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Tottenham Season in Review: Keepers & Defenders

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It’s our annual look at Spurs’ season, and we’re starting off at the back.

Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton FC - Premier League Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images

The season is over, and there’s not a whole lot of time before the new season begins. But we can still take a quick look back at Tottenham Hotspur’s players and review how they did over the course of what was a strange, unprecedented, and frankly disappointing season overall. Going from a Champions League final to 41 points and a sixth place finish, all while sacking your manager can’t be viewed as anything as disappointing.

Still, not all of Spurs’ players were bad, and there’s plenty to hang your hat on looking ahead to next season. Let’s start off today at the back, with the keepers and defenders. All rankings are out of 5 Chirpys.

Goalkeepers

Hugo Lloris

The season started off poorly for Tottenham’s captain after he dislocated his elbow in a home match against Brighton & Hove Albion which saw him miss three months of action. Hugo had also been dogged last season and the early part of this year by accusations of costly errors and poor distribution, and gave up seven goals to Bayern Munich in the Champions League. But after football resumed in June, Lloris looked a different man, and put in some outstanding performances down the stretch — good enough to be a candidate for Player of the Season. Not a perfect season, but still pretty good.

Rating: 4 Chirpys

Paulo Gazzaniga

“Gazinga” got thrust into the spotlight early and unexpectedly after Hugo’s injury, and was serviceable if not especially great. He conceded 23 goals in 18 matches for Tottenham — not great, but it’s hard to tell how much of that is Gazza and how much was the terrible defense ahead of him. This was his opportunity to try and stake a claim that he could be a starting keeper. I’m not sure he did it.

Rating: 3 Chirpys

Incomplete: Michel Vorm


Defenders

Toby Alderweireld

Toby was unquestionably outstanding in central defense after the lockdown ended (and when Jose Mourinho finally started playing him) and it’s great that he signed a new contract. But that’s not the full story — he looked a bit creaky at the back at times in the first half of the season. His stats almost all slightly regressed from last season in the aggregate. He’s still Spurs’ best defender, but it wasn’t his best year by far.

Rating: 3.5 Chirpys

Jan Vertonghen

Jan’s last year with Spurs was unfortunately his worst, and you could see him start to fade as the weeks went on this season. His 1000-yard stare after being subbed off against Southampton in the FA Cup (and after a horrific performance) was painful to watch. When he was good, he was very good. He’ll be a solid addition to whatever Italian team manages to land him this summer. However, the sad truth is that he’s no longer good enough for Spurs, but he’ll still always be the best.

Rating: 2.5 Chirpys

Davinson Sanchez

Davinson came into the season looking like he might not be the dominating central defender that Spurs fans hoped he would be, but he grew into himself as the season went on. He formed a pretty effective partnership with Eric Dier post-lockdown and while he still needs some work with the ball at his feet he cut out a lot of the errors that dogged him in past seasons. Pretty good.

Rating: 3 Chirpys

Japhet Tanganga

One of the pleasant surprises of the season was the emergence of Japhet Tanganga as a utility defender, capable of playing at both right back and center back, and not looking too out of place there for a young guy. Not a whole lot of action, but he certainly didn’t look out of place very often when he was there. He’s definitely one to watch for the future.

Rating: 3 Chirpys

Eric Dier

If there’s one player who has perhaps benefited the most from the appointment of Jose Mourinho, it’s Dier. Eric looked like he might be destined to be a bench/role player this season under Pochettino, but emerged in an “old” role in central defense and played quite well there, especially after lockdown. Looking solely at that, however, would minimize the fact that he was pretty, pretty bad in central midfield in the first half of the season and looked like he might be sold. There’s hope for the future, but he was probably bad more than he was good in 2019-20.

Rating: 2.5 Chirpys

Serge Aurier

There are a whole host of reasons not to like Serge, but let’s start out with something good — he was a pretty cromulent attacking fullback for much of the season, acting at times as the primary catalyst for Tottenham’s offense. He had 2 goals and 8 assists in all competitions this year. He also defended pretty well this season, when asked — Moussa Sissoko’s positioning to cover for him downfield was obviously a tactical choice, Serge knows how to put a tackle in. But the thing about Serge is that you know he’s good for at least one, possibly more, boneheaded moment every match. It’s what makes him so frustrating to watch, and why Spurs are considering offloading him this summer. All that said, this was one of his better seasons and we should recognize that.

Rating: 3.5 Chirpys

Ben Davies

Ben Davies isn’t a flashy player. It’s hard to look at his performance and say “yes, he did a lot of good things.” Thing is, he didn’t do a whole lot of bad things, either. Had a couple of injuries that kept him out (and Danny Rose in). He was okay going forward and okay in defense. He’s a perfectly serviceable left back, once again. Spurs can still do better than him, but he’s unlikely to make you scream at the telly in most matches.

Rating: 3 Chirpys

Danny Rose

The writing was on the wall for Danny as soon as Pochettino got sacked and Mourinho came in. A butting of heads was almost inevitable and you could practically point to the moment when it all started to go wrong. Rose wasn’t egregiously awful this season, but he had some real stinkers (like the home loss to Newcastle for example) and it’s clear his heart was no longer in it at Tottenham.

Rating: 1.5 Chirpys

Incomplete: Juan Foyth, Kyle Walker-Peters, Ryan Sessegnon