Tottenham are deeper than they look

HARRISON, NJ - JULY 25: Georges-Kevin Nkoudou
HARRISON, NJ - JULY 25: Georges-Kevin Nkoudou /

There was a sense by the end of Tottenham’s 0-0 draw against Swansea on Saturday that Mauricio Pochettino lacked something crucial.

When it was clear that the usual run, press and shoot tactics weren’t going to work, there was no one on Tottenham’s bench to help change the tune.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Former Swansea striker Fernando Llorente came on in the dying stages of the match to help aid Spurs’ desperate hunt for a goal through the air. That made plenty of sense, and did indeed represent a slightly different way of doing things, but it wasn’t the solution that Tottenham needed.

Chipping or crossing balls into the box is all well and good, and Llorente will be of use in similar situations in the future. What Saturday’s match required though was a fresh set of legs capable of playing the game with far more urgency and ingenuity than the plainly exhausted — or disinterested — starters could muster.

Serge Aurier provided some of that after his substitution in the 63rd minute, and arguably should have decided the game thanks to the uncalled penalty he won later in the match. If Aurier had been joined on the pitch by, say, Harry Winks or Ben Davies, Spurs chances would have improved even more.

More from Tottenham News

If we really wanted to get ambitious, we could also imagine how different the match would have looked had either Danny Rose or Georges-Kévin Nkoudou been fit enough to start, or if Spurs could call upon the playmaking abilities of the still-recovering Érik Lamela.

None of which is meant to serve as further critique of Spurs’ failures on Saturday. We’ve already done that enough. Rather, it’s meant to convey just how many options a fully fit Spurs have at present.

Far more often than not, Tottenham’s Plan A is going to be enough to break down sides. It arguably should have been enough against Swansea, with only some missed penalty calls and some superhuman goalkeeping from Lukasz Fabianski keeping Spurs out.

When something else is required though, Pochettino has all the options he’ll ever need, at least on paper.

Need another focal point to draw attention from Christian Eriksen? Bring on Lamela. Could the side do with some more reliable distribution than the likes of Eric Dier or Mousa Dembélé can muster? Have Winks start warming up. Is the opposition overloading one flank to hold back Heung-min Son’s runs? Name Nkoudou to the opposite flank to provide a distraction and free up some space.

Now, it would be a fair criticism to say that some of these alternate options mentioned aren’t entirely proven at this level of football. Winks certainly looked promising in his cameo appearances last season. The same can’t be said for Nkoudou, but the Frenchman had a surprisingly productive pre-season that should earn him a bit more time to prove his muster at Spurs.

Next: Tottenham Man of the Match: Eric Dier

The point of substituting a player isn’t always to replicate the talent and ability of the man taken off however. Sometimes you just need something different, and Pochettino has spent the past few seasons filling out his roster with options. Now he just needs them all to get healthy.