Quick Reminder, Real Life
With Manchester City a stronger outfit it was always going to be difficult for Tottenham to repeat their Top 4 finish - especially with their first Champions League campaign running in parallel - but they didn’t do themselves any favours in the Premier League. They added quality/experience in Van Der Vaart and Gallas and had Bale, Modric, Dawson and (the underrated) Assou-Ekotto performing at the top of their game much of the time, but failed to invest in a 20-goal-per-season-striker. The result was a season of missed opportunities; raising their level to compete against the top teams and having a decent run in early 2011, but lacking a clinical finisher (Defoe was never the same after his early season ankle injury) they failed to put away the sides in the bottom half, gaining just one win in six games against the three relegated clubs and 9 home draws in total, the most in the league. Harry Redknapp could be accused of tactical naivety due to his inability to change things when they weren’t going to plan, Gomes’ erratic form didn’t help and in the end 5th place and a Europa League spot was as good as they could muster - and the most they deserved.
Quick Reminder, Fantasy
Van Der Vaart was a fantasy sensation throughout the season, taking set pieces away from Bale, taking on penalty duty, scoring/creating goals and making those of us who picked him up cheap early in the season very happy indeed. Much like his league form, Bale was a better producer pre-Xmas and quickly became very expensive in Yahoo’s game but popped up with his fair share of big weeks thanks to a return of 7 goals. Gomes scored consistently despite the catalogue of mistakes referred to earlier but it was slim pickings aside from these three, with Defoe, Pavlyuchenko & Crouch rotation risks and in poor form when given opportunities. Lennon had a disappointing year and Modric has never been prolific when it comes to Yahoo’s scoring system, although he did OK in the Official PL game thanks to a plethora of attacking bonus points. Defensively there was very little to get excited about in either fantasy format.
- Friedel In - Presumably the American veteran didn’t leave his number 1 spot at Villa Park for a place on the bench so one must assume he’ll replace Gomes in net. Has to be seen as an upgrade but his age is a concern – surely it’s downhill from here.
- Fringe Players Out - Jamie O’Hara has made his loan switch to Wolves a permanent one while the forever injured Woodgate was released and has been snapped up by Stoke on a free. Expect more deadwood (Bentley, Jenas, Keane, Hutton) to follow at some point.
- Young Attackers In - Cris Ceballos was brought in having been released after 7 years on Barcelona’s books and Spurs also swooped for 16 year old Souleymane Coulibaly after his sensational performances at the Under 17 World Cup with the Ivory Coast, being dubbed the “New Drogba” in the process. Two players with great potential, so what can go wrong? Well, they probably won’t get game under Redknapp (*cough* Dos Santos *cough*).
2011-12 Outlook, Real Life
You get the feeling that Spurs may have missed their big chance, failing to build on their successes two seasons ago by not bringing in more quality while they had the draw (and income) of Champions League football. It’s led to a tough summer - Modric asking to leave for a rival team, uninspiring dealings in the transfer market and a struggle to find clubs to take unwanted members of a bloated squad in an effort to trim the wage bill. However, there’s no doubting quality remains throughout the core of the team, they have depth in all positions, Friedel is a more reliable 'keeper and Kyle Walker will be like a new signing at right-back. The worry is that while Spurs may not have gone backwards, they have stood still, and the same can’t be said for the clubs who finished above them last season plus Liverpool, who have invested heavily. It’s looking like another battle for 5th/6th place in 2011-12.
Probable Starting XI
Friedel, Walker, Gallas, Dawson, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Sandro/Huddlestone, Modric, Bale, Van Der Vaart, Crouch (or new striker)
2011-12 Scouting Report, Yahoo Fantasy
- Fantasy Gold - Van Der Vaart is the only player I could truly class as fantasy gold due to his involvement in everything that Spurs do as an attacking force. Bale also guarantees a good return but loses some of his value having been re-listed as a midfielder this season and handing almost all set pieces to the Dutchman. Other than that Spurs don’t really have much to get excited about in Yahoo’s game.
- On The Rise - Every season a variety of factors create opportunities for value buying in the Yahoo! game:
- Walker (relative newcomer) should slot straight in at right-back after an impressive spell at Aston Villa, a good U21 Euro Championship and he looks to have the potential to score similar points to an attacking full-back like Glen Johnson. Loves bombing forward, capable of shooting from distance and is a decent crosser. Priced around 8, he could be a fine investment from early in the season.
- Friedel (new club) was playing in a struggling side so starts at a reasonable price considering he’s now at a slightly more solid team, but to be honest it’s hard to look past De Gea as your keeper if he’ll start as #1 at Man Utd.
- Huddlestone (back from injury) THud should get his starting midfield spot back with Sandro injured and Palacios out of sorts last season. He's got a cannon shot and will get a share of set-pieces.
- Traps - Modric (if he stays) just doesn’t do the business in Yahoo’s game as he's often the man who makes the space with his movement or assists the assister - something that doesn’t get rewarded - so paying close to 10 for him just doesn’t make sense considering other options at a similar price. It’s also sensible to avoid the strikers because of the reasons mentioned earlier, until it appears either Defoe, Pavlyuchenko or Crouch are in form and guaranteed a starting spot.
2011-12 Outlook, Official PL Fantasy
Studs: Van der Vaart is a no-brainer stud even at 10M. The Dutchman suffered from a few knocks here and there which limited his first season in the Premier League but when fit, his set piece skills and eye for goal will reward fantasy managers with plenty of top quality production. A top 10 fantasy player when fit, VDV is worth every penny.
Duds: Are Jermain Defoe (8.5M) and Peter Crouch (7M) still alive? England internationals when fit and proven Premier League scorers, neither were at their best last season - neither were even relevant last season - as they each scored 4 goals. 4 league goals. Each. Pavlyuchenko (7M) scored 10 in the league last year but the rotation of strikers at White Hart Lane and lack of confidence (at least based on last year’s results) is worrying. To be fair, Defoe is a streaky player and if he grabs a goal or two to start the season is one of those guys who can score 5-in-5 without any problem, but at 8.5M stay away for now.
On the fence:Gareth Bale (8M) and Aaron Lennon (7.5M) - how will these two speedy wingers perform within the new EA Sports Index Bonus System in the Official PL game? Bale and Lennon are both form players who can go on big runs for 2-3 weeks and then disappear for 2-3 weeks. Difficult and frustrating for fantasy managers and much tougher to acquire them at 8M rather than say 6M or 7M when the likes of N’Zogbia (7.5M) and Downing (8.5M) are in the same price range and perhaps a bit more consistent.