Opinion: Deciding whether Oliver Skipp should be in Tottenham’s Best XI

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Oliver Skipp
Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Oliver Skipp was raved about, by all accounts, following his 2020-21 loan spell at Norwich, during which the 21-year-old helped the Canaries to victory in the Championship, and promotion to the Premier League.

I, among many, wondered how Skipp would slot into the Spurs squad, but I could not have foreseen just how much of an important figure he would become in our very best team.

He has made appearances in every Premier League game this season, as well as in both the Conference League and in the EFL Cup (TransferMarkt).

Let me first say that I am a big fan of this player. I think he is a breath of fresh air in this squad. And I think there are two key attributes, which the Englishman holds, which set him apart from others. 

Firstly, it’s his aggression. Amongst Spurs players in the Premier League this season, Skipp has made the joint-second most tackles – unsurprisingly only behind Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

And yes, a fair number of those tackles have resulted in fouls (9), but this does not concern me, because for too long, Spurs’ midfield has been too ‘nice’. I’m thinking of the lightweight nature of Harry Winks, and Moussa Sissoko, who, despite his size, rarely made his presence felt.

My worry over the past few seasons is that, before Spurs signed Hojbjerg in 2020, was that there was an absence of grittiness since the departure of Victor Wanyama. But with Hojbjerg and Skipp’s relationship in defensive midfield blossoming, we’re starting to see much-needed improvement in this area.

And secondly, I’m gobsmacked by how composed Skipp is. The jump from the Championship to the Premier League is not to be underestimated, and Skipp has taken to the top-flight like a duck to water.

And the stats also back this claim up. Despite playing in a pressurised defensive midfield position, Skipp, in seven Premier League games, has only been dispossessed twice, ranking 12th amongst all Spurs players. To compare this to someone playing in a similar position, Dele Alli has been knocked off the ball on a whopping 13 occasions.

There’s no doubt that he’s secured a place in our very best starting 11. For me, what Skipp needs to do to improve further is focus on his forward passing. It’s an area where Harry Winks looks woefully incompetent. So if Skipp were to become solid in this department, then the future will look rather exciting for this young talent.

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