COMMENT By Editor Wayne Veysey
Ask Tottenham fans who has been consistently the team’s best player this season and the consensus is Danny Rose.
Victor Wanyama has his supporters, while Dele Alli’s stupendous form over the last six weeks demands attention.
But over the entirety of the campaign, few of the Spurs faithful would disagree that Rose has been the outstanding player for the side best placed to halt the Chelsea title juggernaut.
No Spurs player, not even Harry Kane, has made such improvements as Rose under the coaching guidance of Mauricio Pochettino and his staff.
A player once written off as unreliable and unsuited to the top level has emerged as the epitome of consistency in an emerging team who are thrilling when they are good and fiendishly difficult to beat when below-par.
There have been fewer more exciting sights in the Premier League this season that Rose on the overlap, creating chances and ripping his opposing full-back to shreds. Particularly at White Hart Lane, where he has even more licence to create havoc.
The stats are decent enough. Three assists and two goals in the Premier League from 18 matches is a decent return for a man whose job is primarily to defend.
But such is Rose’s influence that he is even placing his fellow full-back and 26-year-old Kyle Walker in the shade.
A report by the Independent on Thursday that England international Rose will be sidelined for the rest of February with a knee injury would rule him out of Spurs’ next five matches.
That would potentially include just two league encounters – against Liverpool and Stoke – as a Europa League double-header and an FA Cup tie against Fulham are sandwiched into a busy fixture list.
But as Toby Alderweireld demonstrated earlier this season with an absence that was far longer than initially feared, knee injuries can often be extremely complicated.
Moreover, it will be a concern to Spurs that Rose had already suffered a knee problem in the draw at Manchester City before breaking down again at Sunderland 10 days later.
Ben Davies, who stepped in for Rose in Tottenham’s win over Middlesbrough last Saturday, is likely to continue at left-back against Liverpool.
Davies is a fine player and a solid pro but he does not have Rose’s ability to bomb forward down the left and make incisive contribitions on the overlap.
The England man is tailor-made for the 3-5-2 formation that paid dividends before the injury to Jan Vertonghen, but it is unlikely Pochettino will unfurl it while Rose and his Belgian teammate are sidelined.
This will make them easier opponents, particularly at White Hart Lane where Rose has had such success this season.
The loss of Rose for an extended spell is a potential killer blow to Spurs’ title hopes.
With a nine-point gap to narrow on runaway leaders Chelsea, Pochettino needs all his main men fit and firing.
Few would dispute that Rose falls into that category.
In other Tottenham news, Daniel Levy has lined up the next Spurs arrival as the deal is all but done.