Eric Dier will move back into the Tottenham midfield
Lost in the celebration of Tottenham’s 2-0 win over Burnley yesterday is the reality of a sudden injury crisis in the Spurs midfield. Losing both Harry Winks and Victor Wanyama due to injury will force Mauricio Pochettino to shuffle things around. Expect Eric Dier to move up the pitch to help ease his manager’s troubles.
Of course, Dier isn’t any stranger to playing in the middle of the pitch. He was a fixture there for Spurs last season. He only moved back to central defense to cover for Tottenham’s injury issues at centre back earlier this season.
The dirty little secret at Tottenham this season is just how poor Dier has played. He looked very tired to begin the campaign after a difficult time for England in the Euros. Even after he was able to secure a little rest, Dier didn’t seem to really feel comfortable on the pitch in any position.
To that end, let me dispel the myth that he’s always played better as a midfielder. Earlier this season, he started five matches as a defensive midfielder. In those matches, he earned a Whoscored.com player rating average of 6.78. His rating in his 27 appearances as a central defender is a slightly higher mark of 6.83.
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The point is he’s been below average no matter where he’s played this season. That’s the bad news. The good news is that his second half against Burnley was by far his best 45 minutes of the season.
Instead of looking slow and plodding, Dier once again looked decisive and poised in the midfield. Playing alongside Moussa Dembele, the English international was able to get up and down the pitch as he saw fit. That freedom paid off for Pochettino. Not only did Dier provide Spurs their match winning goal, it also gave them a decisive foothold in the middle of the pitch.
Previously, Dier’s inclusion in the starting XI has allowed Pochettino to go with three in the back, but that’s going to be put on hold for a bit. You have to think Winks is set for a long absence after going to the hospital after the match. Wanyama’s absence could be much shorter, but he’s still likely to miss a few matches.
That means that Dier will get another match (or several) to start in Tottenham’s defensive midfield. Expect Pochettino to revert back to the 4-2-3-1 formation to powered Spurs last season. If he does, Dembele and Dier will likely be playing together in the double-pivot once again.