Tottenham Hotspur return to Europa League action with a trip to Hungary to face Austrian outfit Wolsfberger AC at the Puskas Arena later this evening.
Jose Mourinho’s side will be looking to bounce back from their poor domestic form to put themselves in a strong position for the second leg in north London next week.
Should Lamela start tonight?
The Spurs boss has plenty to consider in terms of team selection as they’ve won just once in their last six outings in all competitions.
And the 58-year-old could bolster his chances of picking up a victory in Europe tonight by axing Erik Lamela from the starting XI after a disappointing outing last time out…
On the Chalkboard
The Argentinian winger has started three successive matches for the first time under the ‘Special One’ but was found wanting as a mere passenger in their 3-0 defeat to Man City at the weekend.
No other attacking player received a worse rating than his 6.2 per SofaScore, and by the 72nd minute, he was hooked having picked up a yellow card and not much else.
Lamela was a bit of a liability on the night, picking up a match-high four fouls, a disappointing consequence of his somewhat industrious work-rate while no visiting star was as weak as him in his battles as he lost 73% of his duels both on the ground and aerially, via SofaScore.
Earlier in the season, the former Roma sensation was dubbed “pathetic” by Graeme Souness on Sky Sports (via football.london) for his role in getting Anthony Martial sent off, while Seb Stafford-Bloor claimed he has a “provocative attitude” to the TIFO podcast – only adding to his livewire nature.
In a career tormented by injuries – he has missed 108 games since joining for £30m in 2013 – the 28-year-old has failed to prove his worth in what game time he has had, it’s often a purple patch of a game or two, which gets curtailed by niggles and inconsistencies, as seen by the fact that he hasn’t been rated above a 6.77 in any game since late October, as per WhoScored.
Given the quality of tonight’s opponents, it would be a surprise to see many regular starters feature, but as Lamela has been in the lineup frequently, he is someone who can be ‘rested’ or in this case, dropped.
Steven Bergwijn should be fresh having not started just one of Spurs’ last three games, whilst an opportunity for Gareth Bale could help alleviate some of the speculation surrounding his place at Spurs – and beyond.
Ultimately, 19 goals in the previous five seasons isn’t good enough, and that’s something Gabby Agbonlahor alluded to when speaking to Football Insider last week, he claimed that Lamela has “not really lived up to expectations.”
Considering his £14.4m value and £80k-per-week wages, the Andre Villas-Boas signing really should be doing a lot more and based on both his recent performances and his long-term returns, he should not warrant a place in Mourinho’s starting XI tonight.
Brutal. Ruthless. Mourinho must axe Lamela in Budapest.
AND in other news, Exclusive: Verdict dropped on emerging Gareth Bale issue…