Mauricio Pochettino couldn’t have asked for a better start to his side’s Premier League campaign.
Coming from the end of a 3-1 victory against newly promoted Aston Villa, they were given a reality check against sterner opponents in the name of Manchester City.
As always, the game had its fair share of drama and in the end, VAR proved to be the difference as both sides eventually played out to a 2-2 draw.
While a certain Harry Kane always dominates the headlines for all of his goals, an area that could be telling for Spurs in the coming weeks is in the defence – and more particularly, the right-back position.
A cloud of debate has recently emerged about Pochettino’s lineup and his choice of starting 22-year-old Kyle Walker-Peters.
Ideally, Tottenham do have a rich number of candidates to call upon for the position but he does seem the most credible at the moment – at least to the Argentine coach.
In his defence though, Aurier is rumoured to want to leave, 21-year-old Juan Foyth is injured – which all but leaves Kyle Walker-Peters as the ideal option to get an extended run in the team.
Aurier’s loyalties might be in question at the moment, but never his abilities. Fresh from returning from national duty with Ivory Coast at the AFCON, many had expected him to keep a place in the Spurs lineup.
The Ivorian may be his preferred choice in the big matches, but the Argentine coach needs to have a rotational option.
In Foyth, he has a player that he can be coached to do well in the right-back role, even if he wouldn’t be an immediate success.
At the moment though, he’s out injured – so that puts him out of the fold.
This tactical analysis shows a comparison between the 26-year-old Serge Aurier and a relatively young Kyle Walker-Peters.
Is Pochettino justified to start the youngster ahead of the former?
In this aspect, the Ivorian easily comes out on top.
His 0.9 interceptions, 2.1 clearances and 0.3 blocks per game significantly dwarfs the Englishman’s 0.7 interceptions. 0.1 clearances and 0.2 blocks per game.
The crushing blow being the distant margin in the number of tackles made per game.
Serge Aurier made an impressive 2.5 tackles per game which is more than double that of Kyle Walker-Peters at 1.2 per game.
In plain terms, the Ivorian is a more reliable candidate for solidity at the back.
(all stats via Whoscored.com**)
Going forward, Kyle-Walker Peters seems to be more productive and it is this reason that will perhaps be the reason he gets a good run of games.
Pochettino is well known for his characteristic style of play that involves him having attacking fullbacks in any squad he uses.
Spurs lost an attacking asset in Kieran Tripper and perhaps Kyle Walker-Peters could help ease those wounds.
Not alarming that both players scored no goals over the course of last season but an area of interest is in their attacking contributions.
Aurier only comes out on top with the number of shots per game (0.5) compared to Walker-Peters’ (0.2) per game. That all comes to nothing, as aforementioned that both players have no goals to show for.
It’s interesting to note that the latter had one more assist (3) despite him playing less than half the total number of minutes than the Ivorian last season – who only racked up two assists in the process.
Kyle Walker-Peters: Was one of only two players to register three assists in a Premier League match last season
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 27, 2019
Also, Kyle Walker-Peters boasts a better passing range at 1.2 key passes per game and an 87% pass accuracy compared to Aurier’s 0.8 key passes per game and a less impressive pass accuracy of 75%.
Talking of stability, Serge Aurier was dispossessed 0.9 times averagely per game, significantly more than the 22-year-old’s 0.5 times per game.
If you want a defender who is more capable of retaining possession going forward, the answer is definitely clear.
(all stats via Whoscored.com**)
As a young player, he has much to learn and may not be as imposing as Aurier but is a solid and dependable player which may suit Spurs now due to the attacking threat we have in midfield.
The next matches in the calendar for Spurs are Newcastle and Arsenal, one easier than the other.
These represent more opportunities for Kyle Walker-Peters to help keep some clean sheets, maybe get an assist or two, and solidify his claim as Spurs’ first-choice right-back for this season.