Tottenham have an important week coming up before they head into the international break and it is a week where they need maximum points out of their two games. After the 3-2 defeat to Man United on Saturday, Antonio Conte’s chances of getting his Spurs side into the top four became less likely, but the race is not over yet.
Spurs still have ten games to play and are just six points behind Arsenal. The Lilywhites will need the other teams in the battle for a top four spot to drop points but if they can end their inconsistent run and gather a winning streak, all may not be lost.
Tottenham’s recent fixtures have produced a mixture of performances and results, from individual players and the team overall. Conte is still without some of his players due to ongoing injury issues but will need the members of the squad he does have available to perform at their best, to ensure the Lilywhites finish in the strongest possible position.
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There are improvements the whole team need to make to end their trend of winning one and then losing one, which Conte has already admitted. “At this moment the team needs to work a lot on many aspects. At the same time we have to be stable, to be stable and to keep good results in every moment. Instead we are doing up and down, up and down.”
Spurs face a trip to Brighton on Wednesday and then a London derby game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium against West Ham, before another international break. After that the Lilywhites will have eight remaining Premier League games to play and football.london takes a look at the players who have important times ahead.
Reguilon has returned to the starting XI after Ryan Sessegnon faced yet another injury blow, when he came off at half time in the 5-0 victory against Everton. Conte revealed that the 21-year-old would not be back until after the next break, “Bad news about Ryan Sessegnon. He had a scan and a muscular problem. Maybe we’ll see him after the international break.”
The Spaniard was a regular in Nuno Espirito Santo’s side and in the Italian’s, as Sessegnon has had to deal with various injury issues again this season. With the youngster now unavailable again, Reguilon came on in the second half against Frank Lampard’s side and scored within his first minute on the pitch and then played 90 minutes at Old Trafford.
The 25-year-old played Jadon Sancho onside for Man United’s second goal and took a bit of time to get into the game but when he did, he managed to make an impact at both ends of the field. Reguilon is lucky in the sense that, with no other real option at left wing-back, he is likely to keep his spot in the starting XI regardless of his performances.
However these next few weeks, until Sessegnon’s return, could be crucial for the Spanish international to try and make his case to Conte that he should be first choice on the left flank. It may be difficult with the 21-year-old performing well when he started to get momentum from consistent performances but in the current situation, it is Reguilon’s spot to lose.
Pierre Emile Hojbjerg
Hojbjerg has been the one consistent midfielder for the majority of the season, playing in a midfield two and three, alongside various Tottenham teammates. He is currently partnering up with January arrival Rodrigo Bentancur and although the duo have work to do, they have also been making some impact to help improve the overall Spurs performance.
Oliver Skipp is another of Conte’s players who has been absent for a while and ahead of the trip to Old Trafford he gave a worrying update on the 21-year-old. “Yeah, for sure I am a bit worried. I’m a bit worried because he started with a groin pain and then now, we are talking about two months, two months and half, that he is out.
“I am a bit worried, because in my mind, the mind of the player [Skipp], there was the desire to come back very soon, as soon as possible, but in this moment, if you ask me, a forecast about his return with the team, I don’t have an answer,” the Italian added.
This has played in Hojbjerg’s favour as he is one of the current first choice midfielders however once Skipp does make his return, it could be the academy graduate who is chosen to play alongside Bentancur. This is why it is an important few weeks for the Dane to try and prove that when his injured teammate does return, his spot in the regular XI shouldn’t be sacrificed.
When Skipp does eventually recover he may not slot straight back into the regular line-up every week, as he will need to build his match fitness back up. However if he is able to quickly have the impact on the Tottenham team that he was having before his injury blow, it may not be long until he finds a secure spot once again, unless Hojbjerg makes a strong enough case.
Another midfielder not getting much game time but without an injury is Winks, who has faced his fair share of criticism this season. Before the arrival of the January signings, the 26-year-old was filling in for Skipp and produced a couple of decent performances.
However much like a number of the Spurs side, he fails to produce them consistently and it has become clear that his role in a midfield two alongside Hojbjerg, is maybe not the best fit. This means that he is having to get used to the side-line once again.
Winks has had an up and down season at Tottenham and before the January transfer window opened, there were rumours of an exit for the youth product. He remained in north London but there now may be questions over whether he regrets that decision.
Whereas the second central midfield spot seems to be Hojbjerg’s to lose at the moment, Winks needs to do whatever he can to get some game time in the runup to the end of the season. A central midfielder was one spot Conte wanted to upgrade on during the winter window, which he found with Bentancur, but there is still work to be done.
Therefore if the 26-year-old can’t turn his season around with any opportunities he gets, Skipp returns from injury and a new midfielder arrives in the summer, could Winks be coming towards the end of his Tottenham career?
A fan favourite and key member of the Spurs squad, it is weird to name Son in this list. The South Korean has scored 11 Premier League goals so far this season and registered six assists, as well as breaking the Premier League record with Harry Kane for the msot combination goals scored.
However there is also no denying that the last few performances have seen a drop in form from the 29-year-old. Perhaps this is because so much is expected of him but the trip to Old Trafford saw him fail to make as much of an impact as usual and also slip in a couple of moments in the game where Spurs were on the attack.
Son only recently signed a new contract at Tottenham so the next few weeks aren’t important for him in regards to his future at the club but more for him to have the chance to get back to the player fans know and love. The South Korean was again a key player in the 5-0 victory against Everton but has also struggled with consistency.
After the defeat to Ralf Rangnick’s side, Conte was asked about Son and his unusual lack of confidence in the final third.
“There are a couple of players that are very, very important to us and we need to always have good performances but Sonny and I think he played a good game to give everything tonight,” the 52-year-old explained. “Then there are games that everything goes well and others where you can slip. Tonight, he slipped twice! He slipped twice and it was a pity because it was in two important situations where you can go towards the goal.
“Sonny is a really important player for us and he’s a player that can make a difference for Tottenham.”
Everyone knows the impact that Son can have, which makes it even more of a shame to see his drop in form. Therefore the next few weeks will be a good chance for him to build back up to the devastating player he can be for opposing teams before the international break and to ensure he has a solid end to the season.