Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen have finally put Tottenham’s defensive dilemma to bed.
The club has struggled to move on since losing centre-backs Ledley King and Michael Dawson and have experimented with countless different partnerships since their departure. Ex-captain King retired in 2012 after a long battle with injury, while Dawson’s eventual decline in form saw him leave for Hull City.
It is perhaps fitting that King’s name still rings around White Hart Lane on the 26th minute of every home game, in honour of the Spurs legend’s former shirt number. In truth, it is only really now that they appear to have finally found a defence to fill the gap.
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Belgian pair bring stability
Rather than rotate in that position, Mauricio Pochettino favours the consistency and stability brought by Alderweireld and Vertonghen. The pair have conceded just 15 goals this season; at the same stage last year, Tottenham had already let in 25.
Spurs do have options at centre-back. Argentine Federico Fazio is still at the club, though he has not been a notable presence this season, falling down the pecking order after some erratic performances.
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Eric Dier can also play at centre-back, but has often been moved slightly higher up the pitch to play as a defensive midfielder.
New addition Kevin Wimmer, at 23-years-old, may well have moved to north London with the expectation of regularly making it into the first team, but the form of Alderweireld and Vertonghen has prevented him from getting much of a look in in the league.
Reunited in London
The Belgians have re-adapted to each other’s playing styles remarkably quickly. Pochettino has reunited them at Spurs, having heard good things about their partnership during their time at Ajax as products of the Dutch giants’ Academy, also playing alongside Christian Eriksen.
Alderweireld has credited Ajax coach Frank de Boer with his development as a defender. He has since gone on to feature for Atletico Madrid, Southampton, and now Spurs.
Vertonghen, meanwhile, spent time on loan at RKC Waalwijk before breaking into the Ajax team prior to his move to N17.
There was some doubt as to whether he would even play next to Alderweireld in the centre of defence, seeing as Vertonghen is also capable of playing at left-back. With Danny Rose nailing down that position, with the occasional back-up of Ben Davies, Vertonghen has been free to assist Alderweireld in building up one of Spurs' strongest partnerships of the decade.
Is there a stronger defensive partnership than these two right now? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below