Time and again this season, our defenders have had a lot to answer for, due to unforced errors. And among those who have been particularly culpable is Davinson Sanchez. In recent outings, he was part of the lineup which shipped five goals in the FA Cup at Everton, and was left, quite literally, flat out on his face in the defeat to Manchester City.
During Sunday’s Premier League outing against Burnley, he looked much better, to the extent where some sections of the fan base were calling for the Colombian to be named as man of the match. So what changed?
Well, let’s begin with the statistics. One of Tottenham’s weak spots this season has been how we deal with set-pieces and defending balls into the box. Opposition players have been scoring regularly via this route this season, so it was good to see the team refrain from giving too many fouls away against a strong aerial team like Burnley. The whole team only committed six fouls in the entire game, compared to twelve against Manchester City, and eighteen against Everton. It is evident going forward that by addressing these problems this will decrease the pressure on the all-too-vulnerable centre backs, which have included Sanchez.
It was also Sanchez’ individual display, which prompted optimism. And this can be put down to three key reasons. Firstly, Burnley didn’t cause nearly as many problems as they might have. Had Ashley Barnes been playing alongside Chris Wood, this would have made for a much less comfortable afternoon for our defence.
Secondly, Sanchez kept it simple. It may not be the most cutting edge analysis, but when faced with an option to clear the ball, or play risky, Sanchez more often than not chose the safer option and avoided any complications. I, for one, would rather all of our defenders decide to play this way since I do not have a massive amount of trust in their capabilities on the ball. If they continue to defend as defenders should and not invite pressure they will concede less chances and a fewer number of goals.
Thirdly, Sanchez was partnered with Toby Alderweireld against the Clarets. I don’t want to take anything away from the twenty-four-year-old but it is no coincidence that he looks much more assured when partnered with a man who has all the experience that Alderweireld possesses. Yes, he may be on the decline as a result of his age. But the Belgian has nearly over 450 club appearances and has over 100 caps at international level to his name (transfermarkt). Whether the Belgian is in the form of his life or not, his leadership skills are invaluable,and therefore the spine of our defence looks stronger when he is playing as opposed to Eric Dier.
Sanchez is still a long way off being a good enough player for this club to start week in, week out. He has not kicked on since the promise he showed during his first season, but if he can put a string of solid performances together, he should be given the opportunity to prove his worth until the end of the season.
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