Tottenham head into their huge clash with Liverpool on Saturday dealing with an injury crisis.
Not only is Jose Mourinho missing star striker Harry Kane – who has been ruled out until April – but he is also set to be without Tanguy Ndombele, as well as long-term absentees Hugo Lloris, Moussa Sissoko and Ben Davies.
Harry Winks also faces a late fitness test and is currently a doubt, leaving Jose Mourinho seriously short of options in central midfield for a game Spurs desperately need a result from as they hunt for a place in the top four.
Ndombele looked to have injured his groin just 25 minutes into Spurs’ match with Southampton, which was a huge blow considering his impressive performance to that point.
Sissoko picked up a medial collateral ligament injury against Saints too but played on and subsequently missed their disappointing 1-1 FA Cup draw with Middlesbrough and has now been ruled out until April.
The Boro game may also have come at a cost with Winks taking a heavy blow to his ankle.
He continued after the knock but the England international was eventually substituted after 56 minutes of the tie at the Riverside.
Now, having just drawn with Norwich and lost to Southampton, Spurs must battle league leaders Liverpool, who are romping to the Premier League title, without some of their best players.
Kane’s injury is a particular blow but perhaps unsurprising given he had played 90 minutes in every single game under Mourinho, apart from the loss away to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
Ndombele, meanwhile, appeared to have concerns about his conditioning prior to the festive period but was started in two consecutive games by the Portuguese manager.
It now leaves Spurs seriously short with 17-year-old Troy Parrott the only recognised specialist striker in the squad, although Heung-Min Son, Lucas Moura, and Dele Alli have previously been used as forwards.
In midfield it is a more complex matter; Ndombele has been far and away the best player in the middle of the park this campaign but his fitness issues have limited his impact.
Fans had tired of the Winks and Sissoko combination which lacked attacking output and any real creativity and thrust, but were still key first-teamers.
Eric Dier is still regaining his fitness after his illness having suffered a virus over the festive period, and Oliver Skipp is still considered to be learning the ropes.
Giovani Lo Celso, who spent his time at Paris Saint-Germain as a central midfielder has, slightly oddly, mainly been used in an advanced role, while Victor Wanyama has only made two substitute appearances this term and is set for a winter transfer.
Elsewhere, Christian Eriksen has played in deeper positions this season but has also spent a lot of time on the bench due to his seemingly impending exit.
All of this will leave Mourinho tearing his hair out as the unstoppable juggernaut that is Liverpool rolls into town.
So how could Tottenham line-up for the clash – which is LIVE on talkSPORT? We take a look, below…
Option 1 – 4-2-3-1
A favoured formation for Mourinho, we could see Sessengon at left wing with his defensive capabilities allowing him to drop back and form a back-five when Liverpool are on top.
Alli can drop in to form a midfield three out of possession in an attempt to stifle the Reds’ engine room and the combination could also help shut down Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right flank.
Son and Lucas Moura’s pace around their opponents could cause them a real nuisance, especially on the counter as Tottenham try to break quickly with long balls out from Paulo Gazzaniga.
Option 2 – 5-3-2
If Tottenham are looking for damage limitation, they could play in a back-five from the start.
This would see Sessegnon and Aurier a lot deeper and more reluctant to break forward, even when counter attacking.
Dier would be the major shield in front of the backline with Lo Celso and Eriksen attempting to break down their midfield before progressing the ball to wide forwards Son and Alli.
Mourinho’s arrival has seen an increase in long balls but against the dominant Virgil van Dijk this may be unwise.
As such, Son and Alli will need to use their excellent movement to find pockets of space which Eriksen and Lo Celso can then find with neat passes.
It will be tough but it could result in an improved defensive display.
Option 3 – 4-4-2 (diamond formation)
Should more creativity and an overload in central midfield be what Mourinho wants, he could opt for this formation.
This would allow Eriksen and Lo Celso, to be an extra body in the middle of pitch as they seek to wrest control from Liverpool at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
If the Reds do get the upper hand it can collapse into a team with wide men, but against Chelsea when Spurs were being attacked down the right flank Mourinho did not seem too keen on bringing Lucas and Son back to help their full-backs.
This suggests a narrow 4-4-2 may not be favourable for the Portuguese against Klopp’s side who will attack using their marauding stars Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson.
We’d urge caution on using this.
Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT as we bring you THREE live Premier League commentaries across our network, including Tottenham vs Liverpool at 5:30pm