As the season starts to wind down, the Premier League title already named and the faintest mathematical chance of Tottenham qualifying for Champions League football, there is time to look forward to the coming summer transfer window and assess the current squad.
There have been mixed emotions during the games, as always, towards the players output on the pitch, giving differing opinion through out the campaign. This is an attempt at an impartial assessment of the players and the future of the squad.
Before starting out on this analysis, by setting out a team - including loaned players - and then working backwards, it may well help to recognise where we the club needs to strengthen.
01 Lloris, 02 Vorm, 03 Friedel
04 Walker, 05 Yedlin, 06 Rose, 07 Davies
08 Dier, 09 Vertonghen, 10 Fazio, 11 Chiriches
12 Bentaleb, 13 Mason, 14 Paulinho, 15 Stambouli
16 Lamela, 17 Townsend, 18 Eriksen, 19 Chadli, 20 Dembele
21 Kane, 22 Soldado, 23 Adebayor
24 Capoue, 25 Kaboul
26 Jordan Archer (Millwall), 27 Ryan Fredericks (Middlesbrough), 28 Tom Carroll (Swansea), 29 Alex Pritchard (Brentford), 30 Lewis Holtby (Hamburg), 31 Aaron Lennon (Everton)
32 Christian Ceballos, 33 Joshua Onomah, 34 Kenneth McEvoy (Colchester)
The First Names on the Team Sheet
The number one, Hugo Lloris has been up there with the best in Europe. Showing brutal reactions in goal, the modern sweeper keeper fits the managers plans like a glove. Wearing the captains arm band, his presence has drawn the attention of managers and pundits alike, raining praise on his performances. There have been concerns surrounding his distribution, sometimes putting the team under unnecessary pressure as he tries to quickly put the team on the front foot.
Scoring on his début, scoring on his White Hart Lane début, his second match, Eric Dier started his Spurs career on fire, playing right back in place of the injured Kyle Walker. Since then and as the season progressed, it soon became apparent that the club had landed a diamond from the rough. His ball control coupled with his pace and strength make him an ideal build for the modern centre back. His crossing is reminiscent of that of Gareth Bale; fast, accurate and true. He has matured into the league to the point that his performances sit above his age station.
Coming off the back of disappointing last season, Danny Rose has stepped up to the plate and showed the performances that gained him rave reviews during his loan spell at Sunderland, two seasons ago. With each game, he seems to push on, getting stronger in not only the tackle but, pushing forward and delivering a cross into the box. The critics have called his defensive side out at times, along with his positional sense but, as the team has adjusted to the new formation, it could be argued that cover has sometimes been wanting in front of him.
Although Harry Kane has received many of the plaudits this season, and to a certain extent correctly so, Nabil Bentaleb has been a revelation in the heart of the team. He is the future captain of the club without a shadow of doubt. He is years above his age, playing aggressive, controlled tempo, rarely seeming out of his depth coming up against the league’s finest. He has had an impressive début season, at just 20 years of age, the position is his for the length of his stay at White Hart Lane as at the rate of his improvement, it might not be long before the oil rigger clubs come knocking for his services.
Christian Eriksen has added that ‘va va voom’ to Tottenham’s game. His style this season has been reminiscent of the hansom Dutch attacking midfielder of seasons past. He has chipped in with 12 goals, many of which game changing. He has scored the most free kicks in the league and has assisted with 5 goals also. Eriksen’s guile on the ball is in keeping with the traditions of the club; neat, nimble and intelligent. He does have an issue with consistency, sometimes disappearing from a game but, it is evident that his contribution to the team is vital. There is room for improvement as stated but, the coming season could be his making.
“He’s one of our own, he’s one of our own, Harry Kane, he’s one of our own“. The chants from the terraces echo around the ground every time the young English forward graces the field. What other adjectives can be used to describe his first full season in the top flight? The first time since Gary Lineker back in the days of 4:3 resolution television, a Tottenham forward has bagged 30 goals in a season. Harry Kane is one of the top goal scorers in the league, collecting the young player of the year as voted for by his peers in the game. Here’s hoping he picks up where he left off for the coming season.
The Players that Could ‘Step-Up’
With a view to cementing a place in the above line-up, here are some of the players who could surprise during the up and coming season.
On recent form and through out glimpses of his career at Spurs, Erik Lamela has shown that he could well be included in the above team. Time will tell but right now, he falls short in comparison to those named on this season’s performances. Of the others in the entire squad listed above, he is the most likely to come through next season as a key member of the first team.
Kyle Walker doesn’t seem to have rekindled his explosive form of the previous campaign, after a serious injury kept him out for the first months of this season. He is, without question, a lethal weapon in the attacking sense for Tottenham and when his game is working, there aren’t many better in the game.
A run below Lamela and Walker for next season’s promise would arguably be Mason, Chadli and Townsend, all of which on their day can be outstanding.
Between them, you could state that Mason has been the most consistent this season, making the most appearances. There is still some doubt over his ‘long term’ place in the team however, with some supporters questioning whether the club needs someone ‘superior’ in that position.
Nacer Chadli, having scored 11 goals in the Premier League, has shown progression from his maiden season at the club (one of seven new arrivals from ‘the Bale money’). He is criticised for his ‘lack of passion’ and for ‘going missing’ during matches which is one of the main reasons that a question mark lurks over his head.
With 11 goals and 7 assists during his loan spell at Championship side Brentford, there has been a lot of attention shown towards Alex Pritchard, even warranting a viewing from manager Pochettino, who went to watch the promising 22 year old during Brentford’s away game against London based Fulham. All eyes will settle on his pre-season play as he looks to join the ranks of Spurs academy players, playing first team football.
