If you’re a Tottenham-minded footy fanatic such as myself, you’ve had a pretty good last few weeks. First, you watched Spurs stand up to Madrid at the Bernabeu and earn a precious point against truly elite competition. Then, you saw them completely annihilate Liverpool this past weekend in the Premier League. Each of these results coming, mind you, amidst something of an injury and suspension crisis. Remember, we took the field in Madrid without Dembele, Wanyama, Dele, and Lamela; and all of those players save Dele also sat out against Liverpool.
Fact is, Spurs are getting results right now against quality sides while missing several key cogs of the Pochettino pressing machine. So what happens when some of those vital pieces return to the fold? Let’s take a look at some of the big injury returns right around the corner for Spurs and how they can improve an already in-form side.
Moussa Dembele – The General
Few teams can stand up to Spurs’ midfield when the Mousse is loose. Unfortunately for us, he’s been out injured for a while now after starting the season pretty well. Dembele is probably our strongest player in possession, taking the ball off him usually requires at least two opposition players and even then he often escapes with a silky dribble. His impact on our midfield can’t be understated, especially against lesser sides that will seek to clog the midfield and prevent dangerous attacks from ever being created.
Harry Winks is currently deputizing in Dembele’s role, and while the youngster is doing a phenomenal job, there is no substitute for the real thing. The quicker Dembele is back bossing the center of the pitch for us, the better. Our Belgian beast did get some minutes in the league cup loss to West Ham Wednesday night, so hopefully a starting berth is right around the corner. Current recovery timetable: could be ready to start next league game at United
Danny Rose – The Prodigal Son
Poch once famously remarked that Danny Rose was “like a son to him” (no, not that Son). He was no doubt quite disappointed when Rose decided to pipe up to the papers about his financial and fandom-based frustration, mere weeks before the start of this season. However, it seems as though Poch is a merciful overlord, seeing as he afforded Rose a substitute opportunity at the Bernabeu. The lad definitely appears fit, so the question is… when will he become a regular starter again?
Formerly the second-choice left back, Ben Davies has played really well in Rose’s absence, which definitely complicates the Englishman’s return to the fold. There’s no question that Rose offers more going forward than Davies, despite the incredible form the Welshman has demonstrated so far this season. If Rose gets back to the form that got the fans on his side last year, having both he and Davies at the ready for various competitions would leave Poch spoiled for choice with defensive options.
Rose started against West Ham in the league cup Wednesday night, so he could be back in contention for a starting position from here on out. Current recovery timetable: fit and in contention to start next league game at United.
Erik Lamela – The Lost Boy
Most Spurs fan can’t remember where they were the last time Lamela started a competitive match for Spurs. The young Argentine’s career at Tottenham has been so frought with injury setbacks you almost forget he’s part of the team. But when he plays, the boy gives everything. And it’s that precise dogged determination that makes me so excited to see him back in training and approaching match fitness.
Perhaps no other Spurs player epitomizes the Poch press quite like Lamela. He’s a flair player who isn’t afraid to do the dirty work of tracking back, and his commitment to the defensive side of the game creates a ton of chances for us. Not only that, but he’s got a knack for showing up in big games. Some of his best performances for us have come in matches against the likes of City or United, who (surprise, surprise) are precisely who we’ll be battling if we want a shot at the title this season. Lamela is a team player through-and-through; good for morale and even better for our on-pitch displays. He can’t get back to fitness soon enough. Current recovery timetable: could make the bench for next league game at United
Victor Wanyama – The Brawler
If Dembele is the smooth operator of Spurs’ midfield, Wanyama is the brute force. Brought over from Southampton by former coach Poch, the Kenyan has wasted no time becoming a defensive powerhouse in the heart of the Tottenham XI. He does the dirty work of harrying and dispossessing our most dangerous opponents, and provides the platform from which our attack-minded players spring for dangerous counters. Though Eric Dier plays a similar style to Wanyama, he’s not as physically intimidating as “Big Vic” can be.
One area where both Dier and Wanyama excel, however, is being a menace in the opponents’ penalty area when we get free kick opportunities. Without Wanyama in our last few games, we’ve struggled to make the most of such chances when they arise. Next to Alderweireld, Dier, and Kane, he is our biggest aerial threat on set pieces and his absence is being felt. Once Vic comes back we can start to physically bully teams, and create more scoring chances out of pure power. This should also take some of the offensive burden off of Kane, who we have relied on too heavily at times. Current recovery timetable: could make the bench for next league game at United