The Total Tottenham lads give their views on the new Premier League season ahead of Spurs’ first game of the season. Who will excel, who will disappoint and who will eventually take the glory?
The first couple of games have been played yesterday and they have already threw up some interesting results and performances. Prior to the big kick-off we asked the lads to answer five important questions going into the new season.
How do you feel about our dealings in the transfer window so far?
There has been a lot of movement in and out but on the whole, as it stands (assuming Bale stays), we’ve improved quite a bit. The purchase of Soldado fulfils a long-standing need at the club. Chadli brings a much needed talent to shore up our wing play. The purchase of Capoue and Paulinho move our midfield more towards the vision that the manager has in mind, which can only be a good thing if we have faith in his ability and system.
That being said, I feel the sale of Caulker without a replacement is clearly a mistake at this time. It was disappointing to see Huddlestone leave. I always had a soft spot for him and I feel he still had something to offer to the squad.
The fact we have spent over £60 million already is flabbergasting really. I have nothing but praise for the business the club has conducted so far. Soldado is the most important signing because we have been lacking a top class striker for so long, ever since Berbatov left really. I’m excited by our depth in midfield after the arrival of Paulinho and Capoue. Chadli is a bit of a wildcard signing but he has potential. I think we will sign 2 or 3 more players, dependent on outgoing transfers. I’m hoping for one more flair signing, a player who can really set The Lane on fire with some outrageous skills and creativity.
Not too fussed about the sales we have made. Caulker’s move to Cardiff surprised me but it seems he wanted a guaranteed amount of playing time which we couldn’t give him. Let’s hope we are not forced into a sale of one of our more important players despite a certain European team’s relentless and persistent tapping-up campaign. But even if it happens I think we could make up for his absence with added quality in multiple positions within the first eleven.
Pleased overall, particularly with Paulinho and Soldado. I’m mildly concerned about the high turnover in the squad affecting initial form in the league, particularly with the Arsenal game being the third fixture.
There are still holes to fill – notably at left-back, arguably centre-back (although we could survive here barring a long term injury crisis), possibly another striker or a very creative midfielder to supply those we have, should that not happen (depending on any possible Bale sale).
All things considered, I’m impressed with how we have managed to improve the quality of depth within the squad so far – with the defence perhaps being the only glaring exception. Our key objective for a number of transfer windows has been to bring in a top class finisher – that box has finally been ticked with the acquisition of Soldado. The signings of Paulinho and Capoue will bolster a central midfield which struggled for energy and defensive stability in the absence of Sandro during the second half of last season. The signing of Nacer Chadli is a little more of an unknown quantity in comparison, but his reputed elegance in possession and evident athletic qualities should see him push our other attacking midfielders for a starting berth.
A number of outgoings were inevitable and many of the departures won’t have come as a surprise to supporters. Caulker’s transfer to Cardiff leaves us short in the centre of defence, a position that will surely have to be strengthened. Left-back, wide midfield and up front are other areas which we might see reinforced before the end of the window.
2. What’s your prediction for Spurs this season?
Unfortunately it all hinges on whether or not Bale stays. With Bale, I feel we will seriously challenge for the title, with a most likely outcome being a second or third place finish. Without Bale, we will be competing for fourth place at best, with a fifth place finish, and narrow miss on CL qualification, more likely.
I feel that this is the year for Sigurdsson and Holtby to show their true qualities. With a retooling of midfield and the departure of Clint Dempsey, both players should see much more opportunities to be on the pitch. Sigurdsson himself must have hit the post at least a dozen times last season so I expect we will see his goal tally increase exponentially with increased playing time.
It’s hard to say right now because of the ridiculous fact of life that the transfer window shuts two weeks into the season. Obviously the outcome of the Bale saga will have an impact although I think the way it has been handled so far will limit the impact. He’s not been a big part in preparations due to injury, so the team must be getting used to playing without him yet with all the new boys. If we make a couple of extra signings I could see us pushing on for third or even second place. If we lose Bale and fail to address certain deficiencies I think we will be in a scrappy fight for fourth again since it will be really hard to replace Bale’s goals from outside the box.
The depth in midfield options will hopefully see us dominate most games but I hope we will be more clinical than last season when we relied so much on Bale’s goals. This means both better finishing as well as better service to our new hit man Soldado. Oh, and we need to improve on set-pieces both defensively and offensively.
Fourth, third if we really hit the ground running and keep Bale. Possession football, serious threat on the counter and increased prowess at set-pieces due to aerial presence/better movement. Hoping for big seasons from newcomers Paulinho (10+ goals prediction) and Soldado (20+ goals prediction), improvement from last season for Walker and Dembélé (I like both players, but they didn’t always fulfil expectations last season), greater involvement for Holtby for central midfield creativity.
Holding onto Bale will clearly have an influence on our final position, but I think regardless of the outcome of that saga, we will push hard for fourth place again – it will be another close run affair with our rivals for the final Champions League spot. At present, I think we’re a little too weak defensively to make a genuine title challenge. Additionally, we lack a little bit of experience and leadership, plus a real creative spark in advanced positions.
