Jose Mourinho made plenty of changes to his Tottenham team for Thursday night’s comfortable victory over LASK in the Europa League.
But one decision he made that came as a surprise was the selection of Ben Davies at centre-back.
The Welshman is traditionally a left-back but has played on the left of a back three for Wales in the past. Yet on Thursday, he played as left-sided centre-back in a back four.
Spurs have lacked a left-footed centre-half since Jan Vertonghen began to deteriorate last season, with Mourinho often picking Eric Dier in the role.
Davison Sanchez played there against West Ham United on Sunday (with Toby Alderweireld on the right) and looked uncomfortable throughout, scoring an own goal that led to the visitors’ remarkable comeback.
When Japhet Tanganga returns from injury, Mourinho will have a number of options at centre-back – but still no left-footed players.
Speaking after the win over LASK, Mourinho suggested Davies’ stronger foot makes him a viable option in the middle.
“Ben is very intelligent,” said Mourinho (via Football London). “So that’s why it’s quite easy to understand the difference between playing left-back, centre-back with five or centre-back with four. Of course left-footed there are not many centre-backs with a left foot. Some clubs have them but the majority don’t.
“To have him as an option is also good because to attack, the build-up is also important.”
Centre-back has been a major issue under Mourinho, with the Spurs boss struggling to land on his preferred partnership – so has he solved the problem with Davies?
It’s unlikely. Davies is only really likely to step in at centre-back because of injury and fitness issues. Dier and Tanganga were both absent on Thursday while Alderweireld was probably being rested for the Burnley game on Monday.
Tottenham might be best served by targeting a new left-footed centre-back in January or next summer.