Tottenham Hotspur have been given little time to lick their wounds after their recent annihilation, as the Premier League kicks back off for them with a clash with Manchester United tonight.
The games don’t get any easier for the Lilywhites, who have their third new man in the dugout within a one-month period. Such is the mess that the club is in, Ryan Mason is the latest to try his hand at sorting out this sorry bunch.
With their 6-1 loss to Newcastle United an instant indicator that four-at-the-back is simply not an option, the 31-year-old will have to revert to the somewhat turgid 3-4-3 that fans had grown bored of under Antonio Conte. This is what years of poor recruitment and leadership produce.
Although, with almost all disciples of the Italian having now exited north London, perhaps some refreshing changes can be made that will actually take teams by surprise. Whether it be personnel or purely tactical, tonight marks a chance for something fresh and innovative to happen, without pushing it too far like Cristian Stellini did on Tyneside.
With injuries, a serious lack of form and another big game to contend with this weekend, it will be interesting to see how Spurs line up against Erik ten Hag’s men.
How will Tottenham Hotspur line up against Manchester United?
With that in mind, Mason could make four changes from their abysmal showing last time out, reverting back to that aforementioned formation but giving a few players a clean slate.
Having shipped five first-half goals, Hugo Lloris’ mysterious disappearance in the second half hung Fraser Forster out to dry. Although the Frenchman claimed it was injury-related, many have been left suspicious. If so, it is expected the former Southampton shot-stopper will return to start in between the sticks.
Seeking to make an example of one of the squad’s high-profile underperformers, Cristian Romero would mark a surprise omission as Davinson Sanchez is recalled to the lineup.
The Colombian has come under scrutiny of late, with his confidence likely at an all-time low. The new boss will be keen to remind the £65k-per-week titan of the player that manager Peter Bosz once branded a “monster”.
He would then join up with Eric Dier, for all his deficiencies, and hopefully Ben Davies.
The Welshman is to be assessed in training before a decision is made, but Mason will likely be keen to purge their defence from last time out as much as possible. If fit, he will start.
Pedro Porro and Ivan Perisic should make up the wing-backs, with hopefully more impetus on pushing forward than they were afforded under the previous regime. They will flank Oliver Skipp and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the midfield, so there is no place for Pape Matar Sarr, who was taken off after just 23 minutes last time out.
Whilst Harry Kane and Heung-min Son are almost guaranteed starters, the underperformance of Dejan Kulusevski was often ignored by Conte, who clearly favoured the former Juventus man.
His place in the team has not been handed on merit, with just one goal contribution in his last 12 league games, so Richarlison should instead be given a fair shot as the season comes to its conclusion.
Given the £60m expended on the Brazilian, getting his first league goal for the club will be massive for confidence. Therefore, a sustained run of starts could bare fruit for the ex-Everton marksman.
Predicted Spurs XI (3-4-3): Forster; Davies, Dier, Sanchez; Perisic, Skipp, Hojbjerg, Porro; Son, Richarlison, Kane
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