Tottenham are amidst a demanding schedule, which continues with a Premier League match on Saturday away to Bournemouth. How Spurs structure their lineup will be crucial, especially given the form of their opponent whom are coming off a 6-1 thrashing of Hull City.
Mauricio Pochettino has stated his desire to rotate the Tottenham squad, thus ensuring they remain as fresh as possible for all fixtures during the difficult stretch. This will be Spurs’ third game in 7 days, and an important one at that. 3 points are a necessity following back to back draws in the Premier League and Champions League.
Beginning with the defence, it is common practice for Tottenham to rotate the full backs. Thus after missing out mid-week, Ben Davies and Kyle Walker should both return. This gives Danny Rose (who may have picked up a knock in Germany) and Kieran Trippier a break. Rose has suffered from several niggles of late and will likely be left out of the line up until the following Saturday back home to reigning Premier League Champions Leicester.
Toby Alderweireld’s injury is not as severe as initially feared, yet like Rose he is unlikely to feature until he is back to full health. This leaves the onus on Jan Vertonghen and Eric Dier to again combine as the central defensive pairing. Pochettino will likely put his faith in these two to get through one more match, before they finally receive a deserved full week off. Cameron Carter-Vickers will make the subs bench, yet it remains to be seen whether Kevin Wimmer does likewise.
Pochettino bristled when questioned at his Leverkusen post-match press conference as to Wimmer’s whereabouts. He pointed to the Austrian’s inclusion in the 18-man travelling squad as evidence of his ongoing relevance to Tottenham’s squad. It seems unlikely that Pochettino will give in to media pressure to place Wimmer on the bench, unless doing so for this match was in fact his plan along. Either way it will be something for the tabloids to report on; it’s a lose-lose for the manager until Wimmer starts in the League Cup on Tuesday.
In midfield is where things become a little less clear. Victor Wanyama will most likely need to get through yet another fixture given how off the pace Mousa Dembele looked on Tuesday night. Dembele does not yet look up to getting through the work required for a Pochettino defensive midfielder. In fact, they could each start in the heart of the pitch if Dembele is deemed fit enough to see out the 90 minutes either alongside and just in front of Wanyama, or further forward. Given Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen both started on Tuesday, at least one is likely to be rested; neither had their best games but Moussa Sissoko is a like-like replacement for Lamela. So he should start on the right of attacking midfield and Lamela looks likely to be rested.
With Vincent Janssen withdrawn on 60 minutes Germany, it appears this could in part have been to save him for Saturday. He played arguably his best game for Spurs and was unfortunate not to score. With Janssen up front, Son Heung-Min should revert to the left of attacking midfield with one of Dele Alli and Eriksen in the centre. If Dembele doesn’t start, Alli will take his place, assuming Spurs stick with the 4-1-4-1 formation.
It’s a tricky time for Tottenham in trying to balance the squad fitness along with maintaining winning (or at least non-losing) form. But, get through one more match and most the regular starting 15 or 16 will be rested for Liverpool in the League Cup.