Strangely enough, considering Tottenham Hotspur went down to nine men and ended up losing at home to Chelsea 4-1, the vibes are actually still pretty good. The home supporters at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium lauded and applauded what was at times a heroic performance against massively stacked odds against them, and were literally a matter of inches away from a potential 2-2 draw.
But the big concern coming out of this match was not the loss itself, but the injuries to James Maddison and Micky van de Ven. Maddison came off before halftime in what appeared to be a non-contact injury to his ankle, possibly his Achilles tendon. Van de Ven horrifically pulled up with what looked like a significant hamstring injury; he was helped off the field and down the tunnel.
Tottenham head coach Ange Postecoglou, speaking in his post-match press conference, declined to give any specifics on either Maddison or Van de Ven, but didn’t give much optimism for Micky’s injury, calling it “significant.”
“It’s too early [to say anything about injuries] but looking at Micky you’re thinking it’s a pretty significant one so you’d assume he’ll be out for a little while. Madders got a knock on the ankle and we’ll just have to assess him and see how it is.”
Ouch. I’m no doctor, nor do I play on on TV, but Micky’s injury looked extremely serious to me. In the writer’s chat, Micky’s reaction was compared to when Harry Kane did his hammy a couple of seasons ago. Harry rushed his recovery back but was still out more than two months. It’s possible, even likely, Micky could be out at minimum that long, possibly longer. But we’ll need to wait for an update to know for sure.
Spurs have been heavily reliant on the excellent tackling and positioning of Cuti Romero and the recovery pace of Van de Ven so far this season, and their combined defensive partnership was a big reason why Spurs roared out to such a hot start at the beginning of this season. Now, with Romero out for the next three matches and Micky out indefinitely, Spurs face the prospect of multiple matches without either of them, or Destiny Udogie who received two yellow cards.
It begs the question — what will they do? Eric Dier came in as a substitute after Romero’s sending off, and to be fair Dier performed admirably, but it’s equally clear that Dier doesn’t have Romero’s mobility, much less Van de Ven’s. Spurs do have options — Dier is likely to feature, and Spurs could use some combination of him, Emerson Royal, or Ben Davies in the back line. Spurs also have two promising young defenders in the U21s — Ashley Phillips, a highly rated youngster whom spurs purchased this summer as a one for the future, and Alfie Dorrington, who has established himself as one of the best defenders in the development squad.
It’s not great. As I said in the match thread, Tottenham were riding their injury luck and what was a very good first team squad to start the season, but their depth was notably flimsy. Now comes what could be the biggest test yet for Ange-Ball — getting Spurs back up to their admittedly over-high standards without several of their key players.
But Ange also said not to expect any change to his tactics — even with backups in key positions, Tottenham will continue to play Ange’s version of high pressing, high defensive lines, and progressive football.
“It is just who we are mate, it is who we are and who we will be for as long as I am here. If we go down to five men we will have a go.”