Kane and Able… A Spurs Pre-Season Tale…

Season Prospects

*All things correct at time of writing

The season of 19/20 could be a great opportunity for Spurs to put down a marker. Cement top four security for the fifth year running but also challenge for the Title. Now “could” is the word that stands out here but the fact is I cannot see us finishing below any of the following:

Chelsea – Sold their Star player and cannot buy any reinforcements. Core of the squad ageing and the so-called brilliant youth have had fleeting chances to show that they can cut it at the top level. Also, Lampard at the helm. why? Shows how far they have fallen that they would not even try to attract any of Europe’s elite managers.

Man UTD – Have money but maybe not the buying power that they once had. They have a manager that would not have been appointed full time. If his dream run of games at the start had had any challenges in them. Another ageing squad which is going to take more than a one season rookie RB and overpriced slab headed CB to fix.

Arsenal – Unbalanced squad, no champions league football again, no money to spend, no leaders, Ozil, need I go on?

Signings

What we have to do is try and plug the gaps in our squad with the right player and not just anybody, before deadline day we had signed our first two players of the summer. The first players signed since Lucas Moura arrived in Jan 2018.

One of which is Jack Clarke, promising but raw winger signed from Leeds. Then loaned straight back to continue to develop tactically and technically under Bielsa. Which can only be a good thing. Hopefully we get back to signing a few younger players that we can fully integrate into the squad over the next few years.

Next up is what I can only describe being a Spurs fan as a fantastic fucking coup… Tanguy Ndombele!!! How we have got away with this signing is beyond me. From what I have seen over the past two years he was built to play for us. He has that bit of Dembele about him that we lacked when we packed him off to China. Him starting could on his own change the way we play for the better and I am so excited to see him play.

Rivals

Now just because we have Poch’s main target for the new season in Ndombele does not mean that we can rest on our laurels. We need to keep up with the top two who at the time of writing have not done too much in the market.

City have re-signed a former Left back in Angelino who has had a few good years away to improve. They have added another Spaniard to the ranks by activating (driving a truck load of money to Atleti) Rodri’s release clause. Which could be as transformative to them as Ndombele to us. He is a very smart DM much as I hate to say it in the Busquets mould. An improvement if not stylistically the same as the shithouser that is Fernandino. They also look close to swapping Danilo with raiding wing back Cancelo from Juve.

Liverpool yet to strengthen but not much to be added to the first 11. They have bought some top youth prospects. Maybe just squad depth is needed for any serious injuries. But their first 15 squad members are pretty much nailed on.

Deadline day

Transfer deadline day brought us two more very exciting players. First up we have the supremely talented Gio Lo Celso. An attacking midfielder that had a great season at Betis last year. Can play in multiple positions in our midfield.

Next up we have very highly rated Ryan Sessegnon from Fulham. Having tracked him for a long time we made the move for the Left sided player. Can cover LB and LW. And he played over 2k minutes in last season’s premier league.

Improvement

Last season was a mix of highs and lows as everybody probably knows. Position aside we only lost four less games than a poor 16th placed saints, not good enough really. Some would say we only sealed top 4 due to others failure.

Next year we need start games faster and actually score goals in the first half. I lost count how many times last year I watched a shocking first 45 and then we slowly got into a rhythm in the second 45. Hopefully our change in formation/style of play will help the transition to the final third.

We had 6 direct errors leading to goals and 3 own goals which did not help the cause. We also had an untold amount of injuries and ended the season with Wanyama and Sissoko in CM. I mean what a time to be alive. You just love to see it.

