Premier League 2019-20 preview - London turf war: Tottenham and Arsenal

Football: Missing links in Spurs' squad, Gunners' defence

Mauricio Pochettino will pit his wits against promoted side Aston Villa, who have outspent last season's Champions League finalists. Arsenal's Unai Emery (above) will hope to improve in his second season in charge of the Europa League finalists. PHOT
Mauricio Pochettino (above) will pit his wits against promoted side Aston Villa, who have outspent last season's Champions League finalists. PHOTO: REUTERS
Mauricio Pochettino will pit his wits against promoted side Aston Villa, who have outspent last season's Champions League finalists. Arsenal's Unai Emery (above) will hope to improve in his second season in charge of the Europa League finalists. PHOT
Arsenal's Unai Emery (above) will hope to improve in his second season in charge of the Europa League finalists. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A new football chapter awaits as the 28th EPL season is upon us. The Straits Times continues its countdown with the London rivals :- Pochettino seeks reinforcements, as Emery looks to attack to cover defensive deficiencies

LONDON • When Mauricio Pochettino was in Singapore for the International Champions Cup last month, he spoke candidly about his desire to usher in "a new era" following Tottenham's heartbreaking loss to Liverpool in the Champions League final in June.

Despite "spending 10 days at his house" to cope with the club's failure to end an 11-year trophy wait dating back to the 2008 League Cup, the Spurs boss then cut an optimistic figure ahead of the "massive challenge" to build on their maiden European Cup final appearance and fourth place in the league.

Barely two weeks later, though, it was a different tune from Pochettino, who publicly declared he was not accountable for Spurs' relative transfer inactivity, before suggesting that the club "need to change my title (as manager) to coach".

After landing Tanguy Ndombele for a club-record £53.8 million (S$90.3 million) from Lyon, hopes had been high among fans that he would be the first of many new arrivals, following two windows without a player signed.

However, despite being linked to a host of names, from Real Betis' Giovani Lo Celso to Bruno Fernandes of Sporting Lisbon, a busy summer has yet to materialise, leaving both fans and Pochettino fed up.

The Argentinian, who has yet to lift silverware as a manager, is attempting to turn the page as the new league season looms with a home match against newly promoted Aston Villa on Saturday.

After three consecutive terms languishing in the second-tier Championship, Dean Smith's team would not normally be one Pochettino would cast an envious eye over.

However, there has been a revolution of sorts at Villa Park this close season. The new boys are the sixth-biggest spenders in the transfer market to date - only Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Manchester United have spent more than their £130 million outlay, and how Pochettino must wish the purse-strings be loosened like the Villans'.

  • TOTTENHAM TRANSFERS

  • IN

    • Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon, £53.8 million

     • Jack Clarke from Leeds, £8.5 million

    OUT

     • Kieran Trippier to Atletico Madrid, £20 million

     • Vincent Janssen to Monterrey, £10 million

     • Michel Vorm, released

  • ARSENAL TRANSFERS

  • IN

     • Nicolas Pepe from Lille, £72 million

     • Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid, on loan

     • William Saliba from Saint-Etienne, £27 million

     • Gabriel Martinelli from Ituano, £6 million

    OUT

     • Aaron Ramsey to Juventus, free

     • Petr Cech, retired

     • Danny Welbeck, released

     • David Ospina to Napoli, £3.5 million

     • Stephan Lichtsteiner, released

     • Krystian Bielik to Derby, £10 million

    Note: Transfers are selected and accurate as of press time.

    £1 = S$1.67

After Spurs' 1-1 friendly draw with Inter Milan on Sunday night, he again called on chairman Daniel Levy to strengthen with just three days before the English transfer window closes.

He said: "In every season, we are always open to improve the squad and to try to find the right players to be stronger and better and there are still four days. We'll see what happens in the next few days."

Adding to his frustrations will be the news that Dele Alli will miss the start of the season after suffering a recurrence of his hamstring injury that will leave him on the sidelines for a "few weeks", while Juan Foyth and Son Heung-min will also be absent for the opener due to red cards carried over from last season.

On the other side of the north London divide, Arsenal also have their own issues to contend with - not with the lack of investment in players, but rather a failure to fix their leaky defence.

The Gunners' rearguard shipped 51 goals in the league and manager Unai Emery has done little in the transfer market to arrest that glaring deficiency. French defender William Saliba does not join the club until next summer.

They may yet bring in Celtic defender Kieran Tierney by deadline day, but even if he signs, he will not be fit for a while, owing to a double hernia operation.

Perhaps Emery's tactics this term would be to outscore other teams by using his prolific offence as his best defence, starting with Newcastle on Sunday.

Arsenal scored the most goals (73) outside the top two last term and with the addition of Ivory Coast forward Nicolas Pepe for a club-record £72 million, their front three, including Alexandre Lacazette and Golden Boot joint-winner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, will surely rival Manchester City and Liverpool for the best strikeforce in England.

Whether that will be enough to end a three-year Champions League exile remains to be seen, but in Dani Ceballos, Emery has a player hungry to prove his worth.

After the visitors' 2-1 defeat by Barcelona on Sunday evening, the Spaniard said of his new recruit: "What I like most is the desire he is putting in and the hunger with which he comes.

"We will try to help him take a step forward as a football player."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2019, with the headline 'Missing links in Spurs' squad, Gunners' defence '. Print Edition | Subscribe