Fulham 1-2 Tottenham: 'Why injury-hit Spurs do not need to panic buy'

Match of the Day 2 analysis

Even if Dele Alli’s hamstring injury proves to be serious, I don’t think Tottenham need to rush out and sign anyone in January.

I just don’t see how bringing in a player as a short-term fix would work out well, and in any case I believe their squad is strong enough to get them through the next few weeks – even if they’re missing Alli as well as Harry Kane and Son Heung-min.

The England international’s injury in Sunday’s win over Fulham is a big blow, because I saw him as one of the main options to temporarily fill in for those two as a striker, and lead Tottenham’s bid for silverware on four fronts.

But the fact Spurs are in this predicament with so many big games coming up is because they have done well this season, and a big reason for that is the spirit in their squad.

Tottenham’s next six games
Thursday, 24 January Chelsea (a) Carabao Cup semi-final, 2nd leg
Sunday, 27 January Crystal Palace (a) FA Cup 4th round
Wednesday, 30 January Watford (h) Premier League
Saturday, 2 February Newcastle (h) Premier League
Sunday, 10 February Leicester (h) Premier League
Wednesday, 13 February Borussia Dortmund (h) Champions League last 16, 1st leg

I am not suggesting that any new player might destroy that, but it might upset the dynamic of the group.

When I look at Spurs’ players, none of them seem to have any kind of negative reaction when they are left out. They seem to understand their manager’s philosophy, and they play for him.

If they were to sign someone now, either permanently or as a stop-gap on loan, I would ask two questions.

Firstly, who are they going to bring in who is better than Son or Kane, who have scored almost half of their league goals?

And, following that, will he be happy sitting on the bench when they return?

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As Pochettino said himself last week, I am not sure there are too many players out there of the quality Spurs want and need, especially willing to go in as a short-term fix.

Spurs should take a look at who is available, of course, but if they are going to make a signing before the window shuts, then it should be someone who is already in their planning – and not because of what has just happened.

Not too many rushed signings end up working out and the situation Tottenham are in – in a strong position to finish in the top four, as well as in the last 16 of Europe and in both domestic cup competitions – they do not need to make any panic buys.

Snapshot of the top of the Premier League table - 1st Liverpool, 2nd Man City, 3rd Tottenham, 4th Chelsea, 5th Arsenal and 6th Man Utd

Moura another option with Alli injured

Kane is out injured until March but Son might only miss four more Spurs matches while he is at the Asian Cup, and we know he can play in Kane’s role because he has done it so well before.

The key thing here is that Son’s absence is not through an injury where he might not return at 100% and could need a couple more weeks to get his sharpness back – he is fit, and he is playing.

So, for just a few more games, is it really worth bringing someone else in who might not even hit the ground running anyway?

On top of that, Pochettino would have to get any new signing to adapt to his way of thinking and also to build relationships with players he has never played with before.

That is why I think he is best off looking at the existing options at the club.

Tottenham XI v Fulham: Lloris; Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Trippier, Eriksen, Winks, Rose; Lamela, Alli, Llorente

It is a shame if Alli is no longer one of those, because I think he would have been good as a striker if Pochettino had needed him.

There is no need to panic, though. As well as Fernando Llorente, Lucas Moura could lead the line if he is asked to.

As we saw against Fulham, Llorente may take a little while to get up to speed because he has not played many games recently but, if Tottenham keep him in the team, he will find his rhythm again.

When Moura returns to full fitness, then his speed and ability to get behind defences can give Spurs a different threat, depending on what is needed for each game.

Variation the key, whoever leads the attack

Of course, whoever is in the team and leading the attack, Tottenham have to play to their strengths. I don’t think they did that enough with Llorente and his aerial power against Fulham.

In the first half Jan Vertonghen hit two great balls into the Fulham area from the left, and you could tell he did it knowing Llorente was in there – but then Spurs stopped doing it.

Instead, they played far too many balls to feet, and they did not have any runners going behind the Fulham defence.

Fulham XI v Spurs: Rico; Odoi, Le Marchand, Ream; Christie, Chambers, Seri, Bryan; Schurrle, Babel, Mitrovic

It sounds very simplistic but they needed to vary their game more – it does not all need to be pretty.

When a team sits as deep as Fulham did, you have still got to play a few balls over the top of their defence, to try to stretch them.

When Spurs did that, and hit longer diagonal balls forward, they were able to turn Fulham and get on the end of some knock-downs, and they were getting chances.

That is what led to their equaliser, and their last-gasp winner also came from a very deep cross, but they made life difficult for themselves because they did not do it often or early enough.

It should not be a recurring problem in their next few games, because Spurs have got enough quality players to mix their game up, depending on who is fit and who is leading the line.

Of course they will miss the movement of Kane and Son but if Moura is up there instead, he is a threat with his pace and they can also play balls over the top for him to run the channels.

Llorente is never going to be able to do that, because he wants to stay static with people playing off him.

Clearly he did not have a great game at Craven Cottage – scoring an own goal and missing a very good late chance – but it would be wrong to say it was his fault when Spurs were struggling.

Danny Murphy was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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