Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino will kill two birds with one stone if he hands Eric Dier his first start – and minutes – of the season against Leicester City on Saturday.
Spurs showed their defensive vulnerabilities again during the week as Olympiacos fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in Athens, and it has been a familiar theme for the north London outfit this season.
They did exactly the same against arch-rivals Arsenal earlier this month, while they also fell behind against Aston Villa and Newcastle United at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – they rescued a win in the former but suffered a shock defeat in the latter.
It is clear that the defence needs more midfield protection and that something needs to be done about it, and Dier could be the man to fix the issue.
The England international appears to often divide opinion among the Spurs faithful, but there is no doubt that he would provide that backline with the protection it sorely misses when the likes of Tanguy Ndombele, Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko play in central midfield.
He would also bring that positional discipline that can be missing from those players who aren’t out-and-out defensively-minded.
Yes, the 25-year-old needs to improve when in possession of the ball even if his average passing success was 84.9% in the Premier League in 2018/19 according to WhoScored, but he can also be important when it comes to making those all-important tackles and interceptions, 1.3 and 1.1 respectively per game on average last term.
As well as acting like a shield in front of the back four, the great thing about Dier is that because of his versatility, he can also drop back in-between Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen to form a three-man partnership at centre-back, with his presence allowing Danny Rose and Serge Aurier even more freedom to get forward as wing-backs.
The latter in particular was hugely effective against Crystal Palace last time out with one assist and another cross that Patrick van Aanholt put into his own net, but he may not have the same attacking freedom away from home against a side like Leicester if Winks and Sissoko were in central midfield.
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It would be a different story with the deep-lying Dier though, with the counter-attack a potentially useful option for Spurs at the King Power on Saturday.