Cartilage Free Captain is again reviewing the Tottenham Hotspur first team players after the conclusion of the 2016-17 season. Up next: right back Kieran Trippier.
Appearances: 19 (12 PL, 5 FA Cup, 2 League Cup)
What went right?
A lot went right this season for Kieran Trippier. He started the year as the backup right back, but by the end of the season he was Mauricio Pochettino’s first choice. We’ll get into the off-the-field reasons for that later, but there is no doubt that Trips had a strong year.
Trippier’s 5 Premier League assists were the 5th most on Spurs, and the most of any of our defensive players. Everyone knows that crossing is the strongest aspect of his game. As a wing-back he doesn’t get as far forward as Kyle Walker does, but he’s much better at crossing from deep.
At this point he’s also public enemy number one in Watford. Kieran has a weird penchant for torching the Hornets every time he faces them. His only goal for Spurs came in a 1-0 win at White Hart Lane last year, and this year he assisted 3 goals in 2 games against Watford.
Trippier’s style of play is best summed up by his assist on Son’s second goal against Watford in April.
Trips doesn’t even think to take a touch. When Eriksen rolls the ball forward for him he is just focusing on trying to best prepare his body to whip-in a dangerous cross. That’s exactly what he does, and then one of our brilliant finishers gets on the end of it to make it look ever better.
Doubts remain about just how important crossing is in Pochettino’s system. But with ability like that you can understand why Trippier just got his first England senior call-up to be in Gareth Southgate’s latest squad.
What went wrong?
It feels like ages ago, but Spurs were in the Champions League this season. They weren’t in the competition for very long, with two 2-1 losses against Monaco playing a big role in sealing their fate.
The performances were poor and uninspired all-around, but Trippier had a particularly awful game in the away loss in Monaco. He was repeatedly exposed when having to defend one-on-one against Monaco’s pacey attacking players. Monaco’s second goal partially came about because Trips didn’t pick up Thomas Lemar’s run to the far post. And that goal was the one that ultimately knocked us out of the CL.
It was just one game, but to be honest Trippier didn’t play enough against our biggest opponents to be further evaluated on how he stacks up defensively at the highest level. But the signs from the Monaco game aren’t good...and next year he could very well be our starting right back.
What happens next is one of the biggest questions that Spurs have to answer this summer.
Kyle Walker has been Spurs starting right back for years, but now there are reports that he has had a falling out with Mauricio Pochettino. Those reports are unconfirmed, but Walker not starting in some of our biggest games at the end of the season lends credence to the rumors.
Trippier is good enough to start everyday for most Premier League teams, but he’s not good enough to force a sale of Walker. He’s a great back-up to have. He’s also not at Kyle Walker’s level and probably never will be. Walker is much more suited for our system in terms of pressing, bombing forward in attack, and one-on-one defending. Trippier is better at crossing...that’s it.
Both players had strong seasons this year, just keep them both! No Spurs fan wants to see the club lose the blessing of having the best fullbacks in England.