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Season Preview 2018 – Part 5 10/08/2018

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

INS: None

OUTS: Keenan Bennetts (Borussia Mönchengladbach, Undisclosed), Anthony Walkes (Portsmouth, Undisclosed), Ryan Loft (Leicester City, Free), Christian Maghoma (Arka Gdynia), Joe Pritchard (Bolton Wanderers, Free), Luke O’Reilly, Nick Tsaroulla

OUR EX-SPURS: Étienne Capoue, Heurelho Gomes, Younès Kaboul

THEIR EX-ORNS: John McDermott (Head of Academy), Danny Rose, Perry Suckling (Head of Academy Goalkeeping)

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: A scruffy, irritating draw against ten men at the Vic and a mundane defeat of our own devising at Wembley under captain Mapps.

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2017-18 1-1
2016-17 1-4
2015-16 1-2
2011-12 0-1
2008-09 1-2
1999-00 1-1 0-4
1998-99 2-5
1994-95 3-6 / 3-2
1982-83 1-0

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Lloris
Trippier       Sanchez           Vertonghen        Rose
Dembélé          Dier
Son                           Alli                     Eriksen
Kane

VERDICT: The thing with Spurs this season is the move into the new stadium, slightly delayed from the summer meaning that of Spurs scheduled home games the visit of Fulham will take place at Wembley whilst the games against ourselves were reversed.  This gives us four out of our first five at home, whilst an injury-limited Spurs might have an iffy start to the season, their opening seven Premier League games being at different grounds.

The most significant aspect of Spurs’ transfer activity has been the lack of it – no significant ins or outs at the time of writing despite the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose seemingly seeking to follow Kyle Walker’s lead in escaping the Spurs’ wage structure.  The squad is plenty strong enough of course, and plenty is expected of Lucas Moura, Harry Winks and Erik Lamela who for various reasons weren’t able to impact last season as much as hoped.

Nonetheless it’s difficult to see Spurs achieving anything more than a Champions’ League place, probably, given that start.  When and whether Spurs tire of Pocchetino’s good-but-no-cigar will be the interesting narrative.  Fourth.

WEST HAM UNITED

INS: Felipe Anderson (Lazio, £26,500,000), Issa Diop (Toulouse, £21,900,000), Łukasz Fabiański (Swansea City, £7,000,000), Xande Silva (Vitória Guimarães, £2,000,000), Fabien Balbuena (Corinthians, Undisclosed), Andriy Yarmolenko (Borussia Dortmund, Undisclosed), Ryan Fredericks (Fulham, Free), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal, Free)

OUTS: Reece Burke (Hull City, Undisclosed), Cheikhou Kouyaté (Crystal Palace, Undisclosed), Domingos Quina (Watford, Undisclosed), Korrey Henry (Yeovil Town, Free), James Collins, Patrice Evra, Marcus Browne (Oxford United, Season Loan), Sead Haksabanovic (Malaga, Season Loan), Jordan Hugill (Middlesbrough, Season Loan)

OUR EX-HAMMERS: Sam Howes, Hayden Mullins, Domingos Quina

THEIR EX-ORNS: Richard Collinge (Head of Medical)

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: A good win at Vicarage Road in defiance of Andy Carroll’s opening elbow and, if only briefly, Everton’s shenanigans, and a mundane defeat .at the London Stadium.

REPORT ARCHIVE:

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2017-18 2-0
2016-17 1-1 4-2
2015-16 2-0
2011-12 0-4 1-1
2008-09 1-0
2006-07 1-1
2004-05 1-2 2-3
2003-04 0-0 0-4
1999-00 1-2 0-1

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Fabiański
Fredericks       Diop        Reid          Cresswell
Obiang           Noble

Yarmolenko              Wilshere                 Anderson
Arnautović

VERDICT: A year ago, West Ham signed a load of old players and I was daft enough to predict a comfortable top half finish.  As it turned out the Hammers would struggle early on, winning only two of fifteen games in a run which saw the end of Slaven Bilic’s Hammers career and the rather surprising recruitment of David Moyes to oversee survival.  This he did, with the Hammers slipping past us on the final day by beating Everton as we lost at Old Trafford.

The relegation that seemed at least a possibility for much of the season would have been particularly catastrophic for the Hammers and the club have responded with an unequivocal statement of intent by disposing of Moyes, hiring a high profile manager and performing a dramatic overhaul of the playing staff.  Felipe Anderson’s fee makes him the stand-out name, Jack Wilshere might stay fit, Yarmolenko has been about to move to the Premier League forever, but it’s the signings of Fredericks and Fabianski that suggest that something might have changed.  Eminently sensible.

It’s a massive influx of players, most of whom you’d expect to be first team players, and the Hammers have a tough start so things might not look great straight away but it’s surely inconceivable that the Hammers will struggle again.  Having nearly tempted fate last time by saying ninth I’ll go one better with eighth in the hope that’ll do the trick.

And the stadium is still shocking, obvs.

