Since the return of Premier League football, Jose Mourinho has opted to change his defensive pairing with Sanchez and Eric Dier brought in to stop Spurs leaking goals.
Eric Dier – Is he Jose Mourinho’s Perfect Defender?
In Mourinho’s first 6 months, Spurs have conceded 24 goals in the Premier League and only kept three clean sheets under the Portuguese manager. The ‘Special One’ is known to build his success by creating a solid foundation in defence but has struggled to find his perfect formula at Spurs.
Before football in England was suspended in March, Toby Aldweireld was a regular in Mourinho’s defence with Eric Dier slowly introduced in the final few games. However, the Belgian has yet to gain any minutes since Spurs’ return. Sanchez and Dier have been chosen, and the latter grabbing the plaudits from supporters and Mourinho.
Could Mourinho have found his central defender to build his defence around?
Eric Dier’s performances in stats
Strong Performance against Man Utd
The 26-year-old’s performance was encouraging against Manchester United, albeit that one silly mistake that cost the team three points. Looking away from the individual error, Dier had an impressive display, winning seven duels on the night and he also made nine clearances, compared to his partner Sanchez who only won two duels and seven clearances.
Whilst Dier was the player to cost Spurs three valuable point, he was also the man to allow Spurs to grab the one point. At 1-0 to Spurs, Fernandes played a lovely ball to Martial inside the area, who took one touch onto his right before unleashing his shot. However, Dier got across to block the shot which looked certain to hit the back of the net.
Promising signs in the second Premier League game
A few days later, West Ham traveled to Spurs and Antonino was the man chosen to cause havoc among Spurs defenders. However, Dier once again produced a strong performance by not allowing Antonio time on the ball and beating the striker in the air every time the ball was pumped forward.
The Spurs defender won nine aerial battles, with Sanchez only winning one, and made three clearances. West Ham or Antonio failed to create any problems for Hugo Lloris with Spurs collecting their first clean sheet since January.
Not only has he shown defensive qualities, but Dier also has the calmness and maturity to play out from defence, mainly from his time in midfield. The defender averaged around 83% pass success in his last two games. This is similar to the stats achieved by Alderweireld and Sanchez.
Especially in one part of the game at 0-0, Dier struggled to find anyone in space. But instead of lumping the ball forward, the defender coolly carried the ball from the back, making his way forward before unleashing his shot which just went wide of the post. Not many defenders have the calmness to carry the ball, let alone from their own six-yard box.
Can Eric Dier be Spurs’ main defender under Jose Mourinho?
It’s very early to say if Dier could rejuvenate his Spurs career but he has made the right impression since the Premier League resumption.
Looking at Dier’s physicality, the defender is 6ft 2in which gives him an advantage in winning aerial balls. He is also bigger built compared to any other of the Spurs defenders and gives Spurs that physical presence at the back which has been clearly missed throughout the season.
The only problem that could affect his career at Spurs if he was to suffer another major injury. Across the 2018/19 campaign, Dier missed a total of 20 Spurs games which led him to be out of favour under Pochettino. Since his last injury at the beginning of the season, the 26-year-old has kept fit. But this will no doubt be a concern for supporters and Mourinho if he was to suffer another injury himself.
However, with financial implications from COVID-19, Spurs are unlikely to spend a huge amount on a new central defender this summer. This could give Dier the opportunity to keep impressing Mourinho and really cement a spot in the defence.