Tottenham Hotspur host their final home game of the 2020/21 season this evening as they welcome Aston Villa to North London, and there will even be fans in attendance for the first time all campaign.
Spurs are still in contention for a place in Europe next season as they currently sit in sixth place, knowing a victory would move them to within one point of Liverpool, who play Burnley later tonight.
Interim head coach Ryan Mason will need to get his team selection spot on and whilst the Midlands outfit haven’t been below 11th all campaign, there isn’t a better time to play them as they have won just two of their last 12 matches.
Last time out, the Lilywhites eased to a 2-0 victory over Wolves.
However, there are now emerging doubts over the chances of Gareth Bale featuring once again. When asked if the Welshman would start, Mason claimed he was “not sure.”
It could mean that Spurs need to find a spark from somewhere else, so perhaps it’s time to recall Tanguy Ndombele to the starting XI tonight.
Ndombele had started to come into his own this campaign, providing six goals and four assists, and on his day, is one of the highest-quality players on the pitch.
There aren’t many in this current Spurs squad that can pick up the ball and drive with it. The 24-year-old dynamo tops the charts – by some distance – for dribbles per game (2.4), with the next best ‘regular’ being Harry Kane (1.4) and Bale (1.4).
Furthermore, Ndombele manages 6.52 progressive runs every 90 minutes, meaning he is the most productive in moving the ball towards the opposition’s goal or into the penalty box – no other Spurs regular is better, not even Heung-min Son, Lucas Moura or Bale, via FBRef.
If the Real Madrid loanee is out, then Mason could benefit massively from having Ndombele’s presence on the pitch, rather than on the bench.
According to Spurs’ backup goalkeeper Joe Hart, via football.london, the box-to-box monster is a “world-beater” and “unplayable,” so it seems a recipe for disaster to leave a player of this calibre out of your squad.
Against Villa in the reverse fixture, the former Lyon star was dominant in the engine room, where he recorded a whopping six successful dribbles, won 92.3% of his midfield duels, and made 94% of his passes, as per SofaScore, causing the likes of John McGinn and Douglas Luiz all sorts of trouble.
Forget Bale, Ndombele could well be Mason’s game-changer this evening. He must be unleashed from the off.