Why Pochettino should start this Spurs player against West Ham United

Bentaleb, Fazio

Tottenham Hotspur host London rivals West Ham United on Sunday.

Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino has a tough decision to make regarding his starting line-up on Sunday but the inclusion of Federico Fazio should be a must.

Spurs go in to the game with only two full days' rest after being held by Fiorentina 1-1 at White Hart Lane in the Europa League on Thursday night.

Pochettino made a number of changes to the team which lost 3-2 at Liverpool last weekend, presumably because the Argentine has one eye on Sunday’s game given what is at stake.

The Lilywhites currently lie in sixth spot in the Premier League table, three points behind Southampton in fourth and five points clear of their opponents West Ham who occupy eighth spot.

Sam Allardyce’s men aren’t exactly in top form heading in to the match, yet their strengths are obvious and their attacking threat from wide areas and set pieces remains among the best in the Premier League.

Spurs know what they are likely to face on Sunday, and a key decision Pochettino has to make is which centre-back pairing he is going to select with the task of preventing the Hammers’ aerial threat.

Jan Vertonghen is all-but certain to start, and many would predict the impressive Eric Dier to join him, but perhaps on this occasion an exception will be made.

  Tackles per GameEffective Clearances per GameInterceptions per GameBall Recoveries per Game% Aerial Battles Won per GameAppearancesMins Played
Eric Dier 1.8 2.87 1.47 3.33 59.6% 15 1,120
Federico Fazio 1.23 8.69 2.92 4.69 76.6% 13 1,147

As per the table provided by Opta Stats, when comparing Fazio and Dier their contrasting styles point to different results but the former Sevilla man clearly comes out on top.

Fazio produces on average 8.69 effective clearances and 2.92 interceptions per game, trumping his teammate in both categories, though Dier does come out on top in the average number of tackles.

However, against a direct team such as West Ham, Fazio’s tall frame allows him to be more dominant in the air and his numbers speak for themselves – winning 76.6% of his aerial battles compared to Dier's 59.6%.

As games against the East Londoners have often come down to fine margins in recent seasons, should Fazio’s fitness levels hold up then he ought to be seriously considered as a starter on Sunday.

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