NEWS

Spurs’ lack of squad depth can cost them this season


In a summer during which even newly promoted Fulham spent well over £100 million to strengthen, Tottenham Hotspur surprised everyone going fully incognito. But their lack of transfer activity is now coming back to bite them – like in last night’s 2-4 thrashing by Barcelona in the Champions League. FOX Sports Asia analyses the Spurs squad and explores where it is lacking.

The summer transfer window is a timeline full of surprises. Players whom we never thought would see in some teams join them. Almost an unknown joins one of the big clubs and becomes an instant hit. The 2018 summer transfer window was also one such.

Every club signed players to strengthen. Every club, but for one. Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs surprised everyone when they ended the window without a single new recruit, something that’s never happened before since the window was introduced in the Premier League. They were linked to quite a few star names, but eventually, it all came to nothing.

But credit where it is due. With all of Europe going all out for the likes of Harry Kane, Delle Alli and Christian Eriksen, Poch managed to keep hold of them — something that is almost impossible in this day and age. Spurs managed to get Kane to sign a contract extension, keeping him at the club until 2023.

But there’s a downside to not bringing in anyone. For instance, when a team prepared to face Juventus last season, their main concerns were Paulo Dybala, Douglas Costa and Mario Mandzukic. But this season, a certain Cristiano Ronaldo will also feature in that list — which in turn demands long hours of homework and understanding what Juventus might do and how might they shape up. But with Spurs, teams don’t have to do that. They literally have to go with the same plan from last season. This is where only the problem begins.

Two months into the season and already their squad is being exposed for having little to no depth. Last night against Barcelona in the Champions League, the proof was there for everyone to see. Without Eriksen and Alli, Spurs’ midfield looked lacklustre. They didn’t have much creativity, lacked penetration and the holding midfielders failed to stop Lionel Messi and Co. Barca ran riot. Had it not been for the continuing love affair between Messi and the goalpost, the margin could have been bigger.

Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura tried their best to be the best possible replacements. They did their bit, but wingers can’t provide the creativity a ‘No. 10′ like Alli or Eriksen can give. Lamela and Lucas don’t have the combination Kane has with Eriksen and Alli. Spurs’ attack looked disjointed. Kane looked isolated. The goal he scored was down to a lot of his own work. Their second was off of a lucky deflection. But Spurs’ attack isn’t the only thing that was found out last night.

In defence, Spurs looked all over the place. Within the first two minutes, a schoolboyish error from captain Hugo Lloris cost them a goal. Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld didn’t have the combination Spurs were looking for. Suarez-Messi duo’s telepathic connection was too much to handle for the young defensive pair. They missed Jan Vertonghen. The veteran Belgian is an absolute rock in the heart of the Spurs defence. Without him, they looked shaky, to say the least. In short, Spurs do not have a proper replacement for any of their centre-backs.

“We believe in the squad. We’ve retained our strongest team possible. We don’t have to sign players just for the sake of it. We believe in our abilities.” These were the words of a confident Pochettino prior to the season. But just two months in, Spurs are already in deep trouble.

They’re doing decent in the Premier League, but really it’s the Champions League where they’ve got to prove themselves. After so many first and second round eliminations, they had to prove they’re not in Europe’s elite competition just to make up the numbers. They were here to prove their worth. But with two defeats from two in UCL, that doesn’t look the case.



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