Published: 12 September, 2012
THE departure of Luka Modric to Spanish giants Real Madrid for a reported fee of around £30 million meant that Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas has had to seek a suitable replacement in the playmaker role. This, paired with Rafael van der Vaart's switch to Hamburg, meant Spurs spent a frantic last few days before the summer transfer window slammed shut.
In an attempt to fill this midfield void, Villas-Boas has brought in Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey, both from nearby London-based club Fulham. Dembele impressed on his debut against Norwich at White Hart Lane, where he gave Spurs the lead in the second half. Dempsey was the highest scorer at Craven Cottage last season, with 23 goals in 46 appearances across all competitions, an impressive haul for a midfielder. With the imminent return of Scott Parker from an Achilles injury, the tough-tackling England international would grant players of Dembele and Dempsey's ilk the licence to push forward and play with freedom, while he provides defensive cover.
After coming so close to silverware last season with a semi-final exit from the FA Cup and a title-push that ground to a halt in February, the aim this season will be to finally bag a trophy. With opportunities in the Capital One Cup, FA Cup, Europa League and Premier League all up for grabs, Spurs fans will feel optimistic that their side can push for a trophy this season.
Despite finishing in fourth place in the Premier League last season, Tottenham qualified for the Europa League instead of the Champions League. This was due to Chelsea winning the Champions League trophy but only placing 6th in the league – granting them the place in the next season's Champions League that would have gone to Tottenham otherwise.
Last season Spurs faced a tough group with Rubin Kazan, PAOK and Shamrock Rovers, and were knocked out of the group with 10 points. The draw for this season's Europa League has seen another tough set of fixtures for Spurs, as they will face former champions Lazio, Greek side Panathinaikos and Slovenians Maribor in Group J of the competition. Their first fixture is a home tie against Italian side Lazio on the 20th September and will provide a stern test for Villas-Boas' men.
A disappointing start to the Premier League season has seen Spurs pick up two points from their first three games. A 2-1 loss at Newcastle, followed by consecutive 1-1 draws at White Hart Lane to West Brom and Norwich have placed some doubt over Spurs' chances of claiming silverware this season. If AVB’s men are to mount a serious challenge in any of the four major competitions they feature in this season, they must be more clinical at home and work on defending effectively until the final whistle blows. Dembele and Dempsey can more than fill the void left by Modric, and may provide the crucial goals that will help Spurs progress far in the aforementioned competitions.