Inside Lane: Spurs squad must be strengthened in January after tired display against Chelsea
With less than a month until the January transfer window opens, Tottenham blogger Dan Kilpatrick feels Spurs need to sign a striker and a centre-back.
While there were plenty of positives from Sunday’s draw with ‘small team’ Chelsea, Tottenham’s tired display should prompt Mauricio Pochettino to look ahead to next month.
Spurs were jaded – unsurprisingly after a 5,000-mile round-trip to Azerbaijan, including a 5.30am return on Friday morning – and no-one more so than Harry Kane. When Clinton Njie was introduced for Heung-Min Son with 15 remaining, the Cameroonian moved to centre forward, allowing an exhausted Kane a break from the relentless pressing demanded by Pochettino.
The energetic Njie is a handy runner for Kane at the end of hard weeks but he is not a genuine alternative to the England international. Nor is Heung-Min Son, who, in any case, is too valuable on the wing to consider regularly moving.
Spurs’ failure to sign a back-up for Kane in the summer was greeted with anger and disbelief by fans, but Pochettino – partly by good fortune, partly by the sheer strength of belief in his young squad – will enter January in a strong position, barring an unprecedented collapse this month.
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If the club fails to act in the market again, it’s unlikely the Argentine will be so fortunate. An injury to Kane, or simply a run of committed but exhausted showings, could easily derail Spurs’ ambitions at the business end of the campaign.
At centre-half too, Tottenham could benefit from a new signing next month. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld were brilliant against Chelsea but there were signs of mental fatigue, the odd lapse, from both Belgians. Alderweireld has only missed one game this season and Vertonghen just two.
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Kevin Wimmer has shown enough in his rare outings to suggest he is promising but the Austrian is not yet trusted by Pochettino, while, like Son, Eric Dier is so vital in midfield that any deviation should be for a rest of his own, rather than to cover elsewhere. Meanwhile, Federico Fazio has been placed on the Younes Kaboul career plan and did not travel to Qarabag for last Thursday’s match.
January is a difficult time to buy big and it’s unlikely Spurs will be able to pursue the targets coveted in the summer, including Saturday’s opponent Saido Berahino.
Any new signings will also have to fit into Pochettino’s philosophy. Spurs fans are still debating Daniel Levy’s decision to boost Harry Redknapp’s title-chasing squad with Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen in January 2012, and Pochettino would likely reject such additions should Levy try a similar tactic.
However, Spurs’ fall to a fifth-place finish in 2012/13 was, in small part at least, down to a failure to strengthen properly in the winter window. It would be awful if we were still looking back on January 2016 in years to come.
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