The only negative thing I can say about Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-0 win over Manchester City today, a match that saw Son Heung-Min score his ninth goal of the season, Harry Kane tally his ninth assist, and Spurs rocket up to end the day top fo the league, is that Toby Alderweireld got injured. And it looks bad.
Alderweireld went down away from the ball and without any contact, and was signaling to the Spurs physio staff that he had a torn muscle. He walked off the pitch on his own power, but gingerly. Jose Mourinho, a manager who is known for playing games with the press if he thinks it’s in the best interest of his club, was quick to suggest after the match that Toby is going to be out for a while with an injury to his adductor muscle, and also suggested that the international break might have been a contributing factor.
“It’s bad. It’s a muscular abductor [sic] injury. We have three centre-backs in the Premier League but not in the Europa League where we don’t have Joe Rodon. There’s nobody to blame. He played in matches for Belgium they needed to win. It’s just one of those things.”
Mourinho expanded on that in a post-match interview with Sky Sports, calling it a “fatigue injury” and saying he’d be out for a long time.
"I just feel sorry for Toby"— Football Daily (@footballdaily) November 21, 2020
Jose Mourinho confirms Toby Alderweireld will be a long term injury pic.twitter.com/0rI282TROl
We all remember when Son Heung-Min seemed to miraculously come back from an injury in a short period of time leading some to suggest that Mou might not have been fully honest with reporting Son’s injury status. However, this time I believe him. The injury didn’t look good, and the way Toby was signalling made it look like he knew he’d be out for a while. Muscle injuries are weird things and can have a hugely variable recovery rate, so we may not know for a while when he might be available again, but on a gut level I think we may not see Toby play again until Christmas, at the earliest.
It puts Spurs in a bit of a pickle. Davinson Sanchez is the obvious choice to come in as Toby’s replacement alongside Eric Dier. Debutant Joe Rodon can also play in the Premier League (but not the Europa League), and Spurs also hopefully have Japhet Tanganga coming back sometime soon as well. That’s a stable of four defenders, but not a whole lot of experience beyond Sanchez and Eric Dier. It’s a concern, especially with Spurs playing two matches a week (minimum) before January, and a really tough league schedule coming up.
Toby’s injury doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate today’s win — we absolutely should — but it is the grey lining inside this fluffy white cloud and it could be significant for Spurs going forward.