Hey everybody! Tottenham Hotspur have an absolutely critical Premier League match on Wednesday against Newcastle, and the team will be absolutely itching to come back strong after the disappointing loss to West Brom on Saturday.
Team news is out, and since Eric Dier was rested against the Baggies, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that he’ll start against Too... wait, what?
TEAM NEWS: @EricDier (illness) missed training today and is out of tomorrow's match. @Serge_Aurier (hamstring) is being assessed to see if he can be available for Sunday's match against Leicester. pic.twitter.com/TXxdUqoeGp— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 8, 2018
Well, that’s okay because Mauricio Pochettino had previously said that Mousa Dembele would be back in time to play midweek against Newcast... huh?
TEAM NEWS: @mousadembele (ankle) is continuing rehab and will continue to be monitored ahead of Sunday's match against Leicester. @HarryWinks (ankle) continues rehab and will not be available for our final two games of the season. pic.twitter.com/WyDaN3pLYJ— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 8, 2018
I didn’t even know Serge Aurier was injured. Well, what about Jan Vertonghen? Surely there’s some good news there, right? Please?
TEAM NEWS: @JanVertonghen is available for selection after coming off at The Hawthorns on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/cu7YHp8VLc— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) May 8, 2018
Oh thank God.
So let’s rosterbate for a little while, then. With Dier, Dembele and Winks all out, it basically means that we’re down to bare bones in the center of midfield. Wanyama is pretty clearly going to start on Wednesday for the second time in five days which isn’t ideal, but that’s pretty much a given now.
If we assume Harry Kane starts (because yes, Harry Kane is going to start), a 4-1-4-1 formation with Wanyama shielding the back line would work pretty well. An attacking midfield of Son Heung-Min, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, and Erik Lamela/Lucas Moura behind Kane might work pretty well, especially if either Alli or Eriksen periodically drop deeper to help Wanyama. We’ve seen variations of this lineup before, though not recently.
Shifting Eriksen deeper into the pivot beside Wanyama in a 4-2-3-1 is also a possibility, and while it negates some of Eriksen’s attacking output it would help the midfield not get overrun. Dele could also play deeper, or the two could swap as needed. A midfield of Son-Dele-Lucas in front of Wanyama-Eriksen ain’t too shabby.
But who are we kidding? The most obvious (and most likely) answer is a midfield pivot of Victor Wanyama and Moussa Sissoko. That leaves options such as a back three, sacrificing an attacking midfielder, or a back four. Sissoko isn’t utterly tragic in a central role, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. That said, I’m pretty sure that’s what we’re going to see. Hold on to your butts.
It’s not hyperbole to say that this is one of the important games of Spurs’ current season. If you’re Poch, how do you set up the team? And are you more nervous than before you read this article?