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 simply have to stop relying on Serge Aurier.
The Ivory Coast international, so promising against Crystal Palace just a fortnight ago when he laid on an assist in a thumping 4-0 win, reverted to type on Saturday.
Yes, Spurs managed to win and that, by itself, is no mean feat; they had lost to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium last week and then conspired to embarrass themselves against Colchester United in the Carabao Cup.
But they were hamstrung for a large portion of the game by the sheer stupidity of their right-back.
First, he was shown a yellow card for a wild hack at Sofiane Boufal. As if that wasn’t enough, Aurier then found himself on the wrong side of Ryan Bertrand. Now, most full-backs, at this stage, would perhaps think against simply pulling the left-back down. Common sense, one would think, would kick in.
Aurier, naturally, tugged him, was given a second yellow, and Spurs went down to 10.
They were leading already, through Tanguy Ndombele, but were then further rocked by Danny Ings’ equaliser – Hugo Lloris’ fault, instead of Aurier’s.
It is to their immense credit that Spurs still found a way to win the game thanks to Harry Kane’s strike.
And yet there is a nagging feeling that this is a blind spot of Mauricio Pochettino.
Spurs sanctioned the sale of Kieran Trippier in the summer but did not replace him. Pochettino, per sources, felt that Juan Foyth could play there but he got injured.
Kyle Walker-Peters was deemed adequate back-up but he has looked out of his depth for the majority of the season; he played 90 minutes against Colchester and has three Premier League appearances to his name. He is dribbled past 1.3 times per game, makes 1.7 tackles but has also yet to register an assist; he has 0.7 key passes per game.
And yet both of them are better than Aurier, both of them are sensible defenders, unlikely to make the sort of genuinely astonishing error of judgement that Aurier is always prone to.
The former PSG star is 26 and, really, he should be peaking at this stage of his career. Instead, he averages two tackles per game as well as two fouls. He makes 2.7 interceptions but is dribbled past 1.3 times. Offensively, he averages 1.3 key passes per game but two unsuccessful touches.
He is a walking contradiction as much as he is a walking yellow card.
Once Foyth is fit and Walker-Peters can be installed as his back-up, Pochettino simply has to stop picking Aurier.
He isn’t good enough, nor is he sensible enough, to be playing for this Spurs team. If nothing else, Saturday’s events proved that.