2019/20 Tottenham Hotspur Premier League preview
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Mauricio Pochettino cultivated a habit of finishing in the top four at Tottenham Hotspur. Last season was no different although they allowed their hold on third place to slip at season's end. This was the fourth consecutive season in which they finished among the top four. That's one shy of their best run from 1959/60-64.
Supporters hoped for a busy summer transfer window after last season's complete apathy. Spurs did a bit of business this year but it's still been largely quiet. Two signings and two sales highlight their business.
Early on, they acquired top target Tanguy Ndombele for a club-record £54 million. Teenaged winger Jack Clarke was signed from Leeds United and immediately loaned back to the Whites. Right-back Kieran Trippier and striker Vincent Janssen were sold. Trippier went to Atletico Madrid for £19.8 million and Janssen joined Liga MX powerhouse Monterrey for £8.1 million.
With less than 48 hours left in the window, Tottenham's business may not be complete. Manchester United are making a push for Christian Eriksen while Spurs discuss Giovanni Los Celso with Real Betis. Obviously, whoever comes and goes, Pochettino wants to maintain a balanced squad.
Spurs’ defensive record under the Argentine catches the eye. Last term, their defence was third-best in the Premier League. Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen remain at the heart of the backline. Alderweireld was pegged for an exit due to a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave for £25 million until roughly a week ago. Surprisingly, nothing came of it despite rumours the Belgian was prepared to leave. Left-back Danny Rose was also pipped for an exit but, again, he wasn't picked up by anyone. Of course, the Premier League window is one-way. They can be sold anytime before the UEFA window shuts.
Davinson Sanchez is on hand to take over for Aldeweireld while Ben Davies was a serviceable option during Rose's extended injury spell. Replacing Trippier might be a problem, however. Serge Aurier is experienced but injury-prone. Juan Foyth is a natural centre-back. That leaves 22-year-old Kyle Walker-Peters with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
This is due to the loss of Kieran Trippier (transfer) and Juan Foyth (injury) meaning, we wouldn't have a back up right back behind Aurier and Walker Peters.
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Midfield wasn’t the usual strong point for Spurs last season. Dele Alli struggled for form. Mousa Dembele left in January. Christian Eriksen didn’t have his best season. Still, the Dane racked up 12 assists and eight goals in 30 league appearances. As well, Moussa Sissoko stepped up his game just in time. His contributions couldn't be measured in goals and assists.
A manager would be insane not to extend a player like Eriksen but the word in the pressroom is that the player is another who wants to leave. Pochettino can cope if he does whether or not a replacement is brought in. Harry Winks proved his worth in 2018/19. It's more a question of depth at this stage.
Spurs strike force at least did not disappoint. Harry Kane, Lucas Moura and Son Heung-Min all registered goals in double figures. Their consistency and form were the best part of Tottenham's 2018/19 campaign. The manager would be pleased if the trio could deliver the same performances. Erik Lamela played his part as well and Georges-Kevin N'Koudou might get a look after returning from his loan spell at Monaco.
Despite a rough season, Hugo Lloris remained the lone wolf between the sticks. The French international has been so for quite some time. Pochettino rarely uses other options. Paul Gazzaniga and Michel Vorm were out on the field for just 270 and 180 minutes respectively. Vorm was released by Spurs at season's end and they don't look like signing a replacement. Expect Lloris to carry the load again and Gazzaniga to provide the cover.
Spurs open against newly-promoted Aston Villa at home. Villa spent heavily in the window but on quantity rather than quality. Tottenham should be able to handle them. It's Matchday Two against Manchester City that will test them. From there, it's smoother sailing depending on how preseason injuries to Dele Alli and Juan Foyth play out.
Despite a squad and a manager capable of beating any side on their day, Tottenham can't seem to get to the finish line. A Champions League final was certainly progress last season but the club still seeks their first trophy during the Pochettino regime. Sometimes they appear to be world-beaters, others they look a cut below the rest of the top-six [except for Arsenal]. They just never deliver on their promise. Expect them to tease us with another top-four finish but nothing more.