One-match-per-week Tottenham Hotspur means that there’s a lot more time to prepare, and that’s exactly what Cristian Stellini is doing with Spurs. The interim head coach gave his usual press conference ahead of Spurs’ home match against Bournemouth on Saturday, and expressed some good news on the injury front — Brazilian attacker Richarlison is back, and available for selection!
“We have only Richy [returning] with one week training with us. Only Richy is completely back and we recover him. For the other players, they start to work but they work alone. Ben Davies, Emerson and other players are working hard but they are not available.”
That “other players” also includes Emerson Royal and Ryan Sessegnon, who are reportedly still recovering but inching closer to a return, hopefully yet this season. But this means that Spurs are almost certain (again) to start Ivan Perisic at left wing back and Pedro Porro on the other flank. Stellini also hinted that there’s a chance that injured central midfielder Yves Bissouma may not play again this season.
“The injury of Bissouma is particular. He is recovering. He start to work but it is not easy to recover strength in the calf after an injury like this so we have to respect the time for Bissouma.”
The other player we know won’t feature is Lucas Moura, who is still serving his three-match suspension for a straight red card against Everton two weeks ago.
Richarlison’s return however might prompt the long-awaited tactical changes that Stellini has been hinting at since taking the reins from Antonio Conte. Stellini admitted that Tottenham still have a chance to finish in the top four, and that in order to do so they’ll have to score more goals.
“We have to play eight final games, like eight finals. We started with Brighton and now we have eight games. We have to play attacking football. We are trying to push more to create more chances, to try to shoot more on target, to create something that can create a good atmosphere in the stadium and to get the crowd behind us.
“[We must play] by exploiting more the space, keeping the ball more and try to find the right spaces and superiority on the pitch. To play with patience and not to rush in the game or be frantic on the ball. This is the way. It is a long time we work on this aspect. It is not only in the last aspect we worked. We want to see the players improving under this aspect.
“I don’t think we are speaking about a huge change. It is the work that we work on for a long time. It is about confidence, patience during the game and the style of this team to play in the right way for the characteristics of the players.”
Richarlison does add something a little bit different to Spurs’ attack, and I wonder if we’ll see him start on Sunday in place of Dejan Kulusevski who has been sputtering lately. On the other hand, Richy is only now returning to full fitness and based on Stellini’s past lineups it wouldn’t shock me if he’s utilized again as a late impact substitute.
Spurs kick off against Bournemouth at 10:00 a.m. ET / 3:00 p.m. BST. The match will be televised by USA Network in the States; it is not televised in the UK.