Tottenham: No Dele, no Dier, no dilemma heading to Bournemouth

Tottenham head to Bournemouth with some rotations to consider

Eric Dier and Dele Alli are together again, this time it is sitting out as Tottenham Hotspur is in for some squad rotation as they travel to Bournemouth in the Premier League. It took “two years” according to Jose Mourinho in his press conference ahead of the Spurs match at AFC Bournemouth. In reality, it was nearly four months between when Eric Dier went into the stands in protection of his little brother and the FA finally suspended him with “immediate effect” for four matches. One match per month, that seems reasonable.

Barring a successful appeal Dier is out for the next four matches, meaning he can only play in the season finale against Crystal Palace in a fortnight. Dele Alli on the other hand is out for in undetermined period at this point. According to Mourinho, his injury is “small” but will keep him out for Bournemouth. Hamstrings can be tricky, especially sitting on them. If you add in Japhet Tangana, Juan Foyth, and Troy Parrott and Spurs are down just as many players as they were before the COVID-break – just different players.

Spurs Defensive Approach

In his pre-match presser when asked – as he was often – about Dier, Mourinho commented that he had Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez, and Jan Vertonghen to cover for the loss of Dier and personally that is what I think he should do, play all three. The reality is the schedule is tough in terms of timing as after overplaying 4 matches in the last 111 days, Tottenham Hotspur play four matches in the next 11 days starting with Bournemouth.

Likely Bournemouth is going to sit deep, so Jose Mourinho can deploy all three center halves and give both Serge Aurier and Ben Davies some time to rest and prepare for the North London Derby on Sunday. With three in the back, it is not as conservative to play with two holding midfielders, so we are likely to see more Harry Winks and finally the introduction of Tanguy Ndombele in the double pivot.

While Ndombele does not prefer to play that deep and is frankly better further up the pitch, Moussa Sissoko needs some rest and Tanguy needs to prove to Jose Mourinho he is willing to graft and put the work in as a true box-to-box midfielder before his responsibilities grow. That evidence comes from serious defending and then enough movement and passing to keep the ball moving from back to front fast enough to unlock the Bournemouth defense. We know Ndombele can dribble and shoot, but we need a complete midfielder, Thursday is his first chance to prove it.

With a stout back three of Sanchez, Alderweireld, and Vertonghen – in that order right-to-left – in front of Hugo Lloris and then two midfielders sitting in front of the center-halves, there is plenty of defense and passing options from the back for Tottenham Hotspur. More importantly, this means five players can be committed to the attack.

Tottenham Attack for Bournemouth

A solid 3-2 formation behind them, Tottenham Hotspur can have 3 attacking midfielders supporting two strikers giving more options to unlock the Bournemouth defense. Giovani Lo Celso’s industry and range of passing make him the one to be in the middle of there man attacking midfield line.

Continuing with the approach we have seen Lucas Moura and Heung-Min Son are the wingers from the midfield.

Without the wing-backs behind them, it puts more pressure on both Lucas and Son defensively but also grants them both more space on the wings offensively, which should result in more take-ons from both attackers.

With Dele out and some punch needed off the bench, Erik Lamela gets another chance to play the second striker role alongside Harry Kane.

One might think that having five attackers like that all together Spurs will not have the space needed to create, but again without Davies and Aurier plowing up and overlapping, there is less need for Moura and Son to pinch in at every opportunity, giving both Kane and Lamela space to operate as the front two.

Spurs Bench against Bournemouth

As usual, the bench is led by Paulo Gazzaniga, this time accompanied by Ben Davies and Serge Aurier who are preparing for Sunday. Additionally, Moussa Sissoko gets a few minutes off along with Oliver Skipp representing the midfield. Of course, Steven Bergwijn and Gedson Fernandes to provide a spark or two late in the match. After that, things get less certain given the injuries. Dennis Cirkin was called up against Everton and may again, although center-half cover may be more important.

If not injured this match would certainly be one for Japhet Tanganga, instead, maybe Timothy Eyoma gets an opportunity to be with the bench unit. The real question is if both Cirkin and Eyoma are on the bench, along with the other seven I’ve previously mentioned, that means once again Ryan Sessegnon has been left out. I for one hope he has an opportunity soon.

Tottenham Squad Approach v Bournemouth

It may look like more of a defensive approach to some turns into a more attacking and free-flowing affair for Tottenham as they are able to find more space on the wings and less congestion in the middle of the pitch from a 3-2-3-2 line-up. I am expecting several goals and a real shot across the bow of Arsenal in advance of Sunday’s derby, kind of like the one Jose Mourinho has been sending Ryan Sessegnon.


Sanchez                         Alderweireld                           Vertonghen
                        Ndombele                               Winks
Moura                                 Lo Celso                                             Son
                        Lamela                                     Kane
Bench: Gazzaniga, Davies, Aurier, Skipp, Cirkin, Gedson, Sissoko, Eyoma, and Bergwijn