Two of Tottenham's top attacking threats are out for another six weeks, while a third is away on international duty, leaving the options thin for Mauricio Pochettino.

By Avi Creditor
January 22, 2019

Tottenham's attacking depth was already stretched, but now it will face its toughest test.

Dele Alli was ruled out until early March with a hamstring strain, which he suffered in Sunday's win over Fulham. He joins Harry Kane on the Spurs shelf with a similar timetable, with the prolific Kane suffering an ankle injury. Between them, that's 19 of the club's 48 goals this season in the Premier League, and factoring in the eight from Son Heung-min, who is still away on international duty in the Asian Cup with South Korea potentially through the beginning of February, more than half of Tottenham's goal tally is currently unavailable for selection.

That leaves manager Mauricio Pochettino in a bind and with a thinned-out attack. Barring a sudden change of heart in the transfer market, Lucas Moura, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Fernando Llorente will be counted on to supply the goals, all while keeping Tottenham in the top-four conversation long enough for the recovered reinforcements to arrive.

It was Alli's goal that helped Tottenham out of an early deficit at Craven Cottage, and a rare strike at the death from Harry Winks that secured the three points. Relying on Winks, who now has two career goals, to score game-winners isn't a sustainable model, and the tight games figure to follow with Spurs shorthanded. It's of some consolation that the upcoming fixture list isn't the most difficult. There's Thursday's League Cup semifinal second leg vs. Chelsea, which just got a bit more challenging, and Sunday's FA Cup matchup vs. Crystal Palace, but in the league, Tottenham has a run of three straight home games against Watford, Newcastle and Leicester before embarking on the Champions League last-16 test vs. Borussia Dortmund.

Consecutive road matches in the league against Burnley and Chelsea follow before March hits. Just how quickly Alli and Kane are able to return to game-fitness will be pivotal in what could be the two turning-point matches of the season: home vs. Arsenal in the league on March 2 and away to Dortmund in the second leg of their Champions League tie on March 5. After that point, Tottenham, which is currently seven points clear of fifth place, could either find itself clawing to stay in the top four and out of the Champions League entirely. It's almost certainly done in the title race, trailing Liverpool by nine points and without arguably its top two attacking talents for the next six weeks and Son for at least one more. But if Pochettino can steer the ship and keep the club afloat with the limited options at his disposal, he'll prove to be an even better manager than already thought.

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