Tottenham’s 1-0 win over Newcastle on Wednesday night will hardly be remembered as a contest of relentless entertainment, but it provided Victor Wanyama the platform to remind suitors the power and control he can bring to the engine room ahead of a potential summer exit from the north London club.
That’s what The Daily Mail speculated at the end of last month and it’s tough to ignore the evidence. While the Kenyan international spent the first half of the season sidelined through injury, there’s hardly been a concerted effort from Mauricio Pochettino to integrate him back towards the almost integral status he held in Tottenham’s starting XI last term.
Indeed, Wednesday’s clash with Newcastle marked just a seventh Premier League start of the season for Wanyama, and it was largely forced by Eric Dier’s absence due to illness. Nonetheless, the ring rust barely showed and the powerful midfielder finished the match with the most interceptions and dribbles to his name of any Spurs player, while completing 89% of his passes and weighing in defensively with two tackles and five clearances.
With Wanyama’s future up in the air, we asked Arsenal fans last week whether they’d back a controversial summer swoop for the Tottenham anchorman and after a night in which the two north London clubs picked up two incredibly different results, it’s not hard to understand why 68% of Gunners fans would be in favour of a deal.
Whereas Wanyama played a huge part in Tottenham’s clean sheet against Newcastle, despite Pochettino’s side suffering an obvious slump in form of late, an Arsenal midfield containing Alex Iwobi, Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka failed to provide adequate protection for the back four in a 3-1 loss to Leicester City.
And for all the talk of drastic changes needed at Arsenal, an incredibly simple one could make all the difference. Having lacked power, discipline and defensive nous in midfield for so long under Arsene Wenger, a swoop for Wanyama could quickly solve a lot of the first team’s most immediate problems.