There was a four minute difference between the two outings, but ultimately the result was the same. First at CSKA Moscow and then at Bayer Leverkusen, two of the biggest games of Tottenham’s season, Vincent Janssen was hauled off half-way through the second half.
In Russia, Janssen came off for Georges-Kevin N’Koudou, allowing Heung-Min Son to move up front. He put Spurs 1-0 up two minutes later. In Germany, Mousa Dembele came on, Son went up front, and Spurs finally got a foothold back in the game, clinging on to their 0-0. Both times, it must be said, Spurs were a better team when Janssen went off.
Late on Tuesday night Mauricio Pochettino confirmed that Harry Kane had just started training again, but said that there it was “impossible” that he could face Bournemouth this Saturday. “It is one thing to start to run on the grass,” Pochettino said. “Another thing is to train with the group, be fit to train with the team and compete.” The target is still November, and the derby at the Emirates.
This means that Pochettino has another decision to make, this Saturday, and for the EFL Cup trip to Liverpool the next week. Does he stick with Janssen, or play Son again? There is certainly a good case for using the South Korean as his number nine. Spurs’ best performance of the season, and quite possibly of the whole Pochettino tenure, came with Son up front, as Spurs demolished Manchester City 2-0 earlier this month. That game showed the value of Son as a nine, using his pace to dart in behind the City defence, stretching the play, as well as leading Spurs’ pressing from the front.
Pochettino went back to Janssen for the West Brom game on Saturday, where he worked as hard as ever with his back to goal, always bringing his team-mates into play. But this is part of the issue with Janssen. All his selfless work with his back to goal is very admirable, but it is not always what Spurs need. This is meant to be a fast mobile team, and it needs a mobile spearhead, trying to run in behind and get on the end of things. Janssen is not doing that.
Moving from Dutch to English football is always tough, and moving to Spurs, the most intense team in the league, is even harder. But for now, Janssen looks like the game is just a bit too fast for him. He has not been pulling up trees in training, either, and his confidence is low. That is why he always takes the selfless option, rather than getting into dangerous positions. He has still only scored one goal for Spurs, a penalty at home against Gillingham in the EFL Cup.
There could well be a good player inside Janssen, and it is only natural that he needs time to adjust. But until he does, he is not Spurs’ best option in his position. Pochettino has another decision to make.Reuse content