A short trip across London beckons for the Eagles this weekend as the Premier League returns after the international break. TEB had a chat with Spurs fan and former TEB contributor Kevin De Vries to find out about the season so far, views on this match up and much more.
Q. What are your hopes for the new season?
Most fans would probably say that we’re in “trophy or bust mode” this season but, frankly, I think we’re in for a weird season. On the pitch, it’s hard to expect us to come any closer to glory than we did last year by reaching the Champions League final and off the pitch there are certainly issues swirling as three of our key players have less than a year left on their contracts (Eriksen, Alderweireld, Vertonghen). We are a more talented team this season after a terrific summer, but I’m not sure we’re primed to have any better season this year than we managed last. Predictions: Top four, round of 16 in the Champions League, and no domestic trophies.
Q. Looking back, how do you rank last season now that the dust has settled?
The Premier League campaign was pretty disappointing, especially in the final stretch of the season, but the Champions League run was incredible, and likely all most fans will remember of the 2018/19 campaign. If I had to grade it, I’d give us a B last season… averaging a C for the Premier League and an A for Champions League.
Q. Is there a fear that Mauricio Pochettino could seek pastures new at any time?
Make no mistake, Mauricio Pochettino leaving Tottenham would be the most damaging departure from the club in recent memory. That having been said, I don’t particularly fear it at the moment. Yes, there are whispers surrounding his future at the moment but, and this may be biased, I don’t think there are many more interesting or stable projects out there at the moment. Real Madrid and Manchester United have always been the two big clubs touted to be interested and, while both clubs inarguably have more clout and bigger budgets, both seem to be in periods of upheaval from the boardroom down. There could be an opportunity out there that Pochettino would prefer to his Spurs project, but I’m not sure what it would be at the moment.
Q. How has the summer transfer window been for the club – were all needs addressed?
In the transfer window review show that we do over at EPL Round Table (shameless plug), we gave Tottenham a unanimous A grade. In May, the three targets were Ryan Sessegnon, Giovanni Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele and all three were signed by the club. Of course, the departures of Kieran Trippier and Fernando Llorente have left us a little thin at right back and striker but, on the whole, hard to be anything but pleased with our summer business.
Q. Is there enough firepower up front or will Spurs struggle if they are to miss Harry Kane for any length of time?
As just mentioned, the departure of Llorente is a bit concerning considering how many minutes he was asked to play… and how many big moments he provided, particularly in the Champions League. Our remaining options are Son and Lucas, both of whom have played pretty well when deputising for Kane, and youth product Troy Parrott who is still young but has scored goals at every level thus far. I am not particularly confident that they can replicate the goals that Kane provides but, then again, it’s difficult for most clubs to succeed without their best striker.
Q. One to watch for Spurs this season?
If we’re talking about first-team players, it has to be Tanguy Ndombele. The midfielder is just an absurd talent and for those that question that statement go back and watch his performances against Manchester City and Barcelona last season for Lyon. He enters our midfield as the best passer and dribbler and will help dictate tempo throughout matches which is something we’ve sorely missed ever since Luka Modric left the club.
As for a younger player, Troy Parrott who I mentioned earlier. He’s been incredible in the youth ranks for both club and country and seems to have all the makings of a brilliant young striker. I’m not sure how many minutes he’ll actually get this year but he’ll definitely be one to watch if/when he does play.
Q. If you could pick one Palace player to sign, who would it be and why?
This is a fantastic question, and I’ll try not to say Wilfried Zaha, ha! Admittedly, your club does not line up particularly well with either of our needs with striker and right back proving a weak spot for both of our clubs. If pressed though, I’d probably go with Luka Milivojevic. That may come as a surprise considering we’ve just added two central midfielders in the summer but with Dembele moving on, Wanyama nearing the exit door, and Dier likely shifting back to defence… what was once a physically dominant midfield is quickly becoming less so. Milivojevic has a fairly unique player ID, and is much more than just a standard defensive midfielder, but I think he would be fantastic at the base of our midfield in either a two or a three.
Q. Name a player from each side that you believe will be a threat in this game?
Zaha is the clear and obvious choice here. If he plays on the left he’ll be able to terrorise either Kyle Walker-Peters who will have just returned from injury, Serge Aurier who has had no playing time this season, or Davinson Sanchez who has been at fault for three or four goals that we’ve conceded this season already. If he plays up front I’ll be mildly less worried, but neither Jan Vertonghen nor Toby Alderweireld have the pace to keep up with Zaha if he times his runs well.
Q. Perhaps you could share your opinions on Palace both as a club and what you expect from us this season?
I used to write for this very site and even covered the Palace when they played FC Cincinnati in their pre-season tour over here a couple of years back, so I have a pretty sizable soft spot for the Eagles. As a club, I think things have been run pretty well since returning to the Premier League and, while there have been some swings and misses in the market like Christian Benteke, and I guess we’ll see on Max Meyer, you’ve survived them well.
Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of Roy Hodgson but he’s certainly engendered a level of stability during his tenure that should provide a nice framework for the future. The short-term doesn’t look particularly exciting from the outside looking in as goals look, once again, to be an issue for the club, but the defence looks solid with Mamadou Sakho and Gary Cahill a pretty impressive pairing if they can both get on the pitch at the same time. I had you coming 11th in my pre-season prediction and don’t really see any particular reason to change that.
Q. Your prediction?
This is a very good time to play us with most of our players tired from internationals and injuries still lingering throughout the squad. We will likely find it hard to break through the lines if you set up to defend like Newcastle did, but I assume you’ll be a bit more adventurous than that. Recent history says we will win 1-0 and I will, perhaps selfishly, hope for that.