Pochettino’s centre-half tinkering spells Spurs strife ahead

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In a weekend of shocking Premier League performances, few were quite as bad as Spurs centre-half Vlad Chiriches’ in the Lilywhites’ dreadful 1-0 loss at home to West Brom.

With Jan Vertonghen on the bench, and new signing Federico Fazio out of the squad after debuting in the north Londoners’ 0-0 Europa League draw against Partizan Belgrade, Chiriches and new captain Younes Kaboul endured a difficult afternoon against the Baggies.

The Romanian made a series of wrong passes, gave the ball away at the most inopportune times, and generally helped to unsettle a Tottenham defence that shook to the core throughout the fixture.

New coach Mauricio Pochettino will be given plenty of grace by the fans, although the players will not, and in Vertonghen, Fazio, Kyle Walker and Ben Davies, Spurs have an entire defence to come in.

However, despite the current flux at the top end of the Premier League, the north Londoners do not seem a reliable bet to even finish sixth or better in the division this term.

Arsenal’s 3-0 victory at Aston Villa, alongside their 2-2 draw at home to Manchester City last time out, suddenly looks a key result in the context of the Gunners’ realistic top-four rivals imploding over the weekend.

Manchester United’s laughable 5-3 loss at Leicester, after Louis van Gaal’s fantasy football side were 2-0 and 3-1 up, suggests the Dutchman’s Old Trafford project is not yet taking hold, and Liverpool’s third top-flight loss in four matches away to West Ham ranks as borderline relegation form.

The market agrees, with Arsene Wenger’s men longish odds-on shots at 1/4 to make the top four, with United only appealing at 7/10 due to a sense that Liverpool and Spurs are in even more serious stages of transition.

The Merseyside Reds are currently 17/20 to retain their Champions League status through the Premier League for a second successive term, with Pochettino’s side at 4/1 for a top-four finish and Everton next best at 10/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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