Tottenham Hotspur’s fixture congestion isn’t getting any easier, and it is forcing manager Jose Mourinho to take a long look at how to prioritize. 48 hours after a controversial 1-1 league draw against Newcastle, Spurs play at home vs. Chelsea in the Carabao Cup. Two days after that, Spurs play a critical Europa League playoff match against Maccabi Haifa, and the following weekend travel to Old Trafford to play Manchester United.
Add to that the fact that Son Heung-Min is out with a hamstring injury for “a while” and several of Spurs’ new players such as Sergio Reguilon and Gareth Bale are not quite fit, and it’s a potential recipe for disaster. Consequently, Mourinho said in comments to the media that he’s going to roll out a highly rotated side against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup.
In short, he’s going to punt, and he’s worried that Sonny may be only the first of several injuries within the squad.
“I would like to fight for the Carabao Cup but I don’t think I can. We have a game on Thursday that gives us not as much money as the Champions League but the group phase of the Europa League gives us a certain amount that for a club like us is very important.
“Apart from Sonny, everybody is in contention but I think you can imagine that with a game on Thursday that decides a very important thing for us, I think the EFL made a decision for us. They didn’t even [simply] create a problem – they made a decision for us. So that’s the decision.
“We are going to [rotate the squad]. We know the consequences of it because not every player is the same. And not every player has the same group dynamic because we have clearly a spine and obviously you lose potential.
“And I think Sonny was just the first. More will come. Son was the first, but more will come.”
He’s not wrong. Spurs’ fixture pile-up is unprecedented except for during the busy Christmas period, and coming at the front end of the season is almost cruel. The League Cup is a trophy, and trophies are good. However, it’s not nearly as prestigious or financially important as making the group stages of the Europa League, and the Premier League is obviously paramount. I have no issues with bailing on the League Cup, if punting is necessary. I’m of the opinion that the League Cup shouldn’t have happened this year anyway, considering [gestures at everything].
A young, rotated Spurs team would probably get clobbered by Chelsea if they roll out a full strength side. They might lose even against a rotated Chelsea team. That seems okay, if the alternative is trying to split the baby and ending up in a worse position in the medium term than before the match.