The dominant Kenyan midfielder has spent a considerable amount of his time this season recovering from the knee injury he sustained during the pre-season period. The lining of Victor Wanyama’s knee joint capsule first flared in July. Pochettino and the Spurs team were reluctant to undergo surgery, and his recovery has given way for the ever-reliable Eric Dier to occupy the CDM role for the first half of the season.
Mauricio Pochettino has handled the recovery of Wanyama much like the previous recoveries of Danny Rose and Erik Lamela, not to mention the current recovery of Toby Alderweireld, which permits a piecemeal and carefully managed return to action. Victor has started just three Premier League games this season (at the time of writing) and has mostly appeared for ten or fifteen minutes here or there. Wanayma’s recovery has somewhat coaligned with the minor elbow injury that Eric Dier picked up against Juventus last week, which afforded Victor the full ninety against Bournemouth. Wanyama gave an electric performance Sunday and sent a message to the Spurs coaching staff – loud and clear – that he is ready to return to the Tottenham Hotspur starting XI.
— Victor Wanyama (@VictorWanyama) March 13, 2018
No doubt the incredibly in-form Heung-Min Son and the unduly injury of Harry Kane will grab the Spurs headlines for the weekend, but the outstanding performance of Victor Wanyama likewise deserves recognition. The Kenyan, supported by Mousa Dembele, controlled the middle of the park and worked hard to cut off the Bournemouth supply lines. Wanyama successfully made six tackles, won eleven 50/50s, recovered the lost Spurs ball thirteen times and made two interceptions. He was a one-man wall which thou shall not pass. Moreover, it was Victor Wanyama that was doing the passing: he finished the match with a pass rate of 85.1%. The primary function of the CDM is to provide the spine of the Spurs defence and to frustrate the opposition in the centre of the pitch. Wanyama is not known for his Scholes-esque 50-yard through balls, but this sort of pass rate is integral to the successful performance of the side overall.
Victor Wanyama or Eric ier for the starting XI?
As Mousa Dembele and Christain Eriksen are key favourites in the Spurs midfield, Victor would be challenging for the starting spot of Eric Dier in the starting XI. Well, it could be argued that Dier is currently occupying Wanyama’s starting position.
An analysis of the statistics taken from this season highlight a marginal weight in favour of Wanyama as the better man for the position. Wanyama has averaged 3.27 recoveries per 90’ minutes and has a pass success rate of 88%. His English counterpart, however, clocks in slightly lower with 2.7 recoveries and a pass rate of 86%. Eric Dier has started 28 games this season, therefore these stats are most likely to be reflective of his current form. Wanyama’s statistics are taken simply from the limited minutes he has accrued whilst trying to steadily recover his knee to full-fitness. It can be assumed, therefore, that Wanyama’s stats are only going to improve as his knee strengthens.
Poch is a keen advocate of mixing the side up and will certainly find room for both players to expose their best form in the first team. A successful side always benefits from squad depth, and Spurs have the twinned force of Dier and Wanyama at Pochettino’s disposal. Therefore, the side wields formidable depth in the midfield area. The return of Wanyama may also see Eric Dier transition back towards a more defensive role, especially since Toby Alderweireld steadily continues his own recovery from a serious injury.
— Eric Dier (@ericdier) February 10, 2018
Spurs have eight games left to play in the Premier League and Pochettino will most certainly be pushing for a second place finish. They are currently four points behind Man Utd in 2nd and a point ahead of Liverpool in third – so the team needs to remain focused for the remainder of the season. Tottenham Hotspur are set to play Swansea in the F.A. Cup on Saturday, and it is important for these players to try and win the whole tournament: they need silverware as a motivational reminder of their glistening success in this season so far. Spurs experienced an unwelcomed setback in the shape of Harry Kane’s unfortunate injury; but Son, Alli, Eriksen – and Wanyama – have the mettle, and character, to push this Spurs team to the utmost limits of their potential.