So, all in all an exciting time to be a Spurs fan, we are still linked with more players and will need them if we get rid of the players, I think we will get rid of. First season in our new ground, Poch is still here, champions league football again and hopefully a fully fit, rested and ready to go Harry Kane. COYS

Squad Prospects

Lloris 5.5m

Positives:

  • 145 points last season coming fourth in GK’s. A settled defence and midfield could yield higher returns for Hugo and his superb and often overlooked reflexes.
  • Undisputed first choice for Spurs, only injury or suspension would see Gazzaniga called upon.
  • IMHO best of the 5.5 crowd, Pickford still plays behind a very average defence. Kepa will be playing for a new manager with an ageing backline or a backline of current and returning players & DDG ould be getting used to his new defenders at UTD

Negatives:

  • Is Toby going or not? Toby is our best defender and god knows why people did not pay the 25m release clause and going after average English defenders instead. He can still go, even though our window has closed.
  • Has no real run of “easy games” so he is either your set and forget or you can use him with a 4.5. My thinking is you may as well pay that 0.5 and get one of the Brazilians, saying that 0.5 could help turning KDB into Raz and Mane into Salah… decisions decisions.
Ndombele 6m

Positives:

  • Our record signing should be guaranteed first choice. His style of play will hopefully change the way we play for the better. Make us become more fluid in transition from midfield to attack. Whether we have the ball or when starting counter attacks.
  • 7 assists from a breaker and not a creator is good going. With his 68% dribble success rate (highest in top 5 leagues for players attempting as many dribbles as he did 92) shows that maybe he can utilise this in more dangerous areas of the pitch.

Negatives:

  • How is our midfield going to line up? And how will he adapt to a new team in a new league. He should start but will it be in a 3 or a 2, so many questions and only time will tell.
  • He might need a few weeks to get used to the training and matches. Could mean he does not start GW1.
  • Using a Spurs slot on him limits you if you have Kane, and a Defender/Lloris and suddenly Moura, Son or Alli catches fire.
Lucas 7.5m

Positives:

  • 10 goals and 2 assists, also 14 clean sheets from the winger last season. Put him bang on 20th best midfielder last year. Kind of sums him up. Not elite but showed some real patches of great form in the league.
  • Price, it is not too bad and for an extra 0.5 you get a better attacking potential from a top 4 team. Rather than Willian/Pedro and Mili (sans Pks).
  • Should be as close to a definite starter as anyone as Son is still suspended. Aswell as on paper what is potentially an easier game in Villa.

Negatives:

  • How is our front line going to line up when Son is back does Lucas have that wing spot locked down. Could Alli be used back in the second striker role? For me he is in the Amazing option to bring on category rather than the must start.
  • 0.5 can get you the mercurial Siggy. B.Silva many peoples MVP for city last year. As well as Mr Toumi’s prodigal son Richarlison. Money seems tight this year, as it always does until bargains reveal themselves.
Alli 8.5m

Positives:

  • Price for me looks just in the sweet spot depending on his positioning. If he can recreate the season’s of 15/16 10G 9A, 16/17 18G 7A and 17/18 9G 10A. Then will smash the 150 point barrier as he did in those three FPL seasons.
  • Potentially overlooked due to last seasons performance and numbers. Could be an early season differential for those trying to get a head start on ML rivals.

Negatives:

  • 50% chance of playing in GW2 due to injury.
  • He seemed to be playing within himself last year. Going match to match not wanting to get injured again. This does not play into Alli’s game of being fiery and the guy that pisses loads of people off. For me he needs that fire. It’s part of him and part of his game that helps unsettle opponents forcing them into mistakes. He only played 1822 mins compared to the previous seasons of 2957 and 3036.
  • Where does he fit in, last year he played in various midfield positions. We will probably not know what the best 11 is, until Son comes back into the team in GW3.
Son 9.5m

Positives:

  • Classification as a MF is great if you are planning to use Son after his suspension is over. He could easily be reclassified as a Forward. As it is where he spends most of his time. Running direct at teams or arriving in the box to finish of team moves.
  • Potentially overlooked due to Price when you have Alli, Siggy, Richarlison just to name a few all at a lower price.
  • When he is on fire he is on fire. His Consistency is remarkable 16/17 14G 9A 17/18 12G 8A and 18/19 12G 8A all season playing less than 2300 minutes.

