Tottenham Hotspur achieved their goal of qualifying for the Champions League last night in a gruelling 1-0 victory over Newcastle United. Spurs had a notable shortage of players in the holding midfielder role, with usual favourites Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele absent through injury.
— Moussa Sissoko (@MoussaSissoko) May 10, 2018
Victor Wanyama has had promising moments during the Premier League campaign but has unfortunately suffered from injuries which have kept him out of action. He was outstanding against Bournemouth a few months ago and we all remember that belter he scored against Liverpool. Mauricio Pochettino stated that,
“Players like Wanyama who haven’t played too much, they were injured and today when you need to win they were on the pitch giving it their best”
The midfield partnership between Victor and Sissoko was a subject of criticism from fans across social media. It is fair to evaluate that the pair did not play well together, and it has not been the first time they’ve flopped as the duel spine of the midfield.
Ol’ Poch sang Sissoko’s praises after bagging three points against the Magpies. Pochettino was full of praise for the Frenchman and defended him in a press interview, claiming that,
“I am so proud about all the players because today for me one of the best was Moussa Sissoko. I want to say thank you for how professional he was all season. Not too many people recognise him but I think he was fantastic today”
Sissoko used to play for Newcastle and transferred to Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2016 for an estimated fee of £30 million. One thing that Pochettino clearly values in a player is loyalty, which probably led to his praise following this fixture. The fact of the matter is that Sissoko was not ‘fantastic’ as Poch claimed last night. But, when the team needed him to step in amid an injury crisis, the Frenchman answered the call of duty and played to win.
Is Sissoko good enough to be in the Spurs XI?
Sissoko does show he has a fantastic attitude and an unwavering work ethic when he comes on the pitch – his scrutiny is not founded in any lack of effort. This is the exact reason why fans should accept that Mauricio Pochettino can praise the midfielder with confidence. However, whilst ‘fantastic’ might be somewhat appropriate to describe his effort, it cannot be used objectively to describe his performance. He is simply not of the same calibre as Mousa Dembele or Eric Dier, or even Victor Wanyama. Spurs will be contesting for a trophy or two next year and could fill that spot with someone more suited to that holding position.
The subsidiary players of Liverpool and Manchester United and Manchester City are technically superior to Sissoko. Even Fellaini can pull a class performance out of the bag when required. Sissoko’s capabilities may be better exercised in another team. He has the stamina and ethos comparable to any great player in the Spurs squad. However, if he stays, he is going to need to technically improve if he is to maintain the rising standards that Spurs will set in seasons to come.