Inside Lane: Tottenham’s squad men must step up over busy Christmas period
12:00 09 December 2014
Tottenham blogger David Lee says Spurs’ reserve players need to step up to the plate as Mauricio Pochettino looks to rotate his squad and keep his players fresh over the coming weeks.
The optimism never seems to last long in the white half of north London.
Many of us hoped the victory over Everton at White Hart Lane would kick-start our faltering Premier League campaign. But after a predictable, humbling defeat to Chelsea and another dreary home display against Crystal Palace on Saturday we are faced with a gruelling Christmas schedule which genuinely could make or break our season.
With Europa League qualification already secured, Mauricio Pochettino must leave key players such as Ryan Mason, Nabil Bentaleb and Harry Kane off the departure list to Istanbul this week and prioritise our vital upcoming games against Swansea, Newcastle and Burnley.
I feel the lack of consistency in team selection has hampered our progress this season but our home-grown players need to be protected if the club is to achieve any success over the Christmas period.
Ryan Mason’s low-key performances against Chelsea and Crystal Palace highlighted the demand that Premier League football can place on our young players and some responsibility must now be placed on the squad’s peripheral figures like Mousa Dembele, Benjamin Stambouli and Paulinho.
Mauricio Pochettino has more than enough players to choose from over the festive period and it’s now down to the squad’s outsiders to prove they deserve to stay at the club ahead of the January transfer window.
The real marker for the reliability of our fringe players will surely come during next week’s Capital One Cup quarter-final with Alan Pardew’s resurgent Newcastle side.
With the tie falling in between the vital Premier League fixtures with Swansea and Burnley, Pochettino’s second string will need to come in and restore some pride after our embarrassing collapse at home against the Toon Army in October.
As each game passes, the likelihood of securing Champions League football via our league position is becoming increasingly fanciful, and defeat at Swansea and failure to take maximum points from our next Premier League home game with Burnley could leave our Premier League campaign in tatters.
While most Tottenham fans would accept that our current side is well short of the level required to qualify for the Champions League, we cannot afford to falter over the Christmas period and play out the rest of the Premier League season sitting in mid-table obscurity.
Pochettino needs to look for consistency in his Premier League team selections and field the same side that beat Everton for our games against Swansea and Burnley.
Despite some glaring errors at Stamford Bridge, the defensive unit is beginning to look stronger and should not be tinkered with. Ben Davies looks a more defensively reliable option at left-back than Danny Rose and Federico Fazio is finally showing the composure needed to play in the Premier League.
But it is the performances and freshness of our attacking players that should cause Spurs fans most concern as the pivotal Christmas period approaches.
Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela continue to show a lack of directness and invention and were completely upstaged by the scintillating attacking display of Crystal Palace’s Yannick Bolasie on Saturday. On current form they have no right to start instead of Aaron Lennon during our crucial Christmas games.
Pochettino undoubtedly has a difficult juggling act to manage over the next three weeks but if results do not improve, the season of goodwill may not be enough to keep the boo boys away from White Hart Lane.
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