Tottenham Hotspur kick off their season three weeks today when they visit Selhurst Park, the home of Ian Holloway's newly promoted Crystal Palace. With two new signings for Andre Villas-Boas's men I take a look as to what the potential line up could be for this coming season.
Last season AVB experimented with few different formations including 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1. It looks as though 4-3-3 is his favoured pick after a successful spell with Porto so here's how I expect Tottenham's teamsheet to look should they not make any more acquisitions.
Hugo Lloris - The Frenchman got off to a difficult start at the beginning of last season as he failed to displace Brad Friedel in the White Hart Lane goal, despite Spurs shelling out up to £13 million for the French shot-stopper. However tables have turned and Lloris has now established himself as Tottenham's number 1 after a string of impressive displays last season. Friedel will look to be used more in the cup games and continue to be a rely understudy to the former Lyon keeper. With lightning fast reflexes and impressive distribution, Lloris has been a good signing for the Lilywhites.
Kyle Walker - Kyle looks to have made the right back birth his own in recent seasons after eye catching loan spells with QPR and Aston Villa. His pace and understanding with winger Aaron Lennon has been a good outlet for Spurs as he's another attacking option when bombing up and down. His defending had come into question last season with some sloppy mistakes, however he is still young at 23 and has time to work on that side of his game. On the other hand his pace when defending has been a valuable asset for Spurs and he very rarely gets outwitted by opposition wingers. Ex-Sheffield United team mate Kyle Naughton provides able back up for Walker.
This time last season Dawson's future was far from certain and he looked to be heading out of the club when QPR's bid for the centre back was accepted. Dawson however turned down a move to Loftus Road and decided to try and earn his spurs and reclaim his place back in the Tottenham XI, which he did. Current Spurs captain and on the fringes of the England squad, another impressive season for the 29 year-old could well see him on the plane to Brazil next summer. Putting his body on the line and being strong in the air, Dawson also has an eye for a pass and is often switching play out wide to start attacks. Tottenham academy product Steven Caulker will look to step in for Dawson when rested or injured.
With Jan Vertonghen picking up an injury during the pre-season game with Sunderland, Kaboul will be hoping to get off to a quick start to try and reclaim his place after missing last season through injury. A much improved player in his second stint at Spurs Kaboul was a rock alongside Michael Dawson leading Tottenham to a 4th placed finish the season before last, only to creuly miss out on Champions League football due to Chelsea lifting the trophy. When Vertonghen is back fit it will be a hard decision for AVB to choose one or the other, which may see Vertonghen move to left back where he played for portions of last season.
This could be controversial pick for some Spurs fans, however Danny Rose showed last season that he is good enough for the Premier League. The Team GB left back impressed whilst on loan at Sunderland and has put himself into AVB's plans for the upcoming season. Rose started off as a pacey winger but has now evolved himself into an attacking left back and has a similar style of play to Kyle Walker. A favourite of the Spurs faithful, Rose's 25-yard screamer against Arsenal will always live long in the memory. He will battle with Benoit Assou-Ekotto for the left-back spot, aswell as Jan Vertonghen if he isn't used at centre back.
The Brazilian arrives at Spurs after 3 years with Brazilian outfit Corinthians. The Confederations Cup winner is a box to box player who can play as the main holding midfielder, or even in an attacking midfield role thanks to his athleticism and eye for a shot combined with his strength and tackling ability. With the World Cup being held in Paulinho's home nation next year, it's a chance for him to cement his place in the Brazil side with impressive performances for Spurs. Scott Parker is also another option for AVB when considering this position.
Unfortunately Sandro picked up a nasty injury last January which saw him miss the rest of the season. Back before schedule and back amongst the squad during pre-season, Sandro will hope to be fit for the Palace game. A plus for Spurs is that Sandro and Paulinho have played together for Brazil so this partnership should gel quickly. Sandro's main strength is just that, his strength. A big presence and tough tackling has earned Sandro a reputation of being a credible holding midfielder. Providing protection for the back four, it will allow both attacking full backs to get forward at every opportunity. Tom Huddlestone and Tom Carroll will more likely be used as substitutes and for Cup games next season.
The Belgian has proved to be a good signing for Spurs, with tricky runs and a fierce shot as shown with his crucial last minute goal against Lyon. A handful for his marker, Dembele's main strength is holding onto the ball and getting himself out of tight situations. Used as more of a deeper midfielder last season, with Sandro and Paulinho now alongside him Mousa can look to get forward more often and create chances for both himself and his team-mates. Lewis Holtby and Gylfi Sigurdsson will hope to push Dembele for this more attacking role in the midfield 3.
Lennon is Tottenham's main source of width so is a key player for AVB's side. With pace that can see him skip past any full back always sees him as a threat which opposition cannot take lightly. His end product has been questioned but over the last few seasons Lennon's maturity and work rate has seen him improve as an all round player with a more experienced mind. If Lennon can add a few more goals to his game it will see him in contention for the World Cup, although his assists are just as valuable. Andros Townsend is a like for like replacement should AVB look to rotate, with Clint Dempsey an option too.
The PFA player and young player of the year re-developed his game completely last year. Once a marauding left winger glued to the touch line, Bale now has a free role in the Tottenham team, either coming deep to pick up the ball and go on a run, or drifting out wide and cutting in to strike. Bale could be used as the focal point in Tottenham's attack should they fail to sign a striker, however I expect him to line up on the left of an attacking three but with licence to rome with a solid midfield behind him. Nacer Chadli is also another option should Bale play somewhere else along the forward line, or if AVB decides to play with two central midfielders instead of three.
If Tottenham fail to get anyone in upfront, which seems as though it's something they're actively trying to do, Jermain Defoe will be in contention for a starting place. Always a threat when in and around the box Defoe just needs half a yard to whip the ball into the back of the net. Another key season is needed for the striker as England have yet to establish a consistent strike partnership so a good season for Defoe will put him in Roy Hodgson's plans. Emmanuel Adebayor looks set for Besiktas so it's a chance for Defoe to get off to a good start of the season whilst Spurs look for another forward.
As shown, there's many options for AVB to consider for this season, and with a big squad they can look to challenge not just domestically but also in the Europa League. Keeping hold of Gareth Bale and signing a new striker could result in an exciting season for Tottenham Hotspur.