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 By Ben Pearce

Tottenham must balance Premier League with European commitments

It was a sour end to last season for Tottenham. A 5-1 humiliation at relegated Newcastle meant Spurs were overtaken for second by arch rivals Arsenal, but with a new season comes renewed optimism.

It's the final campaign at White Hart Lane and with Champions League football on the agenda, boss Mauricio Pochettino will have to balance matters in Europe with his side's exploits in the Premier League.

Here's a look ahead to Spurs' 2016-17 ...

At a glance

Tottenham are back in the Champions League but must also aim to finish in the top four of the Premier League again to keep their seat at Europe's top table -- competition will be fierce.

Premier League: ​4th
FA Cup: Fifth round
League Cup: Quarterfinals
Champions League: Quarterfinals

Transfer business

Sensible business has been done so far. The priority has been to strengthen the squad, securing quality cover for Harry Kane and Eric Dier and closing the gap between Tottenham's strongest line-up and second-string side. Vincent Janssen and Victor Wanyama tick the boxes and have already shown enticing glimpses of what they can offer.

The powerful Wanyama strode forward to win the ball in opposition territory and set up a goal for Erik Lamela in the friendly against Juventus, while Janssen found the net while also setting up Dele Alli's strike in the 6-1 victory over Inter Milan.

Spurs seemed set to complete a deal for Marseille winger Georges-Kevin N'Koudou too, but that is on hold and it is unclear whether he would be much better than last summer's recruit Clinton Njie.

Mauricio Pochettino has stated he does not intend to replace the experienced but pedestrian centre-back Federico Fazio and while some may wonder what Alex Pritchard could have offered if he had ever been given a real chance before his move to Norwich, Tottenham have nonetheless banked £8 million for one of their academy products.

Mauricio Pochettino enters his third season in charge at Tottenham.

Key questions

Can Spurs maintain their progress in the Premier League and even replicate last season's title challenge and also make the most of their Champions League adventure? Meanwhile, it also remains to be seen how much importance Pochettino will attach to the domestic cup competitions, which remain the club's best chances of winning a trophy.

How will their internationals react to what was, with the exception of Wales' Ben Davies, a generally disappointing and even, in some cases, a painful Euro 2016? The answer looked positive in the 6-1 victory over Inter, when Kane struck twice and Alli was also on target.

Squad rotation will also be more important than ever, and Spurs' reserves -- including some of last season's signings -- will need to consistently step up to the plate and prove they belong at a club with Tottenham's status and ambitions.

Can Son Heung-Min and Kieran Trippier be fully trusted and what can Njie offer? Can Ryan Mason silence his critics and does Tom Carroll have a part to play? Will there be a chance for more academy players to step up to the first team this season and, if so, who will be chosen?

Potential pitfalls

Last season, Tottenham took advantage of the fact that most of their Premier League rivals slipped up at the same time and endured disappointing campaigns. If they all get their acts together this time, Spurs' task will be much tougher.

The north Londoners must also start without the influential Mousa Dembele, who will miss the first four domestic games due a ban carried over from the end of last term; the Belgian has not played at all during preseason, either, so might be lacking match practise when he returns.

Meanwhile, after waiting for five-and-a-half years to get back into the Champions League, Tottenham will play home games at Wembley instead of White Hart Lane, which may negate some of the benefits of "home" advantage. It would certainly be a shame if that factor undermines their ability to produce their best form and progress in the competition.

Spurs now have cover for Kane and so are less reliant on him than they were last season, but the Golden Boot winner last season is still a key man and he has not had a full summer off for two years. He looked tired at Euro 2016 and fatigue may become a factor.

Harry Kane scored 28 goals in all competitions last season.

One to watch 

Cameron Carter-Vickers was the only academy player to start the final preseason friendly against Inter and it seems the 18-year-old centre-back may get the chance to be Toby Alderweireld's understudy. His first start could come in the third round of the League Cup in September.

Meanwhile, Josh Onomah will hope for further opportunities after making 19 first-team appearances last season, while Harry Winks looks ready for a step up to senior level. There is a lot of excitement about 17-year-old attacking midfielder Marcus Edwards and 19-year-old striker Shayon Harrison scored against Inter just after coming on.

Ben is ESPN FC's Tottenham blogger. Follow on Twitter: @BenPearceSpurs.


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