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS

INS: Adama Traoré (Middlesbrough, £18,000,000), Benik Afobe (Bournemouth, £10,000,000), Joao Moutinho (AS Monaco, £5,000,000), Leo Bonatini (Al Hilal, Undisclosed), Willy Boly (Porto, Undisclosed), Ruben Vinaigre (Monaco, Undisclosed), Paulo Alves (Liverpool, Free), Rui Patricio (Sporting Lisbon, Free), Jonny Castro (Atlético Madrid, Season Loan), Leander Dendoncker (Anderlecht, Season Loan), Raúl Jiménez (Benfica, Season Loan)

OUTS: Barry Douglas (Leeds United, Undisclosed), Ben Marshall (Norwich City, Undisclosed), Duckens Nazon (Saint Truidense, Undisclosed), Prince Oniangue (Caen, Undisclosed), Jon Flatt (Scunthorpe United, Free), Hakeem Odoffin (Northampton Town, Free), Jordan Allan, Dan Armstrong, Anto Breslin, Nicolae Carnat, Ross Finnie, Conor Levingston, Tomás Nogueira, Adam Osbourne, Ryan Rainey, José Xavier, Benik Afobe (Stoke City, Six Month Loan), Harry Burgoyne (Plymouth Argyle, Season Loan), Roderick Miranda (Olympiakos, Season Loan)

OUR EX-WOLVES: None

THEIR EX-ORNS: None

RECENT ENCOUNTERS: A miserable Boxing Day defeat at Vicarage Road and an eventful 2-2 draw at Molineux which featured that encounter between Fessi and Bakary Sako.

REPORT ARCHIVE:

 

Season H A FAC LC OTH
2014-15 0-1
2012-13 2-1
2008-09 2-3
2007-08 3-0 1-4
2005-06 3-1 1-1 2-1
2004-05 1-1 0-0
2002-03 1-1 0-0
2001-02 1-1 0-1
2000-01 3-2 2-2
1998-99 0-2 0-0
1995-96 0-3

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Patricio
Boly         Coady       Bennett
Doherty       Neves         Moutinho       Jonny
Jota          Jimenez        Costa

VERDICT: Here, almost at the end, is possibly the hardest prediction to make, if only because the side has changed beyond any recognition since we last played the Wolves.  The club has changed too… now owned by Chinese group Fosun International the influence of their advisor, super-agent Jorge Mendes is evident.  Boss Nuno Espirito Santo was his first client, and the stellar summer signings of Rui Patricio and João Moutinho are only the latest in a procession of impressive-looking arrivals that have resulted in a strong core of Portuguese players and staff at the club.

Popular wisdom from those watching the Championship regularly is that Wolves won’t struggle in the Premier League;  a haul of 99 points followed by an active summer backs that up.  It’s not quite a foregone conclusion though;  Nuno Espirito Santo has, by reputation, a very fixed idea about how his teams should play.  This is glorious when it works, but the test of any successful Premier League manager is how he reacts when it doesn’t, and Wolves will have a dodgy spell like everyone else.  Wolves’ approach was very open and offensive last season which, again, is great when it works and horribly demoralising when it doesn’t.

Nonetheless, it’s difficult to see anything worse than lower mid-table for this Wolves squad.  Quite how much more than that they achieve depends on how quickly everyone adapts, the coach not least.  I’ll go for thirteenth.

WATFORD

INS: Gerard Deulofeu  (Barcelona, £11,500,000), Adam Masina (Bologna, £3,500,000), Ken Sema (Ostersunds, £900,000), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion, Undisclosed), Marc Navarro (Espanyol, Undisclosed), Domingos Quina (West Ham United, Undisclosed), Ben Wilmot (Stevenage, Undisclosed)

OUTS: Nordin Amrabat (Al Nasr, Undisclosed), Costel Pantilimon (Nottingham Forest, Undisclosed), Richarlíson (Everton, Undisclosed), Mauro Zárate (Boca Juniors, Undisclosed), Harvey Bradbury (Oxford United, Free), Dennon Lewis (Falkirk, Free), Brandon Mason (Coventry City, Free), David Sesay (Crawley Town, Free), Conor Stevens (Wealdstone Free), Nathan Gartside, Louis Rogers, Charlie Rowan, Max Ryan, Carl Stewart, André Carrillo (Benfica, End of Loan), Didier Ndong (Sunderland, End of Loan), Orestis Karnezis (Udinese, End of Loan), Molla Wagué (Udinese, End of Loan), Daniel Bachmann (Kilmarnock, Season Loan), Kingsley Fobi (SD Ejea, Season Loan), Tommie Hoban (Aberdeen, Season Loan), Alex Jakubiak (Bristol Rovers, Season Loan), Dodi Lukebakio (Fortuna Düsseldorf, Season Loan), Jerome Sinclair (Sunderland, Season Loan), Luis Suarez (Gimnàstic, Season Loan), Randell Williams (Wycombe Wanderers, Season Loan)

POSSIBLE STARTING ELEVEN:

Foster
Janmaat          Cathcart          Kabasele            Masina
Chalobah      Doucouré
Deulofeu                   Cleverley                       Pereyra
Deeney

VERDICT: Football’s brilliant.

Yes I know that the summer was particularly short.  That the Premier League is a flagrant disgusting disgrace in so many ways.  That there are so many other worthier things to spend your time on.

