Spurs should benefit from a settled squad, but could it be a Gray day at Watford and might West Ham’s new signings give Manchester United a tough time?
Spurs ended last season like a team who were ready to go all summer. They won their last two games, away to Leicester and Hull, by the walloping margins of 6-1 and 7-1, to complete a run of 12 wins in 13 matches at the end of the Premier League season. It was an emphatic, if ultimately futile, response to those who thought they would fade away like they did in 2015-16, when they infamously lost their final match 5-1 at Newcastle. Spurs will want to put that to bed this weekend – and also show they can start the season as well as they finished the last. Since they became a serious team under Mauricio Pochettino, one of Spurs’ biggest problems has been slow starts – they have won just once in seven August league matches in the past two seasons. They will be keen to address that this time around, not least because of their stadium move: the media are primed, waiting to jump to conclusions, and blame it on Wembley. Spurs’ excellent summer in the transfer market – forget who they didn’t buy, just look at how they didn’t sell – gives them a continuity that should be conducive to a fast start. In an age of instant gratification, when we all need somebody we don’t have to Google, continuity does not have the appeal of novelty – yet it comes with proven benefits. Spurs have no settling-in period for new players, no teething problems to worry about. They can just pick up where they left off in May. If they do, it could be a long afternoon of the soul for Newcastle’s defence. Rob Smyth
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