Crisis averted for now but Mourinho knows he is papering over the cracks
corner, but credit must be given for the spirit and desire of players who have had their character questioned more than once this season.
But while this result keeps Tottenham’s season alive in terms of trying to secure a route into the Europa League, it will not paper over the more long-term cracks, one of which was evident yesterday.
Mourinho admitted almost a fortnight ago that right-back was a position in which Spurs were “a little bit more in trouble” and Serge Aurier certainly experienced problems against Arsenal – the team he used to watch when he was young.
The fact Mourinho only has Aurier to call on perhaps encapsulates why some supporters believe Levy’s stewardship is partly to blame for ley man competing with Aurier, but he was never replaced after moving to Atletico Madrid last summer.
Aurier has always taken risks since joining Spurs from Paris StGermain three years ago and, with no competition to keep him on his toes, he appears to have regressed.
He angered the club by breaking lockdown three times and yet still he was able to walk straight back into the Spurs team for the restart to the season because, frankly, Mourinho has nobody else to choose.
Asked a couple of weeks ago whether he would have to look at rotating Aurier because of the heavy schedule, Mourinho replied: “The right-back position is where we are a little bit more in trouble.
“In training we used sometimes [Oliver] Skipp, we used sometimes Gedson [Fernandes]. We know we can also use Toby. So, in emergency situations, here we go. Even Moussa Sissoko did it already, too. So, yes, it’s the position we don’t have a second body.”
Fans would argue that Aurier’s first-half performance yesterday constituted an emergency. He gave the ball away twice in the build-up to Lacazette’s opening goal and was booked for a stupid challenge on the same player. It did not get much better after the break, either, as it was Aurier who was slow to react when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thundered a shot off the crossbar.
Mourinho cannot move Alderweireld out to full-back, as he had suggested he might, because Eric Dier has since been suspended and the Belgian is needed in the centre of defence.
Alderweireld ended up becoming the unlikely match-winner, but this victory is no more than a sticking plaster. A new right-back would be a good start to a more long-term cure to this season’s problems.