Serge Aurier

Will big-spending Spurs be Premier League title contenders?

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Tottenham Hotspur’s 2018-19 season was quite the “glass half-full” occasion.

Spurs won 23 matches, only Liverpool and Man City claiming three points on more occasions. The North London outfit also lost 13, the biggest number in the Top Six and the same as Wolves.

[ MORE: Spurs agree Dybala fee ]

With a plus-28 goal differential, also third-best in the PL, Spurs finished 15 points back of second and 16 behind victorious Man City. That felt okay because Mauricio Pochettino‘s men, of course, also made it to the UEFA Champions League Final, losing to Liverpool on a questionable handball call.

Now two seasons removed from a second-place finish in the league, Spurs have broken their transfer record to bring in Tanguy Ndombele and may be spending bigger, linked Tuesday with both Paulo Dybala and Philippe Coutinho. Playmaker Giovani Los Celso has been in their orbit, too, all summer.

Perhaps no team has more questions in the air over the final 48 hours of the transfer window than Spurs, with Christian Eriksen still whispered as a possible departure, to boot.

Only Manchester United suffered more injuries than Spurs last season, with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Moussa Sissoko, and Hugo Lloris missing time (Spurs went 2W-3L in league play without the latter). And Heung-Min Son was gone through national team duty, too.

This is a club who stopped Man City from its most-sought jewel, the Champions League, and it’s no coincidence that Spurs’ Premier League freefall came once the group stage arrived at Wembley in mid-February.

Spurs were five points back of the first and second at that point, with a match-in-hand on leaders City but not Liverpool. The chasers — Arsenal, Manchester United, and Chelsea — were between 9-10 points back of Spurs.

They had won all but six of their matches at that point, falling to Watford, Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal, Wolves, and Manchester United. The losses to the leaders were both at home and by a single goal (as they would be later in the season, away from London).

They have a lot going for themselves, even a bit of momentum from the Audi Cup. Their festive season slate is very forgiving, as is their season run-in.

Spurs’ three toughest fixtures of the opening 10 come away to Man City, Arsenal, and Liverpool. Draws can, of course, do the trick there as Pochettino’s men look to build a path to the top (Liverpool’s start is more difficult, while Man City’s early visit from Spurs is its only top challenge of the first two months, all respect due to Wolves).

The biggest argument against Tottenham comes at right back, where Kieran Trippier has left, Juan Foyth is injured, and Serge Aurier is still returning to fitness. The easy option is for Pochettino to find an answer in the next 48 hours, but the little things matter when you’re talking about a title; Spurs may have to face down City in Week 2 with either a brand new piece or a revived Aurier.

That’s digging a bit too far into the weeds, though; When assessing whether Spurs can make up distance to Liverpool and Man City, it’s not really about the big gap at the end of last season. Look at where Spurs were before the Champions League knockout round stage. Ask yourselves whether you see them shallow enough to finish 3W-2D-7L regardless of UCL status.

We’d argue the opposite. With Dybala or Coutinho, this team can make it a bonafide three-team race almost regardless of what Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United manage by Thursday evening.

Top 10 Premier League players at each position

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There are 25 players in each Premier League squad, but who will not only star for their respective clubs but also elevate themselves to the upper echelons of the league this season? With the Premier League campaign officially set to begin this week, we continue our look ahead to the upcoming campaign with an overview of the top players at each position across the league.

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Sure to incite debate, these rankings are based on player performance over the past few years for both club and country, with numerical production combined with the eye test.

Below is a look at our complete list of the top 10 players in each position coming into the 2019-20 Premier League season.


Goalkeeper

  1. Ederson
  2. Alisson
  3. David De Gea
  4. Hugo Lloris
  5. Jordan Pickford
  6. Kasper Schmeichel
  7. Kepa Arrizabalaga
  8. Rui Patricio
  9. Lukasz Fabianski
  10. Ben Foster

Joel Matip partnered brilliantly with Virgil Van Dijk for much of last season to lead Liverpool at the back (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images).

Center-back

  1. Virgil van Dijk
  2. Aymeric Laporte
  3. Toby Alderweireld
  4. Jan Vertonghen
  5. Harry Maguire
  6. Joe Gomez
  7. Antonio Rudiger
  8. Joel Matip
  9. Conor Coady
  10. Nathan Ake

Right-back

  1. Trent Alexander-Arnold
  2. Kyle Walker
  3. Aaron Wan-Bissaka
  4. Ricardo Pereira
  5. Matt Doherty
  6. Cesar Azpilicueta
  7. Serge Aurier
  8. Kiko Femenia
  9. Max Aarons
  10. Seamus Coleman

Left-back

  1. Andrew Robertson
  2. Lucas Digne
  3. Ben Chilwell
  4. Nacho Monreal
  5. Luke Shaw
  6. Matt Ritchie
  7. Jonny Otto
  8. Patrick Van Aanholt
  9. Benjamin Mendy
  10. Marcos Alonso

It remains to be seen what N’Golo Kante’s role will be under Frank Lampard, but at his best he’s near the top of the game (Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images).

Central midfield

  1. Fernandinho
  2. Jordan Henderson
  3. N’Golo Kante
  4. Etienne Capoue
  5. Moussa Sissoko
  6. Luka Milivojevic
  7. Rodri
  8. Ruben Neves
  9. Paul Pogba
  10. Abdoulaye Doucoure

Attacking midfield

  1. Kevin De Bruyne
  2. Christian Eriksen
  3. David Silva
  4. Gylfi Sigurdsson
  5. Diogo Jota
  6. Mesut Ozil
  7. Gerard Deulofeu
  8. James Maddison
  9. Dele Alli
  10. David Brooks

Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva provide a deadly one-two punch on the flanks for Manchester City (Photo by Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images).

