Harry Winks must come of age and nullify the much-improved Paul Pogba at Wembley in Sunday’s crunch clash against Manchester United – if he can manage to do so, Spurs have a great chance of keeping their heads above water in the title race.
The 22-year-old is a significant member of Mauricio Pochettino’s squad, having made 28 appearances across all competitions so far this season, but his role on Sunday will be paramount to the north Londoners getting anything off the Red Devils.
Winks has started eight of Spurs’ last ten games, and played the entire 90 minutes in all of those matches. However, his importance has gone up a notch as a result of the current midfield crisis that Pochettino is attempting to manage.
It is highly likely that Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama will miss out on Sunday as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men travel to the national stadium, as they recover from Appendicitis and a knee injury respectively. Add that to the fact that Mousa Dembele looks close to leaving the club, and Winks could potentially be the most important man in the middle of the park against the Red Devils.
Last time out in the Premier League for Spurs, the 5ft 10in Winks played in a deeper role behind Christian Eriksen and Moussa Sissoko, with Dele Alli in a centre-attacking midfield role as Pochettino opted for a diamond in the middle.
Whilst Cardiff are incomparable to United, the system clearly worked as Spurs strolled to a 3-0 lead after just 26 minutes – having said that, Victor Camarasa and Harry Arter won’t have troubled Winks nearly as much as Pogba will.
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The French international and World Cup winner looks a man reborn under Solskjaer, to say the least. Since the Norwegian replaced Jose Mourinho, the 25-year-old midfielder has scored four goals and recorded three assists in just four league games, and will be a formidable opponent for Winks to contend with, undoubtedly.
The pair do not compare if you were to discuss their physicality, as Pogba will easily be able to dominate the Spurs academy graduate both aerially and in any 50/50 challenges for the ball. Having said that, Winks is far better at patrolling the midfield and keeping play ticking over than Pogba, so he will have to outsmart the former Juventus man with his footballing brain if Winks, and Spurs, are to come out on top this Sunday.