Richarlison, Romero, Son: Key questions facing Spurs ahead of West Ham

The win moved Spurs joint-second in the table, unbeaten in four matches, but raised further questions about Antonio Conte’s selections going forward as the fixtures ramp up from this week.

Standard Sport picked out five talking points from the game at the City Ground…

Richarlison quality the difference

Richarlison made an impact for Tottenham against Nottingham Forest

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Last season, Conte mistrusted his squad players and was known to remark to staff, “I look to the bench and then I look back to the pitch!”

This term, though, he has game changing options in reserve, underlined again by Richarlison’s cameo at Forest. The confected outrage about the Brazilian’s showboating (which will only endear him to Spurs fans further) should not distract from his assist when he hunted down possession and crossed for Kane with the outside of his boot.

Spurs simply did not have that kind of quality on the bench last season and there is a huge difference between someone like Lucas Moura, who might have offered a fresh pair of legs for the final 20 minutes, and Richarlison, who has the class to take the game away from an opponent. He has surely done enough to start at West Ham on Wednesday.

Romero a big miss

Cristian Romero is a big miss for Tottenham

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Spurs’ struggles to keep possession against Wolves and Forest has largely been pinned on midfield two Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur but the absence of Cristian Romero is also a major factor.

Without Romero, Spurs are noticeable worse at progressing the ball and playing out from the back, and just generally feel more passive in and out of possesion.

Davinson Sanchez is a capable defended in a back three, and often in the right place at the right time, but the Colombian is jittery on the ball, while Eric Dier and Ben Davies also look less comfortable playing out without Romero to their right.

Even if Conte resists making significant changes for West Ham and Fulham this week, Romero’s return to the side would surely make a huge difference to Spurs’ levels.

Time for Bissouma

Yves Bissouma is yet to start a Premier League game for Tottenham

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That said, it is surely time for Conte to hand a start to Yves Bissouma in his midfield for Wednesday’s game at the London Stadium.

Spurs have struggled to keep the ball with a pivot of Hojbjerg and Bentancur this season and the more press-resistant and dynamic Bissouma feels like the perfect solution to their possession problem.

West Ham are a long way from their best but will be more than capable of controlling the middle of the park through Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek, particularly if new signing Lucas Paqueta is registered in time to feature.

Still concerns at right wing-back

Emerson Royal is yet to wholly convince for Spurs

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Right wing-back still feels like a problem position for Spurs after another loose performance from Emerson Royal in the final third.

The Brazilian is reliable defensively but does not offer the thrust or end product typically demanded by Conte from his wing-backs. The head coach has shown a surprising faith in Emerson at the start of this season, when many assumed fit-again Matt Doherty or new signing Djed Spence may be first choice, but there has been little to suggest Emerson is capable of being more than a decent squad player.

With Conte calling for time for Spence to adapt, the 21-year-old is unlikely to start against West Ham or Fulham despite making his debut at Forest, but surely it is time for Doherty to be given a go.

Son dilemma

Heung-min Son has struggled during the ealy parts of the season


Perhaps Conte’s biggest selection dilemma of all, however, is whether to rest Son on Wednesday or try to play the Korean back into form.

Clearly, Son has started this season poorly given his remarkable standards and there is a case that he could do with a rest mid-week, potentially firing him up for next Saturday’s visit of Fulham. But Son is prone to blowing hot and cold and he almost never goes more than four matches without scoring. It may therefore make sense to keep him in the side against West Ham in the hope that he discovers his scoring touch ahead of a gruelling game of games before the September international break.

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