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Danny Higginbotham surprised at Jan Vertonghen's absence

Dean Smith head coach of Aston Villa is greeted by Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa at Tottenham Hotspur...

Jan Vertonghen missed Tottenham Hotspur's opening day Premier League win last Saturday.

Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham Hotspur looks on during the 2019 International Champions Cup match between Tottenham Hotspur and FC Internazionale at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on August 04,...

Sky Sports pundit Danny Higginbotham has admitted that it came as a 'big surprise' to him when Mauricio Pochettino opted to drop Jan Vertongen from Tottenham's matchday squad last Saturday.

Spurs recorded a 3-1 win over Aston Villa on the opening day of the Premier League weekend, with Vertongen not being part of the matchday squad despite being fit, as Davinson Sanchez partnered Toby Alderweireld at the back.

Apart from a sticky first half, where Villa looked threatening on the counter and opened the scoring through John McGinn, the defensive duo did the job for their team. 


Speaking to Match Centre on Sky Sports News (15/08/2019 at 10:30 am), former Premier League defender Higginbotham was intrigued by Pochettino's decision to drop Vertonghen and whether he will return for the Manchester City clash. 

"It was a big surprise," Higginbotham told Sky Sports News. "I think Pochettino was asked about it afterwards and he just talked about using the squad and what have you. 

"But, for me, there isn't much of a better partnership in the Premier League than Alderweireld and Vertonghen. So, I think what we have to do now is look at the Manchester City game and say, 'right, if it's once against Alderweireld and Sanchez' then there are questions to be asked. 

"This is arguably Tottenham's biggest test coming up and that's where you want your best team as much as possible. It will be good to see the teamsheet when it comes in and then we can evaluate it from there." 

Jan Vertonghen and Ben Davies of Tottenham Hotspur during the Tottenham Hotspur training session at Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre on August 15, 2019 in Enfield, England.

It could be argued that during that win against Villa, they should have perhaps added a second goal to their name before Tanguy Ndombele equalised late in the second half.

Nonetheless, Spurs will now face a completely different beast in champions Manchester City on Saturday, as they cannot afford to produce the same lacklustre display they put out in that first-half against Villa.

It will be interesting to see if Vertonghen does make a return because his experience, calmness and added quality at the back could prove to be pivotal for Pochettino's chances of beating Pep Guardiola's men. 

Pep Guardiola, manager of Manchester City talks to his players during the training session at Manchester City Football Academy on August 14, 2019 in Manchester, England.

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