Tottenham Hotspur head into Tuesday evening’s crucial Champions League meeting with Olympique de Marseille knowing that a point at the Orange Vélodrome will see them qualify for the knockout stages of the competition.
However, despite a 3-2 comeback win over AFC Bournemouth last time out, Spurs have endured something of a dip in form of late, losing 2-0 to Manchester United at Old Trafford, falling to a 2-1 defeat to Newcastle United at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and drawing 1-1 with Sporting Lisbon in their last three fixtures prior to Saturday’s dramatic victory.
As is perhaps to be expected after such results, a number of Antonio Conte’s squad have also somewhat underperformed in recent weeks, with Yves Bissouma, Davinson Sánchez and Emerson Royal all struggling to make a positive impact within the Tottenham side over the aforementioned fixtures.
However, it is undoubtedly the latter of this trio who has been the most disappointing for the north London side, with it appearing an absolute must for Conte to drop the Brazilian from his starting XI should he wish to give his team the best possible chance of leaving Marseille with a result this evening.
Indeed, the right-back has been a continual source of frustration for Tottenham this season, with the £26m signing – a figure which Barcelona reportedly “cannot believe Spurs offered to pay” – being sent off against Arsenal for a “stupid” challenge on Gabriel Martinelli, being ridiculed after playing a no-look pass out for a goal-kick in the dying stages of the 1-1 draw with Sporting and volleying an effort at goal out of the stadium in the win over Bournemouth last weekend.
Furthermore, the £40k-per-week flop has also been incredibly wasteful in the final third, losing possession an average of 11.7 times per game in the Premier League and 10.8 times per fixture in the Champions League, as well as completing just 0.4 crosses – at a success rate of 13% – per league match and 0.6 crosses – at a success rate of 33% – per continental game this term.
Rather unsurprisingly, these contributions have seen the £34.5m-rated defender draw a significant amount of criticism, with Carter Gaddis stating his belief that the six-cap international “should never play another minute for Tottenham” after his display against the Cherries and reporter Ethan Budowsky claiming that Emerson “is the worst player on every pitch he plays on“.
As such, with Spurs knowing that they absolutely must take something from the Marseille fixture in order to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League, Conte simply must drop the “complete liability” – in the words of Jamie O’Hara – tonight, or else Emerson could very easily end up costing Tottenham progression from their group.