Tottenham Hotspur return to Premier League action this afternoon as they welcome Aston Villa to N17.
Nuno Santo and his side will be looking to stop a run of three straight heavy defeats in the English top-flight later today and the Portuguese has many interesting selection dilemmas following their midweek win in the UEFA Europa Conference League.
One player who started that game but did not feature in the north London derby defeat last weekend was Cristian Romero, whose only Premier League start came in the 3-0 defeat to Chelsea but as Football FanCast explained at the time, he was perhaps the one shining light from the game.
Spurs have leaked three goals in each of their last three outings, losing 3-1 to Arsenal, and 3-0 to the Blues and Crystal Palace.
Nuno would be foolish to stick with the often calamitous, often inconsistent duo of Davinson Sanchez and Eric Dier at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium today, especially when the 2020/21 Serie A ‘Defender of the Year’ is sitting in his ranks.
Villa have plenty of firepower, even despite the departure of club captain and favourite Jack Grealish to Manchester City – along with Ollie Watkins, Dean Smith now also has Danny Ings, Leon Bailey, Emi Buendia and Bertrand Traore.
There are plenty of players that could do Spurs some serious damage and that’s why the 47-year-old must turn to the Copa America winner here today.
Last season, Romero led the Italian top-flight for interceptions per game (3.1), on top of two tackles and 3.6 aerial duels won, combining an impressive ability to read the game with his imposing physical stature.
On Thursday night, he displayed these qualities in a Spurs shirt, albeit against much weaker opposition than Villa, But still, it was a huge source of encouragement.
“Romero can pick out a 50-yard pass onto the foot of a striker perfectly but it’s something that goes a little bit unnoticed because his defensive work is so good and he is a top, top defender,” he added.
Meanwhile, current Lilywhites teammate Pierluigi Gollini – who also signed on loan from Atalanta this summer – recently dubbed the 6 foot 1 colossus an “animal” who is “perfect for the Premier League” to the Evening Standard.
On that basis, he simply has to start against Villa this afternoon. The fans are calling for it, his recent performances justify it and Nuno is in desperate need of a better solution in defence.
Romero must be in that starting XI come kickoff today.