Spurs Column: Mourinho’s best XI going forward?

Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min (left) is consoled by manager Jose Mourinho (right) following the

Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min (left) is consoled by manager Jose Mourinho (right) following the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Picture date: Saturday February 13, 2021. - Credit: PA

Following Manchester City’s convincing 3-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on the weekend, it is clear to see the difference in quality between the two sides.

City asserted their dominance over Spurs, controlling possession and playing deep in Tottenham’s territory.

Coming off the back of a disappointing FA Cup exit, Jose Mourinho would not have been looking forward to face one of his greatest rivals in Pep Guardiola.

The City team recorded 15 straight victories in all competitions prior to inviting Spurs, including an impressive 4-1 victory away to Liverpool the week before.

Mourinho was without his first-choice fullbacks, Serge Aurier and Sergio Reguilon, due to injury.


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Since his transfer from Real Madrid, Reguilon has impressed massively and has already made his mark on the Tottenham faithful.

Similarly, Aurier is enjoying a relatively impressive season and has looked much improved in comparison to previous years.

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A problem for Mourinho throughout this campaign lies at the heart of his defence.

Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min (bottom) appears injured as their team-mates react during the Prem

Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min (bottom) appears injured as their team-mates react during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. Picture date: Saturday February 13, 2021. - Credit: PA

He has used the likes of Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, Davinson Sanchez and Joe Rodon in different combinations. Still, it remains the clubs Achilles heel, which is uncharacteristic of typical Mourinho sides. 

His brief attempt at playing three at-the-back proved largely unsuccessful, with 4-2-3-1 looking the favoured formation. With a fully fit squad, it bodes the question what Mourinho’s best XI is and if he really knows it himself.

Priorities in the Summer transfer market will surely be signing centra;-defenders, that fit the profile of Mourinho’s methods.

The midfield is perhaps the key to the style of play Mourinho has implemented, with the need to be able to defend resolutely but also execute key passes on the counter-attack and create chances.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has perhaps been the signing of the summer for Spurs, fitting perfectly fit into the side. His performances pick his spot in the line-up themselves and the question lies over who should play alongside him.

We have seen Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks and Tanguy Ndombele occupy this role over the course of the season.

Sissoko was preffered during the early stages of the season but has seen his game time limited due to the performances of others.

Ndombele looks more suited to the number 10 role due to his creative talent, however, we have seen Erik Lamela and Dele Alli play there. With links to a move for Marcel Sabitzer, it may mean Ndombele operates in the deeper role permenantly.

Academy talent Oliver Skipp – on loan at Norwich – has been very impressive this campaign and could feature for Mourinho next season. This would give more options in the middle of the park.

Going forward the partnership of Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son is crucial, they score a majority of their team’s goals. The issue lies over who should start on the right. 

Steven Bergwijn has been the preferred option this campaign, yet he lacks the clinical edge needed in front of goal.

Lamela and Lucas Moura have also featured, yet with their age and the time they have spent at the club, they have failed to make their mark.

Extending Gareth Bale’s loan is also an option for Mourinho, his return however has been largely disappointing, with the Welshman a shadow of his former self. 

For the remainder of the season, Mourinho will be desperate to solve his problems and name a regular XI to gain some consistency. It remains to be seen how many transfers will be needed to get Tottenham up to the quality of their rivals and if that is a realistic ambition in the upcoming window.

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