Before the start of last season, I wrote an article discussing the merits of selecting Harry Kane in our FPL teams and I think that he is a player that will cause a similar amount of discussion amongst FPL managers this season as then. However in this article I am going to focus on not just Kane but other aspects of Spurs, including the impact of a summer signing and departure, the FPL potential of some of their other attacking assets as well as how the pricing of Spurs assets may have wider implications for our teams as a whole.
In order to analyse the issues that the pricing of spurs players could cause I have put together a quick template team based off discussion within the FPL community on twitter and RMT’s in the comments section on this website.
DEF: TAA, Robertson, Laporte, Digne
MID: Sterling, Salah, Fraser, Zaha
FWD: King, Deulofeu
Bench: Button, Lundstram, Dendoncker, Greenwood
Obviously, I am aware that this is not how everyone is choosing to line up and some of you may disagree with some of the selections but what is most important to look at is the price points of certain players. For example, this particular team includes two 6.5 million forwards and would almost certainly require playing the wildcard in order to transfer in Kane, without dropping Sterling or Salah, if he is performing at his best. This team also does not have a price point to accommodate the mid-priced Spurs midfield assets of Son, Eriksen and Alli, priced at 9.5, 9, and 8.5 million respectively. I believe that it is these midfielders who have the potential to cause the most issues as the only other players in this price bracket are KDB, Sane, Mahrez and Pogba making transferring these players in and out of your team particularly awkward. It would almost certainly require two moves to bring one of them in either by downgrading one of Sterling or Salah and then having money in the bank to reinvest elsewhere or by downgrading in defence to allow the upgrade of one of the cheaper midfielders. However, this pricing issue becomes irrelevant if the players aren’t putting in performances that warrant inclusion in our FPL teams so what evidence is there that they can put us in a difficult situation.
The signing of the 22-year-old from Lyon has gone slightly under the radar in FPL terms as he himself is very unlikely to be an FPL asset but he may turn out to be the Premier League signing of the summer in terms of the impact he can have on this Spurs team, especially his attacking teammates. The impact that Mousa Dembele had on Spurs was always well documented in the media but to back that opinion up lets compare the performance of Christian Eriksen in his best FPL season in 16/17 when Dembele played his most minutes and was at his best to his performance in 18/19 when Dembele started just 7 times before departing to China in the January transfer window.
Eriksen Key Stats
Note all stats are per game apart from points, goals and assists.
While these stats don’t tell the full story on their own they do provide very good evidence as to why Eriksen returned significantly less points last season. They even show that while he managed to score the same amount of goals the underlying stats for the amount and quality of shots he was taking was still significantly down. Another thing that I would encourage members to have a look at is the comparison of Eriksen’s heatmaps across these two seasons as well as his average position per gameweek as these clearly show the deeper role he adopted in the absence of Dembele. The key to this analysis is not the fact that Eriksen was necessarily deployed in a different and more deep lying position last season but more so that the absence of Dembele and his ability to break the midfield lines of the opposition with his dribbling and passing ability forced Eriksen to change his role in the team and drop deeper to allow Spurs to progress the ball forwards against defensive teams as players such as Dier, Wanyama and Sissoko are limited in this area. Therefore, he could benefit less from receiving the ball in dangerous attacking positions resulting in the decrease to both his underlying numbers and his output.
Now the big question to answer is whether Ndombele can fill the void left by his near namesake Dembele and in turn allow Eriksen more freedom to play where he is at his best. Below is a comparison his key stats per game in Ligue 1 and the Champions League last season compared to Dembele in 16/17.
Dembele v Ndombele
These stats show that Ndombele’s league form compares very favourably to Dembele and there is very little between them in both defensive and attacking terms. However the quality of the opposition in Ligue 1 compared to the Premier League often comes into question which is why the performance of Ndombele in the Champions League is as important as it is impressive. Admittedly 7 games are a small sample size but the numbers he put up are excellent especially considering they included 2 games each against both Man City and Barcelona. It is also promising that Ndombele predominantly featured in a defensive midfield 2 in a 4231 formation at Lyon, a formation that Pochettino often deploys meaning he should hopefully slot into the Spurs team relatively comfortably. At the age of just 22 as well it will be hoped that he can continue to develop and improve playing under Pochettino and potentially be far more than just a Dembele replacement.
