Even by Tottenham Hotspur’s standards it has been an unusually turbulent summer, with the furore over Gareth Bale’s future overshadowing the fact that Spurs have broken their transfer record twice, and even signed a top class striker.
All of this, along with the return of long-term absentees like Younes Kaboul and Sandro, has meant that few would dare to hazard a guess at Andre Villas-Boas starting eleven for Spurs’ Premier League opener against Crystal Palace on the 18th August.
This weekend’s friendly against Espanyol will be crucial in ascertaining which players are ready for the start of the season, and it will be especially important for new signings Roberto Soldado, Paulinho and Nacer Chadli, with two of those players yet to feature at all in a Spurs shirt.
Villas-Boas has opted to ease new signings in slowly in the past, with Jan Vertonghen not starting the first game of last season despite the fact he had signed early in the summer, but should Soldado, Paulinho and Chadli impress against Espanyol, all three could play a part against Palace.
Emmanuel Adebayor is away on compassionate leave and Jermain Defoe picked up a slight injury against Monaco, and having spent £26million on him, Spurs will surely want Soldado on the pitch as soon as possible.
In midfield Sandro is still recovering from the injury which saw him miss most of last season, and Paulinho, who should be match-fit thanks to the Confederations Cup and the different calendar of the Brazilian league, could be thrust into the starting eleven.
Chadli, who started against Monaco, could also play on opening day, with Gareth Bale’s future unlikely to be resolved by then.
There are also questions about the Spurs defence, with their first choice centre-backs all absent from the Monaco match, and it would be a huge relief to Spurs fans if Michael Dawson was to play a part against Espanyol.
The match will be vital for establishing who could play against Crystal Palace, and it is an important chance for all of Spurs new signings to make an impression.
image: © visualkreator