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Dejan Kulusevski a doubt for NLD after picking up an injury with Sweden


Sweden v Norway: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 4 Photo by Annelie Cracchiolo/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

You wanna know why I hate the international break? This. This is why I hate the international break. Dan Kilpatrick is now reporting in the Evening Standard that Deki has sustained a “suspected muscle injury” while on international duty with Sweden, and is now a doubt for the North London Derby on Saturday.

I could go on a paragraph-long rant about the uselessness of the Nations League and why in an already crowded fixture year there was no reason why proactive steps could’ve been taken to better protect players, but I won’t. Instead I’ll look with trepidation towards a North London Derby match up against Arsenal at the Emirates that might have to be played without both Deki and Hugo Lloris, who is also doubtful. The Emirates is already a house of horrors for Tottenham, why not bring Halloween to north London a month early?

It’s not catastrophic. Deki’s injury would mean that Richarlison becomes his natural substitute in a 4-3-3, Conte’s preferred formation, alongside Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min. In a lot of ways, Arsenal is an ideal opponent for Conte’s tactics — they don’t sit particularly deep and frustrate Spurs going forward and they aren’t a crazy aggressive team that will try and blow their opponents out of the water. But it means that Conte is likely to have a short bench, especially with attacking options, and much less of a plan B than he would otherwise. Deki is the kind of player who can change a game, especially as a substitute, and I worry a little about that right side of the field if Emerson Royal starts — we don’t have to look too far to see examples of matches where a Royal-Richarlison right side didn’t mesh nearly as well as it did with Deki in there.

Or, maybe Conte throws a curve ball and we start with a 3-5-2. That worked pretty well against Leicester, though it would mean probably benching Richarlison for Yves Bissouma. I’m not getting my hopes up that this is a realistic possibility, except as a late game tactical switch.

This sucks. Maybe we can replace Deki with a pokemon?