Tottenham Hotspur return to FA Cup action as they head to Championship strugglers Wycombe Wanderers for a fourth-round clash later this evening.
And Jose Mourinho will be left with some major calls to make over his squad – should he rest his key starters? or does he need to go for it?
Everton awaits the winner in the next round.
Spurs thrashed non-league outfit Marine in the last round and continued their good form with a draw at Fulham and then a 3-1 victory over Sheffield United last weekend.
It saw the Portuguese boss revert to a back-three for the first time since the Wolves encounter a month ago, but it’s not a system that should be deployed here, meaning at least one defender ought to be in the firing line.
That man should be Ben Davies, who was utilised as a third centre-back instead of his more natural left-back position and despite the win, it can be argued that it simply didn’t pay dividends.
The 27-year-old Welsh international was graded as Spurs’ second-worst player (6.8) per SofaScore ratings and it’s easy to see why as he’s simply not suited to the role.
At just 5 foot 11, Davies is not suited to those physical aerial battles which will be a key attribute they will need to counter against Adebayo Akinfenwa, who has been described as “the beast.”
Against the Blades, the £18m-rated defender won just two of his six aerial duels (33%) whilst overall form the campaign, Davies ranks tenth in the squad for average aerial duels won (1.2 per game), via WhoScored.
That is exactly why Mourinho will have to either revert back to a flat back-four which sees two of Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier and Joe Rodon start, or he will have to swap the diminutive Davies out for the Belgian colossus.
In addition to that, of any Spurs player to start eight or more games in the Premier League this term, Davies ranks second-worst for average rating (6.54), which only goes to show the level at which he’s underperforming, according to WhoScored figures.
Earlier in the season, former Leeds man Noel Whelan savaged Davies to Football Insider after a disasterclass against Liverpool, he said:
“That’s embarrassing for any senior pro, appalling, really, even against a side who dominate possession and pen you into your own half all the time. Ben Davies is a solid defender and you can see why Mourinho picks him, he does a decent job there. But, we know with full-backs these days, a huge part is contributing to the attacking play, bombing forward, overlapping and sending into crosses.”
As brutal as it would be, there just is no place for the £65k-per-week lightweight this evening as he shouldn’t be starting over the impressive Sergio Reguilon in his natural role let alone through the middle.
AND in other news, Spurs can finally end a 4-year headache by landing £20m “special player”…