Aaron Lennon: To start last season, Aaron Lennon was Spurs' best player. Unfortunately, a mid-season injury took him out for an extended period of time and he struggled to regain his early season form when he finally recovered. However, based on Lennon's preseason, he appears to have made a full recovery and should be a staple on the right wing. One of the criticisms of Lennon over his career is that he is all pace and no end product, but he finally crushed that cliche last year. Lennon is healthy and looking like a more technically and tactically adept player than ever before.
There is no doubt that Aaron Lennon should be one of the first couple of names on the team sheet. Regardless of the formation and other available personnel, Lennon should be in the starting lineup when healthy.
Luka Modric: Modric struggled in his first year in the Premier League to the point that many labeled him a bust. His second year was a different story, though, as Modric emerged as one of Spurs' best player. Well-known for his dribbling skills and creativity, Modric emerged as a surprisingly versatile player last season. He was already well known as a very good attacking midfield player, but he emerged as a great option on the left and surprisingly showed the ability to play a box to box midfield role as well.
Modric, like Lennon, should be a virtually automatic name on the team sheet. I prefer him in the center, but he'll probably see most of his time on the left.
Wilson Palacios: When Palacios came over from Wigan, I was skeptical of the price. £12m seemed to be a lot of money for a young Central American player with only 1 1/2 years of Premier League experience. Since then, Palacios has justified his price and established himself as one of Spurs' most consistent players. His pace, tackling ability, and inhuman stamina make it possible to play guys like Big Tom.
Palacios is the last player that I think should be an automatic selection whenever healthy, along with Lennon, Modric, and Bale. A top notch central midfielder.
Tom Huddlestone: Tom Huddlestone is an odd player. He's 6'4", 300 pounds. He runs like a duck. His vertical leap is about 6". If he plays, he needs to be paired in the midfield with a very athletic player to cover up for his shortcomings. That's the bad. The good is that Tom Huddlestone is a great passer, fairly creative, and a competent tackler. He's good enough to make a Premier League roster and play some kind of role, but he got 30+ starts this season. Hopefully, that isn't duplicated.
Harry seems to have a bit of a chubby for Big Tom that I don't quite understand. If he gets 30+ starts again, I might punch somebody. Hopefully the emergence of Gio pushes Modric inside and relegates Huddlestone to the bench. Hopefully Sandro keeps him there. Sorry, I like the guy, but he wears cement shoes.
Jermaine Jenas: Sucks.
David Bentley: F me, what a waste of £15m. Bentley isn't the most useless player in the world, but what a ridiculous sum of money for a player whose only positive attributes are crossing and striking dead balls. He's slow. He doesn't score goals. He's a mediocre passer. He's not a great passer. He's not a great defender. And yet we paid £15m for him. I think I'm probably too hard on Bentley because I'm so annoyed by his purchase price, but I can't get over it. He's a mediocre player that cost an absurd amount of money. He also needs a damn haircut.
If Bentley starts a single game for reasons other than significant injury problems, I am going to punch infants.
Niko Kranjcar: Rather quietly, Niko Krancjar has a very good goal scoring rate for a midfielder. In his career, between senior league and international games, Krancjar scores about once every five games, including six in 24 for Spurs. Why Huddlestone has been preferred to him in games where Palacios is also available, I'm not entirely sure, but the fact is, Niko produces when he plays. He's a player who can play on the left just as well as he can in the center, another one of those versatile Spurs players.
Niko seems to be a backup for now, but I'd like to see him become a bit more. For now, he's a fantastic bench option.
Jamie O'Hara: Jamie O'Hara is an interesting case. His performances in a Spurs shirt have been solid, though unspectacular, and he could possibly have a role to play in this team. Last season, he was loaned out to Portsmouth and was one of the few bright spots in an awful season. O'Hara returns to Spurs fighting for a first team place and his case may be helped a bit by the new 25+8 rules. He's good enough to play in the Premier League, but can he break a crowded Spurs midfield?
O'Hara could possibly be kept around simply because of the new roster rules, but by my count, we have 8 qualifying "home grown" players without O'Hara. I would like to think he can fight for a spot at Spurs, but my gut tells me he will either ride the bench or be sold shortly.
Jake Livermore: Youngster Jake Livermore has been loaned out many times and will likely be loaned out again. He's had semi-successful loan spells at Derby and Peterborough and most expect Livermore to head to the Championship once again.
Danny Rose: Danny Rose propelled himself to near legend status with his goal against Arsenal, but as talented as the youngster is, he may struggle to find minutes with the first team. I would expect to see Rose be sent out on a short term loan in case he either impresses thoroughly or Spurs have injury issues, where as I would expect a year long loan for Livermore.
Sandro: Without playing a single preseason game for Spurs, we can't judge what Sandro's role with the team will be this season. What I can tell you is that the 21 year old holding midfielder was purchased from Internacional for an estimated £14m. Sandro is an athletic holding midfield player with great positioning and passing ability. Think of a slightly smaller, considerably quicker version of Tom Huddlestone. I'd tell you to watch him in Copa Libertadores tomorrow, but you don't have to wait. Sandro won't be in Copa Lib tomorrow because he's playing against the United States tonight for his native Brazil. From what I've heard, there's a good chance he'll be in the starting lineup. Give him a look.
From what I've seen out of Sandro, I prefer him to Huddlestone and Jenas by a mile and I think that he will adjust to life in the Premier League just fine. Unfortunately, right now, this is just pure speculation.
That's all for Part II of the season preview, tomorrow we'll look at Spurs' forwards.