With the transfer window done and dusted (apart from any future outgoing players), it’s time to turn our attention to the first match of the Premier League season. Tottenham Hotspur travel to St. James’ Park to face Newcastle on Saturday (7:30 a.m. USA, 12:30 pm London), with some big questions.
The biggest, however, is this: how in the world will Tottenham line up against the Magpies? There are currently six players out injured, and question marks beside all of the nine World Cup players who made the semifinals, and who only returned to training this Monday. That’s a lot of questions! But we’re a Tottenham blog that likes to think about these things, so let’s walk through it.
When we’re trying to construct a lineup, we can basically divide the current team team into three pools for Saturday:
Erik Lamela, Harry Winks, Victor Wanyama, Juan Foyth, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Josh Onomah
World Cup Nine
Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Dele, Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Mousa Dembele, Hugo Lloris
Spurs’ preseason tour squad
Basically the rest of the first team, plus youth players various & sundry
Let’s start with the preseason squad. Assuming there are no additional injuries or concerns that we’re not aware of, there are a few players that we should probably consider locks to start at St. James’ Park, based on their preseason participation: Davinson Sanchez, Son Heung-Min, Ben Davies, Christian Eriksen, Moussa Sissoko, and Lucas Moura. We can probably also toss in Serge Aurier — he had a pretty good preseason and if Poch doesn’t want to take a chance with Kieran Trippier, he’s the natural replacement.
So take those six players, plop in the World Cup 9 in the right positions, and Bob’s your uncle, right? But it’s not that simple. Pochettino was super cagy in his press conference on Thursday, saying that some of the World Cup 9 would start, some would be on the bench, and some might not even make the match day XI, depending on their fitness, sharpness, and readiness for match action.
That means we have to start making some guesses. Due to Spurs’ midfield injury crisis, there’s a very good chance that we’ll see Eric Dier on Saturday. He played only light minutes in the World Cup, and the alternative at his position right now is presently Luke Amos. It’s possible that we see Amos in the holding midfield position, but I don’t think anyone wants to see it.
Harry Kane would normally be a player that we might or might not see, but come on, it’s Harry Kane. He’s starting.
Center back is a little more tricky. With Foyth and Carter-Vickers both injured, there are two possibilities: start either Toby Alderweireld/Jan Vertonghen beside Sanchez, or slide Ben Davies to CB and start Kyle Walker-Peters or Danny Rose at the left back position. I know which one I’d rather see. Our guess is Jan.
That leaves the keeper, and it’s anybody’s guess. We could see either Hugo or Michel Vorm and I couldn’t tell you what’s in Pochettino’s mind. Flip a coin.
The graphic posted here is our best guess at what we’ll see on Saturday, but it could also be hilariously incorrect. We’re guessing at formations and available players. We don’t have the benefit of insight as to Poch’s player evaluations, or his tactical thoughts against Newcastle. We could see a back three that includes Alderweireld. Maybe Dele starts, or Trippier. We could see the likes of Amos, Walker-Peters, Fernando Llorente, or even Oliver Skipp! We won’t know until the lineups are released an hour before the match.
So let’s throw it to the commentariat. Think we’re correct? Think we got it wrong? Post your lineups in the comments.