Nuno Espirito Santo quite clearly has decisions to make all over the pitch at Tottenham as things stand.
Facing a big call over who he selects at centre-back on Sunday against Arsenal having seen Eric Dier rested for the Carabao Cup clash at Wolves, the boss must also decide on who he opts for in his front three alongside Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.
It’s no different in midfield either ahead of the north London derby showdown at the Emirates Stadium.
Previously selecting a midfield trio of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Oliver Skipp and Dele Alli in the Premier League, the 47-year-old changed things up for last Sunday’s 3-0 defeat against Chelsea at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Skipp was the unfortunate one to miss out despite such a promising start to the season, with Tanguy Ndombele the man to come in.
It was the bold, attacking team Tottenham fans had called for and many believe it’s the way to go moving forward if they are to solve their previous struggles in the final third.
However, Skipp has really given Espirito Santo a selection headache prior to the short trip across north London after a standout showing in Tottenham’s Carabao Cup win over Wolves on Wednesday evening.
Perhaps having a bit more responsibility on his shoulders with no Hojbjerg alongside him, the academy graduate delivered a midfield masterclass as he came out on top against Ruben Neves and Co.
Skipp showed his Portuguese counterpart that he meant business on 14 minutes after winning a crunching 50-50 that could be heard all across the stadium.
The tackle was pivotal to Tottenham’s opener as the youngster played the ball to Ndombele, who burst forward, won a challenge against Conor Coady and neatly turned Willy Boly in the box to slot home.
The Frenchman quite rightly received the plaudits for his wonderful strike but his teammate also deserved a lot of credit for his role in the opening goal.
Skipp continued to put himself about in the middle of the park as he made life extremely difficult for Bruno Lage’s men by producing tackle after tackle to leave the hosts frustrated, including a perfectly-timed one at the start of the second half on Adama Traore to rob him of possession.
Also showing his attacking side at times with a couple of bursts forward, it was one of the 21-year-old’s best performances of the season ahead of such an important game in Tottenham’s calendar.
It would be very harsh to see the youngster drop down to the bench at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday on the back of his excellent showing at Molineux but that is something Espirito Santo must now decide on over the coming days.
A potential return to the Premier League XI could be bad news for one of Ndombele or Alli, however.
As Hojbjerg is a certainty to come back into the team after dropping down to the bench for a breather at Wolves, Ndombele and Alli will be the two midfielders most at risk.
Three starts over the past six days following his return to the team for the first time this season could work against the Frenchman, though, as a fourth may be a tad too much for him.
A fourth successive start for the 24-year-old, who has struggled with his fitness since his move from Lyon in 2019, however, would show Espirito Santo and everyone that it is no longer an issue for him.
Alli, on the other hand, recorded an assist for Kane’s goal at Molineux and has been a regular in the Premier League so far for the new Tottenham boss.
A tough call for Espirito Santo to make either way, the boss already knows that he has someone in Skipp who can come in and help the Lilywhites come out on top in the midfield battle against their great rivals.
Missing out on derby action last term due to his loan spell at Norwich City, Skipp was a late substitute in Tottenham’s late 2-1 win over Arsenal back in July 2020 when Jose Mourinho was in charge.
Only playing a handful of games for the experienced boss in 2019/20, the Roma head coach knew that the Welwyn Garden City-born star was the perfect player to come on and help close the game out as he has “Spurs blood”.
“Something I did because the team needed but in the end, it’s something that I feel very deeply, was to play Skipp,” he told Spurs TV when reflecting on the win.
“I know his blood is Spurs blood. I know what it means for him to play against Arsenal, to beat Arsenal.
“Again I repeat, I played him because we needed him. Giovani had a yellow card, Winks had a yellow card.
“Skipp is very aggressive in midfield. He could perfectly be in that dog fight of the last 10-15 mins of the game.
“In the end, I have a special feeling for him because I know what it means for him.”
Regardless of whether Skipp starts on the bench or he replaces either Alli or Ndombele in the team, Espirito Santo has someone in his squad who is the perfect player for the north London derby.
Already proving this season that he is going to be such a key player in the future for Tottenham, Sunday is the ideal game for the midfielder to make the rest of the Premier League sit up and take notice of just what he can bring to the Spurs team for years to come.
Source by Football London