Kieran Trippier has given Mauricio Pochettino a defensive headache ahead of this weekend’s pivotal trip to Manchester City.
Under normal circumstances, Kyle Walker – who is at least ostensibly Spurs’ first-choice right-back – would return to the side, but Trippier’s performance against Watford has made that decision a little more difficult.
Trippier was explosive in the 1-0 win over the Hornets, and was rewarded for his high energy with both the winning goal and an award for man-of-the-match.
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The fact that he has responded so well to Pochettino’s tactics suggests it is his style of play, and not just his form, that would keep him in contention even upon Walker’s return. Trippier may not have been a regular feature this season, but he nonetheless embodies everything which Pochettino is trying to instil in his side.
Even if Walker does retake his place, the Lilywhites are still in an enviable position whereby the England right-back is constantly on his toes. In fact, Pochettino is known to favour two ‘first-choice’ options in as many positions as possible, and has utilised Trippier particularly well in cup competitions.
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And yet, to start Trippier against City would be to take an enormous risk. Undoubtedly, City pose a more dangerous threat up front, where against Watford, Spurs could afford to be more ambitious going forward.
They must assume that they will not be afforded the same levels of space at the Etihad, and must absolutely not leave themselves exposed.
Thankfully for Pochettino, it is not a direct choice between solid defending and flair going forward, as Walker is equally confident making his way down the flanks.
City's attacking threat
Spurs must not be complacent nor underestimate City’s attacking threat, regardless of their 4-1 win against the Citizens at White Hart Lane earlier this season. City themselves looked fragile at the back as they went down 3-1 at home to Leicester at the weekend, and while that could tempt Spurs to press high up the pitch, it is essential they are watertight at the back.
That could mean leaving Trippier out, with Walker the stronger defender. However, that is not to say that his efforts will have gone unnoticed by Pochettino, and he will surely have earned more game time even if it comes later rather than sooner.
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