This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Tottenham Hotspur have their ideal front six at last.
As Spurs put Red Star Belgrade to the sword in Serbia, winning 4-0, one thing became abundantly clear: Mauricio Pochettino needs to stick instead of twisting.
In a game that could have been something of a banana skin – Liverpool lost to Red Star on the road last season – Spurs turned the volume up to 11 and blew their opponents away.
This season has been characterised by slow, sloppy performances that have lacked the vivacious nature previously present in Pochettino’s teams. They have, for too long, been ponderous on the ball, seemingly unable to make a decision when they approach the opposition box.
On Wednesday, though, that changed.
Pochettino lined up with Harry Kane at the tip of the spear, but he supplemented his threat with Son Heung-Min on the left, Giovani Lo Celso on the right and Dele Alli in the hole. Tanguy Ndombele’s driving runs from midfield – finishing up with five dribbles to his name – made a significant impact, too, as he was partnered with Moussa Sissoko.
So fluid was the performance that Kane didn’t even score, despite it being a complete romping.
Son nabbed two, Lo Celso opened the scoring with his first goal for his new club after his initial loan move from Real Betis in the summer, and Christian Eriksen finished it off in the second half after coming off the bench.
This is the unit that needs to be breaking down defences.
Lo Celso was exceptional, making two key passes and also completing more tackles than any other player on the pitch, including both sets of defenders.
It is a stark contrast to the performance of Eriksen in the 1-1 draw with Everton on Sunday; he did not complete a dribble or make a tackle.
Lucas Moura does not offer the same level of work-rate, with Lo Celso, Alli and Son an interchangeable forward three that can switch positions and slickly revolve around Kane.
Of course, there are tweaks that can be made. Eric Dier is not the club’s first-choice centre-back and one imagines that Hugo Lloris will replace Paulo Gazzaniga when he is back fit following his grisly elbow injury.
But the difference on Wednesday was pace, energy and desire. There wasn’t a single player in the attacking phase not pulling their weight.
Against Sheffield United, an organised defensive unit that have conceded just eight goals in the Premier League all season – fewer than both Liverpool and Manchester City – Spurs will need the cut and thrust of Lo Celso, the guile of Alli and the trickery of Son.
They also have options off the bench, with Ryan Sessegnon coming on for a 15-minute cameo against the Serbian outfit and providing the assist for Eriksen, but the message is clear: Pochettino needs to give these players another chance on Saturday.
If he does, they can continue to forge their burgeoning understanding and ensure that they get back to winning ways.
Spurs have not won a Premier League game since September; that can change this weekend, but only if faith is kept.