Kieran Trippier is a fantastic technical talent, but if there’s one inevitable criticism of the Tottenham Hotspur defender it’s that he lacks the athletic dynamism we’ve come to expect from the Premier League’s ever-expanding wing-back contingent, especially in the big games.
The north London derby on Saturday provided the perfect example; Spurs lacked the energy and speed to effectively hit Arsenal on the counter-attack and although that was a problem throughout the starting XI, it particularly stood out on the flanks as Trippier and Ben Davies struggled to compete with Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac.
Trippier’s statistics are incredibly telling. Cesar Azpilicueta is the only defender in the Premier League to bag more assists than the England international this season and yet ninety minutes against Arsenal didn’t produce a single shot at goal, successful dribble, created chance or accurate cross – with all three of Trippier’s balls into the box missing their target.
Even in the context of what was an incredibly underwhelming team performance, Trippier’s inability to make an impact at the Emirates Stadium stood out as symptomatic of a questionable team selection from Mauricio Pochettino.
Comparisons between Trippier and Kyle Walker will inevitably be made, purely because the latter has the dynamism the former doesn’t, but Pochettino had a more athletic alternative to choose from in Serge Aurier.
The Ivorian is perhaps a more clumsy player but he’d have given Tottenham the penetrative threat they lacked out wide and that surprising exclusion wasn’t the only head-scratcher from the Tottenham boss. Heung-min Son was left out to make room for half-fit duo Dele Alli and Harry Kane, Moussa Sissoko started in midfield at the expense of Harry Winks and in a similar case to Trippier’s, Davies was favoured over Danny Rose on the opposite flank.
Tottenham have now won just one of their 17 away games against big six rivals under Pochettino and you have to wonder how much that is down to the Argentine’s selections.