Inside Lane: What is Tottenham’s strongest XI now?
Spurs blogger Ben Bloom looks at Andre Villas-Boas’ selection dilemmas as the Premier League resumes this weekend.
This is a good time to be a Spurs fan. In fact, this is arguably the best time to be a Spurs fan for the past 25 years.
It seems somewhat bizarre to feel this way when our star man has just upped sticks and left, but if there is such thing as a perfect way to sell your best player, Daniel Levy appears to have found it.
By the time the Gareth Bale saga finally ended and he left for sunnier shores, Spurs fans hardly batted an eyelid.
An astronomical transfer fee coupled with a £100million outlay on seven new players sounds like a successful transfer window.
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So how do we look now?
In Hugo Lloris we have arguably the best keeper in England and certainly the finest exponent of the “sweeper-keeper” role.
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A central defensive foursome of Michael Dawson, Jan Vertonghen, Younes Kaboul and Vlad Chiriches provides greater class and depth than any other Premier League team besides perhaps Manchester United or Chelsea.
With Dawson’s occasional lack of mobility evident against Arsenal, I expect Vertonghen and Kaboul - who feels like a new signing - to work their way into the two starting spots.
However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Villas-Boas gives all four centre-backs plenty of game time as he looks to keep things fresh across all competitions.
Everything is not quite so rosy at full-back. Danny Rose has much to do to prove himself as Champions League quality and, with question marks over how Benoit Assou-Ekotto fell so drastically out of favour, Vertonghen seems to be the only proper alternative on the left.
There can be few complaints over Kyle Walker on the other side, although it would be a great relief to see him revert back to the player of two seasons ago and cut out the errors he has become prone to.
Like the centre-backs, the strength in depth is abundant in midfield.
The central trio combination of Etienne Capoue, Moussa Dembele and Paulinho didn’t work against Arsenal. Without one of them fulfilling a more attacking role in the typical No10 mould, Roberto Soldado was too often isolated in the final third and the gap between striker and midfield was far too large.
Enter Christian Eriksen. Yet to make his debut, it is a lot to ask for a player to come straight into the side and click immediately. But despite being just 21, the Dane already has a wealth of experience and may prove to be the missing link in our offensive play.
I can see Dembele making way, with Paulinho and either Capoue or Sandro playing just behind Eriksen or Lewis Holtby. What is clear is that there are plenty of options, which only grow when the wingers are brought into the equation.
Aaron Lennon, Andros Townsend, Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela will certainly provide healthy competition in wide areas.
Lamela would appear to warrant one spot while the other is fairly open to whoever seizes his chance. Townsend seemed to take giant strides forward during his ninth career loan spell at QPR last season, yet it has still been a surprise to see him stand out already this season and how high his confidence is.
Whether he can keep Lennon out of the team in the long-term remains to be seen, but if he can channel more of the attributes of Bale and less of Adel Taarabt he could be an interesting prospect.
The options do not end there with the likes of Lamela and Chadli able to play centrally, Eriksen experienced at playing on the flank and Gylfi Sigurdsson on the sidelines.
Such unknowns do not exist further up the field.
Regardless of what Emmanuel Adebayor may claim, there is only one man filling the lone striker role - Soldado. A proven goalscorer, the Spaniard cannot quite be mentioned among the world’s very best, but should provide greater firepower than any striker outside of the two Manchester clubs.
So do we have an array of world class players? Probably not yet. But a number of them could turn out to be absolute gems and Villas-Boas has plenty to play with.
Exciting times. Things are looking alright.