It’s been a fairly quiet summer at Tottenham Hotspur for a change, the last few summers have been rife with transfer speculation about their best players (cc: Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Dimitar Berbatov). However, this summer they are yet to receive any concrete bids for their key players in Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen – luckily for Spurs, Lloris has signed a new five year deal, and Belgian defender Vertonghen is in talks about extending his contract.
Questions are being asked about the Spurs old guard in Michael Dawson, Younes Kaboul and Aaron Lennon, concerning the system that Mauricio Pochettino is looking to implement at White Hart Lane. Michael Dawson struggled with the high-line under Andre Villas-Boas. Pochettino will also be implementing a high defensive line, while splitting centre-backs with a midfielder coming deep, the Spurs centre-backs will need relative pace and technical ability on the ball – two attributes that Michael Dawson has seldom possessed.
Michael Dawson will be an asset against teams such as West Ham United, Crystal Palace and Hull City who like an aerial duel, but against sides who have quick forwards, the 30-year old tends to struggle – making six defensive errors in the past two seasons and was dribbled past 15 times last season, which results in Dawson tending to tempt strikers to beat the offside trap or drop too deep. The former Nottingham Forest man won just 72% of his tackles and 66% of aerial duels in the 13/14 campaign.
Younes Kaboul is more intriguing in terms of options for Mauricio Pochettino’s system. The French centre-back has bags of ability; dominant in aerial duels, confident in bringing the ball out of the back four and has an eye for a pass, but has the knees of Ledley King, which is unfortunate for Spurs fans, considering Ledley King had the potential to be a permanent fixture in the England set up if it wasn’t for his injuries, much like Younes Kaboul for France, it could be argued, in the last 5/6 years at least.
Unfortunately for Kaboul, last season wasn’t a great experience in terms of appearances. In the majority of games that Kaboul took to the field, he looked off the pace. Kaboul has registered just 14 Premier League appearances in the last two seasons – which may prove difficult for Pochettino in regards to fit him in his new system, he may have to take the approach with Kaboul that Juande Ramos and Harry Redknapp took with Ledley King – play Younes Kaboul when it is absolutely necessary.
Aaron Lennon is a strangely inconsistent player for Spurs. Since arriving at n17 in 2005 for just £1m, the right winger is capable of moments of brilliance (making Patrice Evra look like he should be plying his trade for Shrewsbury Town in League 2) or capable of mind-numbing stupidity when getting to the byline, only for his cross to scan across the box for a throw-in.
His goal and assist tally deteriorated in the 13/14 campaign, contributing just four goals (three assists, 1 goal) to Spurs’ 55 Premier League goals – this doesn’t scream the consistency that Pochettino will need from his players in the attacking third, where his inside forwards at Southampton in Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana contributed 33 goals to their overall tally of 54 goals. The former Leeds United winger has always promised ability, but now at the age of 27, it’s time he starts repaying the faith that has been shown in him by the Spurs faithful and try to get into double figures in terms of goals and assists for only the third time in his nine-year stint at the club.
However, for the last few seasons, Aaron Lennon has been renowned for his defensive work-rate – an attribute that may intrigue Mauricio Pochettino’s system at Spurs. Lennon won 46% of his ground duels, won 77% of his 35 tackles and made 19 interceptions from a right wing position. These sort of defensive statistics may interest Mauricio Pochettino who is trying to implement a high intensity and high pressure game from his front four, the stamina, pace and work-rate that Aaron Lennon possesses may be an asset for Pochettino and his new look Spurs side.
The only problem for the Spurs old guard is that there are options currently ahead of them in the pecking order, for Michael Dawson, he may find Jan Vertonghen and Vlad Chiriches as Mauricio Pochettino’s first choice centre-backs. In regard to Younes Kaboul, if he manages to stay fit, he could be an integral part to the Spurs back four, and if he can bring the form of his 2011/2012 season to the upcoming season, he could be like a new signing – but that is it with Younes Kaboul, it is hypothetical. Aaron Lennon will have Erik Lamela, Andros Townsend and possibly Nacer Chadli ahead of him. A positive for Lennon is that he has looked impressive in pre-season so far for the Lilywhites, pressing the opposition defence and linked up well with Roberto Soldado and Erik Lamela for a well-executed finish in their 2-0 win over Chicago Fire on Saturday.
All three need to impress in pre-season if Pochettino is to use them in the Spurs squad over the season.