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Opinion – Lack of bench strength should be an alarming concern for Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham Hotspur



Why Tottenham Hotspur must go all out to strengthen their squad in January

Prior to the 2-1 defeat at the hands of Watford last weekend, Tottenham Hotspur were enjoying a winning streak in the Premier League and it looked like the Lilywhites were right on course for a successful season. Not making a mountain out of a molehill for an occasional bad day at the office but the defeat is bound to raise a few eyebrows, considering Watford are not the strongest opposition Spurs will be up against in the Premier League.

Tottenham were absolutely dominated by the underdogs in the latter stages of the game and Mauricio Pochettino didn’t have too many options to break the stranglehold.

To be fair, Spurs have a starting line-up as good as any of the big guns in the Premier League. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld in the defence, Moussa Dembele and Christian Eriksen in the midfield and goalscoring machine Harry Kane up front – they are all capable of making it to the best XI of the Premier League. However, a look at the reserve bench doesn’t present the same picture.

Let us take a look at the attacking options that Spurs have among their reserves. Vincent Janssen and Fernando Llorente are glorified bench-warmers. While Llorente has reached the twilight of his career at the age of 33 and is too sluggish for the Premier League, Janssen has been a glaring liability for the Lilywhites since he made his move to White Hart Lane from the Eredivisie in 2016.

Erik Lamela’s injury has further depleted the squad depth. However, Spurs should be buoyed by Heung-min Son’s return from the Asian Games as the South Korean was instrumental in the team’s successes last season. 

Dele Alli has not lived up to expectations this season and Christian Eriksen is yet to hit top gear. While Alli has been guilty of squandering plenty of good chances near the goal, Moussa Sissoko, another versatile attacking midfielder, has also been hit by a training injury.

This leaves Spurs with virtually no option in the attacking midfield, barring 23-year-old Georges-Kevin N’Koudou. Although the youngster is quite promising and has shown signs of development, he was one of the players Spurs had placed on their loan list at the beginning of the transfer window.

Moussa Dembele has blown hot and cold in patches across the four games and Eric Dier has underwhelmed to a great extent. Dembele has been a regular for Spurs this season but the Belgian is injury-prone and will need rest at some point of time. Victor Wanyama is not the worst option to have as a reserve for the central midfield but the Kenyan has also had his issues with fitness in the recent past. Luke Amos is a promising prospect but he is still untested in the Premier League.

Spurs do not have much quality in their ranks as far as defence is concerned. Apart from Vertonghen and Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez is the only other international player among the reserves but the Colombian has been rather lacklustre this season.

The decision to loan out Cameron Carter-Vickers could come back to bite them later in the season, should the regular centre-backs succumb to injuries. At least Carter-Vickers had the experience of playing in the Championship but if injuries do persist, youngster Juan Foyth is a complete stranger to English football and is yet to make his Premier League debut.

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Spurs will part in the FA Cup and the League Cup as well, meaning they must excel at all fronts. To do that, they need adequate depth in their squad and that’s something they seem to be lacking currently. After a quiet summer, Pochettino must set the ball rolling in January to bolster the squad.