Following on from the experimentation forced upon Mauricio Pochettino during the new Spurs coach’s first few months in the White Hart Lane hot seat, the Argentine finally got back to sticking square pegs into round holes over the past couple of fixtures, with marked success.
Out went well-liked young centre-half Eric Dier, who had been playing at right-back, for the Capital One Cup clash with Nottingham Forest and north London derby at Arsenal, with much-maligned defenseman Kyle Naughton taking up a familiar post.
Mousa Dembele was also removed from a deep-midfield position he clearly hasn’t been enjoying, with the Belgium international dropped from the squad for both the aforementioned fixtures in favour of Ryan Mason.
The previously unloved local boy proved the catalyst at 1-0 down for a 3-1 win against Forest, having levelled the match within eight minutes of leaving the substitutes bench courtesy of a 25-yard thunderbolt.
Maybe the most important change Pochettino made was bringing Jan Vertonghen back into the centre of defence alongside questionable captaincy choice Younes Kaboul.
Between Kaboul and the hapless Vlad Chiriches, the Lilywhites were very, very lucky to only lose 1-0 at home to West Brom.
Jettisoning the Romania international after that result was essential, in spite of Pochettino’s apparently strained relationship with Vertonghen, who is yet to sign a new contract at Tottenham.
Two Vertonghen outings at centre-half in a row suggests manager and player have come to an accommodation, although with the gaffer’s Argentine brethren Federico Fazio on the bench it may only prove temporary.
Pochettino accepted a tough gig over the summer, with a job-lot of players lumped in and little money released to help the 42-year-old mould a side in his preferred form.
We’re yet to see much Southampton 2013/14-style pressing from Spurs, but now the apple has dropped on the former Saints gaffer with regard to his backline, a first Europa League home win to nil since last September looks a decent bet against Slaven Bilic’s Turkish challengers at 31/20.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £100 in free bets.