As Tottenham overcome Aston Villa, Nuno’s midfield solution raises questions about Dele Alli.
In Sunday’s Premier League match, Tottenham defeated Aston Villa 2-1 to give Nuno Espirito Santo a much-needed victory.
In Sunday’s Premier League match against Aston Villa, Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo appeared to have found a midfield answer, but his selection generated more concerns about where Dele Alli fits into his squad. Alli was pulled from the team that was thrashed by Arsenal last weekend, and his substitute, Oliver Skipp, was instrumental in securing a much-needed victory for Spurs on Sunday.
Nuno has attempted a number of various midfield combinations in recent weeks, none of which have worked as Spurs have lost three games in a row in the Premier League.
Even with Alli in front of them as a 10, an engine room of Skipp, Harry Winks, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was too defensive against Crystal Palace.
Nuno used Skipp off the bench against both Chelsea and Arsenal to try to regain control of the midfield after falling down to their London rivals.
Alli was replaced by Skipp at halftime in the North London derby last Saturday, and while this helped Tottenham get a foothold in the game, the damage had already been done, with the Gunners leading 3-0 after just 35 minutes.
Nuno started Skipp alongside Hojbjerg and Tanguy Ndombele against Villa on Sunday, and the selection gave Spurs more balance in the center.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was allowed to join a Tottenham break thanks to the presence of the 21-year-old, and the Denmark midfielder gave his side a deserved lead.
With Son, Harry Kane, and Lucas Moura occupying Villa’s defense, Hjobjeg was given enough of space on the edge of the box to pick his place in Emi Martinez’s goal.
After the opener, Skipp made numerous vital interventions in his own box, with some of them leading to counter-attacks.
Because both Skipp and Hojbjerg were willing to sit, Emerson and Sergio Reguilon were able to move forward at times, exploiting the full-backs’ capabilities.
Nuno appeared to have found a recipe that offered his squad more balance than in previous weeks – until Villa equalized on 67 minutes through Ollie Watkins.
Spurs’ comeback, on the other hand, was superb, with Skipp spearheading a play that culminated in Spurs’ man of the match.