Fresh off a harsh 1-0 loss to Man United there’s talk around Claude Puel losing his job. To most outsiders this seems odd, but ask Leicester supporters and they might tell you how hard to watch their team have been at points this season.
That on and off the ball defence first style that Puel will be looking to frustrate Tottenham with on Sunday has been having a similar effect on Foxes fans themselves.
Still, the general trend of long-term focus at the club, evidenced by the youthfulness of the squad, means he’ll likely be afforded at least the rest of the season to improve the mood.
Rumoured to be a date originally planned for the opening of the new stadium, this game was moved by Sky to a Sunday only for the move-in to be delayed once more. The Sunday fixture remains and so, for little reason, Spurs will face Dortmund in first knockout round of the Champions League just three days after this match.
The build up of injuries and fatigue provide reasons both for and against rotation in the preceding Premier League fixture but knowing Pochettino as we now do it will likely be minimal.
Leicester do have a clear schedule but may well be rotating in the form of looking to introduce newcomer-by-loan Youri Tielemas – a player a lot of Spurs fans will be keeping their eyes on.
Despite being a name that has been kicking around a long while Tielemans remains only 21 years old and with ongoing complicated circumstances at Monaco he might just be available for purchase come the summer window – with Spurs having failed to utilise the winter window to alleviate their midfield issues.
Daniel Levy, buy a midfield please
— NathanAClark (@NathanAClark) January 31, 2019
There is positive news in that department, however with, one of their own, Harry Winks putting in a string of impressive performances as of late.
In the 2016/17 season Winks picked up 480 league minutes. In that time he averaged 1.9 tackles and 0.9 interceptions; strong stats for a diminutive youngster. However, as he has seen more and more game time his defensive contribution shrunk leaving something of a gap in midfield and the impression that his early numbers were inflated by a lack of minutes.
As of the last four games Tottenham’s less famous Harry has picked up dribbles, a large number of defensive actions and even a goal. Perhaps this is simply a blip and things will fade again. Perhaps, more positively, this is a milestone of Winks’ growth as a player – a youngster coming of age midway through what might be considered his first ‘full’ season.
But something that may well have been overlooked this entire time is that the Englishmen was out with an ankle injury for nearly a full season, on and off, over the last two years and underwent corrective surgery last summer.
What we may well have been seeing so far this season is a young player slowly recovering from that trauma, both physically and mentally, which has prevented him from diving in after the ball or inviting too many challenges on himself.
If this truly is the real Harry Winks (please stand up) then the Tottenham academy & Pochettino power combination may well have magicked up yet another free-of-charge solution to issues, and enabled Tottenham Hotspur to truly be the world’s first ever post-transfers professional football club.