Eric Dier made his Tottenham Hotspur debut on Saturday, and he was nearly flawless. That performance came in a friendly, but it was a friendly against a very good team, playing nearly their entire first choice attacking midfield and a striker that featured at the World Cup. Dier was exceptional and didn't look out of place at all.
Michael Dawson, meanwhile, has been poor so far in preseason. He was also poor for most of last season in the Premier League. He was unfairly made out to be a scapegoat for huge problems that Tottenham Hotspur had, but that doesn't change the fact that he hasn't performed well -- in competitive matches or friendlies -- for quite some time.
Tottenham Hotspur's first choice central defense pairing currently includes Jan Vertonghen and one of Younes Kaboul and Vlad Chiriches -- and will soon include Mateo Musacchio -- but it's not clear how many of those players are available at the moment. Chiriches is definitely out, Musacchio won't be signed in time to start over the weekend, Vertonghen hasn't played a preseason match and Kaboul could break at any time. It's very possible that one of Dier or Dawson will have to start against West Ham, and Spurs' preseason games have turned the question about which one should get the nod into a reasonable one.
The difference in performance between Dier and Dawson is staggering enough that we have to wonder whether or not Dier is worthy of starting against West Ham United in the opening game of the Premier League season. Normally, staring a new signing who's just 20 years old and who wasn't first choice for his previous club in Portugal seems a bit insane.
But we know what Dawson is. It's very possible that Dier isn't good enough, but we know that Dawson isn't good enough. It's not as if Dier had one spectacular game, while Dawson has been decent, but unspectacular for an extended period of time. It's possible that the devil we don't know ends up being much, much worse than the devil we do know, but the latter is pretty bad. It's probably worth taking the gamble, even if losing that gamble means three points lost and having to endure the taunts of obnoxious West Ham fans for half a season.
The staff, however, is largely in disagreement. Uncle Menno and Ryan are on my side, but the rest of the crew is not. They're pro-Dawson, at least for this one game.
Ryan - Yes
Eric Dier is not Michael Dawson.
Uncle Menno - Yes
Dawson has looked poor for the most part. We've only seen one game from Dier, but he played well. But even based on this (poor) sample size, I put Dier ahead of Dawson.
Michael Caley - No
For me, Dier over Dawson comes down to how you weigh your observation of 90 minutes of football. I thought Dier looked pretty good. I don't think Dawson is good. I still go with Dawson because I don't trust 90 minutes of preseason football, and Dier's background doesn't scream "I'm a quality EPL player right now today."
Brian Mechanick - No
Go with the vets at first. Give Dier his chance to start in the Europa League.
Skipjack - No
In a match we desperately need to win, and in a derby, that's not a great way to start Dier's Spurs career. I'm not sure playing a 20 year old out of Portugal with no Premier League experience against West Ham is the best way to go.
Edward F. - No
Dawson can start because the one style of team he's effective against is Big Sam's.
Lennon's Eyebrow - No
I think Dier is already better than Dawson. But I think throwing Dier into the fire in the first game of the season, in a derby match, against one of the most physical teams in the league is probably not the best way to manage him. So if Vertonghen's not playing, pairing Dawson with Kaboul is a not outrageous decision.