While Harry Kane has returned from injury with success for Tottenham, it is evident that his side is simply far too reliant on one man in front of goal. And while Christian Eriksen finally broke his season duck with a wonderful strike on Saturday at Stamford Bridge, there are still just too many opportunities going begging. For Spurs to threaten for a place in the top four, let alone for the league, they must find a way. From either within the squad, or during the January transfer window, alternative avenues to goal are a must.
It’s been a recurring theme and bordering on a recurring nightmare for Mauricio Pochettino of late. More possession, more shots, more time spent in control, yet nothing to show for it. But now the draws have made way for losses, even if the team has somewhat halted a decline that saw an early Champions League exit in Monaco last week. Unless reinforcements or improvements are made to the current personnel, it is hard to see a way back into contention and out of the nightmare.
It all leaves Spurs now 7 points adrift from top spot and with serious work to do to achieve back to back appearances in the Champions League. They are still not too far off when assessing their strongest eleven, when the imminent returns of Danny Rose from suspension and Toby Alderweireld from injury are taken into account. But while the defence remains sound for the most part, it is the final third that requires significant work.
Much has been made of Moussa Sissoko and his underwhelming performances through the opening three months of his Spurs career. Yet it is unfair to place the blame entirely on his shoulders, or indeed that of fellow recruit Vincent Janssen. Whilst questions may well be asked of both in terms of their commitment or suitability to the Premier League respectively, they cannot be deemed as the main culprits to the goal scoring dysfunction. Rather, more has been expected from Dele Alli, Eriksen, the injured Erik Lamela and Heung-Min Son. Apart from his “player of the month” September, Son in particular has shown little threat on goal.
To Pochettino’s credit, he appears to have made the most of a difficult situation by trying all he can to resurrect the slump in front of goal. Various formations and switching of positions and adjustments to surprise the opposition or to find another way to the back of the net. All have been attempted, some with moderate success and some with no success at all. It just shows that despite these attempts, the missing link appears not to be at Pochettino’s disposal.
More speed and variation is needed on the wings to break through. Georges Kevin-N’Koudou fills this aspect to some extent with his pace an obvious asset, yet he is a work in progress as a footballer and does not provide the finishing ability or killer ball to match his speed. What Spurs would give to have acquired a Sadio Mane or even Georginio Wijnaldum last Summer.
Alternatively a second striker, or attacking midfielder with proven experience in the strongest competitions in Europe may well fit the bill. Janssen tries his heart out, but cannot be relied upon to finish in the way that so many can at other title-aspiring clubs. Hazard and Costa, Sanchez and Walcott, Mane and Coutinho and Firmino. All of these combinations of striker and attack minded teammates is superior to Tottenham’s right now. All of these names each have a minimum of 5 goals in the league thus far, while Kane is the only one at Spurs to do so. Despite his long layoff.
The January window looms as a critical juncture to Daniel Levy’s willingness to push Tottenham further forward. With a new stadium to build, and millions already potentially thrown away on the likes of Sissoko, the holding pattern that those at White Hart Lane currently find themselves in shows little sign of abating. Eriksen, Alli, Lamela and Son must all find ways to get themselves on the scoresheet, and one or two specific inclusions would also be pertinent. Someone with pace, someone who scores goals and someone who creates goals for others. Ideally, a player that covers all three bases; even one base may at least help for now.