Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas brought in seven new signings this summer but who will become his best starting XI this season at White Hart Lane?
Formation: 4-5-1 or 4-4-1-1
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris
Whilst Brad Freidel really imposed himself on Villas-Boas first-team in the first half of last season, the younger Frenchman came though to force his way into the line-up in the latter stages of last term and he’ll be the first choice between the sticks as long as he keeps his form and fitness but, obviously, it’s great for the boss to have such a top class alternative in the American.
Central Defence: Jan Vertonghen & Michael Dawson
The pairing in the middle of Villas-Boas back four will be a very interesting contest this season, due to the abundance of quality options the coach has at his disposal.
I would imagine it will come down to form and fitness but Jan Vertonghen was easily one of the best defenders in the league last term, possibly the best. Michael Dawson is the captain but both he and Younes Kaboul have their fitness struggles.
Kaboul was outstanding prior to his injury that kept him out for most of last season and the arrival of youngster Vlad Chiriches will keep everyone on their toes.
I think Kaboul is a more solid and reliable defender these days but I’m going for the captain to partner the Belgian because I think Kaboul will need some time to slowly get back to match fitness and top form, plus Dawson has more experience and has the greater influence on the team from a leadership point of view.
Fullbacks: Danny Rose & Kyle Walker
The young English pair are two of Tottenham’s most exciting breakthrough acts in the last year or so – Rose impressed on loan at Sunderland last term and I think the departure (on loan) of Benoit Assou-Ekotto speaks bounds about how much faith the boss has in the young left-back.
Meanwhile, Kyle Walker has stepped up and shown his immense capability and the other Kyle (Naughton) will compete with him on the right side of the backline to ensure he keeps his focus.
Central Midfield: Sandro, Moussa Dembele & Christian Eriksen
This is the most difficult choice of all, due to the wealth of quality options in the central midfield positions. I expect a strong fight for the defensive midfield position between a fully fit Sandro who, prior to injury last term was one of Spurs’ best players and I expect him to return in that fashion, and the new arrival Etienne Capoue.
The reason I’ve gone for the Brazilian is not only due to Capoue’s injury in the North London derby (which shouldn’t keep him out too long) but also because of his performance in that game. Capoue is a really exciting player but it was clear in that game, he needs time to adapt (as does Paulinho) and I think in his absence Sandro will re-establish himself.
Meanwhile, Moussa Dembele had a good, bad and sometimes ugly debut season for Spurs last term – he showed flashes of brilliance but not consistently enough.
However, I still think he’ll be a big player for Tottenham this term – I think his immense quality and his work-ethic will push him up the pecking order despite the expensive new arrivals – I’d pick him ahead of Paulinho but I’m sure there will be many who disagree.
How do you choose between Lewis Holtby, Christian Eriksen and Gylfi Sigurdsson? Well, firstly, you remove Sigurdsson – unfortunately I think the Icelander is going to struggle to get access to the first team this season.
Now, Holtby didn’t show the best of himself last season after signing in January – he needed those four months to adapt to the intensity of the Premier League but I really rate him and I think he’s going to demonstrate his true quality this term. He is one of the most capable young playmakers on the continent.
However, I think as the season progresses the magic of Eriksen will make him impossible for Villas-Boas to leave out – he is going to be a huge player for Spurs once he settles in.
Wingers: Erik Lamela & Nacer Chadli
I think Lamela on the right flank picks himself. Aaron Lennon has been a loyal servant to Spurs but I think the young Argentine is going to be a sensation in England. On the opposite side, it’ll be tussle between Nacer Chadli and Andros Townsend who has started off this term looking really sharp and up for it.
I think Townsend could keep his place, despite my belief that Chadli is actually the better player – it’ll come down, again, to form and fitness. Over the longhaul, I reckon Chadli’s superior quality and experience will be the deciding factor, though.
Striker: Roberto Soldado
Jermaine Defoe is another of Spurs’ most loyal servants but the arrival of Soldado means he’ll likely get the day off on Saturdays. I can’t see Emmanuel Adebayor being used as anything other than a utility striker; a second half substitute and I wouldn’t be surprised if he left in January.
Defoe will continue to work hard, score goals and do his best for the team but the quality of Soldado will mean he’ll be picked to start more often than not. The upcoming World Cup is going to be a factor here – Defoe will want to force his way onto that plane to Brazil with England and Soldado will want to try and get a call up for Spain if he can.