Tottenham currently lie in fifth position in the Premier League. They are two points off fourth-placed Liverpool who have a game in hand. On Sunday Tottenham drew with eighteenth-placed Southampton. Manager Mauricio Pochettino was heavily criticized in relation to both his team selection and in-game management. This game followed a similar pattern this season. Tottenham’s overly defensive approach against a perceived weaker opponent came back to haunt them. It’s time Pochettino became braver and took more risks in games and in the transfer market in order to maximize his side’s performances.
Tottenham Need to Take More Risks This Season
Lack of Offensive Players
Against Southampton, Tottenham started two defensive midfielders. Add in Moussa Sissoko, who has one goal and one assist in the Premier League for Tottenham, and the North London side started the game with just three effective attacking outlets.
The obvious source of frustration stems from the Frenchman missing an open goal from less than six yards out. Sissoko is good for breaking up attacks and running with the ball for 30 or 40 yards up the field.However, in games where Tottenham will dominate, there is really no use for him as he struggles to make anything above basic passes and really is ineffective in the final third.
Many were angry with the decision to start Sissoko over Argentine playmaker Erik Lamela. This anger was amplified when Pochettino subbed off Son Heung-min for Lamela while Sissoko stayed on the pitch.
Weird Changes and Need for More Risks
Son has been one of few consistent performers so far this season for Tottenham. The South Korean is a constant goal threat. Subbing him off while two defensive midfielders and Sissoko remain on the field is, to be blunt, irrational. Following this change, right back Serge Aurier went down injured so was replaced by Kieran Trippier.
The final change has been a regular event under Pochettino. Its consistency does not mask how bizarre it is. World Cup winner and £15 million plus summer signing Fernando Llorente sat beside him on the bench. Pochettino decided the best course of action to try and find a winning goal would be to swap defensive midfielder Moussa Dembele with fellow defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama.
Surprisingly, it didn’t work. To add insult to injury, Wanyama was responsible for one of the most dismal attempts this season. His strike in the 90th minute from around 30-35 yards landed closer to the corner flag than to the target. The decision to sub on Wanyama was probably made to ensure at least a draw but in games like this, the side needs to take more risks and try and win the game.
Two questions have to be asked. The first being, what is the point of Llorente if defensive midfielders get on before him when Tottenham are chasing goals? The second, if he is not trusted by Pochettino then why have the club not targeted a replacement while the transfer window remains open?
Lack of Depth
Harry Winks and Christian Eriksen both missed the game through illness and injury respectively. Their absence resulted in Tottenham starting with three attacking/creative options with two more senior options on the bench. For a club with Tottenham’s supposed ambition, this isn’t good enough. It’s been said Tottenham have one of the best starting elevens in the Premier League. However, the majority of the bench players would struggle to get into relegation fighting sides.
Pochettino has stated that he is content with the side and isn’t looking to bring in any more players this window. Considering he’s loaned two more players out of the club this window, this is a bizarre stance. The majority of Tottenham fans accept and understand the financial limitations facing Tottenham as a result of the building of the new stadium. However, is it too much to ask that the club invests in enough players so the manager isn’t left with a roster of 15 or 16 players that he actually trusts?
With the new stadium being completed soon and players being pursued by other clubs, Tottenham cannot afford to miss out on Champions League football, be it with Pochettino taking a more pro-active approach in games or in the transfer market. The next few months are huge for the North London side and now is not the time for caution. The club needs to take more risks on and off the field as the results of not taking them may harm the club long term.