By 90Min
September 23, 2019

Looking increasingly fragile with each passing week, things don't seem right at Tottenham. Their stuttering start to the season continued at the weekend with a 2-1 defeat at Leicester, and while they may say the VAR was to blame, they didn't cover themselves in glory.

It was far too easy for the Foxes to carve Spurs open, particularly in the second half, and their weaknesses at the back weren't helped by a lack of a solid holding midfielder. When one was introduced in the form of Victor Wanyama, Tottenham looked worse, with the Kenyan being at fault for both goals conceded.


Mauricio Pochettino may not know what his best midfield even is at the moment as injuries and fitness worries continue to plague a squad which started a Champions League final playing 'Winkoko', but let's look at how they may line up in the future.


4-2-3-1 (Ndombele - Lo Celso - Eriksen - Alli - Son)

Pros


This is the attacking pipe-dream for Tottenham fans. A 4-2-3-1 in this ilk could accommodate all of their best midfielders, with new record signings Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso holding the fort from deep and potentially being their most creative duo in years. 

It also allows Pochettino's preferred trio behind the striker to continue playing together, with all capable of reaching double figures of goals and assists - and that's without even getting to Harry Kane up top.

Man for man, there are very few midfields in world football who could match up Spurs like this, and it could help to bridge the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City.

Cons


While brilliant going forwards, this version of the 4-2-3-1 includes no sitting or even deep-lying players - Ndombele is a box-to-box midfielder, while Lo Celso is more of a playmaker in the final third.

There's no guarantee this midfield will have the chance to play together either; Lo Celso's injury seems a serious one, Dele Alli has struggled with fitness for the last season, and Christian Eriksen could well be out of the door in January. It'd be fun to see this midfield, if only once.


4-4-2 Diamond (Winks, Ndombele, Lo Celso, Eriksen)

Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Pros

Pochettino has preferred to play a diamond since the start of last season in order to take the physical and goalscoring weight off of Kane, with Son Heung-min taking more onus up front.

If he is to persist with the diamond, then it needs to be cohesive and work better without the ball. Iterations of it this season have often included Moussa Sissoko, whose energy makes him a reliable squad option, but to progress, the likes of Ndombele and Lo Celso need to be playing.

Harry Winks has also proved his worth to Spurs, but if they need to shut up shop or be a bit more streetwise, Eric Dier could come in instead, though injuries have proven a huge problem for him in recent years.

Cons


Spurs just look so susceptible to conceding when playing with a diamond regardless of personnel. Pochettino seems to use it out of necessity because of the players at his disposal, but it doesn't appear to be a viable formation moving forward.

Who knows? Maybe Ndombele and Lo Celso can provide enough defensive cover while being proficient in attack. Can't imagine Alli will be happy with missing the cut, though.


4-3-3 (Dier, Winks, Ndombele)

Milos Bicanski/GettyImages

Pros


An option braced for the potential departure of Eriksen with Lo Celso playing off the right, this would probably be Spurs' safest midfield. 

It has defensive cover, ball retention, a decent level of creativity, and work rate without over-committing.

Against smaller sides, Winks could also play as the No. 6 with Sissoko or even youth prospect Oliver Skipp coming in.

Cons


Pochettino has never used a 4-3-3 at Tottenham, so it could take some time for the team to adjust to the system.

Playing three midfielders who are used to only playing so deep in midfield could also blunt Spurs' attack, putting more pressure on the forwards to generate goals.


4-4-2 (Lo Celso, Winks, Ndombele, Eriksen)

Julian Finney/GettyImages

Pros


Tottenham's 2-2 draw with Arsenal will be most remembered for the Gunners' fightback, but Spurs soared into an early two-goal lead by countering with a bog-standard 4-4-2 - just as Mike Bassett would want.

It proved effective in the first half, shielding the defence relatively well and picking Arsenal apart on the counter because of how well the likes of Winks and Eriksen used the ball, with Lo Celso enjoying a bright cameo from the bench.

In this refined version, the former PSG man would start in place of compatriot Erik Lamela, bringing a little more creativity and goals but sacrificing some work rate -  in fairness, Lamela would run marathons for Spurs if his body would allow it. Ndombele in for Sissoko is also a momentous upgrade.

Cons

There's every chance that this formation would just fold back into a diamond when under pressure like in the North London Derby, facing the same defensive problems and getting overrun on the flanks.

It doesn't seem natural for Pochettino to revert to a primarily defensive formation in order to improve defensively. The lack of natural width in a wide 4-4-2 would surely be unsustainable and countered eventually with ease.

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