As they enter the second international break, Tottenham is about to suffer a severe triple hammer blow to their Premier League title hopes. Ange Postecoglou’s team is leading the Premier League for the first time in more than two years thanks to a superb start to the year.
The club has undoubtedly undergone a significant transformation as a result of the Australian’s arrival after having their best season debut ever. The likes of James Maddison, Manor Solomon, and Mickey van de Ven have all significantly contributed to their early triumphs in the league as a result of their excellent fit as summer additions.
There have been some wonderful moments for the club thus far, with the one blemish on their unblemished record being a defeat on penalties to Fulham in the Carabao Cup second round. An incredible comeback victory over Sheffield United was swiftly followed by a thrilling 2-2 draw in the North London Derby against sworn enemies Arsenal.
Then, at the end of their famous and contentious match, Joel Matip turned a cross from Pedro Porro into the Liverpool goal, continuing what appeared to be their recent upward trend. The near future, though, may see a change in all of that.
Unfortunately for Postecoglou, he’s already set to lose three of his most important stars for up to a month as they head out on international duties. The main major blow will undoubtedly be captain Son Heung-Min, who will be captaining South Korea at the 2023 Asia Cup in January.
The 31-year-old has linked up perfectly with summer signing Maddison so far, with the pair directly involved in two of each other’s goals – both coming in the North London Derby. The star has also stepped into former teammate Harry Kane’s shooting boots, having already found six goals from his opening eight games – only four away from the ten he netted in all of last season.
From January 12, 2024, to February 10, 2024, Son will be on a trip to Qatar with Jurgen Klinsmann’s Taegeuk Warriors, during which time Spurs will play four games against Manchester United, Brentford, Everton, and Brighton. But if the team advances farther in the FA Cup, which will take place around that time, the star may be absent more frequently.
Yves Bissouma and Pape Matar Sarr, a central midfield pair, are the other two crucial players Postecoglou will be without. The former will miss their match against Fulham later this month because he already had to miss one game this season due to his red card against Luton Town before the international break.
Given that Bissouma’s build-up play and defensive reflexes were crucial to the Spurs’ early success, it somewhat obscures exactly how good he has been this season. The foundation of Postecoglou’s midfield has been formed by his relationship with Sarr, and their absence raises important issues regarding how to maintain their exceptional performance once they both depart the Africa Cup of Nations.
Sarr, who will be in the Senegal camp with Nicolas Jackson of Chelsea, has previously won the AFCON in his first appearance, in 2021, when Senegal won the title for the first time. This is Sarr’s second appearance in the tournament. He will now be higher on the national team’s priority list as a result of his outstanding Spurs performances during the season, and after just appearing in 12 minutes of his debut tournament, he’ll want to do better this time.
The competition will begin on January 13, 2024, and end on February 11, 2024, in the Ivory Coast. It will take place over the same time period as the Asia Cup. It implies that the identical matches could be missed by both participants.
There’s no doubt that Postecoglou will already be thinking about this, and will try as best he can to take it in his stride as he so often does with other problems he faces. Whether or not he’ll have the facilities – and the players – to do so is another question.