Tottenham Hotspur head into Sunday afternoon’s Premier League meeting with Newcastle United on the back of a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Manchester United in midweek, with Antonio Conte undoubtedly hoping his side can immediately get back on track with a positive result and performance against the sixth-placed Magpies.
Although, with Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison remaining sidelined due to injury, as well as Lucas Moura struggling to get back to full fitness after his recovery from a tendon injury, the Italian may well be forced to stick with the 3-5-2 formation that looked to be one of the main reasons behind Tottenham’s distinct lack of creativity in Wednesday’s loss at Old Trafford.
Having said that, one way the 53-year-old could look to add a bit more attacking impetus to his starting XI this afternoon is by replacing Yves Bissouma with Oliver Skipp in the heart of the Tottenham midfield, as, despite having played a total of just 16 minutes of Premier League football this season, the 22-year-old has previously proven his ability to add to his side’s attack.
Indeed, during a season-long loan spell with Norwich City back in 2020/21, despite primarily being a defensively-minded midfielder, the £17.5m-rated talent impressed in an attacking capacity over his 45 Championship appearances, scoring one goal, registering two assists and creating three big chances for his teammates.
The England U21 international also caught the eye in metrics more typical of his position, making an average of 2.2 tackles, 1.1 interceptions and winning 5.7 duels – at a success rate of 56% – per game, as well as making an average of 0.6 key passes, 0.6 dribbles and playing 2.4 long balls per fixture – proving his ability to progress the ball further up the pitch.
These returns saw the £40k-per-week youngster average an extremely impressive SofaScore match rating of 7.02, ranking him as the Canaries’ joint ninth-best performer in the second tier of English football that season – playing a key role in the club’s promotion back to the Premier League.
Furthermore, following his display in a 2-0 win over Brentford last season, Glenn Hoddle praised Skipp’s ability to progress the ball from central midfield, stating of the Englishman (via the Daily Mail): “Oliver Skipp – I thought it was his best game he has played for Tottenham. There are times when he is a little frustrating, where he looks square and backwards.
“But he is growing into the game, straight away when he is in possession of the ball he is looking forwards, he is getting more confident on the ball, progressive. If he can keep doing that consistently then he will be the player that people were speaking to me about a few years back.”
As such, with Conte’s side desperately lacking a creative spark against United, the 53-year-old manager must finally hand the academy graduate his first start of the Premier League season when Newcastle visit the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium later today, as Skipp undoubtedly has the ability to prove to be a game-changer in Tottenham’s 3-5-2 set-up.