Pochettino’s reliance on core quintet could cost Spurs dear

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Tottenham aren’t supposed to possess the cojones to win a trophy. Their reputation as a soft touch precedes them. Defeat to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup – a game they bossed – was the first sign that the north Londoners are regressing back to their old ways.

That’s the view of the many detractors writing Spurs off as an emerging domestic and European force, but a spongy centre isn’t the only negative factor at play.

The White Hart Lane club end the season with a difficult Premier League run in, have never made it beyond the quarter finals of the Europa League and are under the tutelage of a manager whose teams are known to fade as the season wares on.

Amid the myriad reasons why Spurs will end up without a single medal to show for their efforts, it’s the fear of burnout that seems the most likely to derail their campaign.

Son Heung-Min alluded to such a concern in the wake of the Eagles loss, claiming he and his teammates were tired.

Having played 38 games in all competitions already, fatigue is a natural side-effect by this stage of the season. But with Mauricio Pochettino asking even more of his players than most managers through his energetic, pressing style, it’s conceivable that Spurs will flag with the finish line approaching.

The Argentine relies heavily on a core group of players running through the spine of his side and rarely affords them much rest. Seven of his squad of 16 regulars have featured in 30 or more of the club’s matches thus far.

Pochettino’s tendency to overwork his starters is highlighted further by the heavy workload Hugo Lloris, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier and Harry Kane have been put through in the Premier League.

Combined, the quintet have missed a mere 555 minutes of Premier League action, which equates to about six 90-minute matches.

Those numbers are only inflated by Vertonghen’s recent knee injury too. Prior to the knock against Norwich earlier this month, the Belgian had played in every minute of Spurs’ league games.

Although Pochettino’s regime is synonymous with high fitness levels – Spurs have regularly been flagged up as the furthest runners in the league this term – it’s easy to see why Son has raised the squad’s tiredness.

A lengthy campaign fighting on three fronts with little minute sharing could cost the club a trophy this season, something which Ladbrokes favour at an odds-on price of 4/9.

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

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.