Assume the Worst – Which Competition Does Poch Sacrifice?

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Gillingham on Wednesday is simple— don’t play Janssen—go with Winks, Onomah, Sissoko and maybe Eriksen up front to get him back on form. But it is a meaningless game and a weak opponent.

The hard part—assuming Kane is out for multiple weeks—comes next week. In succession, before the international break which might—if we’re lucky—allow Kane to return from a sprain but not a fracture or ligament tear—Spurs play at Boro, at CSKA Moscow, and home to the top team in the league, Manchester City.

I don’t think Janssen can go from part-time player to playing all of those games. Son must play up front in one of them, and sit in another, despite the fact that he has been our best outfield player twice in our last three fixtures. My hunch is that Poch gives the Korean his big opportunity in Moscow along with Sissoko. Davies being rested yesterday signals that Rose’s return won’t be for another week—Trippier, Wimmer and Carter-Vickers would seem to get the call midweek with the first team Back Four saved for Boro.

The bottom line is while a loss to CSKA probably dooms Spurs’ chance to stay in the Champions League past group stage, losses to Boro and City put a return to that same competition next year at great risk as well. Sure it’s only September, but the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool are waiting for no man, we all know Arsenal always pries its way somehow into the top four, Everton are in bloom, and surely one of Conte or Mourinho will figure out what ails his club and fix it.

Poch is speaking quite publicly and honestly about the toll that the Champions League—in addition to the international play most of his players have and will be called for—is taking on his team. I wonder about his reasoning—is he trying to motivate a group that since Dortmund has seemed to shrink from all this responsibility? Is he mentally preparing both himself and his fan base for a disappointment in Spurs return to the elite level of European football? Is he conscious of just how tough his league has gotten with the arrival of Conte, Klopp, Mourinho, Guardiola, Pogba, Zlatan, etc, etc….?

Something is up. I think he’d take a win over Boro and a draw vs. City over success in Moscow. And he might just be ruthless enough to realize that at this stage of the season he probably can’t have all three.

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