With the summer transfer window having come and gone, Tottenham Hotspur can now turn their full attention toward maintaining what has been a largely positive start to life under new boss Ange Postecoglou so far this season, with a trip to face Burnley to come later today.
Despite slipping up on the opening weekend after playing out a 2-2 draw away to Brentford, impressive wins over both Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth in recent weeks have helped to propel the Lilywhites into the mix at the summit, with there little sign as yet that the club are suffering following the loss of former talisman Harry Kane to Bayern Munich.
Having raked in a sizeable £100m fee for the England skipper – who had just a year left to run on his deal at N17 – last month, the north London outfit reinvested a fair chunk of those funds late on deadline day, having forked out £45m in order to snap up Brennan Johnson from Nottingham Forest.
While the versatile asset – who can feature all across the front line – is unlikely to be viewed as a direct replacement for Kane in attack, the hope will be that the 22-year-old can go somewhat help to carry the goalscoring burden over the coming years.
Can Brennan Johnson play against Burnley?
Despite having sold the aforementioned Kane in the early weeks of August, it took until the last knockings of deadline day for chairman Daniel Levy to finally use that wealth of cash to acquire Johnson, with the lateness of the deal ensuring that the Wales international is set to be restricted to a watching brief at Turf Moor this afternoon.
That ensures that Spurs supporters will be forced to wait to see their new man in action, while another first-team figure who is also not set to be involved against the Clarets is Argentine playmaker, Giovani Lo Celso, with the 27-year-old having sustained “a quad strain” during the midweek Carabao Cup defeat to Fulham – as per Postecoglou.
As per BBC Sport, the expectation is that Brazilian enigma, Richarlison, will be fit to feature despite having sustained an ankle injury against the Cottagers, with that outing having seen the former Everton man get off the mark for the new season with a well-taken header.
Despite that much-needed goal for the 26-year-old – which ultimately proved in vain as Postecoglou’s men crashed out on penalties – there is an argument to be made that the Brazilian should still find himself ditched from the starting XI today, having hardly proven that he is worthy of being the man to lead the line in Kane’s absence.
Will Richarlison start today?
After finally getting himself on the scoresheet this season after nodding past Marek Rodak at Craven Cottage, the £90k-per-week marksman will likely be chomping at the bit to try and kick on from that effort by continuing to fire against Vincent Kompany and co this afternoon.
That being said, however, the return to Premier League action will see the hot-headed striker involved in a competition in which he has distinctly underwhelmed since making the move to the capital on a £60m deal last year, having bagged just a solitary top-flight goal in that time.
After previously netting ten league goals during the 2021/22 campaign to help fire his former employers away from danger, things just simply haven’t worked in his new surroundings to date, with pundit Gabby Agbonlahor previously indicating that the mercurial talent needs to “wake up”, or else could quickly find himself on the scrapheap.
Despite now being the only out-and-out senior striker at the club – aside from teenage arrival, Alejo Veliz – that’s not to suggest that Richarlison should simply keep his place in the side by default, with it still somewhat of a head-scratching decision for Levy not to have acquired a potential competitor to the one-time Watford man through the middle.
As could be the case today, and moving forward, there is a chance that long-serving sensation, Heung-min Son could be tasked with leading the line instead, with respected journalist Alasdair Gold having stated as such after reflecting on what he described as a “strange window” for the club:
“No new number nine and I still think Son will end up filling that role in a different but effective way.”
That view is a rather damning assessment of Richarlison’s woes as Postecoglou could be set to consider a far more unorthodox option – like Son – to be his first-choice pick at centre-forward, despite the South Korean star having typically done much of his damage over the years from the left flank.
It could be the case that a figure such as Manor Solomon is utilised in that wide berth instead, ensuring Richarlison may find himself watching on from the bench both against the newly-promoted Clarets, and beyond.
How has Richarlison performed this season?
There may be those questioning the wisdom of dropping a player who has only recently got a much-needed goal, although as Postecoglou himself admitted, the one-time Fluminense hotshot did not produce a particularly standout all-round display, with the experienced tactician having stated:
“I actually think that he’s played better in the other games.”
That’s not to suggest that the striker was particularly impressive in his prior outings, however, with 90min’s Ewan Ross-Murray noting that Richarlison looks ‘devoid of any confidence’ after he squandered ‘several chances’ against the Cherries last week.
A player with “no standout attributes” – according to Agbonlahor – the 6 foot hitman lost possession 11 times from just 29 touches against the south coast side and won just four of his 12 total duels, with those woes seeing him a record a lowly 6.3 match rating, as per Sofascore, by far the worst record of any of his starting teammates.
Even in the victory over Man United the misfiring asset was again something of a liability having lost the ball 15 times from only 28 touches, while also winning just one of 12 total duels on that occasion, having ‘struggled to make inroads’, according to the Evening Standard’s Dan Kilpatrick.
Although his midweek strike could be the catalyst to help reverse those fortunes, the evidence points to a player who is hardly offering much to Postecoglou at present, be it offensively or defensively, hence why a rather ruthless change could lie in store when the teams are announced in the near future.