Tottenham Hotspur opened their 2018-19 Premier League season with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Sunday.
Despite goals from Jan Vertonghen and Dele Alli confirming victory for Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino’s men are far from their best and had to weather a second-half storm from the hosts.
Given the fact that Tottenham are struggling with injuries and a swathe of their World Cup stars have had virtually no pre-season, victory on Tyneside was always going to be more important than a performance.
However, one thing stood out in the Spurs victory that will alarm Pochettino and the club’s supporters.
Serge Aurier was as expected picked at right-back in Kieran Trippier’s absence, but was clearly the weak link in the Tottenham team.
The Ivorian put in a wonderful cross to set up Alli’s eventual winner, but facing his own goal the African was a liability.
Newcastle consistently got in behind Aurier and a more-composed opponent would have converted those glorious opportunities due to the Tottenham defender’s defensive mistakes and naive positioning.
As such, it is clear that despite a full pre-season at Spurs, the former PSG defender remains someone that cannot be fully relied upon when playing in a back four.
With Tottenham having the flexibility to change formations, Aurier would be more suited as a wing-back in a 3-4-2-1 formation, relieving some of the defensive responsibilities from him and allowing for an additional centre-half (Toby) to cover for him.
While Pochettino will surely switch between the 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-2-1 systems during the season, Aurier CANNOT be trusted in a back four against opposition of any quality.