I expect to see a quick, powerful and incisive style of play, with greater fluency and easier on the eyes than last season. Paulinho’s performances for his country in the summer were excellent and I’m keen to see how he adapts to the English game – he could turn out to be a real gem. The return of Sandro in midfield and the addition of Soldado up top should also have a really positive influence on our performances. Additionally, I’ll be interested to see what impact Sigurdsson, Holtby and Townsend can have on the pitch this season – all exciting and technically proficient young players with a habit of fading in and out of games.
3. Who will be the surprise package(s) in the Premier League this season?
Hard to say really. There has been so much turnover of influential management figures that I see much of the league as up for grabs. Liverpool will have a terrible season if they fail to amicably resolve the Luis Suarez situation though. I can see Swansea and Norwich improving upon their league positions due to their steady and effective management under Laudrup and Hughton. Aston Villa will return to in or near the top half of the table with another year under Paul Lambert. It’s going to be a tasty season either way with many intra-squad disputes for playing time as we approach the World Cup next summer. Expect more volatility than usual.
For me Norwich have the most potential of making a massive jump up the table. They have made some excellent signings with Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Leroy Fer and Nathan Redmond. They will score more goals than last season and if they can improve their defensive resilience they could realistically finish in the top 9. I think Cardiff will outperform the other two promoted sides and beat Sunderland or Stoke to the drop. I’m still unsure if Moyes is the right fit at United so I’m eagerly looking forward how they will respond to their first defeat of the season.
I think Southampton will finish in the top half comfortably. I can see Norwich finishing in top half too after some good signings by Chris Hughton. Arsenal could drop out of top four this season, with Man United struggling for fourth under Moyes, which opens up the opportunity for Spurs to finish third. West Ham could sneak into top ten this season with Big Sam’s prehistoric tactics of crossing it in to the ‘big man’. Out of the three promoted sides I tip Cardiff to stay up. Sunderland, Stoke and West Brom are potential relegation candidates in my view.
Swansea have bought well and, in Michu and Bony, have two forwards who will score plenty of goals in the Premier League. If they can keep them fit throughout the season, they have a real chance of a top 7 finish. Norwich have snapped up a number of very good young players and, if they gel quickly, they could have an opportunity to finish in the top half. Similarly, Southampton’s core of gifted young English players – Lallana, Rodriguez, Shaw – plus the addition of Wanyama and the physical threat of Lambert mean they could upset a few sides.
4. Which players will surprise in the Premier League this season?
I think Van Wolfswinkel will combine to great effect with Robert Snodgrass for Norwich City. I think Tom Huddlestone will excel at Hull City. His effective long balls and quarterbacking should serve that team’s likely style of play quite well, although he won’t save them from relegation. I expect Stevan Jovetic to run riot for Man City, playing with so much surrounding top quality talent for the first time in his career. I expect Coutinho to excel for Liverpool in his first full season. I would also expect Andy Carroll to get his career back on track for West Ham, whose style is built to exploit his strengths to the maximum. I guess we will also get to see if Olivier Giroud can make the next step for Arsenal and improve upon his very solid and balanced first season in the Premier League. My guess is that he will. I think we will also see a precipitous decline in productivity from Everton players like Nikola Jelavic and Marouane Fellaini as the teams style of play transitions away from emphasizing their strengths.
Victor Wanyama could be the next Yaya Touré, taking the league by storm in battering-ram, yet technically sophisticated fashion. I also think Chelsea fans will be wondering why they have loaned out Kevin de Bruyne for all these years. He’s a massive player. Having known Ricky van Wolfswinkel since his FC Utrecht days, his progress at Sporting was nothing short of sensational. I could really see him score 15+ goals this season. I also have great belief in Soldado’s ability to finally be Tottenham’s 20+ league goals a season man. The man is a predatory striker, something Spurs have lacked for so long. Also looking forward to youngsters like Norwich’s Nathan Redmond, Everton’s Ross Barkley and United’s Adnan Januzaj who have all been excellent during pre-season.
Wanyama at Southampton. Bony and Amat for Swansea. Carroll/Downing/Nolan axis might actually work for the Hammers. Giaccherini to carry a struggling Sunderland.
If Kevin de Bruyne is given an opportunity at Chelsea – he’s had a good run in the side in pre-season – he could be a real surprise package. His form was excellent in the Bundesliga last year and, though he remains something of an unknown quantity in the Premier League, he could have a significant impact if he is able to force himself into the reckoning amongst some of the bigger names in their squad. It will be interesting to see how Matej Vydra adapts to the step up to the Premier League, following his loan move to West Brom – his raw pace and clinical finishing ability could see him amongst the goals if the players around him can create enough opportunities for him. I’m also looking forward to seeing if the highly rated Gerard Deulofeu can have any sort of impact at Everton.
5. Give your Premier League prediction
|1.||Man City||Man City||Chelsea||Chelsea|
|2.||Chelsea||Chelsea||Man City||Man City|
|3.||Spurs||Man Utd||Spurs||Man Utd|
|11.||Everton||West Ham||Everton||West Ham|
|14.||West Brom||Aston Villa||Aston Villa||Aston Villa|
|15.||Southampton||West Brom||West Brom||Newcastle|
|20.||Crystal Palace||Crystal Palace||Crystal Palace||Crystal Palace|