It’s been a rollercoaster season for Tottenham thus far, appointing two new managers in less than seven months. After returning from a successful loan at Norwich City, ex-manager Nuno Espirito Santo found Oliver Skipp to be a steady force in midfield despite his inexperience and young age. 

After lackluster performances, Nuno was sacked and replaced by another manager who Skipp has equally won over. The dramatic appointment of Antonio Conte was expected to be followed up with a completely new-look side and shape, meaning no one’s position in the team was safe.

As the season has progressed, Skipp has only improved, and Tottenham looks to be a different side with him in the heart of midfield. His composure, tackling and passing ability, and understanding of the game do not reflect his age, nor do the statistics.

Spurs Bleed Without Skipp

The consistent presence of Skipp has been so vital throughout Tottenham’s fluctuating form this season, and without him, this team is not the same. Skipp has started 14 games in the Premier League, and in those games, Tottenham are 10-1-3. Their record dramatically falls when he doesn’t start, as without Skipp, Tottenham are 1-2-5 in the league.

The Impact of Oliver Skipp and the Problems Tottenham Have Had Without Him

Oliver Skipp has been a dominant force for Tottenham all season.

That’s 2.2 points per game with Skipp and .63 without him. The disparity is massive and reflects that he must be a staple in this Tottenham starting 11.

With many of Tottenham’s central midfielders leaving the club this past January transfer window on loan, Skipp’s time to shine is now, and they desperately need him back fit. Poor performances from Harry Winks and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg have left the position wide-open, and Skipp is the only player out of the three who has earned his spot. 

How Skipp Fits In

Now whether Conte elects to play three central midfielders vs. two is his decision; however, whichever he decides, Skipp must occupy one of the spots. I believe Tottenham are best under Conte in a 3-4-3 formation, making way for Brazilian winger Lucas Moura to start with Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son upfront.

While this requires dropping a midfielder from a slightly modified 3-5-2, I would give the nod to new signing Rodrigo Bentancur to share the midfield with Skipp in a double-pivot. Bentancur is a physically strong, fast, and technically gifted player that can make way for Oliver Skipp to do what he does best.

His ability to attack will allow Skipp to sit back and do the dirty work for Tottenham while also allowing Tottenham to have two midfielders that are comfortable on the ball. We’ve seen Conte thrive with this double-pivot in a back three at Chelsea, and Skipp and Bentancur have similar qualities to N’golo Kante and Nemanja Matic, who occupied these roles for them. 

Kante’s defensive awareness and energy allowed Matic to push forward and contribute towards eight goals in Chelsea’s title triumph in 2016-17. While Skipp is not at the level of Kante, neither is the rest of the Tottenham squad, and his age suggests that there is considerable room for improvement.

Tottenham’s chances to qualify for the Champions League next season have taken a hit in recent weeks; however, a good run of form to close out the season could make the difference. They currently sit in eighth in the Premier League with games in hand that can take them to fifth, just shy of Champions League qualification.

With Oliver Skipp coming back from injury soon, it will be vital for Conte to throw him right back into the team and let him do what he does best. He’s young and hasn’t spent much time in the Premier League; however, he has been one positive that Tottenham can relish amidst many negatives throughout this rocky season.

 


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