Spurs' 2014/15 season preview - Champions League just out of reach again?

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Can Mauricio Pochettino inspire Tottenham to a return to the top four?

Players in: Ben Davies (Swansea), Michel Vorm (Swansea), Eric Dier (Sporting Lisbon)

Players out: Heurelho Gomes (Watford), Jake Livermore (Hull), Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea), Iago Falque (Genoa)

Spurs head into the 2014/15 campaign full of the optimism that a new manager brings, and with hope that the many players that arrived last year (and those that may still come in before the transfer deadline) can be weaved into genuine top four challengers.

Last season the club saw it's campaign split between Andre Villas-Boas for the first few months and Tim Sherwood from December onwards. The style of football didn't change as much as Sherwood promised upon his arrival, with the side still full of defensive mistakes and lacking match winning quality against their Champions League rivals.

The hope for this campaign is that new boss Mauricio Pochettino can take this group of undoubtedly talented players, and apply the tactics that worked so well for him at Southampton last year - especially when it came to playing the division's top sides.

Reasons to be positive

Pochettino impressed everyone with the way he set up his Southampton side, and his desire to employ a pressing game as well as a fluid attacking mentality could see a dramatic improvement to how Tottenham fare in the games that matter, against those occupying those Champions League places.

There are already signs that record signing Erik Lamela is set to star in his fellow Argentine's side, scoring 4 goals in the preseason games and looking fit, confident and capable. Likewise, Lewis Holtby has looked good as part of a central midfield three. Both young players, both hugely talented.

Spurs have made three good signings already, without having to spend too much money. Ben Davies looks a snip at around £10 million considering Luke Shaw went for almost three times that, and he may even bring the best out of Danny Rose in competition at left back. Michel Vorm is top class cover for Hugo Lloris, and Eric Dier is one of England's most promising defenders.

Trouble on the horizon

The club are yet to tackle two of the biggest issues with their side last year. Spurs could do with further top class central defensive reinforcements, with Dier possibly one for a couple of years time. Michael Dawson is regularly exposed in the Premier League, while there were injury problems with every other first team defender last season. The interest in Mateo Musacchio is the right step, though that will come with its own risks considering he have never played in England. 

Also, unless Roberto Soldado comes good Pochettino will need at least one striker addition, with goal getting centre forwards absent last year until Sherwood brought Emmanuel Adebayor back into the first team.

Finally, Levy and the club's fans have to be patient with Pochettino, who will no doubt be expected to hit the ground running. Spurs don't want to find themselves looking for another manager midseason again.

Key man

Erik Lamela has to come good this season for Spurs for the Londoners to really make waves compared to last season.

Sure, Christian Eriksen will be important, as will Jan Vertonghen at the back and Emmanuel Adebayor up front, but Lamela has the ability to do the extraordinary that no other man at White Hart Lane can replicate.

If Pochettino can get the best out of the 22-year-old, Spurs would have one of the most impressive and skilful forwards in the division.

Lamela finding his feet in the Premier League, staying fit, and influencing games could see him score 10-15 goals plus, and be the difference between another 6th/7th place position and scraping into the CL spots.

Young player to watch

Harry Kane did very well when he came into the side late last year, scoring 3 goals in 7 games. He has continued to look good during the preseason friendlies and as just one of three strikers at the club at present, as well as the only one who looks like he can be play wide or from attacking midfield, the 21-year-old could see himself become an important player at his boyhood club.

New signings Davies and Dier could also make big impacts, considering they are joining a defence that looked really poor under both Villas-Boas and Sherwood.

Top-scorer

With Soldado likely to find it difficult to get regular minutes in Pochettino's one striker/two winger system, it seems that last year's top goalscorer Emmanuel Adebayor will carry the brunt of the side's goalscoring expectations. The Togo striker managed a superb 14 goals in just 25 games from December onwards - if he plays double that amount of games, and carries that form forward consistently, 20-25 goals plus would be an excellent return.

The big IF will follow Adebayor throughout the season though, having drifted in and out of form and favour at the various clubs he has played for. Expect Eriksen and Lamela to break into double figures too.

Will the manager last the season?

Hopefully Pochettino will settle in nicely, and results will go his way, but it is impossible to predict how he will fare in North London. Much will depend on what Daniel Levy expects of his new recruit - if it is Champions League or bust then the former Southampton boss may find himself at risk, especially considering that the top seven have all strengthened this season.

Final league position

Another top four spot will remain the objective, however hopeful that may be. For this to happen, Spurs wouldn't just need to be at their very best, with new signings and the likes of Lamela and Adebayor having superb seasons, they'd also need a Liverpool missing Suarez, a Manchester United still lacking defensive and midfield additions, as well as Everton to falter/fall short of their performances last season.

Chelsea, Manchester City, and Arsenal all look stronger than they were in 2013/14, so Tottenham will be in with a real fight to get that last Champions League position.

It is likely Spurs will be around the same spot they finished last campaign. It would be a superb achievement were they to finish 5th or above, though a cup victory is very much in their capabilities. That much maligned Europa League campaign, which will see the winners qualify for the Champions League, suddenly looks a much more attractive option.

Last season: 6th

Spurs to finish: 6th

Where do you think Spurs will finish this season? Who will be their most important players?

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