After Wednesday night’s 2-0 win over Brighton secured a place in the Capital One Cup quarter finals, Tottenham’s attention now returns to the Premier League, with a trip to struggling Aston Villa next up for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Spurs’ recent poor league form has led to questions being asked about the Argentine’s tactics and team selection, as well as ENIC’s transfer policy. And, with Villa being on a miserable run of their own, Tottenham are under pressure to deliver three much needed points to lighten the mood around White Hart Lane.
Throughout the season so far, Pochettino has evidently favoured using a completely rotated line-up for Cup matches, with as many as ten or eleven changes from the weekend’s league fixture quickly becoming the norm.
The cup games have almost served as a first team audition to fringe players such as Roberto Soldado, Harry Kane and Andros Townsend, as well as new signings Ben Davies and Benjamin Stambouli; with these players boasting just one Premier League start between them all season.
But, have any of them done enough to prove that they can make an impact on the first team? The answer is most definitely, yes.
- Tottenham vs Brighton: Player ratings
- Maurico Pochettino must improve Tottenham quickly
- Mauricio Pochettino claims pitch is to blame for poor Spurs form
For a start, Harry Kane has an impressive eight goals in six starts this season, in all competitions averaging a goal or an assist every 69.7 minutes, making him by far Tottenham’s most productive attacking player.
Whilst you might argue that some of the opposition he has faced haven’t been of great quality, you can only beat what’s in front of you, and in these games Kane has showed that he certainly deserves a chance to start in Spurs’ faltering Premier League side.
Roberto Soldado has cut a frustrated figure for much of his time in a Tottenham shirt. He has possibly been unlucky with moments in matches as well as various managers’ selection policies; however he has yet to deliver any of the £26 million worth of goal scoring ability that he was signed for.
Brought in to start at the Etihad Stadium when Emmanuel Adebayor was late back from Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, the Spaniard performed well, linking up nicely with the other attacking players and making a nuisance of himself-eventually winning a second half penalty.
However, Joe Hart’s save from Soldado’s subsequent spot kick - as well as from a chance shortly afterwards - served to sum up the Tottenham No.9's time at the club so far.
So is he a busted flush?
Not quite yet, with Emmanuel Adebayor hardly pulling up any trees and Nacer Chadli’s form having dipped after a positive start, a run in the team could finally beckon a return to prominence of the once feared Spanish International.
A prolonged return to the side would surely however, be his last chance to cut it in England though, but he does have the talent.
Ever since the 1-1 draw at the Emirates towards the back end of September, Étienne Capoue and Ryan Mason have been a constant presence in Tottenham’s Premier League midfield, but with Capoue’s performances having lacked dynamism in recent weeks, Benjamin Stambouli could provide a good partner for Spurs academy graduate Mason.
Against Brighton, Stambouli once again looked composed on the ball with both feet, played sensible passes and was strong in the tackle. A rest may benefit Capoue who was excellent throughout August and September and Stambouli could grasp his opportunity to add extra energy and class in the holding midfield role.
As for the likes of Andros Townsend, Aaron Lennon and Paulinho, despite the odd glimpse of undoubted talent, not one of them has showed enough yet to prove that they deserve a return to the Premier League side.
With the unexpected but welcome dramatic upturn in the form of full-back Danny Rose this season, it looks like Ben Davies will have to keep waiting for his chance to show what he can do in the league as well.
However, in this day and age with injuries, suspensions and fatigue that come from competing in so many competitions, it is important to have a big squad, and it is almost certain that these players will get a chance at some point. Whether or not they will be able to grasp it though is another matter.