Still.  Football’s brilliant.  Brilliant being part of something.  Brilliant identifying with a side.  Brilliant that we’re supposedly looking at a “mercenary” club that trades players freely and managers just as freely… and that nonetheless, as widely publicised earlier in the summer, now (still) boasts seven former or current Players of the Season in Cleverley, Mariappa, Deeney, Gomes, Prödl, Foster and Doucouré.  The last two are particularly significant;  Foster a tremendously popular heir to Heurelho Gomes, absolutely consistent with the hope that Pontus Dahlberg will grow into the position of first team regular.  And Doucouré.  Wow.  I can’t have been the only one who thought we’d seen the last of him, him above Richarlíson really.

Richarlíson may prove to be good value for Everton.  Maybe.  But he was mediocre for much of the season and perhaps Marco Silva was the only manager who would have paid what would have been needed.  But Doucouré is worth stupid money now.  He’s good enough for any team in the county now.  And he’s signed a new five year contract.

To most of the division we’re relegation candidates, certainly the sort of side that could go down if we have a bad season with injuries, say.  Thing is we had that season last season.  And the season before.  And we’re still here.  As well as the signings, as well as the surprise of retaining Doucs, we’ve a load of effectively new signings in players returning from injury.  We have the gem that is Nathaniel Chalobah returning to reprise that extraordinarily wonderful partnership with Doucouré, and then Tom Cleverley too.  And others… Cathcart, Kaboul, who barely had a season last term.  Troy with a pre-season. The blistering pace of Deulofeu. The mystery prize that is Adalberto Peñaranda, finally with his work permit, the unknown quantities that are Navarro, Masina, Sema.  Richarlíson was similarly anonymous last season.

It’s not all roses of course.  We need more options up front.  Cathcart/Kabasele looks a gorgeous partnership but neither is huge, would you fancy them against a bully of a centre-forward?  We’ve got that opening run at home too, no choice but to hit the ground running.

Balls to it.  It’s going to be great.  We’re going to be great.  Bring it on.

Yoorns.

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Comments»

1. Roger Smith - 10/08/2018

Two up front pending Cleverleys return? Deeney and Gray could hit it off if they get better service, and our midfield should be capable of providing that.

Matt Rowson - 10/08/2018

Yes, quite possibly. And even with key midfielders “returning” we have options and flexibility. Do hope Pereyra’s still here at end of month…

2. Al Wilson - 10/08/2018

Just taking a bit of a liberty here and putting your predictions into a table.

I’ve reviewed each comment made – on some such as Huddersfield there’s a clear position statement – others are a sort of work it out – so I have and included the comment.

Be interested to know if you think this is pretty much it.

Man City How many points to win?
Liverpool Clear 2nd
Man Utd Anything from 2nd to 6th
Spurs 4th
Chelsea Fifth again
Arsenal 4th if defence sorted
WATFORD We’re going to be great
West Ham 8th
Leicester Between 7th and 12th
Everton Highest 7th, Lowest 12th
Burnley Bottom half no surprise
Fulham Anywhere in bottom half
Wolves 13th
Bournemouth Could struggle
Brighton Should have enough
Newcastle 16th
Crystal Palace Relegation outsiders
Huddersfield 18th
Cardiff Down after trying
Southampton Strong relegation candidates

The only gap left was 7th – so that’s where we are.

Matt Rowson - 10/08/2018

thanks Al. Made no conscious effort to be internally consistent but looks surprisingly coherent. Seventh… I’d take that. Obviously would be a “result” and I can see us finishing anywhere in the “middle eight” I think.

3. Harefield Hornet - 10/08/2018

Had to laugh at Mersons prediction yesterday that we would really struggle this season without Amrabat “because he was our best player last season” clearly as well informed as always? Or has he taken up drinking again and missed a year!

4. Al Wilson - 10/08/2018

Also in my pre season prep (sounds a bit posh) I have the following squad which has to be shrunk just a bit by 1st September?

Heurelho Gomes
Pontus Dahlberg
Ben Foster
Brice Dja Djédjé
Adam Masina
Marc Navarro
Ben Wilmot
Daryl Janmaat
Miguel Britos
Younès Kaboul
Sebastian Prödl
Adrian Mariappa
Craig Cathcart
Kiko Femenía
Marvin Zeegelaar
José Holebas
Christian Kabasele
Ken Sema
Isaac Success
Gerard Deulofeu
Tom Cleverley
Nathaniel Chalobah
Abdoulaye Doucouré
Will Hughes
Etienne Capoue
Roberto Pereyra
Obbi Oularé
Troy Deeney
Andre Gray
Stefano Okaka
Adalberto Peñaranda

I had another 12 names who are now either transferred or out on loan.

Anybody else have any news on this?

Matt Rowson - 10/08/2018

Not many really. Of the names in your list a few are U21 and don’t “count” (also Quina); those needing to be cut are fairly clear. This tweet from FTRE outlined the squad depth just before the window closed (i.e. minus Quina, who is under 21 anyway) and suggests only one non-home grown needs cutting from a slightly more limited list.


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