Victor Wanyama managed to complete 82 minutes before his substitution in the late 1-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion F.C. Previously, he had made his return in the nevertheless glorious second-leg versus Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final. This was promising to see for a player struggling with his knee injury. Now, he is back, yet not as dynamic as his old self. However, he can play a role in the Tottenham Hotspur squad.
Victor Wanyama Returns as Spurs Midfield Lynchpin in Late Brighton Victory
His best strength is arguably his strength itself on the ball. There are very few players that can match his physicality. There were multiple occasions against Brighton where the Kenyan embarrassed the Seagulls’ players with his strength. When Spurs need a more resolute midfield, combining Wanyama with Moussa Sissoko is a great way to reinforce their play.
Next up is Wanyama’s simple style of play. Whilst Lucas Moura, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen can run rings round, or pass round, their opponents, Wanyama is like Sissoko in being able to play simple yet effective football. There is always a place in the team for a physically strong player who is able to retain possession and then supply his more creative team-mates. On the whole against Brighton, Wanyama retained possession well, with a few misplaced passes.
The slowness of Wanyama’s play often showcases his strength on the ball. Nevertheless, if he were to play just a little bit quicker, as he has often done prior to extensive injuries, he would be a greater force in midfield. Unfortunately, he is often a little too slow in acceleration to catch the more nifty of midfield opponents. Perhaps when paired with Sissoko this isn’t such an issue. Or, alternatively, if he is merely deployed as an anchorman in front of the defence, he would be able to drop back and assess players with that kind of pace.
As in the match against Brighton, Spurs were limited to long shots outside the box. This often fell to the likes of Toby Alderweireld, but also that of Wanyama. Now, despite that phenomenal strike against Liverpool in February 2018, his overall shooting ability can definitely be improved upon. He is the kind of player that opposing managers would say to let them have a shot from far out. Clearly, though, he has the power to smash in stunning goals. Mauricio Pochettino could decide to enforce a little more discipline on his more defensive players in demanding them to stick to playing through the phases, or the player may just need to spend a little more time sharpening his aim.
A defensive midfielder should be able to last the full 90 minutes. Wanyama couldn’t quite manage that in both the Champions League and the Premier League match. After returning from a long-term knee injury this is hardly a surprise. Over time, he will be able to regain this fitness and take steps to become the player he once was. Nevertheless, he still retains the strength he has on the ball, sticks to a simple yet effective style of play and can score a screamer on a rare occasion. If Spurs continue to be so tight with their budget, they may as well keep hold of this asset as a key squad player. With so many injuries plaguing the squad each season, and indeed Wanyama himself, there will definitely be a place for this professional, hard-working and diligent player