Formation and Departure of Trippier
Over the past couple of seasons Pochettino has perhaps been forced to adapt his formation due to the need to fit in certain players. One of these is certainly the case of Kieran Trippier whose amazing attacking output coupled with defensive fragility led to a 3 at the back formation with wingbacks being used on many occasions. This generally weakened the Spurs attack as the extra centre back required to play in this way usually came at the expense of an attacking winger such as Son or Lucas Moura or resulted in one or both of Eriksen and Dele Alli featuring in more reserved midfield roles. However, his departure should lead to Pochettino favouring a 4 at the back formation most of the time with both Danny Rose and Ben Davies adept at playing LB and the somewhat unknown quantity of Kyle Walker-Peter and natural CB Juan Foyth sharing the RB position with all offering a greater defensive ability than Trippier. Assuming Pochettino uses some variation of a 4231 formation as he has favoured in the past this allows for Eriksen to be given the freedom of playing as a CAM with two players from Son, Alli, Moura and perhaps Lamela supporting Kane who will be the central Striker. Trippier’s departure is also beneficial to Eriksen as it is likely he will reassume the monopoly he previously held over set piece situations.
Spurs VS Man City and Liverpool
As mentioned previously due to the pricing structure it is likely that the inclusion of Spurs attacking assets will come at the expense of Liverpool and Man City options so how do they stack up against them. Below is a table of their goals scored in each of the past 3 seasons.
With the relative performance of last season already accounted for in part due to the absence of a Dembele like player and coupled with the extended absence of Kane in the 2nd half of the season, Spurs are not far from being on a par with Liverpool while still being a fair distance behind Man City. However, while the Liverpool trio of attacking players is more nailed on even than Spurs attacking assets all FPL managers know the pain of Pep’s rotation with only Sterling and Bernardo Silva relatively safe from it last season. The return to fitness of KDB and the emergence of Foden may eat into some of Silva’s minutes this season and if Sane stays put and doesn’t move to Bayern Munich even Sterling may lose some minutes as a result. I still believe that Sterling and perhaps KDB will be excellent fantasy assets this seasons but beyond that there is some doubt and a double up on City attackers is expensive and risky. With the current template a Liverpool attacking double up is also unfeasible with the majority opting to start with two Liverpool defenders. So could a Spurs attacking double up ever be viable despite the pricing? To give you some food for thought on this here is a table of the attacking performance of Spurs assets between GW 13 and 22 last season. While this may seem like an oddly specific range of matches that have been handpicked as the numbers they result in are impressive, the actual reasoning behind it is that it starts with Son’s return to a consistent starting role in an advanced position playing just off and sometimes alongside Kane following his absence and return post the Asian Games. The sequence then ends with the injury of Kane resulting in him missing 10 out of 16 matches from GW 23 onwards. Therefore, it is a sequence where Spurs could name their strongest attacking line up with all players fit and firing.
This data shows that if Spurs can string together a run like this or even extended over a longer part of the season then they could give us a lot to think about. For reference the 90 points scored by Son over the 10 gameweek period was 3rd in terms of points scored in a 10 gameweek period across the season behind the 95 points of Pogba between GW 18 and 27 and the 94 points of Salah between GW 14 and 23. The scoring rates of Kane and Eriksen at 7.1 and 6.1 points per game respectively are also seriously impressive.
As with anything in FPL there is no guarantee that the Spurs assets mentioned will deliver this season. However particularly in the cases of Kane, Eriksen, Son and Alli there is definite potential there. For Kane he should certainly benefit from having a summer rest and hopefully being back to full fitness and Son will hope that his performances last season coupled with no international commitments will lead to a more regular starting berth. I have already highlighted the potential of Eriksen above and if Ndombele has the desired impact the knock on effect will be beneficial for the Spurs attack as a whole. As for Alli we are all very aware of his fantasy potential if he can prove that the 18/19 season was just a one off poor season.
With regards to Spurs as a whole they come off the back of the disappointment of the Champions League final loss with something to prove and add in the fact that it is the first full season at the new stadium they will surely be fired up. With regards to fixtures, the 12 match run from GW 3 to 14 stands out coinciding with the return of Son from suspension and featuring promising home fixtures against Newcastle, Crystal Palace, Southampton and Sheffield United. It is up to the Spurs assets to prove their worth but they could certainly give us FPL managers many headaches this season.