Winger

  1. Mohamed Salah
  2. Raheem Sterling
  3. Bernardo Silva
  4. Sadio Mane
  5. Heung-Min Son
  6. Wilfried Zaha
  7. Nicolas Pepe
  8. Jesse Lingard
  9. Richarlison
  10. Christian Pulisic

Striker

  1. Sergio Aguero
  2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
  3. Roberto Firmino
  4. Harry Kane
  5. Raul Jimenez
  6. Jamie Vardy
  7. Alexandre Lacazette
  8. Marcus Rashford
  9. Moise Kean
  10. Sebastian Haller

Foyth’s injury looms large over Spurs’ window, start of season

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File this one under Statements No One Expected to Make Right Now, or Ever: the impending diagnosis of Juan Foyth‘s ankle injury could shape the final days of Tottenham Hotspur’s transfer window, as well as their first few months of the 2019-20 Premier League season.

[ MORE: Arsenal sign winger Nicolas Pepe for $87 million ]

After Kieran Trippier was transferred to Atletico Madrid last month, no replacement was signed for last season’s regular starter at right back — surprise! — which now appears due to the fact Mauricio Pochettino had said replacement already in the first-team squad: Foyth, a 21-year-old defender/defensive midfielder who’s been at the club for two seasons but made just 12 PL appearances (all last season).

Foyth gobbled up the lion’s share of the minutes at right back during preseason and acquitted himself quite well. He appeared the favorite to start over Serge Aurier, even in the rare event the Frenchman is fit and available. Then came a potentially serious ankle ligament injury during Wednesday’s friendly against Bayern Munich. Foyth was stretchered off the field and the club awaits word on the severity of the injury.

[ MORE: Dybala excused from Juventus training until transfer saga is resolved ]

Of all the positions on the field, right back is perhaps the one position in which Tottenham couldn’t afford any long-term injuries, and here they find themselves before the new season even kicks off. Aurier is as unreliable for fitness and form as they come, and Kyle Walker-Peters has been a promising prospect for a few years now but has thus far failed to make his mark on anything.

Right back was very plainly singled out as Spurs’ weak point last season, before letting Trippier leave. If Foyth is to miss any prolonged period of time — meaning more than the season’s opening month — Spurs could find themselves needlessly dropping points once again and all but precluding themselves from a legitimate title challenge before the air turns crisp and the leaves change colors.

Rose back in Tottenham squad for Audi Cup

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Whether because of injuries to other players or a change of heart from manager Mauricio Pochettino, there was an interesting name among Tottenham’s squad for the preseason Audi Cup in Munich.

Left back Danny Rose made Tottenham’s 26-man squad for the tournament, which begins with a match against Real Madrid on Wednesday at the Allianz Arena. The inclusion of Rose comes just weeks after he was left off Tottenham’s roster for its tour of East Asia, with a statement that Rose was free to negotiate his exit from the club.

[READ: Marotta says Inter made “fair offer” for Lukaku]

However, Rose has still remained a Tottenham played in that time and could be taking advantage of some injuries to the squad in defensive areas. Tottenham confirmed that Eric Dier, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Ben Davies are all working back to fitness from injuries, while Serge Aurier underwent hand surgery for an injury suffered while playing at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. All of these has left Tottenham needing to bring Rose along.

Perhaps, for Tottenham’s game, Rose will play a few minutes and be in the shop window, with enough of a performance that another Premier League side would pull the trigger to sign the talented left back.

While Rose hasn’t started more than 20 games in the Premier League each of the last three seasons for injury and coaching decisions, he was the starter in Tottenham’s squad for the UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool, and he’s a seasoned England international. In most cases, it would be strange to see a player as experienced and talented as this, frozen out from the squad.

Spurs defender Kieran Trippier officially joins Atletico Madrid

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A transfer that only became legitimately rumored one day ago has come to fruition as Tottenham right-back Kieran Trippier completed a move to Atletico Madrid, the two clubs confirmed.

The move is for a reported transfer fee of about $25 million plus add-ons and sees Trippier become Atletico Madrid’s first English player in over 90 years.

The 28-year-old signed a team-friendly three-year deal with Atleti, keeping him tied to the Spanish side through the summere of 2022. Trippier will hope to replace the retired Juanfran, and will no doubt benefit from the coaching of Diego Simeone, but it will be interesting to see a player with some defensive deficiencies look to earn a place in the starting lineup of such a defensively stout team.

Trippier leaves Tottenham after a four-year spell where he made 114 appearances for the club across all competitions after joining from Burnley in 2015. However, he began to lose his consistent starting place at Spurs over the past year after a dip in form this past season. While he started the Champions League final, Juan Foyth began to take Trippier’s place as the third center-back in Mauricio Pochettino‘s three-at-the-back system, and both Serge Aurier and Kyle Walker-Peters began to challenge for the traditional right-back role.

There is a lot of risk for the England international in this move. With such a short contract, he could be shopped by Atletico Madrid if he does not lock down a first-team place in his first year, with clubs often looking to cash in on players with two years left on their deal before market value dips. He also will need playing time to earn his place on the England national team, having played a starting role for the country at the 2018 World Cup but with plenty of competition at his place. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kyle Walker, and the versatile Joe Gomez all made the England squad over Trippier for the recent Nations League semifinals and finals.