Although Spurs have won consecutive matches against tough rivals, a little rotation is more than an option; it is likely necessary for Tottenham when you consider some reasons.
The luxury of a week off is over for a while for Tottenham
Over the last fortnight, Tottenham has enjoyed the freedom of just one game per week, giving the coaches time to prepare and players time to recover. However, the game against Chelsea kicked off a little run, where Spurs are playing two games per week for the next two weeks.
After Wednesday’s game against the Blades, Spurs turn around and go north again to travel to Wolverhampton on Saturday. That is followed by the second leg of Tottenham’s round of 16 Champions League match-up with AC Milan a week on from Sheffield before hosting Nottingham Forest the following Saturday.
The point is there are a lot of games that will be coming in the next couple of weeks, and rotating the squad to keep players fresh is a good idea as a result.
Spurs are going to need more than 11 confident players
Although the confidence built in players like Emerson Royal and Skipp right now is good for the club’s short- and long-term health, Spurs need more than 11 players participating at a high level. Someone like Royal is playing at a high level because he has received ample opportunity to grow and learn. And while Spurs are reaching the business end of the season, several players need similar opportunities to grow and learn.
The new signings, Pedro Porro and Arnaut Danjuma, need minutes to bed with the team in real-game situations. For Porro, he came in to rescue the right wing-back role, and suddenly Royal is just great. With Danjuma, he has made three appearances playing less than 40 minutes but has a goal in those limited minutes. Both players need to play and grow their confidence, as they will have a part to play this season.
The same is true for Pape Matar Sarr, who was arguably the best player on the pitch for Tottenham at the San Siro and has hardly sniffed the field since. Even superstar Heung-min Son could use a good run out after playing less than 30 minutes in the last two weeks. If Tottenham is going to win a cup and finish in the top four, they need more than 11 players contributing at a high level.
Top teams rotate, and Tottenham is a top team
Some in the media give coaches like Pep Guardiola a lot of flack because he rarely uses the same line-up from game to game. The need for inner squad competition and adjusting tactics to fit the specific approach to any match necessitates the exact kind of tinkering and player rotation that Guardiola is then given grief for if the changes don’t work.
Given nothing else besides an outcome and a rotated side, the same is true at Tottenham for Antonio Conte, his predecessors, and likely his fill-in Stellini. If Spurs play well with a rotated squad, it was the right call, and if they don’t, it was the wrong move.
The reality is that given the workload and demands on the players and the number of competitions top teams are in, the best teams in the world are deep enough to rotate. Some may argue whether Tottenham is truly deep enough to rotate. In some positions, the starter will likely remain regardless – Hojbjerg and Fraser Forster immediately come to mind. However, to get to the level we all want to see Tottenham at, the team has to be able to rotate and still get results.
Ultimately, the only thing that matters is the result from game to game. However, looking ahead and being smart about how you get that result and use the squad is next in rank of importance. We will see just how well Spurs did on that rotation on Wednesday when we get the result.