Now that the transfer window has (mercifully) slammed shut, we can all go about the frantic pomp and prediction that accompanies every Premier League match, including this weekend’s already crucial Tottenham clash with Norwich City.
Now, why would this game get the fabled “crucial” tag three matches into the campaign?
Spurs are already three points off of last year’s 69-point pace and a win over Norwich would immediately eliminate that gap.
The Canaries launched a smash-and-grab raid at White Hart Lane last term and ran out with a 2-1 win in the sixth-to-last match of the season.
Getting a win over Norwich is crucial simply because the rest of the challengers for fourth can’t all be this bad for this long.
Newcastle already has a leg up on Spurs and while Swansea probably won’t keep up their initial blitz of goals, pressure this early in the season on Andre Villas-Boas to climb the ladder is probably not what he anticipated happening in North London.
The addition of Moussa Dembele will hopefully be the missing link in midfield as Tottenham try to piece together a side that will marry its attacking lust with coverage all over the park.
Dembele might have started as a forward but his movement deeper into the midfield looks to continue as Tottenham did not pick up Joao Moutinho in the dying embers of the transfer window.
What is great is that Dembele, while maybe not the first choice for the deeper midfield passing role, is certainly capable of putting his stamp on the position.
It means more than likely that Tottenham’s double pivot will transform more into the 4-3-3 that Villas-Boas prefers, which is not at all a bad thing.
What will be interesting to watch (should Dembele start) is how well he fills in the huge gap between the double pivot and the forward/central attacking midfielder in the first two matches.
In theory, the attacking midfielder down the middle is the link man between the forward three and the midfield duo.
However, Gylfi Sigurdsson so far has played practically in the back pocket of Jermain Defoe and Rafael van der Vaart played deeper than the hole itself.
There is a giant area of space that is being left open throughout the middle of Spurs’ attack that needs a body to pull opposing central midfielders back into the middle of the park and away from the wings.
It is perhaps an undervalued role, but against the likes of Newcastle, Spurs were not able to break down the flanks as effectively as they wanted to because the Magpies loaded the flanks and had support from the central midfielders because no one was there to keep them honest.
If Dembele is playing as a more advanced central midfielder, the Canary defense must respect him or watch him fly straight towards the back line with options in the form of the forward, wingers or attacking midfielder in sight.
With the furor of activity surrounding the club’s transfers being put to the side for a few hours later today, Tottenham could stand to keep the fans from deflating too quickly by snagging all three points against Norwich.