Tottenham Hotspur return to Premier League action tomorrow after advancing from the FA Cup with a third-round victory over Burnley, with a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United now on the cards.
Ange Postecoglou’s side have been impressive this season but issues have been prevalent over the past few months, largely a by-product of the squad’s thinness, laid bare by numerous injuries to key players.
Solid attempts to rectify such problems have been made over the past few weeks and the north London club have welcomed centre-back Radu Dragusin and former Chelsea forward Timo Werner to the fold.
Spurs will enjoy their winter break next weekend and will be desperate to claim their second league victory over the Red Devils this season, currently just one point behind fourth-placed Arsenal.
As such, Postecoglou could make as many as three changes to the team that defeated the Clarets.
GK – Guglielmo Vicario
Guglielmo Vicario has been a wall between the sticks this season and the initial £17m fee paid to sign him from Empoli in the summer looks more of a bargain by the match week.
He has the joint-fourth-best save percentage in the Premier League this term (73.6%), infinitesimally behind Man United’s Andre Onana (73.7%).
RB – Pedro Porro
With more tackles made than any other defender in the Premier League this season (57) and seven assists from just 19 appearances, Pedro Porro is very much the all-encompassing player down the right channel and has been hailed for his “titanic” performances by reporter Charlie Eccleshare.
He also opened his seasonal account last weekend with a stunning late strike to confirm victory against Burnley in the FA Cup and will be brimming with confidence heading to the Theatre of Dreams.
CB – Radu Dragusin
This week, Cristian Romero returned to first-team training after a hamstring injury but Postecoglou admitted that the forthcoming fixture “might be a bit quick” for the 2022 World Cup winner.
Not to worry, Dragusin, aged 21, has been added to the ranks this week and is already in line for a maiden starting berth, with his aggressive and controlling approach to his craft providing the perfect alternative to Romero’s style.
CB – Micky van de Ven
Last week, Micky van de Ven sat on the bench and watched his side prevail in the FA Cup, and though he did not feature his return must be galvanising for his teammates.
The Dutchman has been a revelation in England since arriving in the summer and his return will be vital in stifling the hosts’ offensive efforts tomorrow, regarded as one of the fastest and most athletic centre-halves in the business – hailed for his “extreme speed” by Wolsburg’s managing director, Marcel Schafer.
LB – Destiny Udogie
Porro and Destiny Udogie are as good a full-back partnership as any on English shores and the young Italian dynamo has already been touted to become a “£100m player” in the future by journalist James Maw.
As per FBref, the 21-year-old ranks among the top 16% of positional peers across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for pass completion, the top 9% for progressive carries and the top 10% for successful take-ons per 90, showcasing his elite athleticism and penetrative presence down the left lane.
CM – Oliver Skipp
Oliver Skipp started two matches in succession in the English top-flight before Christmas and came off the bench in the first half during the 3-1 win over Bournemouth last time out, proving to be something of an unsung hero.
He’s industrious and will be crucial in instilling composure as the Lilywhites look to assert control in the centre of the park at Old Trafford tomorrow.
CM – Rodrigo Bentancur
Rodrigo Bentancur, aged 26, did not enjoy a good 2023 and will be all too pleased to have put his injury problems behind him now, having started the past two matches and captained his side last time out.
Rodrigo Bentancur: Key Characteristics
*Sourced via WhoScored
Dubbed “technically immense” by broadcaster Adam Smith, the 56-cap Uruguay international has so many different facets to his midfield game and will be vital in the process going forward if he can maintain his fitness levels.
RW – Brennan Johnson
Brennan Johnson has displayed his talent in London this season but has still not quite reached his apex across his 17 Premier League contests, scoring once and providing four assists.
AM – Dejan Kulusevski
Mr. Reliable this season, Dejan Kulusevski has been the creative engine under Postecoglou’s guidance and has been so influential with his energy, playmaking and directness.
As per Sofascore, the Swede has scored five goals and supplied two assists across 19 league games, completing 84% of his passes, averaging 2.3 key passes, 1.7 tackles and 4.4 ball recoveries per game.
LW – Timo Werner
Signed on a six-month loan deal with an option to buy for around £15m in the summer, Werner is back in the Premier League and could prove to be a shrewd signing for Spurs, having been called a “special” player by former Blues manager Frank Lampard in the past.
Fast and versatile, the Germany international only scored ten goals from 56 matches in the division for Chelsea but is a pocket rocket on his day and will start against the Red Devils.
CF – Richarlison
Richarlison’s attacking qualities were neutered somewhat against the resilient Clarets at the start of the month but this does not take away from the fact that the Brazilian is enjoying a laudable resurgence, with five goals from the past six matches in the Premier League.
He yields only one goal from 11 outings against United and will be headset on continuing his newfound form with a talismanic display tomorrow, especially given Heung-min Son is now on international duty with South Korea at the Asia Cup.
Tottenham predicted XI in full: (GK) Guglielmo Vicario; (RB) Pedro Porro, (CB) Radu Dragusin, (CB) Micky van de Ven, (LB) Destiny Udogie; (CM) Rodrigo Bentancur, (CM) Oliver Skipp; (RW) Brennan Johnson, (AM) Dejan Kulusevski, (LW) Timo Werner; (CF) Richarlison.