Nuno Espirito Santo is already facing a defensive dilemma at Tottenham Hotspur just a handful of games into his tenure, despite what has been a promising start.
But, much of the focus for Espírito Santo now lies at a handful of injuries, suspensions and quarantine regulations for some of his defenders, which could put a big spanner in the works in the coming fixtures.
Nuno Espirito Santo Faces Defensive Dilemmas at Tottenham Hotspur
South American Pair Created an Initial Problem for Nuno
Most of the build up to the game at Selhurst Park for Spurs was focused on their missing South American defenders Cristian Romero and Davinson Sanchez. The pair are both undergoing a training camp in Croatia before returning to London later this month, after spending international duty with Argentina and Colombia respectively.
Sanchez has established himself as a solid option for Espírito Santo in the early stages of the season, forming a good partnership alongside Eric Dier in the heart of defence.
It has been slightly more challenging for Romero, however, who joined the club on an initial loan from Atalanta over the summer. The Argentine arrived in north London with a minor injury and has played just one minute of Premier League football as he continues to build match sharpness.
Their initial unavailability for the Palace fixture already created one headache for Espírito Santo, who had to shift Japhet Tanganga into the middle, and ultimately away from the right-back spot he has excelled at so far this season.
Tottenham Lose Two More Defensive Options in Palace Defeat
Tottenham’s 3-0 defeat to Patrick Vieira’s side following the international break not only saw them lose their 100 per cent league record, but two more defenders in what was a pretty dire performance.
Spurs first lost Dier just 12 minutes into proceedings at Selhurst Park after a wayward pass from Hugo Lloris had the 26-year-old stretching. He suffered a heavy blow to his shin on the stretch to beat Jordan Ayew to the loose ball, which left him in considerable pain on the walk back to the dressing room.
Joe Rodon replaced Dier and did well given the circumstances on his first appearance of the season, but saw his partner Tanganga sent off for a second bookable offence on the hour mark.
It was a moment of madness for the 22-year-old, who will now serve a one-match suspension and has only added to the growing list of absentees for Nuno.
Both Dier and Tanganga have made positive starts to the season and will prove to be big misses for Spurs ahead of a tricky run-in, which includes a London derby against contenders Chelsea.
Who Can Espírito Santo Turn to Ahead of the Chelsea Clash Next Weekend?
It is very early to predict the severity of Dier’s shin problem, but it wasn’t a good sign to see him hobbling badly off the pitch towards the dressing room.
In terms of the South American contingent in Croatia, Espírito Santo mentioned last week that Sanchez and Romero would be returning to London just one day before the big fixture against Chelsea, which will place their availability under a question mark.
The Spurs coach could be forced to play at least one of them, though, with Rodon currently the only recognised central defender available for selection.
At a last resort, the manager may choose to play Ben Davies in the centre as a more unconventional option. Davies has played in a more central role before on the international stage with Wales, but Espírito Santo will have likely been put off doing so following a rather shambolic cameo against Palace.
It has been unfortunate for the new boss that these defensive issues have cropped up in such a short space of time at Tottenham, but it isn’t the first occasion the club has seen the squad be decimated like this. He’ll have to figure out a plan to negotiate his way around these setbacks to get the team playing to its maximum potential.
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