Tottenham: Pochettino praises new-look defence; three midfielders linked; full-back targeted
It’s all smiles for Tottenham Hotspur fans and for manager Mauricio Pochettino after their convincing 3-0 win over Hull at White Hart Lane on Wednesday night, which kept them just three points adrift of a top four spot. Much threat came from the full-backs, with Kyle Walker and Danny Rose given free reign to push up the wings and support the attack, and Poch’ believes that these are the benefits of a new 3-4-3 system he is attempting to implement at Spurs.
Despite rarely straying from 4-2-3-1 last season, the Argentine, Speaking at a post-match press conference, said he believes the three-man defensive system is ‘working well’, having opted for a defensive set-up consisting of Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen. All excelled as the hosts set about dismantling Mike Phelan’s side.
Two of Tottenham’s goals came from the creativity of the wing-backs, who could operate almost as conventional wingers thanks to the cover the back-three provided, and Pochettino believes the new system is progressing well.
“This season we are working hard to develop different systems to try to improve the team with different solutions,” Pochettino said
“Today we thought it was the better way. I think it’s working well – the first two goals came from two good actions from our full backs, using them as wing backs.
“It [Hull] was a team that played very deep. It was important to try to move the ball quickly and try to penetrate.
“OK, after 3-0 it looks like a very good choice – but it’s important to be clinical,” he added.
With a hectic period of festive fixtures, Pochettino also highlighted the importance that his team continue to make ground on the top four:
“The three points keep up is a very good position. We need to keep our faith and reduce the gap – if not then keep the same position”.
Elsewhere, as well as creating solutions on the training ground, the Spurs boss has been hard at work with the club’s hierarchy on identifying January transfer targets, and three of these, to have been revealed in the media on Thursday morning, seem particularly ambitious.
The first of these is Everton midfielder Ross Barkley, who according to The Telegraph is being closely monitored by the North London club, with 18 months left to run on his current deal at Goodison Park.
It is unlikely that the Toffees would entertain bids for the 23-year-old playmaker as early as January, but Spurs are thought to be ready to make their move for the Everton academy graduate in the summer, providing he doesn’t agree fresh terms on Merseyside before the end of the season.
Current Toffees manager Ronald Koeman has also been a known critic of Barkley at times this season, and the England international has found himself in and out of the side at Goodison in an attempt to stake his claim in the first-team. His most recent outing, in Everton’s 2-1 win over Spurs’ bitter rivals Arsenal, yielded an impressive performance.
Barkley has lost his place in the England side since the European Championships, but Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino is confident he could get the best out of him, having already worked wonders with a host of young English players at Southampton and Tottenham, a prospect that could be attractive to Barkley as he weighs up his options.
Despite the fact he will only have 12 months remaining on his current contract at Everton in the summer, the Toffees are still likely to slap a £25million price tag on the midfielder, which would fall inside the budget of a club of Spurs’ stature.
Having both Barkley and Dele Alli in the same side would be a managerial headache for Pochettino, but the Argentine has shown before that he is a fan of competition in his squad.
With Pochettino seeking more creative options within his squad, the club has also been linked with a £25million move for Crystal Palace winger Wilfred Zaha, according to the Daily Express.
Zaha was a known target for Spurs over the summer, but they saw an offer of £21million rebuffed for the 24-year-old, but are now thought to be ready to re-enter the market with an improved offer.
But after offloading winger Yannick Bolasie in the summer, Palace are thought to be firm in their resolve to retain his services.
Zaha has made 17 appearances this season, scoring just three goals, but quoting an article from online outlet Squawka, the report claims that Zaha is ready to move to pastures new and could leave Selhurst Park as early as January.
And Spurs are touted as a likely destination with Pochettino keen to bolster his attack with another winger and have a more ready-made wide-man at Premier League level on the books than summer signing Georges Kevin Nkoudou, who is yet to make a lasting impact in North London.
Zaha is not the only wide-man the club are thought to be targeting however, and according to the Liverpool Echo, they could be back in the market to haunt Everton once more as Pochettino and his men are thought to be ready to rival the Toffees in a bidding war for Manchester United outcast Memphis Depay.
Everton had looked like being firm favourites to sign the Dutch international in January, but it is understood that Spurs have now entered the race as Pochettino eyes up more options out wide. 22-year-old Depay is also being monitored by Serie A giants Roma, Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg and surprise Ligue 1 leaders OGC Nice.
Elsewhere, amidst all the talk of potential arrivals at White Hart Lane, one player could be heading the other way, with The Telegraph reporting that Spurs’ Wales international left-back Ben Davies, is a transfer target for Crystal Palace.
Davies is currently understudy to Danny Rose at Tottenham and has only just returned to fitness from an ankle injury suffered in the Champions League against Bayer Leverkusen. Palace boss Alan Pardew is thought to be an admirer of the Welshman as he seeks to add to his defensive options at Selhurst Park, but with a Europa League campaign on the horizon, it is unlikely Pochettino and Spurs will be swayed into a sale unless they can bring in another full-back to compete with Rose and provide cover.
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