Tottenham Right Back Woes A Concern Ahead Of Run In
March 21, 2019
“This season I have not done as well as I could have done,” Kieran Trippier admitted this week. With the first international break of 2019 in full swing, Trippier’s comments are a statement of the obvious, however it was a refreshingly honest assessment from the right-back.
The Tottenham ace was sensational at the World Cup, leading to reports of a possible move to Real Madrid. Indeed, he made more key passes (24) than any other player at the World Cup, as per WhoScored.com, with Trippier rewarded for his good Spurs form with a regular spot in the England XI. This season, though, the 28-year-old has come under criticism from quarters of the Spurs fanbase with supporters understandably disappointed by a dip in form.
Of course, much of that will be borne out of frustration. For a period, Spurs had the best full-back pairing in the Premier League in the form of Danny Rose and Kyle Walker, but the latter’s big money move to Manchester City saw Trippier promoted to first choice in north London.
However, Spurs were always going to be weaker for Walker’s exit and while Trippier has his strengths, Tottenham aren’t as effective going forward, nor defensively. In the same summer as Walker’s move to City, Spurs landed Serge Aurier and, on paper, his arrival made plenty of sense, though there were rightly concerns over his off-field antics prior to his arrival in the capital.
Boasting the big team experience in both landing silverware and playing in the Champions League, Aurier’s arrival should have eased Walker’s exit. That being said, his unpredictability both on and off the ball leaves supporters pulling their hair out and while the full-backs used to be Spurs’ strongest position, it could be considered one of their weakest areas on a bad day.
To his credit, Rose has shown signs that he is getting back to his best, yet there remains the concerns surrounding his previous injury issues and his stop-start two years has hindered his development. The England international and Ben Davies are at least two sturdy performers in the role, even if they have endured their injury woes this season, yet right-back has gone from a strength to a significant weakness over the last 18 months, and supporters are keen to see that rectified.
This summer feels to be the end of a current cycle for Tottenham, with Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld both entering the final year of their respective deals and showing no signs that they are eager to prolong their stays with Spurs. The former Ajax duo have been linked with blockbuster summer switches and Spurs would be looking to cash in on the pair rather than lose them on a free and with the lure of a new stadium to go with Champions League football, there would be no shortage of suitors to replace the two players.
With that, supporters may see it best to see the backs of Trippier and Aurier as the team strives to maintain their Champions League pursuit. Spurs, of course, are limited by the homegrown limits, particularly in Europe as Davies and Eric Dier don’t fit the UEFA quota, and as such;, Spurs have been approaching transfer windows with one arm tied behind their back, but there is English talent out there that would be an upgrade on Trippier and Aurier and fit Pochettino’s style of play.
Kyle Walker-Peters is a solid option for Pochettino, and he has proven his qualities when required in the Premier League and in Europe, save for a hiccup in the 1-1 draw with Barcelona aside, but if Trippier and Aurier depart, then they’ll need another right-back to ensure they aren’t caught short at the back.
If they are looking to continue with the trend of signing young English talent, then Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the standout candidate, but with each passing week, his stock continues to soar and deservedly so. No player has made more tackles in Europe’s top five leagues this season than the Crystal Palace star (109), as per WhoScored.com, who has been dribbled past on just seven occasions in the Premier League this season, resulting in a mightily impressive tackle success rate of 94%.
However, if Aurier does leave, it frees up a non-homegrown spot in Spurs’ European squad and there is a hefty pool of possible right-backs the club can target that would be upgrades on the Ivorian and Trippier. Pochettino was right in rewarding the latter for his patience with a regular starting spot, yet, in what has become an all-too-regular occurrence this season, has shown he is not at the level Spurs are striving for.
Trippier’s statement may have been refreshingly honest, and his admittance of his underwhelming form will have earned him praise, but in the cutthroat business of football, Spurs would be wise to perhaps cut their losses with both he and Aurier. Ahead of what promises to be a hugely important summer for the club, change is necessary if the side is to remain competitive and maintain a push for honours and regular Champions League football.