Premier League preview - Tottenham Hotspur
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With just under three weeks left in the transfer window, the shape of Tottenham’s squad is still likely to change. Coach André Villas-Boas has indicated that Spurs are still aiming to bring players in, whilst others - Scott Parker, Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore included - appear to be heading towards the exit or have left already. Of course there is still uncertainty over the future of a certain Welshman.
Whether Gareth Bale leaves or not, Spurs’ summer so far has put them in a healthy position. The signings of Roberto Soldado, Nacer Chadli, Paulinho and Étienne Capoue have added needed depth to the squad. Many fans may also see the returning Younes Kaboul and Sandro from injury, as well as Andros Townsend after his successful loan spell at QPR, almost like new signings. Even so, Spurs may well be looking to bring in a defender to replace the departed Steven Caulker as well as another striker and a creative player.
The new signings have not just added depth but quality, giving the Portuguese, reputed to be painstaking in his preparation for matches, plenty of options and flexibility in tactics, selection and formation. While the mainstay formation of last season - the 4-2-3-1 - is unlikely to be discarded, the signings could signify the 4-3-3 being adopted on more occasions, especially given the players available in central midfield. With Sandro, Paulinho, Dembelé, Capoue, Tom Carroll, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Lewis Holtby, there is scope for tactical change as well as keeping the engine room fresh with rotation.
There will be flexibility with width as well; Sigurdsson can play wide but with Aaron Lennon, Chadli and Townsend there is talent on the flanks. If Bale stays the strength in these positions will only be increased. If the Welshman leaves Spurs will probably recruit - time permitting - and with the likes of Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen being strongly linked the impact of Bale’s exit maybe softened somewhat.
A defender is perhaps a priority, not just to replace Caulker but because there may be on-going injury doubts over both Kaboul and Michael Dawson and, to a lesser extent, Vertonghen, who may miss the start of the season.
In breaking Spurs’ transfer record for the second time this summer, Roberto Soldado is probably the signing that has captured fans’ imagination - especially having longed for a quality striker for seemingly countless windows. Soldado is the end product, a proven goal scorer at all levels, for Spain as well as in La Liga and the Champions League. However, if Bale leaves there is little benefit in shifting the team’s main goal scoring responsibilities from one player to another; arguably another striker should be sought, especially if as rumoured Emmanuel Adebayor leaves.
Daniel Levy seems to have decided that Villas-Boas is the Coach to back. The transfer activity has been impressive so far and does not seem finished. This Tottenham squad is being shaped to Villas-Boas’ ideals and to mount perhaps the strongest challenge yet for a place at the top.
Manager - André Villas-Boas: In his first second season at any club, the Portuguese will have the opportunity to build on an impressive debut year at Spurs. Even with pre-season, time may be needed to bed in new players but the signs look promising for Villas-Boas to bring a good campaign to The Lane.
Key signing - Roberto Soldado: The Spaniard is a goal scorer, pure and simple, and has been throughout his career. With a high shots to goal ratio and good shooting accuracy Soldado should, given service, provide the goals. The service - and a creative player - may be the key, with so many of his goals coming from inside the box.
Key sale - Gareth Bale: Or not. If Bale leaves, funds should be made available for Villas-Boas to strengthen the squad even further. If Bale stays, and there is no reason to believe he wouldn’t act professionally, Spurs will have a major fillip and quality player next season.
Keep an eye out for…Andros Townsend: The young winger may have a tendency to hold the ball too long at times but brings flair, excitement and the ability to beat players from out wide. Townsend made a major impression on loan at Queens Park Rangers last season and now could be his time to do so at Spurs.
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