Following several weeks of assembling a nearly empty roster, Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou is at last faced with a favorable selection quandary.
While players like Micky van de Ven and James Maddison are still out due to injury, other players at Hotspur Way are gradually making a comeback.
On Thursday, December 7, Cristian Romero scored his first goal after serving a three-match suspension during West Ham’s 2-1 loss, while three days later, in Newcastle United’s 4-1 victory, Pape Matar Sarr made his first start since the international break.
Some of the players who have been asked to step up in the absence of several Postecoglou’s first-team stars have done well, despite the club’s five-match winless streak suggesting otherwise.
Giovani Lo Celso, an Argentina international midfielder, is one of these players. The 27-year-old’s rapid ascent to prominence included goals in back-to-back games against Manchester City and Aston Villa, along with some comparatively impressive performances.
Lo Celso contributed defensively in the 2-1 loss to Villa on November 26 by making four tackles and winning seven of his thirteen ground duels. He also completed 92% of his passes, three of which were crucial (Sofascore).
He was equally impressive against City, finishing an incredible 100% of his passes. Even though he wasn’t as good against West Ham, Postecoglou made a harsh decision to bench Lo Celso for Newcastle’s visit because so few players wearing white shirts were up to par that evening.
However, the decision made by the Australian to start Dejan Kulusevski at number ten proved to be wise, as the Swede produced one of his best games of the season thus far, completing 92% of his passes, five of which were crucial.
With his encouraging cameo against Eddie Howe’s team, Lo Celso reminded his manager that he is also available and ready to play a part. On paper, it would be extremely harsh to drop Kulusevski after his performance on Sunday afternoon.
After coming on as Richarlison’s replacement in the 73rd minute, the former Real Betis player helped his team secure a much-needed three points. In his 17 minutes on the field, he completed 92% of his passes, successfully completed one of his two dribbles, and made two tackles.
When Postecoglou leads his team to the City Ground on Friday, December 15, for a matchup with a struggling Nottingham Forest team, he will now be scratching his head over which lineup to choose.
Although Kulusevski ought to start in the Midlands, it might be expensive to bench Lo Celso and his goal-scoring ability. Given Forest’s difficulties and propensity to let goals slip away, Postecoglou might be inclined to select a more offensive lineup that includes Kulusevski and Lo Celso.
In any case, the Australian will only be happy that there are too many excellent players available rather than a shortage of them for his difficult team to choose from.