Opinion: Should Tottenham start Oliver Skipp at left-back against Burnley?

After a surprisingly assured cameo in an unorthodox left-back position, midfielder Oliver Skipp has certainly put himself in contention for a start against Burnley after impressing late on in the 4-2 defeat at Anfield on Sunday.

It was a game of overwhelming negatives on Merseyside; Spurs were four goals down, the entire team looked deflated and uninterested, and it looked like it could get worse. Of course, it did not.

That is not to say it was a major success, but Ange Postecoglou and his players were clapped off after reducing the deficit to just two and appearing generally more aggressive in their play.

The end of the rot came after a triple change from the bench. James Maddison, Richarlison, and Oliver Skipp were introduced in the 61st minute. Curiously, Skipp was brought on for Emerson Royal who was playing left-back.

Spurs had no options in that position from the first minute. Destiny Udogie and Ben Davies suffered season-ending injuries last month, forcing Postecoglou to play someone in an unnatural position.

Emerson Royal was by no means dreadful against Chelsea but was certainly uncomfortable on the weaker side and looked vulnerable on multiple occasions. It was a warning side to the Spurs head coach, though he maintained his spot in the side at Anfield.

Mohamed Salah is a tricky customer for any left-sided full-back in the Premier League, so it was a grave danger for Emerson Royal in a position he was inexperienced in.

That was evident pretty quickly to the opponents. Liverpool doubled up on that side and had plenty of enjoyment. The opening goal was a result of Emerson losing Salah at the back post, likely due to a lack of attention and positional awareness.

The third goal resulted from doubling up on Emerson. He was frankly exposed for his sub-par ball-playing ability and was hooked off in the 61st minute after receiving a yellow card four minutes earlier.

Oliver Skipp
(Credit: Rachel says어덕행덕)

Should Oliver Skipp start at left-back for Tottenham?

Oliver Skipp was introduced; Spurs instantly played the style of football which has been missing for weeks.

Naturally, as a midfielder, Skipp is an able passer of the football. He had been particularly accurate earlier in the year away at Manchester United. It was a return from injury but there was no rust or lack of confidence from the academy product.

Defensively, Skipp was far more switched on than the man he had replaced. There was more patience and timing in his defensive actions, regularly stood Salah up and was ready to press the Egyptian every occasion the ball looked to go to him.

Nothing was dramatic or risky in the manner of his play. His reading of the game was superior and mature, something which would have the commentators uttering ‘It looks like he has played there his entire life!’.

Spurs began to have much more joy down the left as a result of the changes, which also saw captain Heung-Min Son move to the left.

Skipp had a hand in the second of the Spurs goals with a crucial pass in the attacking phase. A pass through the narrow gap of the Liverpool defence saw the ball fall to Richarlison who laid it off to eventual goal scorer Son.

The inverted demand of the full-back position assisted Skipp at times, who was finding himself in central areas where he was able to dictate the play as he would regularly in the areas that he has familiarly occupied.

An established passer undoubtedly enabled a better Tottenham. Skipp earned a 100% passing accuracy after fourteen flawless passes (SofaScore), which in simple terms allowed the team to enjoy greater positions and attacks for a sustained period and therefore led to chance creation.

The season finishing with Oliver Skipp at left-back was not on the bingo card of any Spurs fan, but it appears a no-brainer as a short-term solution to the injury issues.

Spurs need players who will provide work rate and confidence on the ball at this moment in time, something which most of the squad are lacking as the season concludes.

Relegation-threatened Burnley has no choice but to win to survive on Saturday, so Spurs must match their desire. Starting Skipp in left-back is not the ideal option, but the best available.

With the squad underperforming, it would be confusing to see the number four not rewarded with a start following that cameo against Liverpool.

Keep up to date with all the latest Tottenham news and opinion by following SpursWeb’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Related Topics

Have something to tell us about this article? Let us know