If his England form could carry through to the Spurs first team, Andros Townsend would be a starter week in, week out. He showed glimpses of this form at the start of the current season only to have his run in the team cut short by injury. After which point, he has been left wanting, not really achieving the heights that some at the club see in him.
The world’s most frustrating Spurs player ever? Or, is he still finding his feet? During the latest bout of matches, Paulinho has started to show the White Hart Lane faithful a few things that he has in his locker. Whether it be starting games, or in the guise of cameo roles as a substitute, he seems to be finding his way (at least) in a lilly white jersey. It is yet to be understood by all but Pochettino what role he has in the future at the club however, maybe his recent displays have swayed a few critics into wanting more from the Brazil International.
The Back-Up Players
The players that sit in the ready to step up and fill in when called upon.
When he has been called upon this season, he hasn’t painted himself in glory but neither has he let the team down. He will always play second fiddle to Hugo Lloris but, Michel Vorm has proved his worth each time he has donned the shirt. He could well play a bigger part in the coming season if the media circus inflates the potential goal keeper merry-go-round on the verge of domino effecting the sport.
As with his former team mate at Swansea, Ben Davies has shown a keen eye for his defensive duties, which could be argued surpass that of his rival for the left back spot. He does however, lack that ‘push’ further up the field which is probably the main reason as to why he is currently playing second to Rose.
Arriving at the club with as much promise as a sailor on shore leave, DeAndre Yedlin is strongly placed to push kyle Walker for his starting birth. Making his début in the 79th minute at home against Aston Villa, his speed and strength coupled with the managers desire for hard work may make this a marriage made in heaven for Spurs.
Being partnered with Vertonghen through the most successful defensive run in the season, Frederico Fazio has proven he has what it takes to compete for a place in the starting eleven. His aerial ability has seen a more stable counter to deep crosses and corners coming into the box. He does lack the required pace at times, to fit with Pochettino’s system but, his knowledge and positional sense helps in many cases. He does however have a tendency to lose concentration or composure when on the ball.
The Players that Seem to Struggle
Whether the current system, the playing style or the unaccustomed nature of playing at White Hart Lane or just lack of understanding, something has caused the following players to leave the fans wanting something more.
Moussa Dembele is probably the most skilful player in the entire league. His close control, ability to beat his man and strength to protect the ball is immense. Usually it is evident, most times he is on the pitch but, he also leaves the pallet somewhat short of the promised lemon sorbet. Often accused of ‘slowing the play’, the Belgian does fall short on delivering the desired output. Is this the change in formation and playing style that has seen his days playing at Fulham disappear? It would seem so. Having said that, his power and strength has been important in a fair few games this season, most notably the 5-3 thrashing of Chelsea.
Vlad Chiriches seems to find the pace of the English game a little over his head at times. There is no doubting his talent, his touch, control and composure on the ball and for a centre back, it has been a refreshing change to witness at Tottenham. He has been effective playing at both centre back and right back but, he often has been caught dwelling on the ball, thinking he has more time than the reality of the Premier League permits. Many supporters have suggested a career in Italy would more suit his style and judging by performances, it is hard to argue that call.
While seeming comfortable in control of the ball, Benjamin Stambouli has shown a hard character to his game. He has got stuck in, putting himself around the park and holds a decent pass and energy. He does however, similarly to Chiriches, seem to dwell on the ball and can often get caught out. Maybe the style and pace of the game is getting the better of him.
The eighth wonder of the world, Roberto Soldado. He came with such pedigree and a proven track record that it was ‘guaranteed’ to be a success but alas, he has failed. His work rate can’t be questioned or his commitment but, the £26M Tottenham paid for him was for putting the ball in the back of the net. To this end, his transfer has been a disaster. Still, in the team of van der Vaart, Bale, Lennon and Modric, you just know he would have netted 20 plus goals for each of his seasons here. The timing was out for his transfer as he thrives on supply, not the style that we are currently employing.
The Players Whose Time May Well be at an End
Holding their heads high or not seems to be irrelevant with the coming transfer window approaching. Will the following players be in different circumstances come August?
Brad Friedel has been an excellent servant for the club. There is every chance that he will be moved ‘upstairs’ in some capacity. Hopefully this is the case as the manor in which he carries himself is a very good public relations angle for Tottenham.
First team captain Younes Kaboul has struggled to recapture his excellent form of seasons past, mainly due to a series of tough injuries. Having not figured at all in recent games, his future at the club has to be in question.
In the case of Etienne Capoue, it is unfortunate as the first game he played for Tottenham was very promising. No one seems too sure what really happened with him but, as he has been left out to dry - or so it would seem - there doesn’t seem much hope for him for the coming season.
Almost joining London rivals last Winter, Emmanuel Adebayor has been the brunt of a lethargic nature wherever his has played. Seemingly not interested one game, and then ‘world class’ another, this unpredictability is the downfall of such an exciting talent. This situation could be his undoing in continuing his time at Spurs.
After a year at the helm, Pochettino should now have a decent idea about how the squad is shaping up, what it is lacking and which players he no longer needs.
Looking at the above breakdown, there is some tinkering that needs to be done during the summer, most notably in the centre forward position however, in terms of the starting eleven just one position ‘upgrade’ would improve the team.
Here is a estimation of Pochettino’s dealings during the coming transfer window with respect to positions that could be strengthened.
Walker — Dier — Vertonghen — Rose
Yedlin — Fazio — XXXXX — Davies
Bentaleb — XXXXX
Alli — Mason
Lamela — Eriksen — Chadli
Townsend — Dembele — Pritchard