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Dublin: 4°C Sunday 16 May 2021

Tottenham's squad depth issues, Chelsea's unsung hero and more Premier League talking points

Plus, Burnley maintain their incredible home record thanks to Joey Barton’s winner.

Image: John Walton

1. Tottenham’s squad depth issues

TOTTENHAM MAY HAVE won convincingly at home to West Brom to go second today, but there was one clear negative from their perspective.

Amid a thoroughly one-sided 4-0 victory, Jan Vertonghen had to come off injured in the second half, and manager Mauricio Pochettino suggested the Belgian international was set for an extended spell on the sidelines as a result.

Provided the issue is as bad as expected, it is a serious blow to a Spurs side that have now won seven matches on the trot.

Of all the title contenders, Tottenham in particular cannot afford to pick up injuries to key players, as it’s been well documented that the North Londoners’ squad depth is inferior in comparison with their main rivals.

With Pochettino keen on playing three at the back currently, Vertonghen’s likely absence could mean that Kevin Wimmer comes into the side. And as the young Austrian defender showed in a dreadful performance against Ireland, he is still quite raw and error-prone.

Tottenham already suffered this season when Harry Kane was out for an extended period, with Dutch forward Vincent Janssen — who didn’t even make the bench today — an unconvincing back-up.

Reigning champions Leicester were fortunate last season that they kept most of their key players fit for much of the campaign, and Spurs will surely need similarly good luck if they are to seriously challenge for the title this year.

2. Chelsea’s unsung hero

Despite the pre-match controversy revolving around Diego Costa, Chelsea managed to breeze past a hapless Leicester this evening.

Costa’s absence was barely noticeable, as the Premier League leaders recovered from the disappointing loss to Tottenham earlier this month to secure an impressive 4-0 victory at the King Power Stadium.

In fact, there were times when Chelsea benefitted from Costa’s absence — the movement and speed of thought displayed by Eden Hazard (in the false-nine role) and Pedro certainly compensated for the goal threat posed by Costa, who lacks the pace and trickery of the aforementioned attackers.

Yet as good as Hazard and Pedro were, Marcos Alonso was deserving of his man-of-the-match award.

The former Bolton player has seldom been singled out this season, but he highlighted his importance tonight with two well-taken goals.

A phenomenal athlete with exceptional technical ability to boot, the Spaniard is perfectly suited to the wing-back role he invariably occupies.

Tottenham duo Kyle Walker and Danny Rose have, in recent weeks, been hailed by many as the Premier League’s best full-backs amid stories linking them to Man United, but if that is indeed the case, Alonso certainly can’t be too far behind the Spurs pair.

3. Hope for Swansea?

Swansea City v Arsenal - Premier League - Liberty Stadium Swansea City's Gylfi Sigurdsson leaves the field dejected after the final whistle. Source: Nick Potts

Anyone who only glanced at today’s Swansea-Arsenal 4-0 scoreline will be forgiven for thinking the Welsh side are doomed.

The Gunners had too much class for Paul Clement’s side in the end, leaving the Swans rooted to the bottom of the table on 15 points.

Yet there were times early on when the hosts more than matched their opponents.

After the game, Clement commented: “It is very disappointing. The first half we were in the game and looked solid defensively, even though we did not do enough offensively. We got caught on the counter for the first goal.

“We had a big claim for a penalty. Looking back on it, it is a penalty. In the second half, we started poorly and then it was an uphill struggle after the first own goal.”

It is a fair reflection on how the match panned out, and if Swansea can show the level of commitment and enthusiasm they displayed in the first half, in addition to cutting out their tendency to make silly errors at the back, then they may yet achieve survival.

4. Brady’s telling remarks

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady today hailed Michail Antonio’s performance in a 3-0 win over Crystal Palace as he battled illness to play.

In what seemed to be a  thinly-veiled dig at wantaway star Dimitri Payet, Brady pointed to Antonio’s “dedication” as she praised his all-action display. “Michail Antonio was in bed with flu yesterday,” she tweeted.

“[He] got out of bed, pulled on his shirt and played magnificently today — that’s dedication for you.”

The France international isn’t the most popular man at West Ham right now owing to his off-field issues.

A tribute to Dimitri Payet at West Ham’s London Stadium had to be guarded ahead of their Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace as the France international plots his exit from the Hammers.

After Slaven Bilic revealed on Thursday that Payet has refused to play for West Ham, fearing that fans could turn their anger on a decal at the stadium that bears Payet’s chant, a steward was positioned there ahead of Saturday’s fixture.

5. Burnley maintain incredible home record

Joey Barton came off the bench today to make his first Premier League appearance since May 2015, and Sean Dyche’s faith in the controversial star was ultimately rewarded.

Just five minutes after entering the action, the 34-year-old’s deflected free-kick earned Burnley a 1-0 win over Southampton in a closely fought encounter.

The win takes Burnley — promoted from the Championship last season — up to 10th in the table and continues their remarkable home form.

As it stands, only Chelsea and Tottenham have a better record on their own ground — it’s eight wins, one draw and three losses so far for the Clarets at Turf Moor.

Unfortunately, their away form — no wins, one draw and eight losses — is dismal by comparison.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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