Negatives:

  • Suspended until Newcastle GW3. We could already be in a rhythm and Lucas/Alli could be on fire and might not be dropped. Unless they show signs of a form drop off.
  • The explosive KDB of the current Champions at the same price. Looking at those early City fixtures you might not have a 9.5 shaped hole to put in the flying Korean.
Kane 11m

Positives:

  • He is Harry Kane. Need I say more? But seriously he is capable of scoring 30 goals in a season in any season. Prolific Forward of the deadliest kind. Scores all types of goals, shoots early and takes set pieces. Love Him!
  • Potentially overlooked due to last season’s form and numbers. With only 17G and 6A. Great as the only premium forward in your FPL team IMO.
  • Prolific Numbers 14/15 21G 7A, 15/16 25G 3A, 16/17 29G 7A and 17/18 29G 2A. Great numbers even with at least one injury a season.

Negatives:

  • Is he fit? He got rushed/rushed himself back for the champions league final and did not look that up to speed. A summer off will have done him the world of good after a season interrupted by several injuries.
  • Does his natural eagerness to improve his game hinder his overall FPL point scoring potential? He has improved his passing. Comes deep to get the ball and sets up other teammates. No doubt this helps Spurs. But he could potentially damage his point scoring, if he is not the main man in the box.
  • With cash tight is a premium forward even necessary? You could field a tasty forward line and an even tastier midfield if you had no Auba, Kane or Sergio in your team.

Tactics Preview

This section is just me previewing a few of the formations that I think we will be lining up with this season. I am not a self-proclaimed tactical mastermind but I do my best to just explain the Why’s behind the formation and players involved.

In pre-season we have played a few formations, 4-1-3-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-1-2. As the transfer window has just closed, players injured and Son’s suspension maybe this means that Poch was probably trying to drill in the flexibility of different formations. Poch is sometimes very stubborn with substitutes, he is not with his Tactics. He often changes formations on the fly during matches. It’s why we have a squad with so many players that can play in more than one position. Especially in the final third, we have multiple players that can play all across there. Very handy to have in matches and over the course of a 40 odd game season.

*Caveats here being we have kept hold of Toby and the magic Dane after the European window has closed. Sissoko is still turning water into wine. Lucas will be Son for the first few games. Rose is our first choice left back. Aurier is still our best (for tactical and not 100% ability reasons) right back, after he is back from injury.*

 

4-2-3-1

First up we have a staple Poch formation in the 4-2-3-1. It’s a formation we have seen used before and offers defensive stability and attacking potential. The back 5 needs no introduction solid pairing at CB and flying, athletic wing backs.

The 2

Next up is Winks at the base of the midfield, his passing of which he had a pass completion of 92% from 31 games last year. His ability to get out of trouble and play that pass will be key as he will have responsibility in front of that back 4. His energy and tidiness will complement Ndombele’s powerful running from midfield. He is best with the ball at his feet running forward and causing damage with his forays forward, as shown in the great for neutrals games vs City last season. He likes to look for a fullback with a ball out to the wings. Through balls to the attackers are also something to look out for.

This will give this formation a solid passer and one energetic, powerful midfielder. which is something we have lacked due to injury on winks’ part and Dembele being moved on.

The 3

Moving to the attacking band of players. We see Son as the winger/Forward doing what he has done for the past few years. Taking people on, creating the width and overloading with whatever full back is behind him. With an eye on getting into the box either with or without the ball to create chances or finish them off himself. On the opposite side we have Eriksen, hopefully being the professional he is. Playing that advanced midfield role, linking with the the attackers but also covering ridiculous amounts of ground. Hopefully with Ndomeble being in the team he will feel like he does not need to cover the central position as often as he has done.

Alli here is IMO his best position the second striker, where in playing close to Kane he uses his frame and physicality matched with his finishing to finish off attacking moves and combine with Kane. I would love to see Alli return to this position instead of being used in all the midfield roles. With a more stable midfield he would be allowed less rigidity in his role which would help unlocking those defences. Hopefully get us on the front foot earlier instead of using the first half to feel opponents out.

The 1

Lastly is Sir Harold…. Our leader and goal scorer. His role as usual is to just stay fit and do what he does best. Score, shoot, link up, play diagonals in for full backs and runners. Play through balls onto our most advanced forward players, take penalties, take free kicks. And be what FPL needs him to be, which is an 11m 30 goal a season forward.

