They may boast the best defensive record in the Premier League this season, but could that all be about to change for Tottenham Hotspur with key man Jan Vertonghen could be set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines?
It’s thought that the Belgium international could be out for up to two months at perhaps the most crucial time in Spurs’ season. So what will Vertonghen’s absence do to Tottenham’s title – and even Top Four – hopes?
Ladbrokes News takes a look at where Mauricio Pochettino’s men can expect to find themselves on his return…
There’s a chance the 29-year-old will be back in action for the game against Crystal Palace on March 11, but Spurs will have to contest six league games between now and then in his absence.
Three of those will be at home against Middlesbrough, Everton and Stoke City, while in that time Spurs will also have to travel to Manchester City, Sunderland and Liverpool.
They head into this sextet of fixtures in fine form though, having won their last seven in all competitions.
But a look at the potential names that’ll fill Vertonghen’s boots gives Spurs fans plenty of cause for concern.
Four of the 14 goals which Spurs have conceded this season have come in games in which Kevin Wimmer has featured.
And while an obvious suggestion would be to replace Vertonghen with Eric Dier and revert to a 4-4-2, a shift in formation would likely do more damage than good to momentum that Pochettino’s men have built since the festive period.
In terms of their upcoming fixtures on the road, it’s worth noting that the north London outfit have beaten Man City on three consecutive occasions. Meanwhile, they’ve won 10 of their last 12 meetings with the Black Cats, but haven’t beaten Liverpool since the days of Andre Villas-Boas – nine games ago.
But with just three points currently separating Spurs and City, while only goal difference puts Pochettino’s men ahead of Liverpool in second-place, it’s likely form will go out of the window in those two fixtures. In fact, Tottenham will probably head into both as slight outsider.
Therefore, it’s at home where Harry Kane and co will be looking to add more points to the board.
And recent history doesn’t bode well for two of their opponents. Spurs have lost just one of their last 10 meetings against Middlesbrough, while Everton haven’t won any of their last eight visits to White Hart Lane.
But don’t be surprised if Mark Hughes’ Stoke cause an upset, as they’ve taken points from Spurs in four of their last five visits to the capital.
We wondered how Spurs would fare in Toby Alderweireld’s absence earlier in the season, but in the eight games in which the former Southampton man missed, Pochettino’s side lost just once – that being against Chelsea.
How have Tottenham coped without Vertonghen in the past?
Well, fans have reason to be optimistic about their side’s chances over the coming months, given their record in the top-flight without the Belgian.
In the one game he missed this season, Spurs breezed past Watford 4-1.
But that’s not all.
Since arriving at the club back in 2012, Vertonghen has missed 35 games through injury or suspension. And of those matches, Tottenham have won 20, drawn seven and lost just eight, giving them a total of 67 points.
If we were to put that into some context, 67 points after 35 games would have given Tottenham a great chance of achieving a top four spot come the end of the season in each of the last five Premier League campaigns. But in none of those would they have been mathematically in the title race.
So what does Vertonghen’s injury mean for Spurs this season?
Statistics are suggesting that it’ll massively affect their chances of winning the title, although a Champions League spot is certainly achievable.
What do fans think? Can Spurs still maintain a genuine title challenge without one of their star defenders, or would you be happy settling for the top four?
Have your say in the comments section below!
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