The Telegraph is reporting that Kieran Trippier is set to be out for a couple of weeks due to the ankle injury he suffered at the weekend against Juventus. The club is waiting for the swelling on his ankle to go down before doing a scan so we can’t know the full extent of the injury yet. That said, we had to do this last year when Harry Kane hurt his ankle and he was out for more than “a couple” of weeks. So let’s hope Trips’ injury is not that bad.
That said, it leaves us with a hell of a problem going into the season opener this Sunday: With both Victor Wanyama and Trippier injured, who will start for Tottenham? (As an aside: This is why having the same dude for “backup right back,” “backup center back,” and “backup midfielder,” is a terrible idea.)
The Conventional Options
Spurs could play Eric Dier at right back and play a relatively straightforward 4-2-3-1 with Dier at right back and a midfield of Mousa Dembele and Harry Winks. That said, we saw last season that finding a midfield duo that does all the things Poche wants his midfield to do is not as easy as you’d think: The only strong run we had in the 4-2-3-1 came with the Dier-Dembele midfield pairing. Any other pairing in the 4-2-3-1 struggled. So Winks-Dembele is hardly a sure thing. Dier at right back is also dubious as well—his pace isn’t great and he’s hardly better than Trippier at taking a man on with the ball and getting past him.
Another obvious option would be to start Kyle Walker-Peters at right back and play our normal 4-2-3-1 with KWP at right back and a Dierbele midfield. Assuming KWP is even passable at right back, this would make the most sense. But, then, that is precisely the problem.
The Wildcard Options
There are other possibilities: We could set up in a 3-5-2 with Sissoko at right back. Depending on how much Poche trusts Cameron Carter-Vickers or Kevin Wimmer, that could allow Dier to play in midfield with Dembele while also playing in a back three with Wimmer sitting between Vertonghen and Alderweireld in the back three. Or we could play Dier in the back three, bench Wimmer, and go with a Winksbele midfield.
That shape, however, is a total wild card in that Davies as a left wing back doesn’t really work because of his pace issues and we have no clue what would happen with Sissoko at right wing back.
Also recall that Son Heung-Min is almost certainly going to miss the opener, which means that Sissoko will probably play as a right wing, which means we can only use him as right back if we do not need him at right wing. (THIS SEASON IS GOING TO BE GREAT EVERYONE.)
This is all dumb and unnecessary.
The infuriating thing about this, of course, is obvious: We have known since April that Kyle Walker wanted to leave for Man City. We got a £50m fee for him last month. Despite that, we still haven’t signed a right back.
Obviously transfer deals are complex, but failing to sign a player in that role, particularly given Pochettino’s discomfort with starting Walker-Peters, is inexcusable when we’re headed for a 60 game season and really need to get this one right as we head into our new stadium next year. It’s also worth noting that one of the big things that short circuited our title challenge each of the past two season was a slow start due to injuries and figuring out best XI. It’s frustrating to see us primed to repeat the same issue for the third time in Poche’s four year tenure.
Oh, and in case you forgot: Our second game of the season is a home date with Chelsea. So unless we want a potential hiding from the defending champs on August 20, we need to figure something out fast.