4 ways that Mauricio Pochettino can turn around Tottenham Hotspur's slump
There’s no denying it right now – Tottenham Hotspur are a club in the midst of a genuine slump in form. Mauricio Pochettino’s side – who finished 4th in the Premier League and made it all the way to the Champions League final in 2018/19 – have struggled from the offset of 2019/20, winning just 3 of their opening 8 league games.
They’ve suffered disappointing losses to Newcastle United, Leicester City and Brighton, and were eliminated from the EFL Cup by League Two side Colchester. Even worse, they were thumped 2-7 in a Champions League game against Bayern Munich, their heaviest home defeat in club history.
So how can Pochettino look to arrest the slump? After the recent international break Spurs have a chance to get back into winning form this weekend against bottom-of-the-table Watford – and here are 4 ways that they could turn things around.
#1 Start using Davinson Sanchez at centre-back
When Pochettino left Jan Vertonghen out of his starting line-up for the season’s opening game against Aston Villa – a 3-1 victory for Tottenham – some eyebrows were raised. Various rumours flew around regarding the reason for the move, but after sitting out a further two games, the Belgian was restored to the first XI for September’s draw with Arsenal and has been an ever-present since, resuming his partnership with Toby Alderweireld.
Unfortunately for Spurs fans, the restoration of the Belgian partnership at the heart of the Tottenham defence hasn’t really helped matters. Spurs’ back-line now looks more vulnerable than ever and in the losses to Bayern Munich and Brighton in particular, it looked like Vertonghen and Alderweireld had aged overnight, their lack of pace ruthlessly exploited time and time again.
Both men have been excellent servants at Tottenham but their deterioration shouldn’t come as a shock – both men are the wrong side of 30 and historically, defenders tend to age suddenly when their pace abandons them. Perhaps this is why the club haven’t pushed hard for either man to sign a new contract, as both will see their current deals expire next summer.
It’s clear then that Pochettino needs to shore up Spurs’ defence, and one way he could do this would be to restore Davinson Sanchez at the expense of either Vertonghen or Alderweireld. The Colombian is just 23 years old, pace is one of his biggest strengths, and he’s shown consistent improvement since joining Spurs in 2017.
It’s true that his own start to the season was poor, but then he was also largely being deployed out of position as a makeshift right-back. Restoring him to his preferred centre-back position would add a much-needed injection of pace to Spurs’ creaking defence, and hopefully would help them to stop leaking goals.