Tottenham Hotspur head into the season with high hopes following the appointment of former Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino and the arrival of some impressive – if not exactly headline-inducing – new players.
This summer has been the polar opposite of the last, with the big-money arrivals replaced by canny and necessary additions such as Ben Davies and Eric Dier. That said, Tottenham are still likely to make a couple more signings in the coming weeks, with Morgan Schneiderlin most regularly linked.
As Spurs prepare to face West Ham United on Saturday, we predict Pochettino’s first competitive starting XI:
Despite the arrival of Michel Vorm it would be a huge shock if Hugh Lloris did not start Saturday’s game against the Hammers. The French goalkeeper is one of the best in the world and he is likely to continue the outstanding form that helped France go so far at the World Cup.
With Kyle Walker still struggling for form and fitness, Kyle Naughton could well start for Spurs on the opening day. He is unlikely to maintain his place once the England international is back, but for now Pochettino is likely to use Naughton despite rumours persisting that he could be on the move.
Younes Kaboul will be hoping his injury problems are behind him and that he can form an effective, long-term centre-back partnership with Jan Vertonghen. The 28-year-old will know there is renewed competition for places following the arrival of Dier, and his performances could well improve further as a result.
Jan Vertonghen is a doubt for the match against West Ham as he builds up to match fitness following his World Cup exploits this summer. As a result I expect Dier to partner Kaboul against West Ham, a week after his impressive debut at White Hart Lane against Schalke.
Finally Tottenham have an out-and-out quality left-back to call on and Davies could become one of the success stories of the summer.
The former Swansea City defender should start whenever he is fit and he has the chance to ensure Danny Rose and Zeki Fryers do not get a look-in by performing well against the Hammers.
Big things were expected of Etienne Capoue last season only for injuries to ensure his debut campaign was one to forget.
However, he is now fit again and could become an integral part of Pochettino’s midfield.
Another player ravaged by injuries in the past, Sandro has the chance to get back into the Spurs squad and stay there. Given the creative players likely to be ahead of him on the pitch, the Brazilian’s ability to break up play and distribute the ball effectively will be vital.
Yet another Tottenham star coming back from injury, it will be interesting to see how the England international does this season. Last year promised so much but ultimately fell short, but under a new manager and after a summer to recover there is no reason Townsend cannot fly once again.
Eriksen should thrive under Pochettino, and behind the front-man he can become one of the stars of the Premier League.
It is time to use him as a central play-maker rather than out wide, where his influence is somewhat nullified.
Erik Lamela could be the stand-out performer for Tottenham if he puts last season’s woes behind him and treats this campaign as the new beginning it is.
The Argentine has already shown glimpses this summer that he can be a success at White Hart Lane; now he must show it in competitive matches.
Many will expect Emmanuel Adebayor to start against West Ham but I have a feeling the new manager will opt for Roberto Soldado.
Another player with much to prove after a misfiring debut campaign, the Spaniard is supremely talented and he will want to show that last year was a one-off rather than a taste of things to come.