Spurs are back in league action this evening as they welcome relegation-threatened Fulham to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for their re-arranged festive clash.
Jose Mourinho’s side were scheduled to face Aston Villa until 48 hours ago when the Premier League’s officials postponed that match due to the number of coronavirus cases in the Villa camp.
The north Londoners were originally supposed to face their local rivals on December 30th but that game was called off at short-notice for similar reasons.
Spurs head into this fixture on the back of a 5-0 whitewash against non-league minnows Marine in the FA Cup third-round, whilst Scott Parker’s men dispatched their old foes, QPR, though they still remain in the bottom three in the top-flight.
Mourinho is left with several interesting calls to make as he rung the changes up against Marine only three days ago – does he stick or twist with the impressive Dele Alli? Will all of the rested players make an instant return to the starting XI?
One decision he must make is axing struggling winger Lucas Moura. He might have scored a sublime free-kick in the 5-0 demolition, but aside from that, he was underwhelming once again.
He also won just four of 11 duels (36%) as he failed to combat their physicality – an all too frequent occurrence.
Indeed, the Brazilian winger has scored just once in the Premier League since December 2019, which is an abysmal return for someone that has played 60 times since Mourinho’s appointment just a month earlier.
Moura’s overall numbers have also substantially regressed from last season. He has gone from averaging 1.6 shots and 2.1 dribbles per game to managing only 0.4 shots and 0.4 dribbles in the top-flight this term, via WhoScored, proving he’s actually been playing below standard for a few months.
Of course, thanks to Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, Spurs haven’t exactly struggled for goals, but they would still like to have the third player in their front line firing on all cylinders.
Perhaps these numbers may come as a surprise to some, given the sort of praise he’s received from those around him in N17 – former centre-back Jan Vertonghen dubbed him a “nightmare to play against” and an “unbelievable player” while Eric Dier has lauded him for being “fast” and “intelligent.”
We’ve not seen any of those qualities in a very long time, so it would be wise for Mourinho to ruthlessly wield his axe on the £110k-per-week flop especially as Steven Bergwijn has been well-rested over the past two weeks.
The Dutchman hasn’t featured since the 3-0 victory over Leeds United on New Year’s Day, where he delivered his fourth assist of the season. As we explained in detail here, he does so much more for Mourinho.
Even though Moura might feel hard done by given that he scored in the FA Cup game at the weekend, Mourinho must see the bigger picture. He must be be ruthless and drop the Brazilian. Simply put, Bergwijn must start over Moura at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this evening.
AND in other news, Spurs can upgrade faltering star with £36m swoop for “very rare” gem…