Tottenham Hotspur were in an advantageous position at the 65 minute mark of Saturday’s game at Wolves. They led 3-0 at the time, but that 3-0 lead soon evaporated due to defensive mistakes. Spurs eventually held on for a 3-2 win after tense final portion of the match.
The important thing is that the three points were secured, but it was undoubtedly concerning for Mauricio Pochettino to, once again, see his team almost drop points from a winning position. Poch has since come out and taken the unique step of directly criticizing one of his players for a defensive mistake. Ben Pearce and ESPNFC have all of Pochettino’s quotes about Kieran Trippier.
“The disappointment is massive to concede two cheap actions like we conceded,” Pochettino said. “I don’t talk about the action of the penalty -- we need to go a little bit before. You are going to see or have the answer. We provide [Kieran] with the platform to go forward because we create the system and dynamic to put him in the best position to play. In a different situation, I think he is a full-back, not a winger.”
“It’s like no different full-back in the world. When you are in possession and go forward, you need to be strong too when you are in a defensive situation. We always compensate ... Kieran needs to improve in the defensive situation because in the last few games you have seen that we conceded a few actions. But like him, all the players need to improve in the defensive situation.”
This isn’t Pochettino throwing one of his players under the bus. The criticism here is warranted.
Trippier’s mistake was trying to nutmeg a defender as he attempted to play out from near his own corner flag. It’s not the first error that the right back has made this season, but he’s an experienced player and Pochettino wasn’t too harsh on him, now the 28-year-old can use the criticism as motivation to improve the defensive side of his game.
Shifting some more of the blame to Trippier is also a clever little way to take some of the blame off of 20-year-old Juan Foyth. Foyth was forced into conceding a penalty after Trippier’s mistake, which allowed Wolves to get their first goal. The young Argentinian showed well overall and was more at fault for the second penalty than the first.
Trippier has been Spurs’ first-choice right back ever since Kyle Walker was sold to Manchester City in the summer of 2017. The Bury native was one of the best fullbacks at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but he hasn’t really carried that form over into the Premier League season.
Serge Aurier has been restricted to being the second-choice right back since he joined from Paris Saint-Germain. The Ivorian international could be in line for a start sooner rather than later due to Trippier’s struggles.
Tottenham’s fullbacks were once viewed as possibly the best in the Premier League. The departure of Walker, injuries to Danny Rose, and mistakes from Trippier and Ben Davies have all contributed to turning the position from a strength into a weakness.
It will be interesting to see which fullbacks are chosen for Tuesday’s crucial Champions League clash with PSV.