Season Outlook 2010-11: Do Spurs Have a Good Enough Squad To Cope With Injuries?

Naveen PrabhuContributor ISeptember 13, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 03:  Michael Dawson of England goes down injured during the UEFA EURO 2012 Group G Qualifying match between England and Bulgaria at Wembley Stadium on September 3, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

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In a matter of 2 weeks, Spurs have lost Michael Dawson, Jermaine Defoe, (and possibly Luka Modric) to long term injuries and Heurelho Gomes to a relatively – or so we are led to believe – short term one.

If you examine the positions that these players occupy on the teamsheet, they span all 4 departments – Goalkeeping, Defense, Midfield and Attack. This gives us a perfect opportunity to explore Spurs squad depth in each of these areas.

Goalkeeping – After a shaky start to his White Hart Lane career, Gomes has developed into arguably one of the best keepers in the Premier League bar perhaps Van der Saar and Pepe Reina (Joe Hart – you have shown a lot of promise, but can you deliver over an entire season?). Harry Redknapp has been shopping for another keeper almost since he arrived at Tottenham, albeit in the last couple of transfer windows, it’s mostly been for a backup to Gomes. The only success he’s had, is in tempting Carlo Cudicini to swap the Chelsea bench for the Spurs’ one and recruiting Stipe Pletikosa from the relative backwater of Moscow. Cudicini has made a remarkable recovery from the horrific bike accident he suffered last year, and while he is usually reliable, there is a reason he’s been a backup for as long as we can remember. Pletikosa meanwhile brings experience, especially on the continent, and being familiar with the rest of the Croatian contingent at Spurs, he will fit in nicely with the squad. But Tottenham should have signed someone with better credentials to complement Gomes.

Verdict – C+

Defence – The “no-brainer” signing of ex-gooner William Gallas apart, the defence has been fairly un-touched since Harry took over. Not counting the Kyles (Naughton and Walker), the only other additions have been Younes Kaboul and Seb Bassong. With Ledley King being able to play once every couple of games, the defence looks like it will be a merry-go-round of Centre Backs. Luckily though, players like Corluka and Kaboul have proven to be versatile in their ability to play a variety of positions. With Assou-Ekkotto making the LB position his own (swapping occasionally with Gareth Bale), it remains to be seen which 2 among Gallas,Kaboul,King and Bassong prove to be the best pair.  Corluka seemingly remains the top choice at right at RB, and his understanding with Aaron Lennon makes him one of the first few names on the team sheet when fit. Overall defence seems to be a merry band of brothers and I don’t forsee any major deficiencies.

Verdict – B-

Midfield – If Man City can field a team entirely of strikers,  Spurs can do so with midfielders. Let’s reel off a few names – Huddlestone, Palacios, Sandro, Bentley, Lennon, Bale,Modric, Kranjcar, Jenas, Dos Santos and van der Vaart. That’s 10 players competing for 4 (possibly 5 spots).  Hopefully the benches at WHL are high quality pine wood , because they will be supporting rear-ends that are paid almost 40-50k pounds a week! But enough sarcasm. The midfield does offer Spurs a lot of variety , especially when playing different formations and styles in the premier league and in the champions league. Conceivably van der Vaart will start every game when fit because he is that special type of player that can change the game with a single defence splitting pass. Palacios will presumably be played more away than at home, and Huddlestone seems like he will also be a fixture in the team with his ability to pull the strings from a deeper position. With the irrepressible Gareth Bale storming down the left side, Spurs are quite healthy in this department. Lennon seems to have lost some of his mojo in recent times, but with Dos Santos and a recently fit David Bentley clipping at his heels,  he will no doubt be pushing himself hard in games and training to regain some of that scintillating form.

Verdict – B+

Attack -  After the well chronicled pursuit of Luis Fabiano came to nothing, Spurs fans may have been tempted to harken back to the summer of 2008, when messrs. Berbatov and Keane decided to depart for Man. Utd and Liverpool respectively, leaving spurs with a forward line of Fraiser Campbell (Fergie is probably still chuckling) and Darren “My-wife-could-have-scored-that” Bent. We know how well that turned out. (2 pts. From 8 games anyone ?)

While the arrival of Rafael van der Vaart temporarily assuaged the fans this time around, the injury to Defoe does expose a shocking deficiency. Peter Crouch does come through in clutch situations (a hattrick vs Young Boys and that goal vs Man. City last season), but his height means the Spurs midfield are unable to resist hoofing the ball instead of playing it on the ground. Roman Pavlyuchenko can trouble the best of defenders when in the mood, but he is very rarely in the mood. Robbie Keane seems to be doing a lot more pointing and shouting than getting into scoring positions these days. His hangover from the ill-fated move to Liverpool doesn’t seem to have lifted - a successful loan spell with Celtic notwithstanding. Daniel Levy’s reluctance to spend big for a striker may come to haunt him.

Verdict – D

‘Arry will have to use all his man-management skills to ensure Spurs have a steady run – atleast until Defoe and Modric return.  No doubt there is a lot of depth and quality in Spurs’ squad, but a lack of a 20 goal a season striker may yet prove to be Spurs’ Achilles heel.