After starting the campaign with a lot of positivity, Tottenham are showing signs of trouble after falling to a 1-0 home defeat against Newcastle on Sunday. Despite having 80% of the ball, Spurs did not make sufficient chances to worry Newcastle and it compounds the lack of creativity shown in the previous two league matches.
Mauricio Pochettino claimed after the game that transfer speculation – despite the window not closing for the European teams – is affecting his squad. Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, he said:
“I cannot find excuses because the transfer window is open. Of course, I am going to be happier in 10 days after Arsenal when the transfer window is closed and we know we have the players until it opens again in January.”
Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld have been linked with a move away from Spurs for quite a while. Both players have been linked with a move abroad and they have less than 12 months left on the contracts. If the situation persists, teams from Europe will be able to sign a pre-contract agreement with these players from January.
The transfer window for European teams shut down on September 2. Even though Pochettino is looking forward to this date, it is highly unlikely that the squad may benefit from the same. Spurs will not be ready to let Eriksen and Alderweireld leave considering that the replacements cannot be brought in, and this would mean more transfer rumours between now and January as long as the two players remain at the club without signing new contracts.
A major worry for Pochettino will be the lack of creativity shown by his team without Christian Eriksen in the line-up. The importance of the Danish midfielder is becoming apparent with every week. Spurs are now in a very tricky position where the club cannot afford to sell the midfielder, who does not want to stay at the club, and there is an increasing possibility of losing him on a free summer. This would represent bad business from Daniel Levy’s point of view, as Eriksen is a player who could command in excess of £70 million under normal circumstances.
On the pitch, there are problems of similar magnitude with Harry Kane struggling to make an impact without proper service. Even against Newcastle, the England striker had to come deep on several occasions in order to receive the ball and this created a vacuum up top.
The return of Dele Alli can be a vital help for Pochettino in this circumstance. However, it has to happen sooner rather than later because Spurs have a very tricky run of games coming up. Spurs go straight into a North London derby against Arsenal, who are relatively strong at home. This will be followed by games against Crystal Palace and Leicester City.
The poor start to the season should be a major worry for Pochettino, who saw his team lose against teams outside the top six only twice in the first half of the 18-19 campaign. The loss against Newcastle coupled with the struggles against Aston Villa indicates that all is not well within the camp. The situation can only improve when some players are likely to make a return from injuries sooner rather than later.