Tottenham Hotspur head to the northeast as the Premier League gets back underway this weekend following the international break.
Jose Mourinho’s side will be looking to build on their 2-0 win at Aston Villa last time out but must be wary that many will still not be over their week of embarrassment which saw them defeated in the north London derby and knocked out of the Europa League.
In the absence of Heung-min Son through injury, the Spurs boss surprisingly opted for a 4-4-2 formation, something he’s rarely used since his days at Inter Milan. Evidently it paid off, but the Lilywhites will have the services of their free-scoring left winger this time around. With that in mind, Mourinho has a tactical decision to make.
Given that they not only won but also kept a clean sheet, it’ll be hard to make any vast changes to the line-up, but Son starts every game when he is fit and should come straight back in.
Perhaps Giovani Lo Celso can be the expendable member of that starting XI. He began on the right flank before being withdrawn after 66 minutes against Villa. As per SofaScore ratings, he was Spurs’ worst-ranked player and the only one to manage below 7.0 aside from Sergio Reguilon, who went off injured.
Uncharacteristically, the Argentine playmaker managed only 29 touches and 22 passes throughout his time on the pitch and failed to deliver a single accurate cross, per SofaScore
If Lo Celso cannot play centrally, then it’s not worth forcing the £27m-rated dynamo into the line-up, as you’re only limiting his true potential.
Speaking about the former PSG man’s impact last season, Harry Winks revealed to The Guardian that his favoured position was indeed through the middle.
“He’s done really well. He’s starting to show his quality now and I think he’s playing in the favourite position, which is probably a little bit more central midfield, but he has done really well, explained Winks. “He is a technically gifted player. But he is not afraid to get stuck in when he needs to as well.”
Lo Celso is usually among Spurs’ most creative players, managing 0.8 key passes per game (joint fourth-best) and 0.18 expected assists per 90 (fifth-best) and that has largely come in the number 10 role, if not in a deeper number eight position.
Only 15 of his 58 recorded Spurs appearances have come out wide, where he has contributed towards two goals, compared to nine when played through the middle.
Lo Celso must be dropped at St James’ Park, as ruthless as it would be. He’s merely wasted on the flank, and Son needs to come straight back into the side.
AND in other news, Exclusive: Spurs legend tips youngster to challenge first-team next season