Opinion: Analysing all of the centre-back partnerships we could see during fixture congestion

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

With the season just over two weeks away, it isn’t too long until the madness begins, with Premier League, UEFA Europa League qualifiers, and Carabao Cup commitments making for a jam-packed September for our beloved Tottenham Hotspur.

Such a busy schedule means that the entire squad will be getting a fair chunk of game time, with José likely to rotate between the three competitions.

With this being the case, I thought it would be sensible to look at the different central defensive partnerships we could be seeing in the weeks ahead.

Premier League

Like every other Spurs fan, I am desperate to see our team lift its first trophy since 2008, and our most realistic chances arguably lay with the Carabao Cup and Europa League.

That being said, the Premier League is our bread and butter, and a top-four finish must be the minimum aim this time around.

In the league, I can see José choosing two from Alderweirald, Dier, and Sánchez if playing with a flat back four, with all three on the team sheet should he decide to change to a back five.

I am a big fan of Toby Alderweireld and, for me, his name should be one of the first on the team sheet. Although not the quickest, he is a great reader of the game, strong in the tackle, and a very good distributor of the ball.

José is a keen admirer of Dier and his performances at the back following the restart of the disrupted 2019/2020 season were very solid. I have personally always considered Eric Dier to be a centre back though, much like Ledley King in the 2000s, having played in midfield for a prolonged period will only have helped his reading of the game.

A player who splits opinion between fans, Davison Sánchez would be my third choice centre back for Premier League matches.

I like Sánchez and believe he has the potential to be a reliable defender, but due to his relative inexperience at this level, he is still prone to the odd error here and there.

He is strong, quick and good in the air, three key attributes for any defender, though his passing needs working on, in my opinion. Alongside either Alderweireld or Dier, I am comfortable with Sánchez in the team and do genuinely believe he’ll come good for us.

Ledley King joining the first-team coaching staff should help to take the Colombian international’s game to the next level.

Europa League

Although a competition that must be high on José’s list this season, the congested fixture list means there is a strong chance he’ll rotate the team during the qualification rounds.

I can see one of Alderweireld, Dier or Sánchez starting the European matches, alongside either Japhet Tanganga or Juan Foyth.

As we all know, Japhet Tanganga burst on to the scene in January, when José handed him his debut against eventual champions, Liverpool.

Tanganga has really impressed me since making that debut and the maturity he has shown on the pitch really stood out for me. I believe that playing in the Europa League qualifiers will aid his development massively.

If Tanganga is unavailable for selection, I can see Juan Foyth getting the nod for the Europa League qualifiers. Foyth, who hasn’t really featured under José, is in desperate need of game time and is one player who could really benefit from the congested fixture list.

I am not a massive fan of Foyth, mainly because he has never stood out for me when playing, and like Sánchez, is prone to the odd error. I am hoping the Argentine gets some game time during the early part of the season, otherwise I can see him being sent out on loan.

Carabao Cup

As mentioned previously, our old friend the League Cup represents our most realistic chance of winning a trophy this season, but I cannot help but feel it will be the least prioritised competition in our busy schedule.

With that being the case I can see the likes of the aforementioned Tanganga and Foyth playing these matches, as well as one of our own, Cameron Carter-Vickers, though I do appreciate a lot will depend on the draw.

Since making his first start for us in an FA Cup third-round tie at home to Aston Villa, American international Carter-Vickers has spent a lot of time on loan, most recently at Luton Town where he helped The Hatters retain their Championship status.

I personally thought that Carter-Vickers’ time at Tottenham was going to end this summer, but he has featured in all of our pre-season games thus far, which makes me think that Mourinho sees something he likes in the defender.

For me, the Carabao Cup represents the best opportunity for Carter-Vickers to showcase his talents, and if he takes these opportunities, who knows what the future holds.

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