Football Features

Ange Postecoglou facing full-back dilemmas as North London derby looms

By Will Evans | Twenty3

Published: 14:11, 24 April 2024 | Updated: 13:52, 26 April 2024

Tottenham’s full-backs are crucial to Ange Postecoglou’s system, but he could be without both his first-choice options against Arsenal.

Destiny Udogie’s campaign is over after undergoing thigh surgery, while Pedro Porro was forced off with a hamstring injury in the second half of the recent defeat to Newcastle.

And the timing could not be worse, as Tottenham prepare to face a rampant Gunners outfit — buoyed by their 5-0 demolition of Chelsea in midweek.

Ahead of the North London derby, we consider how the Lilywhites can solve their issues at full-back.


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Sweating on Porro

Postecoglou will be hoping that Porro can recover in time for Sunday’s encounter — and it’s not hard to see why.

He has contributed seven assists, created 10 big chances and attempted 170 crosses in the Premier League this season, but is equally important to Tottenham from a defensive perspective.

The 24-year-old ranked inside the division’s top 10 players for total tackles (82) and possessions won in defensive third (98), following Matchday 34.

If Porro isn’t passed fit then Emerson Royal is likely to fill in, though he is also an option at left-back, having featured on both sides of Tottenham’s back four at times this term.

Defensive Davies

There is greater certainty about Udogie’s absence, but it is less clear who will replace him in the starting XI.

The most likely deputy is natural left-back Ben Davies, despite the 31-year-old’s attacking limitations.

Postecoglou may opt for a lopsided rearguard, with Porro or Royal pushing further up on the right flank and Davies sitting deeper.

That could be a wise choice, as Tottenham bid to combat the potent threat of Arsenal right-winger Bukayo Saka.

Davies may also help Tottenham retain possession — his 91.87% pass completion rate was inside the Premier League’s top 20 players after last weekend’s fixtures among those with a minimum of 612 minutes played.

Van de Ven switch

An alternative to starting Davies would be to move Micky van de Ven into the left-back berth.

The 23-year-old central defender is yet to feature in that role for Tottenham in the Premier League, but did so on occasion for former club Wolfsburg.

His pace could be beneficial in wide areas, though disrupting a solid centre-back pairing of Van de Ven and Cristian Romero is fraught with danger — especially against Arsenal’s incisive attack.

Though Radu Dragusin is available to slot in if required, sticking with the tried and tested option of Davies may be the smart move in Sunday’s encounter.