Off the back of wins against West Ham and Chelsea, Spurs looked a rejuvenated side, even a force to be reckoned with, as fans started to gain real excitement for the first time this season.
But it’s the hope that kills you, and Sheffield United in the cup proved an insurmountable impediment, thwarting any tangible chance of silverware this season yet again.
As surprising as the 1-0 loss was, given the Lilywhite’s brilliant recent form, the overarching feeling was one Spurs fans know all too well.
The barren collection of trophies will stay barren yet, unless Conte can find a remedy to the problem which seems to be almost engrained into the DNA of the club in our recent history.
January loan acquisition Arnaut Danjuma may provide that spark to propel Spurs to where they really want to be, and I feel his proper introduction to the side must be on Wednesday.
Electric for Villarreal last year, he was pivotal in their champion’s league success last year, helping them beat the likes of Bayern Munich and Juventus. No one can doubt his ability, and granted he won’t replace Son or Kane, but he can still be of real use to Conte for the remainder of the season.
Despite already being 26, he only emerged onto the scene in recent years, and is very much still developing as an exciting talent.
Danjuma can play either on the wing or up front and was arguably unlucky to not start the Sheffield game, after scoring shortly after coming on in his debut in the competition, he looked very promising on the ball and comfortable as a left-winger.
He was definitely unfortunate not to feature at all in the Wolves’ defeat on Saturday. On Wednesday, when Richarlison was having the game that he was, Stellini should have looked to bring on the Dutchman sooner, before leaving the game to be salvaged with only 10 to play.
The tie was crying out for a moment of quality, and whilst Richarlison’s endeavours showed lots of effort, the end product was nowhere to be seen.
Spurs are almost spoilt for choice with regard to attacking options, and there’s no harm in allowing Danjuma to play his way into the team, especially if Richarlison is going to continue in the same vein.
Danjuma could even start with Harry Kane, as he did alongside Gerard Moreno at Villareal, and one benefit to this, given Kane’s versatility and ability to drop in behind a striker partner, is that Danjuma can roam in front of Kane, or assume the conventional winger role when in possession.
Spurs like to play on the counter, and having either Danjuma or Kane as an outlet could pose a problem for Milan.
We know Kane is more than capable of taking up a slightly deeper position, which we we saw when he formed an unstoppable partnership with Son, one dropped in and one went long, with an almost telepathic understanding of each other’s positioning.
Son’s form has fallen off in recent months, but Harry’s certainly hasn’t. If Danjuma could play even half the role that Son did in 2020/2021, his ability to play anywhere across the front line will make him very compatible with Kane.
Perhaps Richarlison’s limited success has come as a result of either being isolated up top, or out of his favoured position. Danjuma can do both, or assume a lone striker role as he did magnificently in the 3-0 win against Juventus last year.
After the pain and anger of Wednesday and Saturday’s losses starts to subside, Spurs fans will look at the league table and realise that the situation is not catastrophic. Fourth place is a very realistic ambition, and the champions league tie with Milan is also far from settled.
However, it would seem like a waste for Danjuma not to feature in the side, especially when they are out of form.
Last year, he managed to net a modest 10 goals in 23 games in La Liga (TransferMarkt) and an impressive 6 goals in the UCL, with a fantastic goals-to-game ratio in the most highly-regarded competition.
This year hasn’t necessarily yielded the same output in front of goal for the Dutchman, 2 goals in 10 league games (Transfer Markt), perhaps explained by his tendency to play on the left rather than in a strike partnership or as a sole striker.
His role at Spurs undoubtedly is more reserved, but there’s no reason he cannot replicate his goal-scoring form from last year if he fills in as a centre forward when necessary.
Danjuma is no stranger to English football, having played for Bournemouth both in the Premier League and Championship, averaging almost a goal every two games in the latter, (Transfer Markt) which can’t be described as prolific, but in his second spell in the Premier League, you’d expect him to reach similar numbers at his more mature age.
One thing that really impresses me is his ruthlessness in front of goal, when he is one on one, he rarely fails to find the net. This may be taken for granted, but Son Hueng-Min’s mere 5 goals and 3 assists (TransferMarkt) shows that converting good chances is harder than it looks.
Spurs fans are tired of mediocrity. And unfortunately, our strike partnerships have been just that in the past week. Before we are out of the Champions League and the season is well and truly wasted, Conte should make a change, and fast.
Danjuma deserves a proper chance, not a succession of cameos where he is under more pressure to perform in the last few minutes of games.
Our campaign is effectively on the line on Wednesday, and Danjuma should start ahead of Richarlison (and Son if necessary) to bring some fresh energy to the side.
If Conte gets this one right, the next few months could yet be bright in N17.
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