Injury stricken Tottenham Hotspur suffered a Champions League round of 16 first-leg defeat to German side RB Leipzig last night. Leipzig are second in the Bundesliga and dominated Spurs for large parts of this tie and take a one-goal lead back to Germany with them.
Injury Stricken Tottenham Hotspur ‘In Trouble’
Jose Mourinho Knows Spurs Are in Trouble
Jose Mourinho was prickly in his post-match press conference but was not pulling any punches about the injuries and lack of strength in depth he is struggling with right now. He told reporters: “We are really in trouble. If it was just this game I’d say ‘no problem’ but we have FA Cup and Premier League games.”
Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Moussa Sissoko would leave bare many Premier League sides. Tottenham’s best striker, arguably the best back up and a midfielder who has grown in the past 18 months and was in some of his best form at the club before being injured.
Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura are now tasked with leading the line but neither are out-and-out strikers. That leaves Spurs relying on goals from elsewhere. The closest anyone came for Spurs against Leipzig was Giovani Lo Celso. With just 20 minutes remaining, his free-kick was tipped onto the post superbly by goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi. Tottenham were certainly brighter in the second half but the lack of cutting edge is concerning.
‘Dead’ Mourinho’s Analysis of Injury Stricken Squad
Jose Mourinho referred to Lo Celso as “dead”; Tanguy Ndombele as “dead”. It wasn’t so much an obituary of his injury-stricken Tottenham Hotspur squad as a damning verdict on his lack of options. His meetings with Daniel Levy must be interesting. It is unlikely Mourinho is backward in coming forward about what needs to be done at Spurs in the summer.
He wasn’t helped by some awful performances against Leipzig. Serge Aurier was almost comically bad at times. His best performances in a Spurs shirt have undoubtedly been when he has been further up the pitch. Against the German side, he was wasteful in the final third and nowhere to be seen in defence. He hardly tracked back and, considering his role is as a right-back, his performance was bizarre. Ben Davies was only playing his second game after injury and he was caught flat-footed in the build up to the penalty that ultimately cost his team the first leg of this tie.
Tottenham Will Limp Over the Line
Jose Mourinho’s best hope for Tottenham this season is that they limp over the line into fourth place in the Premier League and maybe win the FA Cup. With so many injuries it is hard to seriously contemplate another Champions League final in May.
The injury to Son Heung-min raises a question. He fractured his arm in the opening minutes of the last gasp Premier League win at Aston Villa. Surely if his arm is in a soft cast he could still play? Many have played with broken wrists and arms before so why he is unable to feature, possibly until next season, seems strange.
Once again, Tottenham Hotspur’s complacency when it comes to transfers is biting them hard. The argument that no one wants to play second fiddle to Harry Kane is wearing very thin. Tottenham don’t only need a back-up, but someone who can also complement their star man. It seems that the only angle looked at is someone to replace the star striker. That is the wrong way to look at the issue and has been for the past few seasons.
The selling point to a young talented striker should be simple enough. They will get to play alongside and learn from Harry Kane. To say that no striker will want to play second fiddle is a lazy and dull excuse. Jose Mourinho knows that and come the summer he will need to convince Daniel Levy of that fact as well.
Failure to overhaul and strengthen in the right areas in summer would be a major mistake for Tottenham Hotspur.
Thanks to the brilliance of Hugo Lloris, Spurs are still in this tie ahead of the return leg in Germany. To stand any chance of progressing, Mourinho has a huge task on his hands to raise his players from the dead. He may need to do that every week between now and May.