Rolling into game-week four and the transfer window has officially closed, with Premier League clubs having spent more money on new players than any window ever before. Manchester United still maintain their 100% win record and sit atop of the Premier League table, whilst Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and West Ham United are all joint-bottom without a single point.
Goodison Park hosts Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, and Everton will look to bounce back from a disappointing loss to defending champions Chelsea. Spurs, who last played Burnley at Wembley Stadium, drew 1-1 after a stoppage-time goal from Clarets new boy Chris Wood cancelled out Dele Alli’s opener.
Although initially criticised for failing to sign any new players earlier on in the transfer window, Spurs eventually made a number of high profile signings before the window closed. Ajax’s Davinson Sánchez, Southampton’s Paulo Gazzaniga, Estudiantes’ Juan Foyth, PSG’s Serge Aurier and Swansea City’s Fernando Llorente came in for an excess of £70million.
In terms of outgoings, Spurs managed to keep the majority of their squad together despite a number of rumours linking their top players to other clubs. The most notable departure was Kyle Walker’s £50million move to Manchester City, whilst other fringe players in Federico Fazio, Clinton N’Jie and Kevin Wimmer also left London on permanent transfers.
With the transfer window finally closed, how do you feel Tottenham’s squad is looking?
It’s looking strong. Spurs have added to the best defence in the country last season with some talented players from across Europe and South America and have added an experienced World Cup-winning goal threat in Fernando Llorente to take the burden off of Harry Kane. They just needed another attacking midfielder to make it a great transfer window and we all know who they wanted.
Are there any areas that you feel are still lacking?
Just that attacking midfield area. Until Erik Lamela comes back from his year out injured, Spurs haven’t got much in terms of competition for Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli. An injury to either of them, especially the Dane, and things might become difficult.
Let’s address Ross Barkley. There has been a lot of talk of a Spurs move for the England midfielder all season, and with a Chelsea move being rejected by the player late on deadline day, do you feel Spurs will return for him in January, and if yes, do you feel that they have an advantage over the Blues?
Definitely in both aspects now. Spurs wanted Barkley and the player wanted Spurs. However, Daniel Levy would never pay the sums being quoted for a player with 11 months left on his contract and an injury that will keep him out until November at the earliest. Everton refused to deal with Spurs in the final days of the window and Barkley made a rather brave decision to stick it out until January, which understandably has upset the Toffees fans. The pressure will now all be on the board to sell him to Spurs in January or lose him for free in the summer.
A lot depends on what the new signings bring and how much the existing players learned from the last two seasons. They need to show that they have the mental strength to win the crunch games when it really matters. Other teams can buy winners in their prime to show how it’s done on the pitch. Spurs are a side that have to learn how winning is done.
Spurs have unfortunately been drawn into the supposed “Group of Death” in this years Champions League with Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and APOEL. How do you fancy your chances of making it to the next round?
It’s going to be tough and I think next week’s match at Wembley against Dortmund will be a key clash in determining how the group plays out. Spurs were so disappointing last season in crashing out after the group stages and they will be determined not to repeat that.
Focusing on the game at hand, both clubs currently sit level on points in the league. A opening day win against Newcastle, disappointment against the defending champions and an unfortunate last minute goal conceded against Burnley for Spurs. Results aside, how have performances been in your opinion?
The performances haven’t been that bad at all. Spurs created plenty of chances and deserved more. They just couldn’t put the ball in the net, with Harry Kane in particular still suffering from this weird August curse that even Mauricio Pochettino has been joking about this week. It’s now September though and the goals have already returned for the England striker.
Wembley has been a well publicised stumbling block for the club, especially in Europe last season. Do you feel that the club generally play more confidently away from the National Stadium?
Possibly, but as said above, they were a shot against the post or a brilliant save away from winning both matches at Wembley this season. The pressure could be off them slightly on the road though, that’s true.
Last season at Goodison, a “70% fit” Everton, who were without Lukaku, didn’t do too badly on the opening day against Spurs. Do you expect a close match again, or do you feel that Tottenham will have more than enough?
Definitely. The game at White Hart Lane was tight as well for periods before Spurs showed the clinical edge that’s been lacking so far this season. Everton are trying to gel their new players together and Spurs are a more settled outfit. I’m not sure any of their new signings will start at Goodison Park unless Pochettino goes for a back three and plays Davinson Sánchez.
How do you think Spurs will set-up against the Toffees?
(4-2-3-1) Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele; Eriksen, Alli, Son; Kane.
Finally, your prediction for the game?
Follow Alasdair on Twitter at @AlasdairGold.