Tottenham Hotspur are on a plane heading to Russia in preparation for tomorrow’s Champions League group stage match against CSKA Moscow tomorrow. There’s team news to report, but depending on your state of mind it might not be good.
Mauricio Pochettino has announced that he has left five players in London for Tuesday’s critical match: Harry Kane, Moussa Sissoko, Eric Dier, Mousa Dembele, and Danny Rose have not traveled and will not feature.
Kane’s omission is obvious, and Pochettino had previously indicated in post-match comments after the Middlesbrough win that Sissoko has a possible concussion that could rule him out for a week. Rose, Dembele, and Dier’s omissions are a bit more curious. Rose is still coming back from a hamstring tweak picked up on England duty, and Dier and Dembele were both subbed off last weekend against Sunderland with what was called at the time “cramps.”
You can choose to worry about those three players not making the plane to Russia, but it might just be as simple as Pochettino wanting to give them a few extra days of recovery ahead of this weekend’s big home match against league-leading Manchester City. It seems likely that Poche trusts his midfield depth to be able to get a result in Moscow.
So what does that mean for Spurs tomorrow? If Poche decides to play his best available players, our best guess is that Wanyama will partner with Dele Alli, who will drop deeper to make way for an attacking band of Son Heung-Min, Christian Eriksen, and Erik Lamela.
On the other hand, both Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen have played a lot of minutes in the past week. Alli looked pretty gassed by the end of the Boro match, and Eriksen is not a cyborg (though he is a time lord). With that in mind, it would’t be shocking if Harry Winks, who has played very well in his limited league minutes and against Gillingham, were to slot in the pivot beside Wanyama with Alli in the attacking band. It could also imply that Eriksen will start the match on the bench with Josh Onomah coming into the side. Or maybe this means a start for GK N’Koudou.
CSKA isn’t Barcelona, but they’re not slouches either. After the Monaco loss, Spurs really need a result in Moscow in order to not be playing catch-up against the rest of their group stage opponents. My guess is we’ll see a strong lineup tomorrow, but my predictions have a tendency to be hilariously off, so whatever.
The Manchester City match, which is an absolutely huge one, is Sunday. Four days of recovery will help, so it’s also possible that Poche will roll the dice and play a few more starters with the idea that they have some time to recover before the Citizens visit.