Home » UEFA Champions League » Alli's slump, potential Jan swoop: Problems plaguing Spurs & Poch during the international break

After a start to the 2019/20 campaign that has been a far cry from the form that took them to the 2019 Champions League final, Tottenham Hotspur are in concerning domestic and European form. A mid-week 7-2 drubbing at the hands of Bayern Munich was followed by an embarrassing 3-0 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex, and if the alarms bells were not already ringing in north London, they will now be firmly blaring as the Lilywhites’ season begins to risk entering the realms of disarray. Winless in two Champions League group games and sitting ninth in the Premier League table, October’s international break will give Mauricio Pochettino an opportunity to launch a plan to get Spurs’ season back on track. We take a look at five things the Argentinian will be looking to address ahead of the return to top-flight action in two weeks time.

Spurs had rightfully gained plaudits for the attractive, attacking football they have played since Pochettino arrived at the club in 2014, but the identity the north Londoner’s have developed is seemingly fast-fading in the 2019/20 campaign. The club’s attacking talisman in Harry Kane has enjoyed relatively strong goalscoring form with five league goals to his name, but the typical supporting cast of Heung-min Son and Christian Eriksen have been unable to contribute with the typical vigour that is usually present in Spurs’ attacking endeavours. Defensively, Spurs are also facing issues with club captain Hugo Lloris suffering a dislocated elbow in this weekend’s defeat to Brighton, and Pochettino will be focused on ensuring that his side can banish this concerning early-season form when they return to Premier League action against Watford on October 19th.

After a summer transfer window that saw reports emerge of a potential exit Spurs exit, Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen has been struggling to find any semblance of form in the 2019/20 campaign. The playmaker has scored just one goal in Tottenham’s eight league games so far, whilst also registering a sole assist in the club’s victory over Southampton. Given the club’s well-documented rigid wage structure, led by the notoriously shrewd Daniel Levy, retaining star players such as Eriksen is likely to remain a challenge until the club alter the financial confines in which they operate. With strong links to Real Madrid in the summer, it would appear Eriksen is currently unable to deliver the performances that have seen his become an integral part of Pochettino’s project at Spurs, and his manager will likely be considering how best, if at all, to deploy him in a bid to get his side’s season back on track for the remainder of 2019/20.

After joining the club from Paris Saint Germain in 2017, Serge Aurier arrived in north London with a reputation for lacking discipline. The Ivorian had been suspended by the Parisian side for comments made on social media regarding coach Laurent Blanc whilst also using profanities to describe a Champions League referee in a game against Chelsea in 2015. Although Aurier has managed to stay out of the headlines during his time with Spurs, a first-half red-card against Southampton at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium highlighted how the 26-year-old is still capable of letting his guard down and leaving his team in a vulnerable position. Whilst Spurs were able to hang on and secure victory over the Saints, Aurier’s untimely lapse of concentration made life extremely difficult for his teammates in a crucial league fixture. Given the competition for places in defence for the club, despite Aurier dismissing such a notion, Pochettino may be considering whether Aurier is the correct long-term option on the right flank of Spurs’ backline, with the likes of Kyle Walker-Peters representing a safer albeit less experienced option. With October’s international break underway, the viability of Aurier is likely to be high on Pochettino’s list of priorities in developing a solution to get Tottenham’s season back on track.

Alli failing to find the faith of Pochettino After bursting onto the scene having arrived from MK Dons in 2015, Dele Alli set the Premier League alight with a series of dazzling performances that saw the midfielder earn a call-up to the England seniors whilst also winning the PFA Young Premier Player of the Year award in the 2015/16 campaign. Alli, 23, made it into Gareth Southgate’s squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but an injury to the Spurs playmaker had prevented him from playing a key role in Tottenham’s 2019/20 campaign so far. Alli has now returned from injury, but Pochettino had opted to keep him on the bench and the 23-year-old has played just 30 minutes in the Premier League in 2019/20 – against north London rivals Arsenal. The playmaker is not on international duty with Southgate’s Three Lions, but Pochettino may be using the break to consider if Alli is the man to turnaround Tottenham’s season when they face off against Watford in two weeks time.

Although Tottenham’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of Brighton this weekend was disappointing for Pochettino and his squad, the injury to captain Hugo Lloris could mark the end of the Frenchman’s season. After falling awkwardly, Lloris was stretchered off the pitch at the Amex and Pochettino confirmed in his post-match comments that the injury is looking extremely serious for the 32-year-old. Whilst Spurs’ second-choice keeper Paulo Gazzaniga is certainly capable enough of deputising for Lloris, Pochettino may be forced to consider entering the January transfer market for a keeper that can either play second little to Gazzaniga or to challenge him for the starting spot between the sticks. Owing to the two weeks without football over the next fortnight, this could be the perfect opportunity for Pochettino to determine how to address the goalkeeping situation following Lloris’ potential long-term absence.