I'm always thinking about the future; about who and how we should play, about our squad and potential new recruits, and so on, so I decided to make a limited series of posts about the upcoming 2014/2015 season. In this first post my main intention is to try to give an overview and assessment of the squad and what we might need to be the best team we can be, by looking at the players we have, how we are stocked in different areas of the pitch, and where we might need to get improvements or more coverage. This will lead into two following posts about transfer targets and team selection and tactics. This is a quick look, so I'll try to be as short and sweet as possible and, as always, I welcome both discussion and criticism. Got that? Well, let's do it then.
1) WHAT HAVE WE GOT?
Hugo Lloris is a boss and we need to do anything we can to keep him at the club. He's a world class goalkeeper and if we're going to build a competitive team at the top level we need a #1 like him. I really like Brad Friedel as a back-up goalie, but if rumours are to be believed he might retire after this season (or maybe he will stay on as player/coach at the club?). Additionally, Heurelho Gomes will soon be leaving us, and I'm unconvinced that any of Jordan Archer, Jonathan Miles and Lawrence Vigouroux are ready to step up as our second choice, so this just might be a position where we need some new blood.
RB: At the right back position we are very well stocked. Kyle Walker is an excellent first choice, Kyle Naughton is a good back-up option and Ryan Fredericks looks to be a fine prospect as yet another alternative for this position. No need for changes here.
LB: Left back is a different story though. Danny Rose has not had the best of seasons, but remains the top runner for this position, Ezekiel Fryers has impressed me in some of his outings, but still looks too inexperienced and insecure to be a starter at this time, while Kyle Naughton can do a job but it's really not his best position. On top of this, I'm pretty sure we're going to sell BAE and possible prospects like Kevin Stewart and Grant Ward are not ready. So this is an area of the squad I think we'd all agree needs improvement and a bit more healthy competition.
CB: We have four players in the first team squad who have center back as their natural position. Younes Kaboul, Jan Vertonghen, Vlad Chiriches and Michael Dawson. In addition to this, Ezekiel Fryers is an option when in need and Milos Veljkovic could get some games if the opportunity arises. Other options like Grant Hall and the never-to-be-rid-of Bongani Khumalo are not good enough and should be sold. So, assuming the first two would be our first choices and the other four are used as rotation/back-up players, that still might seem to be good enough coverage. However, as this season (and many seasons before too) has shown us, this is not really the case. Even if you think the two young guys have the level to step in, potential injuries and the amount of games we'll play makes me think we need to get more players into this equation.
CM: Christian Eriksen is the key name for this position. Why? Because no matter what formation or tactics we're going to employ, the team needs to be built around him (preferably as a #10). There you go. After that, we have lots of good midfielders to do just that with. Sandro and Étienne Capoue are our best "defensive" options, Paulinho and Mousa Dembélé our "runner/passer" ones, while Gylfi Sigurdsson and Lewis Holtby could be considered both as alternatives for the attacking midfielder role or as part of a midfield pivot or trio. Furthermore, we have two excellent young-uns in Nabil Bentaleb and Tom Carroll who should be playing some part next season. We also have guys like Jake Livermore, who will most likely be sold in the summer; Ryan Mason, who I think will be loaned out again and eventually sold; Tomislav Gomelt, Giancarlo Gallifuoco and Laste Dombaxe, who might be ready for a little action, as well as super exciting prospects in Ruben Lameiras and Harry Winks. This is probably the position(s) we're best stocked at out of them all, so there seems to be no need to add to anything at all.
RW: This is also good position for us. Erik Lamela will definitely come good and will become an excellent starter on the right. We also have fine alternatives in Aaron Lennon, who I don't want us to sell if he accepts a rotational role in the team, and Andros Townsend, who I prefer on the left but who can do a job on the right as well. Moreover, both Nacer Chadli and (untested as it is) Lewis Holtby could be decent as alternatives to the alternatives here, and we have some very exciting prospects in Kenneth McEvoy and Cristian Ceballos (who can also step in at the #10).
LW: On the left wing I think our two best choices to start are Nacer Chadli and Andros Townsend. They provide us with different things and both have the potential to be very good players for us. At the same time, Erik Lamela can also play here if need be, although I prefer him at right wing, and there's always the alternative of using guys like Gylfi Sigurdsson and Christian Eriksen out there too. As on the right wing there are exciting prospects to consider as well. Kenneth McEvoy can play on both wings, while Alex Pritchard (who could also work as a #10) has also been effective in this role. This amounts to pretty good coverage, so I'm not sure we need to do anything here.
FW: We really only have three out-and-out attackers in our first team squad. Roberto Soldado, Emmanuel Adebayor and Harry Kane. That's not going to cut it, really. As for our other younger forwards; Jonathan Obika is not good enough and should be sold and the same can probably be said for Cameron Lancaster, while Souleymane Coulibaly is interesting, but will need to develop a lot more before being in consideration. The one who possibly might be given some chances is Shaquile Coulthirst, but he's not going to play a big part at this point. Therefore, even if we don't sell anyone, this is definitely an area where we need to makes some moves.
2) WHAT DO WE NEED?
It should be clear from everything previously stated that I think what we need the most in the summer is a new left back and a new striker, who should both be good enough to compete with or surpass our current starting options. In fact, that should maybe be at least one new attacker, because if there's some upheaval we need to fill those spots too. Other goals should be to get another center back into the squad, or more than one if we're going to lose somebody, and a back-up goalkeeper who is fine with being second choice. That seems to me to be what we need. In addition to this, we should always be on the look-out for good deals on good players, regardless of where they play, and of course for young talents and prospects to build for the future. What do you guys think?