Pochettino must axe this Tottenham trio against Chelsea
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Mauricio Pochettino has showed his ruthless side on a number of occasions this season.
Mousa Sissoko, Son Heung-Min, Eric Dier and even feted trio Mousa Dembele, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen have all all fallen victim to the Argentine’s axe when their standards have slipped.
Pochettino must showed the cold and calculating side of his nature on Wednesday for Tottenham’s biggest league match of the season to date.
The stakes are high. A win against Antonio Conte’s all-conquering team would mean so much more than three points over a bitter rival. It would throw the title race wide open and immediately elevate Spurs as possible title contenders. Defeat would leave Tottenham battling for a top-four finish.
Pochettino must play his strongest side against Chelsea, and that means omitting three players who delivered accomplished displays in Sunday’s 4-1 demolition of Watford.
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Dier, Kieran Trippier Kevin Wimmer and Dier should be axed from the starting XI, to make way for key first-teamers Dembele, Jan Vertonghen and Kyle Walker.
Vertonghen and Walker were suspended against Watford and, on the face of it, were barely missed as Wimmer and Trippier stepped seamlessly into their shoes.
Indeed, the former Burnley right-back did a very good impression of Walker with a barnstorming display that included assists for two of the goals.
But Walker’s place as the club’s premier right-back is secure and he must be recalled, with the same applying to Vertonghen in the left-sided centre-back role.
Pochettino used three centre-backs with great success at Vicarage Road, with Dier lining up alongside Toby Alderweireld and Wimmer, and the manager will be tempted to fight fire with fire by copying Conte’s three-man defensive line on Wednesday.
The Argentine should avoid that, and omit Dier to make way for the Dembele, who the manager labelled as a “genius” earlier this season.
It has been a stop-start campaign for the Belgian, whose body appears to be struggling to deal with the strains and niggles of week in, week out top-level football.
Nevertheless, his poise, power and strength in possession make him a fearsome opponent in the middle of the park.
Dier is a fine player but it is Dembele who is the perfect partner in the central acres for the equally imposing anchorman Victor Wanyama.
Pochettino must pick his strongest XI to secure what would be a huge win, and needs Dembele, Vertonghen and Walker in his team.
In other Tottenham news, the club have agreed the terms of a 21-year-old move in January.