Who is in Mauricio Pochettino's strongest starting line-up?
Gareth Bale departed for Real Madrid last summer for a world record £85 million and Spurs have splashed the cash ever since in the hope of replacing their star Welshman, who scored 26 goals in 44 starts that season.
They added several acquisitions, and spent over £100 million as they added more depth and quality to their squad. Andre Villas Boas brought in seven new players as Tottenham sought a return to the Champions league.
Midfielder Paulinho was added for £17 million from Corinthians, Nacer Chadli arrived at White Hart Lane for £7 million and Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela both moved to London for £26 million each. Add that to the £9 million spent on Etienne Capoue, £8.5 million on Vlad Chiriches and £11.5 million on Christian Eriksen and in total you have seven players worth £105 million.
With all that money spent, a bare minimum of a fourth placed finish was the objective for Andre Villas Boas. He lasted until the 16th of December though, losing his job with the club suffering heavy defeats including a 3-0 home loss to West Ham, a 6-0 mauling at the hands of Manchester City and a 5-0 demolition by Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side.
Tim Sherwood replaced the former Chelsea boss for the remainder of the season but, despite improving the teams results and leasing new life into forgotten about striker Emanuel Adebayor, could do no better than to finish 6th.
Club chairman Daniel Levy felt it was best to part ways with Sherwood come the end of the campaign and was looking for a new manager to play attractive football while guiding Spurs back to the top four and back to Champions league football which everyone at the club, particularly fans, so desperately craves.
Over in Southampton a non-English speaking manager had got his side playing good, exciting possession based football and guided the Saints to their best ever premier league finish of 8th.
With Southampton losing several key players to big clubs, Pochettino too headed for the exit door and took over as Tottenham boss. Despite spending £19 million so far on Eric Dier, Ben Davies and Michel Vorm, this Spurs side is not Pochettino’s squad.
So what is his strongest starting eleven?
Well in goal the obvious choice is French shot stopper Hugo Lloris. With Michel Vorm a good standard of cover to come in should Lloris get injured/suspended.
The back four is not so easy, Kyle Walker may not be the best defensive right back in the league but he offers bags of pace going forward. Spurs are particularly weak in this area, with only Kyle Naughton and Ryan Fredericks to cover. Walker is definitely Spurs’ best right back.
There is only one centre back issue for me, and that is who plays alongside Jan Vertonghen. Pochettino has new signing Eric Dier, Younes Kaboul, Vlad Chiriches and Michael Dawson to choose from. Kaboul and Dawson lack pace but Dier and Chiriches do not have the same level of experience, so it is a tough decision for the former Southampton boss. I personally would go with Chiriches.
Left back is a relatively strong position for Spurs with Vertonghen’s versatility enabling him to play there if required, and Danny Rose and Benoit Assou Ekotto to choose from as well. Add new signing Ben Davies to the mix and the Argentina boss has a few good options. My choice would be Davies.
The two holding midfielders position is another one where only one space is available, with Sandro undoubtedly a starter given his aggression, determination and cover provided for the defence. Paulinho can play there despite being more attack minded, while Ettiene Capoue will sit deep. Algerian youngster Nabil Bentaleb impressed last season and could feature, as could former Fulham man Moussa Dembele. I would play Sandro alongside Dembele, giving the latter the freedom to venture forward while the Brazilian sits deep.
As for wingers, well, Erik Lamela failed to shine last year but could be given another chance thanks to his good performances in pre-season. Andros Townsend is direct, comfortable using both feet and provides a goal threat with his long range shooting. Aaron Lennon offers plenty of pace but his final ball has never been great. Nacer Chadli showed glimpses of what he is capable of last season. My two wide men would be Lamela and Townsend. Skill and trickery on one flank, pace and a goal threat on the other.
The number 10 role is relatively straight forward, with Christian Eriksen impressing last season the only real threat to his starting position is Lewis Holtby. Eriksen for me is the stand out choice.
Up front Spurs have three first team choices in Harry Kane, Emannuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado. The Spaniard did not live up to expectations last year scoring 6 premier league goals, 5 of them coming from penalties. Adebayor came out from the dark to score 11 league goals and Harry Kane bagged 3 goals in 10 appearances. A new striker is needed in my opinion, and the departure of Jermain Defoe still bemuses me to this day, but, out of the three strikers available, I would go with Adebayor.
Pochettino will no doubt make this side his own given the time and funds to do so but, right now, I feel his strongest 11 is:
Is this Mauricio Pochettino’s strongest starting-eleven at White Hart Lane? Join the discussion in the comment section below or on Twitter @TBRFootball.
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