Remember that encouraging injury news this week ahead of this weekend’s home tie against Liverpool? Well, it sounds like Ange Postecoglou isn’t taking any chances. In his weekly press conference ahead of the match, Big Ange stated that, despite training much of the week, Brennan Johnson will not feature for Spurs in this Saturday’s Premier League match after picking up a tight hamstring against Arsenal last weekend. James Maddison and Son Heung-Min, both of whom Ange said were not 100% last week, will be “assessed.”
“From last week, Brennan will miss out - it’s nothing too serious but he won’t be right for this week. Madders and Sonny trained today, just finished the session and seemed to get through it not too bad. We’ll just have to see how they pull up as it’s fair to say they were a bit sore after last week and had a bit of an interrupted week training so just a matter of seeing how they pull up.”
Johnson missing out likely means the return of Manor Solomon to the starting lineup against Liverpool, but the questionable status of Maddison and Son could have a huge impact on the way the team sets up. If Sonny misses out, Tottenham can slot Richarlison into his position, though this would obviously affect the way Tottenham set up and play.
Maddison presents an even more difficult problem, as his creative understudy in the side, Giovani Lo Celso, is dealing with injuries of his own. Ange dealt with this situation in the latter stages of the NLD by bringing in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, but there’s little chance that General Ho can recreate the kind of creativity in and around the box that Madders brings to the side, and the team would need to fill that gap in other ways.
Bryan Gil is unlikely to be involved tomorrow either — when asked about Gil’s imminent return to the side after offseason surgery, Postecoglou suggested that it could take a few weeks yet to get him back up to speed.
“Yeah, like you’ve said [Gil] has been a bit unfortunate in that pretty much since the start of pre-season he’s had a couple of injuries that haven’t allowed him to train with the team. He had a good year last year away from here and he certainly plays in a position where guys with his attributes can certainly fit into our structure.
“It’ll be good to see Bryan getting up to speed over the next couple of weeks, training with the team and then, obviously with Ivan going down, we’re one down in those wide areas so having him at the club is certainly beneficial.”
Postecoglou was also asked about Yves Bissouma, noting that he’s picked up three yellows in his opening six matches, meaning if he picks up another in Spurs’ next 13 matches he’d be suspended one game for accumulation. Ange acknowledged the situation, but didn’t seem particularly concerned, nor did it seem as though Bissouma would be asked to change the way he plays.
“I think sometimes those things are just consequences of game state and the way things are going. I’ve never worried about talking to players about that area. If they’re picking up sort of needless ones, if it’s around dissent and things like that, then potentially you’d have a word.
“Biss has obviously become a really important part of what we’re doing and we don’t want him missing games, but there’s certainly nothing there at the moment for me to specifically address him about it. He plays in an area of the park where there’s a lot of action and he’s involved in all of it which is brilliant for us.
“I’d hate for me to say something that curtails that because it’s a big part of how the team is set up.”
Liverpool will provide another difficult test to Postecoglou’s new-look Tottenham side, perhaps one even tougher in some ways to Arsenal last weekend. When asked, Postecoglou said he relishes the challenge provided by Jurgen Klopp’s team, and that he thinks the advantage from playing at home could be impactful.
“Yeah I thought similar to last week. Arsenal were in good form, we were in good form and it ended up being a fairly decent game of football, fairly high quality. You are looking for that tomorrow and the real emphasis for us at the moment is it has to be about our own development. Can we impose our style of football against another top class opponent that play different to last week’s opponent and how much of ourselves can we show?
“The more we go through these tests and show ourselves it gives us the belief to keep going down this road and accelerating the growth. We’re at home so not a small incidental thing but we’ve had seven official games so far including Carabao Cup and only had two at home so it shows a fair bit of resilience from this group that we’ve come through this period with a really strong level of performance and results. Being at home tomorrow will help us in that sense as well.”
Tottenham kick off against Liverpool at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at 12:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. BST. The match will be televised on USA in the United States, and on Sky Sports in the UK.