 

4-1-3-2/4-4-2 Diamond

Next up we have what we could easily play from the start of the season. It has the players and more importantly the player types to switch to a more attacking formation in game. The back four are the same as above.

The 1

Winks again. He has all the attributes, maybe not the physique, to play this role. Great at reading the play, dominant with his passing tempo. He also has mentioned above has the close control to get out of those midfield situations. Not all teams need that Kante style Ball winner. Only one out of the last four teams in 18/19 champions league final had what you would call a proper ball winning DM. And that was Dier and Wanyama not exactly the pinnacles of defensive midfielder. And there is a reason City have gone for Rodri, its evolution. I am not saying they are not important but as proven there are more ways to win games than just the one.

The 3

(A) This could go a number of ways. We could have the powerful, combative that can also create and move the play forward. This would be last players MVP Sissoko and Ndombele. Then we have Eriksen in the typical Number 10 position. Collecting the ball and playing it forward to the attacking duo.

(B) Ndombele stays as his drive and skillset are why we fought so hard to sign him. Next to him we could have Eriksen, playing a little deeper, this could allow him to dictate the play more. In front and playing close to the front 2 could be Alli. He would have licence to get forward and get close to Kane.

The 2

We have Harry Kane and Son (ideally). Kane can drop short and use his vision to play to fullbacks or his partner. Son(Lucas) can play up top, but also seek to use their skills out wide. Both are good finishers, Lucas more reactive in the box and Son likes a good long-range shot. Having the two up top will occupy the opposition and allow others to get in to that final third.

5-2-3/3-4-3

Lastly we could have what many still think of as Poch’s best formation in the time he has been with spurs. The 5 at the back. Allowing for both defensive and attacking flexibility. This formation needs athletic wingbacks that are as comfortable on the front foot as they are on the back foot. Recovery pace is key (Bye Davies) in case moves break down and you are caught in the wrong area of the pitch. In theory it provides more support for the attackers and provides more attacking outlets in more areas of the pitch.

The 5

In this formation Jan is the LCB and the RCB is up to discussion, could be Sanchez for the bit of pace or Toby for the stability. Sanchez for his size sometimes gets bullied off the ball so for me it would be Toby in the centre for his all-round positioning and relationship with Jan. The most athletic Wingbacks we have are Rose (future not 100%) and Aurier (Not sold on his football brain or life choices). Who’s attacking nature and pure athleticism will be key for controlling the flanks, without giving up too much on the defensive side.

The 2

Next up the combination of our tempo setter winks, who will be seeking out those simple balls. Or something more adventurous to the onrushing wingbacks. Alongside Winks we have the powerful driving and energy of Ndombele.

In the final third we could have Eriksen/Alli and Son/Lucas. Or any one of those combination of four players. All playing closer to Kane dragging players away. Thus, allowing the wingbacks more space to create and get into those spaces beyond. Eriksen/Alli should have free role to drop deep and start attacks if needed. Same for Son/Lucas, licence to roam to the wings. To double up with rose/Aurier to get a 2 on 1 situation on the opposition’s fullbacks.

Kane will be Key as usual. Whether he is holding the ball up for onrushing attackers or pinging balls out to the wide players. Should be enough in and around him to stop him dropping too deep. Where sometimes he can slow the play down but also play killer passes. It’s a choice that he needs to make sometimes, trust the players behind him rather than keep seeking out the ball.

Why its my favourite

Hopefully with a fit Winks and newcomer Ndombele there would be enough to keep the ball ticking over while penetrating the final third. Having the 3 CB’s also hopefully negates the sometime poor distribution of Lloris. With more options he might feel less pressured to find that pass to start moves off with both Jan and Toby more than capable of doing this.

If we can recreate the kind of attacking and defensive football that got Poch and the team all the plaudits 3 years ago. I think most spurs fans would be happy, winning is great but winning while playing thrilling and exciting football is better.

 

So there you have it. My take on what is a fully comprehensive guide to my team in the run up to this exciting new FPL season. Hope this helps when making your choices

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