Tottenham Hotspur went into the first international break of the season while sitting on top of the Premier League table.
The North London club racked up three wins out of three, scoring three goals and keeping three clean sheets as well – resulting in quite the perfect start for Nuno Espirito Santo at his new club.
But the international break was not too kind for Spurs, as they now find themselves with a defensive headache ahead of their returning Premier League away fixture against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Spurs will travel to Selhurst Park in South London to play the first match of the upcoming fourth round of fixtures – and here is how Tottenham Hotspur can lineup for the game.
While Hugo Lloris will find himself in goal looking to keep a fourth clean sheet in a row, Nuno Espirito Santo will be without Cristian Romero – who was caught up in the Brazil v Argentina fiasco earlier this week, and Davinson Sánchez – both of whom will be unable to make it in time after travelling to countries red-listed by the UK.
As a result, Eric Dier will need a new partner in the heart of the Spurs defence – a void likely to be filled by Welshman Joe Rodon who was out with a minor injury before this weekend. Rodon could well make his first appearance for the club this season, with Sergio Reguilón and Japhet Tanganga starting on either side of him and Dier.
Midfielders Oliver Skipp and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have been Nuno Espirito Santo’s go-to double pivot in the first three league games, and the duo are set to start their fourth successive league game together.
There are more issues upfront for Santo to take care of, as Son Heung-Min is likely not to feature after picking up an injury while on international duty with South Korea – meaning that while Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura will flank Dele Alli will start in attacking midfield. It will be their talisman, Harry Kane, upfront who will start his second straight league game of the season.
Usually known for playing a back three in his days managing Wolves, the Spurs head coach has used both the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-3-3 formations so far – and he could well look to deploy either system this weekend.
Giovanni Lo Celso suffers a similar fate as his international teammate Romero, as the Argentinian will also be unavailable for the weekend fixture in case his manager wanted him as a midfield option.
While Spurs have accumulated nine points out of a possible nine courtesy of their air-tight defence, the forced changes after the international break will encourage Crystal Palace who broke their scoring duck for the season at the London Stadium two weeks ago.
Despite being seven points apart from each other in the Premier League table, Palace have only one lesser goal than their opponents on the weekend – Conor Gallagher struck twice for the Eagles in a 2-2 draw with West Ham, and Patrick Vieira’s side will look to do their best to put Spurs’ depleted defence to the sword and stop them from making it four wins in a row.
Tottenham predicted XI vs Crystal Palace: Hugo Lloris; Japhet Tanganga, Joe Rodon, Eric Dier, Sergio Reguilón; Oliver Skipp, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Dele Alli; Lucas Moura, Harry Kane, Steven Bergwijn.