These are exciting times for the Tottenham faithful but there are still some hurdles to overcome if Mauricio Pochettino’s men are to continue their upward progression.
Spurs have been hit harder than most by the World Cup and, incredibly, they had nine players involved in the England v Belgium World Cup third/fourth place play-off. Therefore, the squad that Pochettino took on their pre-season tour to the US is a far cry from the one that will tackle the Premier League in the season ahead, but there’s no way their late arrival back from their post-World Cup holidays won’t have an impact in the season’s opening skirmishes.
Similarly, there is also the small matter of their new stadium not being ready for the start of the new season as planned, and them having to play their first home game of the season – against Fulham – at Wembley, where they spent all of last season. While this no doubt contributed to Tottenham’s slow start to last season, there is also the new issue of, once they move into the ‘Tottenham Hotspur Stadium’, making it their home.
This is certainly a factor and they only need to look relatively close to home, across north London at Arsenal, to see how long it took them to make The Emirates home. It’s something to certainly consider when looking at how the top six are likely to shape up.
Little to report so far although work is feverishly ongoing behind the scenes at Tottenham to try and bring in some new faces ahead of their opener at Newcastle on August 11th. Pochettino, having secured his own future with the club, has been tasked with balancing the finances that tend to go with brand new stadiums and building a squad to challenge Man City. Clearly, Spurs are unable to spend the sums associated with Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs, and some wheeling and dealing will be required with some very big numbers involved.
The key to unlocking the financial logjam will likely be the sale of Belgian international centre-back, Toby Alderweireld, who has expressed a desire to try his luck elsewhere, with Manchester Utd being heavily linked. At the time of writing the two clubs are reported to be at an impasse, with the big stumbling block being the fee involved, but expect this to be resolved at some stage, especially given Spurs’ desire to release some funds. To keep an unhappy player and not succeed in raising cash that would finance another two or three signings is not something that would sit comfortably with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, and so the smart money is on this soon being resolved.
Elsewhere, in the goalkeeping department, any changes will be around the number two position, with French World Cup winner and captain, Hugo Lloris a certain starter, but if Alderweireld is to go, then a new centre-back will definitely be on the shopping list to slot in alongside fellow World Cup stars Jan Vertonghen and Davinson Sanchez. Also, Eric Dier is an adept stand-in at centre-back if/when Pochettino uses a back three.
Left-back is also another area that could see a new face. Danny Rose had a long, arduous battle with injury and, despite being part of England’s World Cup squad, found it difficult to force his way past Ben Davies to claim his old left-back berth. He may now think his future lies elsewhere and which is why Spurs have been linked to Fulham’s teenage sensation, Ryan Sessegnon.
If he’s not filling in at centre-back, Eric Dier will join Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama in competing for two of the three defensive central midfield positions, along with another possible mover Moussa Sissoko.
It gets even more interesting when we look at Tottenham’s attacking midfield options because this is where they have been linked to some big, familiar names. Manchester Utd’s Anthony Martial and Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha both have been heavily linked in recent weeks and both look like they would be a good fit for Spurs. Already they have Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Heung-min Son, but add one or both of their reported targets to the mix and Spurs will have a very dangerous and pacey look about them this season. Again, lots of ifs, and let’s not forget Erik Lamela and Luca Moura are also options.
Up front, it is a given that Golden Boot winner Harry Kane will be Pochettino’s go-to striker but in pre-season Fernando Llorente has been scoring goals, and in doing so offered a timely reminder that he’s more than capable of filling the void if Kane suffers a World Cup hangover.
Along with all the rest, it’s very difficult to picture Tottenham challenging Man City for the big prize. Given the uncertainty around the stadium and the financial consequences of something so costly, it’s tough to see Spurs improving greatly. However, Pochettino has proved in the recent past that nothing is impossible. If nothing else, Tottenham will offer football that is as aesthetically pleasing as anything on offer in the Premier League.
As things stand, Spurs are as long at +1800 for the title and given that an each-way bet opens up second place and a 1/3 winning sum, there are worse bets out there. But it remains a long shot.
Dele Alli to score 10 or more Premier League goals – +175 with BetVictor
Tottenham to finish higher than Manchester Utd – +175 with BetVictor
Harry Kane to score 30 or more Premier League goals – +250 with BetVictor