MAURICIO POCHETTINO has a reputation for unearthing diamonds — now he needs to ditch one.
The Tottenham boss crowbarred Tanguy Ndombele, Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko into a diamond formation in his midfield, with Erik Lamela at the attacking point and it did not work.
- Tottenham 3: Nodmbele (73), Kane (86, 90)
- Aston Villa 1: McGinn (9)
It left Spurs too narrow and too slow breaking out of defence.
And when Villa understandably put men behind the ball after taking a shock ninth minute lead through John McGinn, the system hamstrung the North Londoners’ attempts to break them down.
Fortunately for the hosts, Pochettino altered his formation during the break, redeploying Lamela and Sissoko to the flanks where they were able to stretch their newly-promoted opponents.
For Tottenham’s sake, that should be the last they see of the diamond midfield – certainly in home matches where they need to be more expansive.
That means Poch is going to have to be brave and axe one of Winks, Sissoko or Ndombele.
It is no coincidence Tottenham’s goals and victory came after Winks was taken off – even though he was arguably the best performer of the three.
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The introduction of Christian Eriksen gave Tottenham further licence to attack and the goals from Ndombele and Kane were as much inevitable as they were a relief.
The win was tougher than it should have been, thanks to Pochettino’s scuffed diamond.
But Tottenham got there in the end and their season is up and running.