Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to bolster their push for a top-four finish with another victory this evening as they return to Lancashire just a few days after their stunning triumph over defending champions Manchester City.
Antonio Conte’s side now head to Turf Moor to face Burnley in one of their three rearranged encounters in the Premier League and a win would see them cut the seven-point gap to fourth in half.
Whilst the Italian will be pleased that Spurs ended a run of three successive defeats with a last-gasp win at the Etihad Stadium, he will surely be concerned by their defensive record in recent games.
Over the last six domestic outings, the north Londoners have conceded 12 goals – an average of two per game. For a manager that prides himself on defensive stability and building from the back, he must be angry.
A new central defender will surely be amongst the priorities when the transfer window reopens in the summer because playing full-back Ben Davies isn’t going to work out in the long run.
Indeed, the Wales international has endured a tough spell of form recently and his place in the starting XI ought to be questioned. You’d have to wonder that if he didn’t have a left foot, would he really be starting?
In that run of six games, the vastly-experienced 28-year-old has registered a rating of 6.5 or higher just twice, as per WhoScored, with lows of 6.46 and 6.41 coming in their last two league encounters against City and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
His overall seasonal average of 6.54 is amongst the worst in the squad. In fact, it ranks bottom out of all the players to start 12 or more Premier League games.
That isn’t encouraging reading.
Davies is committing 1.1 fouls per outing, which is one of the highest figures in the squad, whilst he’s well behind his backline peers for key defensive attributes such as tackling (1.6 per game) and interceptions (one per game), via WhoScored.
Whilst the £16.2m-rated defender has recently earned praise from ex-Lilywhite Michael Dawson, who dubbed him “perfect” and “fantastic” to Tottenham Hotspur’s YouTube channel on ‘N17 LIVE’, he could well be holding Spurs back.
It’s not exactly his fault as he’s being asked to play out of position regularly but the 5 foot 11 full-back, once slammed for being “appalling” in one game against Liverpool last season, could well face the axe in the long run.
Conte should be ruthless sooner rather than later and up against the towering presence of Wout Weghorst and the physicality of the Clarets, Davies should not feature.
A full-back in the middle is only going to hold Spurs back going forward. The Italian must be bold and drop the Welshman up at Turf Moor this evening.