Loading scores...
Harry Winks
Getty Images
Season Preview

Tottenham Season Preview

by Steve Rothgeb
Updated On: August 5, 2019, 7:52 am ET

Manager

He's magic, you know. It's Mauricio Pochettino. When Pochettino joined the club after the end of the 2013/2014 season, Spurs had gone nearly a generation in a managerial merry-go-round, becoming the 10th boss to take over the club in a 12-year span. He is now set to embark on his sixth year with Tottenham, and though no major silverware has yet to be collected, he is doing nothing short of a fantastic job building the club into a perennial top four side. He has been linked to some of the biggest clubs in the world as their next potential manager, with Manchester United and Real Madrid the most recent suitors, but there is a sense of loyalty and commitment to put something significant in the club's trophy cabinet before departing for a new challenge. That mentality carries over to his treatment of players and, after spending the first season or two weeding out players who weren't on board with his vision, he has cultivated a side that shows their loyalty back to him. Plenty of players have blossomed under his wing in the last five years, and many are on wages that are a fraction of what they could be earning at clubs with deeper pockets and ready to buy. That said, this once youngest-in-the-league squad has kept their core group together for a long time, and the window to a league title or a major tournament win could only be open for a season or two more. With a new stadium ready for action from Matchday One this season, the club should benefit from their new environs and, after a previous year where they made no new additions, but still managed to make their first-ever Champions League final, owner Daniel Levy has opened his wallet for one very high-potential star, and perhaps another who has yet to be signed. Pochettino may finally have all the pieces he will need to get the job done.


Summer Movement

The aforementioned high-potential star, though perhaps not from an FPL perspective, is Tanguy Ndombele, arriving from Lyon for a fee of £53.8m. The midfielder is a physical menace, and at only 22 years of age, has room to grow beyond what we've seen from him in Ligue One already. One of the most felt subtractions in the last year was the departure of Moussa Dembele, who was the heart and soul of Tottenham's midfield, pretty much controlling play between the boxes on either side of the ball. Another Mousa, minus the extra "S", Sissoko, did well last season in stepping up and filling the Dembele role to a degree, but in Ndombele, Spurs may have their perfect fit for several years to come. On the losses side, Kieran Trippier was the biggest name to depart, after being first-choice right back for most of the post Kyle-Walker era. There appears to be no designs on looking for a replacement on the transfer market, so another Kyle Walker will have to emerge. Kyle Walker-Peters that is, who looks set to be the man at right back when things kick off this weekend. Tottenham likely are not done shopping though. They have made their interests in Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon be known, but, with what once looked to be an exiting Danny Rose now appearing to be back in the fold, along with Ben Davies, the pair will once again provide competition for one another, and a move for Sessegnon may be on hold. The more substantial rumor is the race to sign the young, emerging attacking midfield star that is Giovani Lo Celso from Real Betis, or, a similar option Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP. Both would challenge Dele Alli for the "in the hole" role of midfield and, based on Alli's latest injury woes, the goal to sign one of these talents before the window closes should be even more pronounced. Other subtractions include fading keeper Michel Vorm, along with aging striker Fernando Llorente, both being released this summer. Vincent Janssen also departs for Monterrey after having little impact with the first team in his time with Spurs.

Goalkeeper

The original piece of this current group of regulars is France's #1 shot-stopper, Hugo Lloris. He will once again be the man between the sticks for every league game, barring injury or suspension. From an FPL perspective, he has always put up solid numbers, but has never had that one season where he was the optimal choice in his price bracket. History may very well repeat itself again this season, but, if Spurs can utilize their new stadium and make it a tough place for opponents to play, we may see a spike in clean sheets and perhaps Lloris will emerge as the best option for 5.5m. Paulo Gazzaniga is the primary backup here and has been decent when filling in for Lloris.

