Opinion: There is something wrong with Kieran Trippier - but why?
Mauricio Pochettino did not start Kieran Trippier at right-back during Tottenham's 3-1 EFL Cup victory over West Ham on Wednesday.
He wasn't expected to either as most first-team regulars were given a rest, other than Christian Eriksen, Heung-Min Son and the returning Dele Alli. Serge Aurier started in his place, while Son netted a brace during their win.
Frustrating loss of form apparent
Trippier's last outing was during their slender - but nonetheless frustrating - 1-0 defeat by defending champions Manchester City on Monday evening. His individual display was far from impressive: at times he was struggling to win the ball and even failing to defend with the commanding nature he usually does.
He has not necessarily had a poor start to the 2018/19 campaign, having scored one goal and created two assists in the Premier League - as well as an additional assist in Europe's elite club competition. His defensive capabilities have been tested at times too, but it appears as though the 28-year-old is finding it difficult to retain his starting berth.
Only last week, Trippier was brilliant against PSV Eindhoven. He provided an important assist for Lucas Moura's equaliser, while continuing to make exciting runs down the right-hand side.
He did well to link-up well with Lucas while involving Mousa Dembele too. The last time Trippier managed to help Hugo Lloris to a clean sheet? Their 1-0 win over West Ham in mid-October - but he's struggled to create as many opportunities going forward as he is used to.
World Cup hangover?
There is every proof that a stronger Trippier would improve Tottenham both defensively and in the final third. His heroics at the World Cup in Russia cannot be ignored.
Supported by a three-man central defence, he was deployed at right wing-back and proved dangerous to all defensive philosophies utilised by other managers. He scored one goal and an assist during the tournament, but his impact was wide-reaching.
With that in mind, perhaps using a similar tactic to Gareth Southgate's England set-up would prove successful for Spurs. Ben Davies and Trippier playing as wing-backs would allow the pair freedom to attack down the flanks.
As for central defensive options, Tottenham have options. Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen (hamstring) and Davinson Sanchez are all capable of holding the fort - while 20-year-old Juan Foyth will be eager for an opportunity centre-stage. An improved and more confident Trippier will lead to more goals and delight for Spurs supporters.