Let me say it because those 30 million pounds weren’t mine: Moussa Sissoko is a Spur for two main reasons: his pace and his homeland.
It is not a coincidence that a mere five days after Mauricio Pochettino expressed his desire for more speed in his squad to deal with the likes of Sadio Mane Spurs finalized its protracted effort to land Georges Kevin Nkoudou and then swooped down at transfer window death to deny Everton Moussa Sissoko. And to those who chuckle at the former Magpie’s shall-we-say record of sometime effort, I would simply point out that at the biggest stage of his life on a team captained by his new skipper at Spurs he shone—in fact, next to Antoine Griezmann, he was the home country’s best player—better than Pogba, better than Giroud. I am certain it did not go unnoticed in acquiring both these speedy midfielders that the side Spurs must defeat twice to have a good chance to advance out of group stage is Monaco—a French side familiar to Marseille’s Nkoudou and that should inspire Sissoko.
So now that we have our complete squad, how might the manager employ them? Well we will find out soon enough as the international break gives way to a road test at newly-monikered Bet365 Stadium and then the first night at Wembley vs. Monaco. My guess would be as follows. He can’t start Moussa Dembele vs the Potters; he won’t start Hugo Lloris to give the hamstring another four days to strengthen. But he also does not want to deny some of his stalwart players the opportunity to take the pitch at Wembley, particularly those from England.
STARTING XI VS STOKE:
BACK FOUR: DAVIES, VERTONGHEN, ALDERWEIRELD, TRIPPIER
MIDFIELD: DIER, WANYAMA, LAMELA, ALLI, ERIKSEN
STARTING XI VS MONACO
BACK FOUR: ROSE, VERTONGHEN, ALDERWEIRELD, WALKER
MIDFIELD: DIER, DEMBELE, SISSOKO. ALLI/ERIKSEN, SON
Kane is held back for the opener in the Champions League—likewise countrymen Rose and Walker as Pochettino goes as fast as he can vs. Monaco. Stoke doesn’t have the pace to require those two fullbacks—but the same attack force that has been playing will face Stoke with the exception of Janssen for Kane. Kane needs respite—the only question for Poch is whether he wants him to play more in the League, or for the Cups. In this particular case the importance of Wembley will carry the day. He will determine which between Eriksen and Alli is the more fit and deserving of starts in both games—Son has been kept—I would think it’s nigh-time to throw him back in the pool and see if he will swim better this year than last. Wimmer is a possibility, of course, if either of the CB’s falter or get nicked—Carter-Vickers can wait his turn as can NKoudou though I would expect him to be a late sub in one of these games.
These are quality selections—eminently capable of advancing past Group Stage and finishing in the top four and—we hope but the final year of the old rules might deny England a 4th UCL placement—guaranteeing a return to the Champions League.
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