Spurs skipper Hugo deserves chance to regain consistency
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The 32-year-old has not always been at his best this season, but can get back to that stage
Hugo Lloris produced a wonderful display on Tuesday night to help Tottenham Hotspur shut out Borussia Dortmund for a second time this year and show why his doubters are perhaps a touch premature to write him off yet.
The Frenchman’s clean sheet in Germany was his 100th for Spurs since signing in August 2012, though he may have more had he not endured two chaotic campaigns when he first moved to north London.
When the Lilywhites secured the services of Lloris, it was a major coup for the club and he has always been one of their best performers come the conclusion of every term.
However, when the current season ends, many will look back on this as the captain’s most inconsistent to date.
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There have been highs for the Tottenham stopper not least Saturday’s spot-kick save to deny Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a late winner for Arsenal.
Or Tuesday where he produced numerous saves to deny Dortmund and become Spurs’ very own white wall at a place where the Yellow Wall is so often talked about.
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While those are stand-out games for Lloris, on too many occasions this term in particular he has been left wanting in big matches.
Examples include rushing off his line to concede against Barcelona in October, which was a bad month for the goalkeeper as he was also sent off away to PSV and this almost cost Tottenham progression to the Champions League knock-out phase.
After appearing to recover from this bad period, January saw some more goals conceded and the microscope on Lloris again.
Could he have done more to stop Marcus Rashford’s winner for Manchester United at Wembley and was he at fault when Watford’s Craig Cathcart bundled home a cross?
Lloris, to his credit, bounced back again to keep a clean sheet against Newcastle United last month before he saved a Jamie Vardy penalty at home to Leicester City and caught the eye in the 3-0 win over Dortmund at Wembley.
Fingers were being pointed at the end of February, though, when that inexplicable own-goal was scored at Stamford Bridge.
Kieran Trippier didn’t cover himself in glory, but Lloris shouldn’t have raced out like he did and the result was an embarrassing way for a sorry night against Chelsea to end.
All this has contributed towards some fans calling for Paulo Gazzaniga to become first-choice at the club.
While the Argentine understudy has done well this season, at the moment he is just not in Lloris’ class.
But the mistakes from the World Cup winner have heightened the scrutiny on him and criticism of the Spurs captain occurs more regularly than ever before now.
Even on Saturday, at home to Arsenal, I wondered if he could have done more when Aaron Ramsey was sent through.
I felt had he not hesitated ever so slightly, he could have beaten the Gunners ace to Alexandre Lacazette’s through ball.
Yet on reflection, this was perhaps harsh, but it shows every goal conceded by Tottenham is now debated more than normal.
Should Lloris have done better? Would Gazzaniga have saved it? These are questions which all too regularly are said by fans and it leads to the biggest question of all.
Do Spurs and Mauricio Pochettino need to look for a new goalkeeper after nearly seven years of having the Frenchman between the sticks?
While some will say yes, I think now is the time to really pay back Lloris’ loyalty shown at the start of his career in north London.
He could have easily been at Real Madrid for some of their recent Champions League triumphs, but he saw the project taking place and stuck around with Pochettino a massive factor behind this.
Yes, he has not been at his best this season, but it has been a challenging 12 months for a variety of reasons.
Lloris went from the high and stress of winning a World Cup in July to a drink-driving charge in September which means he is still unable to drive.
A man who has always seemed very private was catapulted into the spotlight and not for the right reasons.
He made a big mistake and has been punished and this may or may not have contributed to some of his rash decisions on the pitch this season.
Given his position, scrutiny is always high, but Lloris will surely benefit from a quieter summer this year and the chance to come back in July mentally refreshed.
It has been one thing after another for the captain this season, but at 32 has his reaction time really decreased this quickly or is this merely a blip after a straining 12 months.
Only time will tell, but I believe Spurs should stick with the France international for one more campaign to discover if like many goalkeepers, he will get better with age.