As the season draws ever-closer, we here at the Center Circle are going to start looking at what each of the top teams in the EPL are looking at this season. With every big fan of Tottenham, last season was a massive case of “almost.” One point away from making the Champions League and also one point away from standing above their hated rival en route to entering Europe’s elite competition. A top four finish and CL qualification may also have made prized assets Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey seriously consider staying with Tottenham for the upcoming season.
The Tottenham defense was actually a weak point for the club last season as they clawed their way to the 9th best defensive record in the Premiership. Despite the emergence of Jan Vertonghen as one of the best defenders in the Prem (and not too shabby in front of goal either) and some of the best wide defenders in the game in Kyle Walker and Assou-Ekotto, Tottenham will hope to shore up the defense a little bit this season. The return of Danny Rose as an emerging young talent and a few healthy months for some of the other central defenders could see their stats and results improve a bit, but AVB has never been known for his defensive strength. This aspect of Tottneham’s worries me more than the other areas of the pitch.
A goalkeeping battle between Hugo Lloris and Brad Friedel saw a fair bit of switching around between the sticks. If AVB and Tottenham are able to stick with one keeper for the majority of the season and one of them finds a decent vein of form, it might suit the club a little bit better. There is no doubt that Lloris is the future, but Friedel seems unlikely to give the Frenchman the starting nod easily.
The Tottenham midfield will be as attacking as Theo Walcott and Dembele can be while being as strong and defensively sound as Scott Parker decides to be. The depth in midfield is a bit of a concern, but Demebele has proven that he is one of the most proficient creative players in the center of the park and this season will definitely see him continue his upward curve. A few new additions have arrived for Spurs, but a big gap may appear on the left-wing if Bale and Tottenham decide to take the money and run. Definitely keep a look out for new boy Paulinho to make a big EPL splash though…that was an inspired purchase!
Tottenham also had a bit of a sputtering in front of goal last season despite having a decent attack force available. If Bale left, there were serious questions as to where the goals would come from. However, new addition Roberto Soldado seems to be a great new piece for AVB and Tottenham. If he can create some serious competition for the spot up front, then maybe even Defoe and Adebayor will finally step up and earn their massive salaries. A few new attackers could be a nice addition before the window closes, and the sale of Bale will definitely be able to fund some new additions.
Andre Villas-Boas is still largely unproven in the EPL as he was largely unsuccessful with Chelsea and he has yet to reach the Tottenham heights that Harry Redknapp took them to. If he is unable to return Tottenham to the top four this season, then he may find his future lies outside of England. Until he can succeed in the EPL, I have doubts about whether he can make Tottenham a success.
Predicted best case scenario: Fourth place. Bale stays until January and helps Tottenham have a decent enough base to get in the Champions League next season. Paulinho and Soldado become a great attacking pair and they create a hopeful atmosphere that helps AVB keep his job and gets more players to join Tottenham in 2014.
Predicted worst case scenario: Sixth place (and only barely). Bale leaves at the last moment of the transfer window and the massive influx of funds is unusable until January. Soldado flops while Defoe and Adebayor under-perform. AVB does not even get to finish the season as he retreats to Spain or Portugal before May.