With the new season nearly upon us, we take a look at Tottenham. Armed with a new manager and some top signings, they are ready to launch their Premier League title challenge...
Tottenham, under Harry Redknapp played a 4-4-1-1 formation with Rafael Van der Vaart playing in the hole just behind Emmanuel Adebayor. The formation sometimes did revert to a conventional 4-4-2 with Adebayor and Defoe/Saha playing up front.
However, with Andre Villas-Boas being the new coach, there is a possibility of him using a 4-2-3-1 to tap into the attacking talent at his disposal.
One of the two central midfield spots will probably be occupied by Sandro due to Scott Parker's injury absence and Sigurdsson alongside him. Rafael Van der Vaart will be expected to take up his usual role behind the central striker while Lennon and Bale will bomb down the flanks. Sigurdsson and Van der Vaart may occasionally exchange positions too, as the Icelandic loves going forward. When Parker is fit, Villas-Boas will have to choose between him and Sandro.
Jermain Defoe is the only recognised forward alongside Giovani dos Santos at Tottenham for now. However he cannot fulfill the role of a lone man upfront and as evidenced in the recent friendly encounters. Tottenham look a different and much better side when young academy graduate, Harry Kane plays up front. He held the ball up brilliantly bringing others into play, which Emmanuel Adebayor did splendidly last season. However you can confidently place your bets that Daniel Levy will pull a deadline day deal involving a target man.
Andre Villas-Boas, after his disastrous spell at Chelsea has a point to prove especially to his former employers. The Portuguese also needs to ensure that his impressive treble with Porto should not be forgotten as a mere flash in the pan.
With the capture of Villas-Boas, what Spurs get is a brand of attacking and exciting football. Villas-Boas is known to be very unpredictable with his lineups but he guarantees an attacking brand of football which is pleasing on the eye.
Jan Vertonghen, the 25 year old versatile Belgian defender who can play equally well at centre-back as well as left back besides slotting in as a defensive midfielder, has been signed from Ajax.
Vertonghen was one of the most sought after players this summer with Arsenal and AC Milan vying for his signature. He was also the 2011-12 Dutch (League) Footballer of the Year. Good on the ball and a strong physical presence, he typifies the ball playing defender who is not afraid to make those attacking forays into the opposition half. His recognised knack of goalscoring also proves that most of those attacking runs end with some result, more often than not.
Glyfi Sigurdsson has also been signed by Tottenham in what was seen as a coup, as they snatched the player from the jaws of both Liverpool and Swansea. The 22 year old, Icelandic superstar had already shown
what he has to offer after joining Swansea last season on loan from Hoffenheim. In that period he started 18 games for the Swans in the Premier League, scoring a brilliant 7 goals and setting up 3 others, in what was an astonishing return from a loanee.
A dead ball specialist and with great long range shooting ability, Sigurdsson has all the qualities to take over from Luka Modric at the heart of Spurs' midfield should the Croatian leave for Real Madrid. Besides that he is strongly built and at 6 feet tall and also cannot be easily harried off the ball. Overall a fantastic signing for Spurs that complements the young side perfectly.
Potential signings for crucial positions:Never mind their brilliant attacking strength, Spurs still lack a striker to play up front. On loan Adebayor had done the trick for them last term, but the failure to agree a deal with Manchester City to sign him has left Spurs with only Jermain Defoe and the out of favour Dos Santos. With talks of signing Brazillian Leandro Damiao cooling off recently, Spurs need to sort this out quick especially after his blistering performance at the Olympics which has brought in even more suitors for the young Brazillian. The effort to bring in Roberto Soldado met with rejection as Valencia did not want to let go of their star striker.
Another position which Spurs may look to fill is goal keeper. Brad Friedel, who is over 40 years is still pretty good between the posts. They do have Carlo Cudicini as the back up keeper but the former Chelsea player is 38 now while the error-prone Huerolo Gomes may not get many starts. Spurs need someone like a Hugo Lloris was linked with Spurs earlier in the transfer window however all the talks surrounding that move has fizzled out.
STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES
As pointed out earlier, the wealth of attacking talent that Spurs possess is mind boggling. If they manage to hold off Modric, then they have three world class play makers, the others being Van der Vaart and the young Sigurdsson. Such a squad means that the impressive Giovani Dos Santos does not get playing time in spite of being on fire for his national team.
With the rampaging Gareth Bale on the left flank, Tottenham have arguably the world's most devastating left winger as Inter Milan will testify. Aaron Lennon can waltz past any full backs at will, in the blink of an eye. Kyle Walker, the Premier League's Young Player of the Season and Benoit Assout-Ekotto are two like minded full backs who have tons of pace and like to join up in attack whenever they can, while being pretty solid defensively.
A fit Scott Parker is probably the Premier League's most potent midfield enforcer, constantly snapping at the opposition's heels. Even in his absence, Sandro can fit in perfectly and the young Brazillian has shown his true potential especially in the Olympics. Moreover with Jan Vertonghen ably marshalling the defense, Tottenham look strong at the back too.
Weaknesses:Jermain Defoe certainly lacks the required skills to play the lone striker upfront. The only backup strikers they have are youngsters Harry Kane and Cameron Lancaster, who are certainly nowhere near good enough for the Premier League.
With Villas-Boas's usual high line tactic, the likes of Kaboul and Gallas may struggle as they are not the quickest.
|Los Angeles Galaxy
|New York Red Bulls
PLAYER TO SHINE
We however pick Glyfi Sigurdsson as the man to watch out for. Joining a newly promoted team like Swansea on loan and scoring 7 goals in just 18 matches is no mean feat for a 22 year old youngster in his first stint at playing in the Premier League.
With better players around him now, we can only see his goal scoring prowess increase besides being able to manufacture more chances for his fellow players. Cool and composed on the ball for his age, if pre-season form is anything to go by, he is certainly ready to create waves in the new season no matter whether he starts the match or comes on as an impact substitute.
As pre-season came, I got what I wanted with Harry's departure. Villas-Boas' arrival was followed with deals such as Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jan Vertonghen. I was extremely positive about the new season but it all went blank from then on. No new signings, no Adebayor on a permanent deal, Jermain Defoe left as our only senior striker. Rivals started strengthening too, with Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla being snapped up by Arsenal, and Oscar to Chelsea. Suddenly it started to look bleak. Our obvious targets should be two strikers. Adebayor and Damiao are the closest being linked to us, and I really hope those deals happen. Other than that, Hugo Lloris would be the icing on the cake, with Big Brad now in his forties. This season, I hope we challenge for the top 4 spots and fourth would be a welcome finish for me. For that however, we need to get firepower in front of goal, and I hope we sort that out soon.
It's been 2 months since I have last seen a Spurs match and I can't wait for the new season to finally start. Although I could not catch the pre season matches, I am excited at the prospect of Villas-Boas being our manager and also the two new signings in the form of Vertonghen and Sigurdsson. I believe Villas-Boas can leave a lasting legacy and he also won't have to deal with inflated egos, thus Spurs will not be another Chelsea 'project' for sure.
How do you stay up with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com –your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.