Chicago Fire vs. Tottenham: How Spurs Will Line Up in Pre-Season Tour Match

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Chicago Fire vs. Tottenham: How Spurs Will Line Up in Pre-Season Tour Match
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Tottenham Hotspur were at Wrigley Field earlier this week for a promotional visit with the Chicago Cubs.

Tottenham Hotspur take on the Chicago Fire this Saturday night in the concluding match of their North American tour.

Stephen Brashear/Associated Press/Associated Press
We still have only one picture of Mauricio Pochettino in Tottenham colours available to us, so here it is again.

After a 3-3 draw against the Seattle Sounders last weekend, Mauricio Pochettino's team put in a more focused effort in a 3-2 win over Toronto on Wednesday—two goals from Erik Lamela and a winner from Andros Townsend sealing the victory.

With a week until their next first-team fixture following this (versus Celtic in Helsinki), the meeting with Chicago is a valuable opportunity for further match practice before preparation momentarily shifts back to the training ground.

"It’s a chance to play another game, to work more on our style and to improve again," Pochettino noted, via Tottenham's official website. "We’re all looking forward to Chicago."

Eighth place in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference, the Fire have managed just three wins in 20 games this season. In their most recent outing, they were thrashed 5-1 by the San Jose Earthquakes—their solitary goal coming from midfielder Grant Ward, a Spurs loanee.

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Brad Friedel could be back between the posts for a third game in North America.

The quality of the opposition will have little impact on how Pochettino deploys his resources. 

Though accounting for different circumstances (notably a money-spinning tour rather than a more low-key buildup on the European continent), the Argentinian has thus far kept to the approach he favoured with Southampton a year ago. That should mean starts for those who did not feature from the off against Toronto, with a few holdovers for numbers' sake.

Brad Friedel could be one of those to start all three games in his home continent. The American got the nod ahead of youngster Luke McGee again against Toronto.

Michel Vorm was signed from Swansea prior to that match, but at the time of writing, it was not clear if he had joined his new team-mates across the Atlantic. A photo posted on Twitter showed that the Dutchman was still in England as of Wednesday:

If Vorm has made the trip for its last leg, do not be surprised to see him start. If he has not, it seems a good bet Spurs will once again play their sole U.S. national in goal.

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Younes Kaboul played well in the first half against Toronto, barely giving the MLS side an inch.

Since he started the previous match, Ben Davies might be expected to start on the bench against Chicago. He is a new arrival, though, so Pochettino could be keen to get a further look at him in action at left-back. Either Zeki Fryers or Danny Rose will probably be a half-time replacement.

Kyle Walker played the second half against Toronto, and the right-back could well start this one as he continues his comeback from injury. There is a chance Ryan Fredericks could feature here too after not getting any minutes last time out. Read into Walker and Kyle Naughton both featuring ahead of him in Canada what you will.

Captain Michael Dawson might have been better expected to steer his young centre-back partner Fryers through the second half on Wednesday. Then again, the latter's positioning for both Toronto goals was so suspect there is only so much he could have done.

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Lewis Holtby has had his moments in pre-season so far but is still fighting to establish his best role in the Spurs setup.

If the prospect of that partnership is unlikely to gain much traction, Dawson and Younes Kaboul could be teamed up again this season. Should Pochettino fancy a look in person at how they fare together, this is an ideal opportunity. The latter has certainly slipped back into a semblance of form more quickly than the former so far this pre-season.

Joining Friedel in starting all three games might be Etienne Capoue. The defensive midfielder put in a particularly commanding display versus Toronto. Spurs notably suffered after his removal, with Kyle Bekker and Andrew Wiedeman reveling in their new-found space.

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Iaqo Falque will be hoping for a first start this summer against Chicago.

As the only proper defensive midfielder on tour, Capoue might be called upon from the off again. 

Tom Carroll will certainly be grateful. While he's tougher than his slight stature might imply, he lacks the presence or defensive instincts to truly guard his back four. Against Chicago, he could be called upon to play a more recognisably all-around role with an emphasis on getting on the ball and involving his team-mates—as he did in Seattle.

Lewis Holtby could be back starting in the slightly more advanced midfield role he has occupied this summer so far. Fleetingly impressing (notably with his goal versus the Sounders), he has work to do in convincing Pochettino he can be a consistent enough contributor to start regularly.

As do Iago Falque and Townsend in attacking midfield.

Falque was tidy but unremarkable versus Toronto, failing to replicate the incisiveness display by Aaron Lennon in the first half. Townsend also struggled to impact the game, and looked sloppy in the process, before he came inside on a counter-attack to strike a superb winner.

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press
Harry Kane, pictured throwing a pitch at Wrigley Field, will want more service from his team-mates if he plays versus the Fire.

Both are undoubtedly talented and potentially dangerous attacking performers. But with the likes of Lennon, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela combining so well this week, they could do with showing a little more. In Falque's case, especially, he might benefit from getting his first start of the summer.

Harry Kane had a quiet outing. Aside from an early second-half chance he put just wide from a stretching position, he saw little of the ball, as the midfielders behind him largely struggled to provide. He should get another chance here to contest for the sole forward role Pochettino is looking like favouring.

Two down, one to go for Tottenham in North America. The 2014-15 season is getting closer.

 

Predicted Tottenham line-up vs. Chicago: Friedel; Walker, Dawson (c), Kaboul, Davies; Capoue, Carroll, Holtby; Falque, Townsend, Kane.

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