How should Tottenham line-up? Eriksen and Holtby to start
The loss to Arsenal might have taken the sheen off Spurs’ exciting start to the season, but the departure of Gareth Bale has funded an overhaul to the squad that should see them well-placed to compete on all fronts this season.
Seven new players were signed, along with Sandro and Younes Kaboul returning from injury and Andros Townsend and Danny Rose’s integration into the first team after successful loans.
Andre Villas-Boas now has a wealth of players available to fit any system he should choose to use, and there will be some high-profile absentees from the Spurs team in every match, but who should be in the first-choice 11?
In goal, there is no longer any doubt about who is top dog at White Hart Lane, with Hugo Lloris showing his class once again with some outstanding saves in the north London derby.
The full-backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose also seem safe as Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s departure on loan was a demonstration of the faith placed in the left-back.
Jan Vertonghen is similarly established at centre-back, but Michael Dawson should make way for Younes Kaboul once the Frenchman fully returns to fitness.
Villas-Boas will likely set up his front six with three central midfielders, two wide attackers and a central striker, who is clearly going to be Roberto Soldado after his £26m move.
There is far more speculation about who will fill the other five positions, with 11 players available for Villas-Boas to pick from.
Sandro and Etienne Capoue will fight it out for a holding midfield slot, with Sandro given a chance to establish himself after the Frenchman picked up an injury against Arsenal.
With a box-to-box midfielder and a creative player likely to take the remaining two places in the three-man midfield, new signings Paulinho and Christian Eriksen should be starting most matches.
Mousa Dembele was a key player for Spurs last season, but he lacks the creativity to play at the head of the midfield, and he will be fighting with the impressive Paulinho for one spot, while Gylfi Sigurdsson and Lewis Holtby will compete with Eriksen.
Erik Lamela will become a shoe-on on the right side of Spurs’ attack, with Townsend a very capable deputy in an inverted wing role, but as an orthodox wide man Aaron Lennon might struggle for starts.
On the left, Nacer Chadli will start if Villas-Boas wants to play two inverted wingers, but either Holtby or Eriksen could move there if the Portuguese wants more creativity, and given Spurs’ somewhat goal-shy start in the Premier League, this should be the route taken against Norwich after the international break.
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