Tottenham Hotspur concluded last season only 27 days ago but are already starting the 2020-21 campaign with a friendly against League One side Ipswich Town.
Ipswich Town comes to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the first of three pre-season friendly matches for Spurs in 2020-21. Those matches all take place over the space of two weeks as Spurs prepare for the regular season opener against Everton on Saturday, Sept. 12.
While Spurs are actually riding a four-match losing streak against Ipswich dating back nearly 20 years, the final score is not the most important factor and is not where my focus will be.
So, here is what I am looking for in the first pre-season match of the year.
Tottenham formation and flexibility
The first item of interest is how Jose Mourinho sets up the squad. While we know Harry Kane is out for a two-week quarantine, many of the first-team players and most of the academy are available. With selection not really a problem, it will be interesting to see how the squad starts on the pitch and the different iterations we see throughout the match.
The formation starts with eyes on the back and if Tottenham continues to play with four in the back or if Jose tries for a three-man backline. Traditionally, Jose deploys four men in the back, but the pre-season is a time for anything but traditional and I am curious how he has been drilling the defense. We saw improvement over the season from the defense, so how will they start?
Along the same lines, how many midfielders will be deployed and in what kind of alignment? Will there only be three midfielders in a more traditional Jose 4-3-3 arrangement, or do we continue to see a 4-2-3-1 approach or even a 4-1-3-2 now that Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is available to sit in front of the back line? With only one new midfield addition unlike last season, can a real rotation be established?
Finally, I am curious who lines up at the top of the attack as the striker(s) for Spurs. We know Kane is out and Troy Parrott has been loaned out to Millwall, so who does Jose elect to deputize as the main back-up striker?
Perhaps the performances, or lack thereof, at the front against a League One opponent could spur the team into action in terms of signing some cover for Harry Kane. Regardless, we will start to learn a bit about how Jose is going to approach the season based on the shape of the team.