While Tottenham was superb in their 2-0 win over Bournemouth yesterday, the absence of a clinical forward reinforced the club’s transfer priority.
Richarlison’s struggles in front of goal are well documented. The club’s record £50 million signing has a single goal in 30 Premier League appearances.
That anemic offensive output continuously puts Tottenham at a massive disadvantage, which has become even more pronounced since Harry Kane’s departure.
Let’s momentarily focus on the current campaign and wipe from our memory last year’s one goal in a 27-match return.
Unfortunately for the Brazilian, things haven’t improved much in the first three matches. He’s the only player in the starting 11 whose performance level has not been positively impacted since Ange’s arrival.
Don’t get me wrong, Richarlison perpetually works his socks off for the side, always putting in a full-blooded effort.
But that’s not enough in the world’s most competitive league.
I felt writer’s remorse, at least momentarily, about giving Richarlison a 3/10 rating for his performance yesterday on the south coast. However, in retrospect, it aligns with what he deserved.
Richarlison missed two sitters in the first half, one with his head at the back post and one after receiving a brilliant pass from James Maddison. Instead of hitting it first time, he tried to take an extra touch, the play resulting without as much as a shot on target.
Richarlison tripped on the ball in the second half, falling over and losing possession. He compounded that mistake by lashing out for an undisciplined yellow card. While I understand the Brazilian’s frustration, committing two wrongs never makes a right.
In the first two matches, Richarlison had a paltry 0.2 expected goals. So he didn’t have any clear-cut chances. That’s an issue in its own right.
Yesterday’s match against Bournemouth was an entirely different kettle of fish for Richarlison, who had two golden scoring opportunities. At least he found a way to get into an excellent scoring position twice, but the result was the same, wherein lies the issue.
It’s the worst-case scenario when centre forwards aren’t provided an opportunity by their teammates. That certainly wasn’t the case for Richarlison against Bournemouth.
Even if it was, elite strikers find a way to create chances independently if necessary.
The same cannot be said for Richarlison, at least lately.
Tottenham back to their one-forward way
The best teams have two elite players at almost every position. So even if Richarlison was bagging goals at will, he should have an understudy at the ready.
Tottenham has no such Premier League-ready understudy.
That was a common theme for Spurs during most of Kane’s tenure. Supporters finally thought, when Spurs purchased Richarlison from Everton, the club’s rely-on-one-front-man madness was a thing of the past.
Richarlison should start scoring again at some point. He had three double-digit-goal seasons at Everton, the bare minimum of what should be expected at Ange’s Tottenham.
But even if he scores 10 or more, Richarlison needs help. With a week remaining in the transfer window, it’s incumbent upon Tottenham to sign one centre forward or an attacking midfielder who can at least mimic a No. 9.
Otherwise, we’re back in the same position we were for years, but to a much more severe degree. At least before Bayern Munich came knocking, we could count on a minimum of 20 goals from a certain Englishman. That is clearly not the case where Richarlison is concerned.
Regardless of how many Richarlison scores, Tottenham has transitioned to a goals-by-committee reality. And that’s working perfectly to start the campaign. But at some point, you need your No. 9 to bag a few goals.
If Richarlison can’t do the job, Tottenham needs someone to step in and produce. And playing Sonny centrally, while an effective backup plan, is not the solution.
- Published on 08/27/2023 at 6:00 AM BST
- Last updated on 08/27/2023 at 6:00 AM BST