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."
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.
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