Tottenham Hotspur are stuck in a rut.
Their 2-1 loss to Liverpool was their fourth defeat of the season, while they have also recorded three draws in their opening 10 games of the 2019/20 campaign.
They will play Everton on Merseyside this weekend and one feels that they need to win; already Spurs are eight points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
Football FanCast has taken a look at some suggested solutions as Mauricio Pochettino looks to get his side’s mojo back.
This has to happen.
Both full-backs were labelled “dumb and dumber” by former Manchester United captain Roy Keane on Sky Sports after the defeat to the Reds.
Per WhoScored, Aurier makes two tackles per game in the Premier League but also concedes 1.4 fouls – he conceded a penalty against Liverpool – and is dribbled past once per game. He has been sent off once, while he also averages 2.4 unsuccessful touches across every 90 minutes and a pass completion rate of just 78.6%.
Rose, meanwhile, has collected five yellow cards in nine Premier League appearances, makes 1.8 tackles per game but concedes 1.6 fouls. He is dribbled past on 0.9 occasions per game while averaging 0.9 unsuccessful touches and a pass completion rate of 81.6%.
It isn’t like there aren’t options. Spurs have Ben Davies and Ryan Sessegnon who can replace Rose, while Kyle Walker-Peters is a valid option on the right side of defence, as is Juan Foyth once he returns to fitness.
Pochettino simply can’t keep playing Aurier and Rose, though, as they are too error-prone and too erratic.
What happened to this?
Speaking in 2016, Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores compared Spurs to “animals” and heralded them as the best team in the Premier League after Kieran Trippier had given Pochettino’s men a 1-0 win over the Hornets at White Hart Lane.
Indeed, come the end of the game, Flores said that his players were merely trying “to survive”, but that animalistic intensity has all but disappeared from Spurs’ gameplan.
Against Liverpool, they all too regularly retreated into their own half instead of trying to win the ball back in the final third and actually recorded a possession statistic of just 32%.
Per WhoScored, Spurs sit 17th in the league for interceptions per game, while they are also dispossessed more regularly than any other team in the league.
That doesn’t speak of a team that are pushing high up the pitch and forcing mistakes.
Spurs, of course, have also played Manchester City and Arsenal away from home this season but in both games – which ended 2-2 – they ceded possession to the hosts and were fortunate to escape with a point.
City had 30 shots to Spurs’ three, while Arsenal had 26 to Spurs’ 13.
There is a passivity here, then, and Pochettino needs to reinstall the confidence that comes with pressing high up the pitch.
Now, obviously, the transfer window isn’t open.
But Pochettino needs to find a way to bring the best out of Harry Kane because, as it stands, he’s feeding off scraps.
He scored against Liverpool, his 10th goal of the season for the club in all competitions, in 13 games, but the statistics make enlightening reading.
In 2018/19, Kane averaged 3.77 shots per game, while it was 5.32 in 2017/18.
That fall in numbers is alarming and points to a lack of support.
Pochettino has options, though; he could revert to a two-up-top formation that would allow Son Heung-Min or Lucas Moura to play shoulder-to-shoulder with the England striker or, quite simply, he could restore a proper No.10 into his system.
On Sunday, Christian Eriksen was asked to play on the right, with Dele Alli deeper. One of those two could easily provide Kane with more help, clipping balls over the top or in behind for the striker to run onto.
As it is, he is ploughing something of a lone furrow.