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 need to focus on their defence.
The club have been linked with a number of players throughout recent months, with the January transfer window looming on the horizon.
Spurs, of course, do have a lack of depth up front, with Harry Kane their only out-and-out striker, but the problems lie further back.
Not only do Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld have contracts that expire in the summer, meaning that Spurs could well be forced to cash in during the winter window, they have also been relatively poor at the back throughout the campaign.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side have failed to win on seven occasions at the start of 2019/20, winning just three times.
They have scored 18 goals – more than both Arsenal and Manchester United – but have conceded 17. That’s significantly more than Liverpool, Leicester City, Manchester City, Sheffield United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. Both the Gunners and Chelsea have let in 17, too, though they have both been picking up points – Unai Emery’s men are sixth, while Frank Lampard’s side are third.
There has been uncertainty throughout the campaign, too. Alderweireld has played 11 times in the league but was unexpectedly benched against Sheffield United; Vertonghen has been on the bench on three occasions despite being fit to play; Davinson Sanchez was left out of the squad for three consecutive games; Eric Dier has played as a centre-back just once domestically; Juan Foyth is only used sporadically.
One feels, then, that in January, they need to focus on the back four and, more importantly, on the centre-back position.
If both Alderweireld and Vertonghen leave at the turn of the year, or even if they decide that they will be heading to pastures new in the summer, replacements will need to be sourced.
It makes sense for those deals to be done in the upcoming transfer window, too, allowing them the time to bed in under Pochettino and get used to the speed and physicality of the English top-flight, particularly if they are signed from abroad.
This is a reality now. It is not inconceivable to imagine that Spurs will lose both Belgians.
While Christian Eriksen’s contract expires in the summer, too, Spurs already have the likes of Dele Alli, Giovani Lo Celso and Erik Lamela who can step in and replace the Dane.
There is no such luxury in defence, where Spurs already look thin on the ground.
It has to be their priority in January.