In the absence of Jan Vertonghen, pundits and even the most optimistic fans can be forgiven for a period of disillusionment and an unerring fear of the term ‘Spursy’ escaping from the nightmare zone of yesteryear. A criminal lack of conviction has emerged from such events previously, with injuries prompting returns of juvenile performers such as Vlad Chiriches and Younes Kaboul. Injury was the real test to the case for defence. Spurs, a unit so synchronous, the hospitalising of the chief detective’s partner would, in theory, cause a mutation in the force. Though, Kevin Wimmer has proven himself to be less of a deputy, or a complication to the balance, but as a leading man. In fact, individually showing himself to be very much his own man and a contender to replace Jan Vertonghen in the side. In a twist of fate, injury has offered one of the most exciting selection conundrums at Tottenham and not a cause for grieving.
This season has seen the footballing evolution of Tottenham Hotspur and to embodiment of the Pochettino style, orchestrated from deep. What is poignant is the creative influence that centre halves have in the season, most notably from goals provided by Toby Alderweireld to Dele Alli against West Bromwich Albion. Kevin Wimmer has been exemplary in this aspect of the game. As a consequence of Eric Dier dropping in between the aforementioned pair, the angle of the pass opens up the central region of the pitch with the opposition shuffling into the wider zone to close the wider area off. I believe this pass is the most crucial in the creative passage of play for the way as it cuts directly through opposition press whether high or mid-press. Jan although assured in possession, his passing lacks the distinction and caused the play to have a greater focus on the Alderweireld dimension towards or the central pivot. Wimmer’s 87.7% passing success ratio is the second greatest in the Spurs side of players that have played over 5 games- Dembele being the only player to surpass Wimmer. The performance that best typifies Wimmer’s technical qualities best was at Carrow Road, with the composure in bringing the ball directly out from the defence line in a way not dissimilar to Vertonghen, but retaining the concentration that is necessary for the individual components of the defence. Vertonghen, for his undoubted quality in the first half of the season is susceptible to lapses in concentration, drifting into wider regions of the back four.
Defensively, the individual components of the unit need to have the concentration and the positional discipline to be labelled a unit. As a rule, Jan Vertonghen bought into the unit this season and has been truly outstanding but, in games such as Monaco Away it has cost goals. With the meanest defence in the Premier League, prior to and after Vertonghen’s injury, it does seem almost comical to isolate an individual for weakness or imperfection but it must be considered that with the title in range the margins for error are far smaller, especially when the defensive component of the team had been so rapid in improvement. Wimmer, also is with said fault, in the tackling aspect of the game. According to squawka.com, Wimmer has committed just three less fouls than Vertonghen in around 1500 less minutes. With margins so fine, in games like the title decided against Manchester City, Wimmer’s tendency to miss time a sum of his tackles almost costing the side a goal to an excellent Yaya Toure free kick. It would be reasonable to deduce this was as a result of inexperience, and thus can be a logical reason to pick a once fit again player over another.
In games of particular emotional complexity, due to pressure of a title race, the mechanical logic would be to opt for the player with greater experience and to pluck for the elder statesman of the side, at age 28. But Tottenham have not been logical or predictable, the achievements of this season are to be considered in the same or a close bracket of Leicester because the shift has been remarkable between a soft, malleable side to a team labelled ‘animals’ by Quique Sanchez Flores. Watching Wimmer, I feel assured and I truly believe when Jan Vertonghen is fit, he must earn his position in the side in turn, meaning an immediate recall would not be just. Kevin Wimmer is a player that has shown he is a true winner. Needless to say, the fact this article even exists highlights the wonderful depth and quality of the Tottenham Hotspur side.
Statistics from www.whoscored.com