 minutes fit after missing the past few weeks with a hip injury.
Any confidence that Spurs may have had after the come from behind win over West Ham is surely gone now, but Tottenham’s players are still professional footballers and there’s talent and ability there that can compete with Chelsea away from home. Hopefully that team shows up on Saturday.