Tottenham Hotspur head into Sunday afternoon’s Premier League meeting against Liverpool in a mixed run of form, with Antonio Conte’s side having won two, lost two and drawn one of their last five games in all competitions.
However, with both of Spurs’ recent victories having come from losing positions – being 2-0 down in the 3-2 victory over AFC Bournemouth and 1-0 behind in the 2-1 win over Marseille – there is an argument to be made that the club’s high standing in the league and progress in Europe are not accurate representations of the north London side’s performances.
It is true that the mid-table Reds are also enduring something of a turbulent start to their 2022/23 campaign, but should Tottenham start slowly once again today, Conte’s side will likely find it much more difficult to claw back a deficit against last season’s Champions League runners-up than they did against the Cherries and Marseille.
As such, the Italian must ensure that he gets his starting XI absolutely spot-on if he hopes to give his team the best possible chance of victory this afternoon, and it appears a wise move for the 53-year-old to finally unleash the club’s £20m summer signing Djed Spence.
So far this season, the 22-year-old has been limited to just three minutes of first-team football in north London, despite continued calls from Spurs supporters for the 53-year-old to start the England under-21 international ahead of Emerson Royal at right wing-back.
After a series of calamitous performances, including being sent off for a “stupid” challenge in the defeat against Arsenal and being mocked for playing a no-look pass which went out for a goal-kick in the dying stages of the 1-1 draw against Sporting Lisbon – a result which could have easily knocked Tottenham out of the Champions League – many fans have quite rightly had enough of the Brazilian.
However, despite the 23-year-old’s disastrous displays, Conte has continuously deployed him ahead of Spence, to the widespread bewilderment of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium faithful.
Considering how impressive the “unbelievable” 22-year-old – in the words of Ian Wright – had been while on loan at Nottingham Forest last season, it is not difficult to understand why so many Spurs supporters are so desperate to see the youngster in action.
Indeed, over his 45 appearances in the Championship last term, the £19m-rated wing-back was in sensational attacking form, bagging two goals, providing five assists and creating six big chances for his team-mates, in addition to taking 0.6 shots, making one key pass and completing 1.8 dribbles per game.
The defender also impressed in metrics more typical of his position, making 1.4 tackles, 1.5 interceptions and 1.1 clearances and winning 5.8 duels per fixture.
As such, with attack very often being the best form of defence against a Liverpool side who deploy an extremely high defensive line and an intense press, Conte must finally let Spence loose against them today, as the £25k-per-week starlet could prove crucial to exploiting what is arguably the Reds’ biggest weakness.