Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to bounce back after a dismal few weeks when they welcome already-relegated Sheffield United to North London this evening.
Last weekend, Spurs were defeated in yet another final as they were completely played off the park by Manchester City in the Carabao Cup, continuing a 13-year wait for silverware.
It came less than a week after Jose Mourinho’s surprise sacking, the Super League fiasco and supporter protests, so interim boss Ryan Mason could certainly do with another league victory today.
Spurs remain eight points behind the top four, so Champions League qualification seems a less than likely outcome in these final few games but they can put the pressure on West Ham and Liverpool for that fifth-place spot with a win over the Blades.
Mason will have to make some alterations from the starting XI that tasted defeat last Sunday and with Football FanCast already suggesting the inclusion of Tanguy Ndombele this weekend, one player needs to make way to accompany him.
The 29-year-old former midfielder must now do the reverse and axe Harry Winks for the Frenchman.
Winks had become a forgotten man under Mourinho, featuring in just six league games under him since November but Mason trusted him to start – and play the full 90 – against the rampant league leaders.
The intention to start him did have logic, as Spurs really needed to keep hold of possession against Pep Guardiola’s attacking riches but ultimately, it failed to pay dividends as it results in the north London outfit managing just one shot on target all game, whilst City enjoyed 62% possession.
It may have only been 1-0 but it was a rout for City.
Winks was sub-par in the middle, failing to register a key chance created, managing just one tackle and he lost 60% of his battles. It’s no wonder he couldn’t get in the side under the ‘Special One.’
Once dubbed a “perfect midfield player” and compared to the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta by Mauricio Pochettino, the Englishman is now at a career crossroad and has even been linked with a summer departure.
Currently, the £26m-rated midfielder – who earns a reported £75k-per-week – ranks as Spurs’ worst-performing player (of those that have started five or more games), with an average WhoScored rating of 6.35.
The alternatives, namely Giovani Lo Celso (6.55) and Ndombele (6.93) evidently offer up more consistency than Winks and furthermore, the former Lyon star has the ability to drive Mason’s squad forward from midfield.
He is averaging a squad-high 2.4 dribbles per game, in comparison to Winks’ squad-low 0.1 dribbles per match, via WhoScored.
Axing Winks for Ndombele seems like a no-brainer ahead of kick-off, especially after the 24-year-old’s masterclass against the Blades last time out.
If Mason wants to get Spurs back on track, then he must show no mercy and drop the Englishman from his starting XI tonight. He’s just no longer good enough for the Lilywhites.