Defense

Last season began with a formation philosophy that Pochettino seemed to prefer the most often, with three center backs and the fullbacks pushing up into wingback roles. That strategy looks to have moved back to a standard four-man backline, which leaves two openings for center backs. The Belgian combo of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are set to be the preferred pairing this season, but Davinson Sánchez, who saw plenty of action last season, is the young star of the group and this could be the last season for Toby and Jan as the anointed pair. Spurs also have a young talent in Juan Foyth at this position, who put in some impressive displays when given a chance last season, though he is currently on the injured list. As mentioned above, Kyle-Walker Peters is the projected starter at right back, in his first opportunity to take the role and make it his, but Serge Aurier offers direct competition if KW-P struggles. For now though, he is the cheapest way into the Tottenham defense for only 5m. Danny Rose looks to be ahead of Ben Davies in the pecking order, but we have seen this pair flip-flop on the depth chart before and it would come as no shock if it happened again at some point this season and could be rotating regularly once European competition gets hot and heavy. Both have shown solid fantasy numbers when they have the gig.

Midfield

The preferred formation for Spurs these days involves a midfield diamond shape. Harry Winks has emerged as the top choice to anchor this diamond on the defensive end, while Dele Alli is thought to be at the head of the diamond when fit. Should Alli be out due to injury and no replacements have been brought in, Christian Eriksen could move up and take the role, should Pochettino continue with the shape. For now though, the influential Eriksen would be playing slightly deeper when all stars are available for selection. Moussa Sissoko was the preferred option on the right middle side of the diamond, and based on his performance last season could be given the role again at the onset, but it is likely not to last long if new signing Tanguy Ndombele has anything to say about it. It is an important role in the success of Spurs, game in, game out, but not a role that offers much fantasy appeal in the traditional FPL format. In formats that count stats like accurate passes, tackles, interceptions, aerials won, and the like, though, this position is quite productive. Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama provide depth for defensive midfield positions but the area where plenty of fantasy value could be had is the player who would line further up supporting Harry Kane, where there are plenty of goals to be had. Heung-Min Son has established himself as the best choice for this role and he has had plenty of fantasy investment in his time with Spurs. However, he begins the season with a two-match ban, allowing Lucas Moura an unchallenged role to shine in and could provide excellent FPL value in early doors. Even when Son is available again, he has been pushed to the limits in terms of playing time for club and country, so we may see a more even split with Moura in terms of minutes once the season has come to an end. Erik Lamela provides depth for this spot and has shown his moments of magic over the years, but it would seem both Son and Lucas Moura would need to be significantly injured for any hope of an extended run in the XI for Lamela.

Forward

Well, no surprise here. Harry Kane, Sir Harold of Kane, is ready to once again be the primary striker and goal machine for Spurs. Injuries last season saw a dip in production for him, but he still found the net 17 times. In each of the two previous seasons, he won the Golden Boot with 29 goals. In those 29-goal campaigns, he managed to do it despite the well-documented "August curse" where Kane seems incapable of finding the net. If you believe in nonsense curse like that, you may be kicking yourself in a few days when Tottenham open the season against Aston Villa. A season with minimal injures and a productive August could see Kane reach the coveted 30-goal threshold. The dip in total points last year saw the FPL game shave a million pounds off of his price tag, much to the delight of fantasy managers everywhere. If he is not in your XI now, he will be at some point this season, and always in the debate for the fantasy armband against any competition save for perhaps trips to the Etihad and Anfield.

Summary

As alluded to in the introduction, this looks to be the window for this core group of players to reach the peak of their potential. It is a very stable side. For now, it is a harmonious environment for players and manager. While finishing third last season in the league table, they were a far cry from the stalwarts that were Manchester City and Liverpool. However, if there was a club in a position to finish above at least of those two this season, it should be Spurs. Out of the gate, Kane and Lucas Moura look to be the most productive fantasy options. There are some tough fixtures in the opening weeks though that have minimized investment in their defense. However, once they have kind schedule, a defensive rep from Spurs has a chance to finish among the FPL's best. The important thing is for Spurs to avoid early slip-ups, like the loss to Watford early last season. If they can keep pace with the predicted top two for the first couple of months of the season, folks will have to start considering them a threat to challenge one or both of City or Liverpool.

Prediction - I see Spurs finishing third again, but would not be shocked if they leapfrogged Liverpool this season. However, as much as this writer would love to see Tottenham win the league, it would have to take a series of escalating blunders by Manchester City to lose their grip on being top dogs in the league.

Steve Rothgeb

Steve Rothgeb is a contributor for NBC Sports Edge and WorldSoccerTalk.com, a self-proclaimed fantasy sports oracle, and Tottenham Hotspur fanatic. He can be found on Twitter @FuzzyWarbles.