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Three Tottenham players with something to prove in the League Cup vs. Fulham

With rotation expected, these 3 players could turn some heads with a good showing on Tuesday.

FC Barcelona v Tottenham Hotspur - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

We’re through the first three games of the Ange Postecoglou era at Tottenham Hotspur and the early returns look fruitful. Sure there are general concerns and natural worries, but Spurs definitely have the feeling of a new-look side thanks to several new signings along with the tactical shift to the more progressive and exciting Ange-Ball tactics.

With Spurs out of Europe this season, it feels there will not be many better chances to truly go all out and try and win a cup for the first time since 2008. Since Spurs no longer have midweek European games nestled into their schedules, they will have a big advantage in being able to use some of their better players in domestic cup ties — something that they may have overlooked in recent years with eyes towards games in Europe instead.

Tottenham’s trophy quest will begin pretty early this season. Normally Spurs would be entering into the League Cup in round three due to their league standing in the prior year, but they got pushed back to round 2 this season, and did not get the greatest of draws. It’s never fun to draw a Premier league team in an early cup round, and Fulham are no slouches. On top of the draw, Spurs will face a derby day going southwest to Craven Cottage for the match. Compare that to Chelsea, who also fell out of Europe entirely last season, but who drew League Two side Wimbledon at home.

Regardless, this will be an important game — their first knockout tie of the season as well as Ange’s first at the club. A quick note here that out of a possible six domestic trophies in Scotland, Ange’s Celtic side won five of them. Going into Tuesday’s matchup, the expectation is that Spurs will rotate the side given their weekends being bookended by away matches in the league — at Bournemouth this past weekend and this weekend’s trip up north in beautiful Burnley. While Spurs have had back-to-back games with the same starting XI, let’s talk about three players who could get the nod tomorrow and have something to prove.

Manor Solomon

The main concern for Spurs so far this season has been their lack of goals from the attackers. Dejan Kulusevski got into the goals column this past weekend with a sweet finish against Bournemouth, but it is clear that Spurs’ best attacking routes have come by way of the midfield in comparison to their attack. We know the struggles of Richarlison so far in the early going, but through links the clubs have been having, what is becoming clear is that Spurs are desiring pacy wingers who have superior ability in taking on defenders in 1 v 1 opportunities. This is likely the reason why Forest’s Brennan Johnson has been rumored to Spurs in the past couple of days.

So far, both Son Heung-min and Kulusevski have struggled a little in this area. Whereas Sonny is a top finisher, he has arguably lost a half-step in terms of his acceleration and he has never been the best with the ball at his feet except in transition, despite some of the eye-opening goals he has had in his illustrious career. And for Kulusevski, while we know of his creative ability, it is his strength that makes him such a capable winger, not his speed.

Solomon is one of Spurs’ best options on the shoulder with the ball at his feet. He may not be getting the credit, but Solomon fills that rotational winger option previously held by Lucas Moura. And funnily enough, they are both fascinating players in that they are stronger than they look despite their size due to their graft and low center of gravity. In comparison to Moura, however, Solomon looks to be a wiser player who will not just run into dead ends and concede possession. This is a good game for Ange to rotate the front three and Solomon will have something to prove — not only in his first potential game with real minutes but also against the club where he spent last season on loan.

Giovani Lo Celso

In the preseason, Lo Celso was a player who was showing real promise. However, in the early going of the season, James Maddison has been favored as the creative outlet in the squad and everyone who follows the Premier League can see why given how good of a start he’s had at Spurs. However, Maddison is a player who has struggled in recent years with injuries so make no mistake about it that Lo Celso is going to be a player utilized often for Spurs this season.

Like with Tanguy Ndombele, Lo Celso has had a rocky road at Spurs since he came over from Real Betis in 2019. English football has really not been kind to Lo Celso despite that one run of form where he was José Mourinho’s best player in the spring of the 2020 COVID season. Where Lo Celso differs from Ndombele is that the Argentine came back from loan this past preseason and really seemed to have put his prior years past him.

At 27 now, Lo Celso is no longer a younger talent — I wonder if he is in a different place now in his career than when he first joined. We have all seen just how good Lo Celso can be at the international level when healthy as a key cog for the Albiceleste. It just has not been the same at Spurs. With Ange at the helm, this presents the perfect opportunity for Lo Celso to have a productive season in England instead of on loan back in La Liga.

Davinson Sánchez

After Antonio Conte relegated Sánchez to the fringes of the squad just under two seasons ago, I did not expect to be talking about Davi in August of 2023 but here we are.

Over the past couple of seasons, Sánchez has really failed establish himself as a key player or fulfill the promise he brought when Spurs made him their record signing in 2017. But when assessing his performances in the preseason, I am starting to wonder if Sánchez’s poor play under the likes of Mourinho and Conte had more to do with the style of play — the back line being instructed to passively sit and defend deeper did not fit into Davi’s skill set and set him up to fail.

With the transfer window closing soon, I am sure that Ange would prefer to bring in another defender — with options like Torino’s Perr Schuurs and Fulham’s Tosin Adarabioyo being talked about. (Shameless plug here for an article I wrote two years ago on Schuurs and another shameless plug for an article I wrote last season on Adarabioyo.) Oddly enough, I wrote about Antoine Semenyo in that piece — the Bournemouth player who pressed Spurs like crazy on Saturday — and even Brennan Johnson, a Tottenham transfer target for another article.

However, given the difficulties that come in the transfer window, I wonder if Spurs end up not getting a defensive transfer over the line — which would mean that Sánchez could end up being a rotational centerback option. Between him and Eric Dier, Sánchez is better-suited to this style of football. It would not shock me if Ange persists with the centerback pairing of Micky van de Ven and Cristian Romero, but I would not be opposed with rolling Sánchez out there to see if he can mirror his performances from the preseason, and his strong showing in the opening match at Brentford.

Follow me on Twitter @RyanSRatty.