Pick a Side, Poch—Any Old Side

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New coach, new players, injuries, suspensions, midweek fixtures—all understandably making the weekly Premier League selection a tricky wicket for Mauricio Pochettino. Add to that the dual striker dilemmas of which one(s) to start, and in what overall formation,  and—well, that is what you are paid for, aren’t you, Poch?

Lately his confusion over who exactly his best XI are has become more and more apparent with a string of halftime substitutions: Lamela for Eriksen; Soldado for Lamela; Dembele for Townsend, etc, etc…

It’s as if he has caught the “losing Italian manager disease”—keep throwing the pasta at the wall until something sticks. Well, at the risk of drawing this analogy out a bit too far, I think it’s time to consume the meal al dente, because this season cannot afford much more experimentation.

So I say the Cups and Europa be damned—chances are on the former that Spurs will be playing either less talented clubs or peers who are also resting top players; and on the latter we have already come within a whisker of qualifying for the knockout stage which won’t begin for three months, so forget about it for a while. It is time for the manager to determine his best side—with a handful of late-game substitutes in mind—and simply stick with that lineup for as many games as possible—or at least until a holiday bunch of games forces a few changes.

FWIW—I say a back four of Davies, Vertonghen, Kaboul and Walker. (Danny Rose has simply made too many horrible errors which lead directly to goals to justify his greater ability going forward) Kaboul is still the weak link here but Dier is too young, Fazio a mini-disaster and Chiriches an outright disaster. DeAndre Yedlin will be an interesting option at right back come January.

I don’t want two holding midfielders because a) we never have two that can/will hold anyway and b) we need to play with two strikers. So go with a modified 4-4-2 with Mason back and the three across being Chadli-Eriksen-Lamela. No more Andros Townsend—he should be a substitute at best. No more Moussa Dembele or Paulinho—at all. Nabil Bentaleb as a defensive sub when we need to protect a lead. Same for Etienne Capoue. And say goodbye to Aaron Lennon in the transfer window while we can still get some money back in return.

Up front it has to be Kane and Soldado. I do not think Harry can go it alone—but I also don’t think Adebayor is simply worth trusting game in and game out. Keep him in reserve or play him in Cup ties—I have defended the man as long as I can—neither the energy nor effort is present consistently enough to reward him with a starting place. But I would be happier with a Kane-Adebayor pairing than any of these three by themselves—for different reasons, none of them seem capable of producing or converting chances when played alone.

The painful truth is that we miss Michael Dawson, Steven Caulker, Tom Huddlestone and Gylfi Sigurdsson more than we thought we would—maybe as much collectively as that most recent migrant to Madrid.

This is as offensive-minded a set-up as we can muster—and what choice is there really? This is not a side that can grind out 1-0 wins a la Southampton—Spurs will nearly always allow the rogue goal or two—the only chance to win games is to start scoring in bunches. And I maintain the only way to do that is to have the key 5-6 players needed to produce the goal-scoring chances play together—over and over again…

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Paul is a respected U.S. political pollster (Democrat) based in Madison, Wisconsin and Los Angeles. His love for Spurs began when the Premier League games started appearing regularly in the U.S. and an American lover of football had to choose a side. Bale, Rushdie, Adele, Shakespeare, the Spurs faithful, The Lane, etc. were all irresistible attractions and have made Maslin a Spur for life.


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