Breakdown, Preview and Predictions for Tottenham Hotspur's 2012-13 Season
Tottenham has finished fourth in the English Premier League in two of the past three seasons under Harry Redknapp, but the popular manager's tenure is over and André Villas-Boas will now try to keep the team playing at the same level.
Spurs unfortunately missed out on the Champions League despite their top-four finish this past season as sixth-place Chelsea were crowned European champions, automatically qualifying the Blues for next season's UCL.
AVB will still have to deal with the Europa League, as well as all the other pressures of succeeding a successful manager at a top club. How Tottenham will handle this transition will be discussed as the first of the top-four teams from a season ago is up in my EPL preview series.
Here is the necessary information regarding Spurs' upcoming campaign.
Transfers In, Transfers out
|Transfers In||Transfers Out|
|Jan Vertonghen||Vedran Corluka|
|Gylfi Sigurdsson||Steven Pienaar|
|Bongani Khumalo (Loan)|
|Massimo Luongo (Loan)|
|Ryan Fredericks (Loan)|
The Icelandic attacking midfielder was extremely effective while playing for Swansea City this past season. Brendan Rodgers coached Sigurdsson in Wales and wanted to take him to Liverpool after taking over as the Reds' manager, but André Villas-Boas swooped in and made the 22-year-old his first signing.
Sigurdsson had seven goals and three assists in 18 appearances for the Swans last season, and he has all the necessary talent to make an impact in London this season.
Vertonghen will certainly face stiff competition for a starting spot, but he has the talent to become a first-choice defender this season.
While he is not technically a transfer out of the club as he is returning to Manchester City after the expiration of his loan, his absence will hit the team hard.
The center forward led Spurs with 17 goals and 11 assists. He is now stuck in an unfortunate situation, as he refuses to back off his exorbitant contract demands with Tottenham, while Roberto Mancini claims to have no intention of playing him in Manchester.
Kranjcar is a creative attacking midfielder, but he failed to produce in limited time last season, and selling the 28-year-old to Dynamo Kiev was a smart decision.
Sigurdsson plays a nearly identical role as the Croatian, who likely would have seen even less of the pitch in London this season. Kranjcar moving on is a move that benefited both the player and the club.
Biggest Matches and Full Schedule
The full Tottenham schedule can be found via the team's website. Here are the must-see matches.
Vs. Chelsea, Saturday, October 20
This London derby has been fierce in recent seasons as both teams have fielded competitive sides.
Last year, neither team was able to prove an advantage over its rival in Premier League matches, and both ended in draws. However, a 5-1 defeat in the FA Cup semifinals will leave a bitter taste in Spurs' mouths.
André Villas-Boas will also be looking for some revenge against the club that sacked him so quickly, and both teams will be motivated to win this match.
Vs. Arsenal, Saturday, November 27
While the derby with Chelsea is entertaining, the true rivalry match is with Arsenal.
The battle for North London will be entertaining and hard-fought. The teams split their two fixtures last season.
Both squads will have new faces who will need to prove themselves in important matches, and the spotlight will never have been brighter for these players than it will be in this match.
Vs. Manchester City, Saturday, April 20
There is a ton of talent spread across the top six teams from a year ago, and any time two of these squads face off late in the season, it will be an exciting affair.
Tottenham conceded eight goals in two games to Manchester City this past season, and they must make sure to shore up the defense this time around. Every match at this point in the season could influence how Spurs finish.
This match is immediately following a contest against Chelsea, and failing to earn points in two consecutive matches could hurt badly.
Bale is an exceptionally talented winger who is capable of completely dismantling an opposing defense on his own.
His pace, strength and skill make him extremely strong on the ball. He is also a remarkably accurate crosser and a dangerous goal scorer.
The 23-year-old finished the year with nine goals and 10 assists, and at such a young age, he has the potential to be even better in this coming season. He is truly a world-class talent, and Tottenham will need him to be dominant in the attack.
Modric is one of the world's best center midfielders. The 26-year-old Croatian's touch and intelligence make him extremely difficult to dispossess.
He completed 87.4 percent of his passes this past season in 36 Premier League appearances, according to Whoscored.com. He ended the year with four goals and four assists.
Modric has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid this offseason, and his departure could severely hurt Tottenham. He was the driving force behind the team's offense, and André Villas-Boas will need to find another midfield general if Modric heads to Spain.
Rafael van der Vaart
Few players in the world are able to touch the ball like van der Vaart. His ability to dribble, shoot and pass can seem almost magical at times.
The 29-year-old has been extremely effective in the Premier League since coming to London for the 2010-11 season. He recorded 11 goals and seven assists this past season.
Without Emmanuel Adebayor this season, the Dutchman will have to be even more potent offensively.
Creating Scoring Chances
Players like Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale are always looking for a decisive pass that will put a player through to goal.
Tottenham averaged 18.4 shots per game last season. Only Manchester City created more chances.
These players have excellent vision and an excellent understanding of their teammates. All three ranked in the top 10 among Premier League players in key passes, which is defined as a pass that leads directly to a shooting opportunity.
The movement and passing that results from these players understanding of the game is Tottenham's greatest asset.
Note: statistics courtesy of Whoscored.com.
Depth at Center-Back
Spurs will miss Ledley King, who retired this summer, but they have several other center backs to choose from.
Younes Kaboul played well this past season and he stands an excellent chance at earning a starting spot, although a place in André Villas-Boas' first 11 isn't guaranteed for any player at the position.
New arrival Jan Vetonghen will make a strong push for a starting spot over Michael Dawson, Steven Caulker and William Gallas.
The unit only allowed 41 goals last season, which placed them fifth among Premiership teams. The competition for minutes will keep all these players sharp, and the defense has an excellent chance to improve this year.
No Emmanuel Adebayor
Adebayor was a vitally important player last season, and his absence leaves the club without many options at striker.
He was set to join Tottenham permanently, but refused to take a significant deduction in his wage, causing the transfer to fall through.
Now, Tottenham is set to start its Premier League season with many questions and few answers up front. The team's brilliant distributors may not have a forward on the other ended of their passes.
Jermain Defoe and Giovani dos Santos are the only listed forwards on the roster, and this leaves the team incredibly thin at the position.
Transition From Harry Redknapp to André Villas-Boas
Harry Redknapp and André Villas-Boas are two remarkably different managers.
Redknapp, 65, had a long playing career, then carried his bravado into a managerial career. His old-school style and confidence allowed him to keep his players' attention, and he had them playing incredible football early last season.
Villas-Boas never played professional football and his psyche was dealt a blow after his experience at Chelsea. The 34-year-old will have to dust himself off and grab control of his players quickly.
Redknapp was incredibly successful at Tottenham, and AVB will need to prove to his team quickly that he is capable of leading them to similar results. Otherwise, the dominoes will start falling.
Prediction for 2012-13
André Villas-Boas will struggle to get his team to play well early. Lacking a true striker will make it extremely difficult for the team's attack to perform at a high level, and this will lead to frustration.
AVB is a gifted manager, and he will be able to get the team to turn in a decent season, but they will not challenge for a Champions League spot.
If the team ends up playing this season without Emmanuel Adedayor and Luka Modric, it is difficult to see them being able to hold off teams like Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle from sneaking ahead of them in the table.
Ultimately, Villas-Boas' first season with Tottenham will not be an all-around success. Hopefully the team will have more patience with him than Chelsea did.