Pochettino facing a defensive headache ahead of Watford game

By Fraser Bernstein

Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino is looking for a New Year’s resolution for his defence ahead of Spurs’ away fixture at Watford, after both Jan Vertonghen and Kyle Walker were ruled out of the match through suspension.

Vertonghen’s fellow centre-back partner Toby Alderweireld is also a doubt, with the latter having succumbed to a virus earlier this week which kept him out of the Lilywhites’ 4-1 win away at Southampton in midweek. 

Pochettino has various solutions open to him. Should Alderweireld be deemed fit to play, he could recall Kevin Wimmer to the backline, and shift Eric Dier to right-back.

On the other hand, the former Southampton trainer has experimented with a three-man defence in the past, most notably during the 1-1 draw at Arsenal earlier in the season – this would mean Alderweireld, Dier and Wimmer lining up as three centre-backs, with Kieran Trippier filling in at right wing-back.

Finally, if Alderweireld is unable to overcome his virus, there is also the possibility of playing Wimmer and Dier together as a centre-back pairing, which would allow Spurs to stick with their favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.

However, this final possibility would not fill Tottenham fans with confidence – many are yet to be convinced that both Wimmer and Dier are top-class centre-backs. 

Tottenham’s fortunes at Vicarage Road will depend on heavily on Alderweireld’s fitness – without the Belgian in defence, it may end up being a gloomy start to 2017 for the team from North London.