After missing out on prestigious Champions League football, Tottenham Hotspur are heading into the new season with a new coach and new players determined to make an improvement from last season. Many uncertainties surround the club regarding key players and positions heading into Saturday's opener at Newcastle. The new captain hasn’t been announced yet following Ledley King’s retirement due to chronic knee injury but restructuring of the squad is in progress. A place in the Champions League will be the minimum target and new boss Andre Villas Boas will be aiming for glory on other fronts such as Europa League, League Cup and FA Cup as well.
Unlike their previous seasons’ preparations, Tottenham have roped in the services of Jan Vertoghen and Gylfi Sigurdsson pretty early and they have gelled together with the team in the pre-season journey even with key players missing. AVB spent much of the preseason tinkering with different line-ups, giving young players like Harry Kane, Andros Townsend, Tom Carroll and Adam Smith a chance to play alongside of the veteran Spurs.
The lack of firepower up front was discussed at length by the Tottenham faithful across the world and it was visible clearly in all the preseason matches. Tottenham possessed one of the best midfields in EPL last season and there haven’t been many changes. Similar to last year, the uncertainty surrounding Luka Modric is the major concern at the club. One would think Villas Boas is looking hard to deal Modric along with some young talent to make way for a big signing at the Lane.
Sandro, Livermore, Parker, Sigurdsson, Huddlestone and Carroll are expected to vie for the central midfield slots along with Modric or his replacement. Sandro has developed leaps and bounds over the course of his stay at the Lane and may establish himself as the main man in the middle. Lennon and Bale are first choices on both flanks currently and competition is expected from Giovanni Dos Santos and youngster Andros Townsend. Star player Rafael Van Der Vaart is expected to score a few goals along with his fellow competitor Sigurdsson.
Defensively, Kaboul and Vertoghen are expected to form a formidable pair at the center in the absence of retired legend, Ledley King. Dawson, Caulker and Gallas will provide tough competition for starting roles. Flanks will be occupied by Walker and Assou-Ekotto.
Brad Friedel is still the first choice as goalkeeper of the club with his vital experience and is reliable between the sticks but his age might be a concern from the management perspective. Cudicini and Gomes are expected to provide competition as well as cover for the ageing American if no signings are made.
Spurs have ample options in all areas except the striking department. That issue is expected to be solved before the season picks up speed and Tottenham will be expecting to build on the Top-4 position from last season.
Unless a world class striker arrives at Tottenham, any talk to being title contenders is futile. Europa league will provide an ideal platform to rotate the squad and to test the youngsters at a bigger stage.
Tottenham fans across the globe will be hoping for a good start at the Sports Direct Arena to set the tone for a successful campaign on their journey to the top. Will Tottenham Spurs be able to march on from their previous campaigns to reach further heights? Can Villas Boas deliver the right tactics at the right time to take this team into the Champions League? The journey begins on Saturday.