Tottenham will beat Manchester United if Pochettino axes mainstay for first time this season
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Of all the Tottenham summer signings, Victor Wanyama is the only one who can be considered anything close to a success.
While Vincent Janssen, Moussa Sissoko, Georges-Kevin N’Koudou and Pau Lopez have either fluffed their lines or been ignored, Wanyama has established himself as the first-choice midfield anchorman.
The former Southampton rock took advantage of Mousa Dembele’s early season suspension to nail down a place in the team and he has continued to exert an iron grip on his position.
Wanyama’s solidity, power and authority has provided a granite shield for a defence that has been robbed of its leader and main man Toby Alderweireld for half the campaign.
Yet it has not stopped Spurs fans pining for the Eric Dier-Dembele alliance that formed the bedrock of the team’s against-the-odds title challenge last season.
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They have a point, too. Wanyama settled in well and was outstanding in the 2-0 win over Manchester City that provided hope that last season was not just a flash in a pan.
Sadly, for Tottenham and manager Mauricio Pochettino, neither player nor team have been able to match the standards of that 2 October display.
Wanyama has gone off the boil in the last few weeks. Perhaps due to fatigue or just a dip in form that affects most players in a season, he has forced many to question his right to a regular first-team spot.
The Kenya international has started all 14 of Spurs’ league matches this season, as well as five of their six Champions League encounters.
But Pochettino should be ruthless and axe his midfield mainstay for Sunday’s showdown against Manchester United.
Instead, he should pair Dembele, the club’s best central midfielder, with Dier, who looked a different player against CSKA Moscow in midweek when he was pushed forward in the last 22 minutes to the anchorman role he made his own last season.
Assuming Toby Alderweireld has no reaction to his 22 minutes of action against the Russian side, Pochettino can restore Dier as Dembele’s partner at Old Trafford.
This will give Spurs greater control of the ball, cleaner distribution and enable to win the midfield battle against their likely direct opponents Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera.
It can provide the springboard for what would be a landmark victory.
In other Tottenham news, the club have opened defender talks ahead of the January transfer window.