Mid-Season Rating of Spurs’ Summer Signings

They’ve been with us for half a season now, enough time to evaluate what Tottenham’s summer signings have brought to the squad.

In an end of year review of the first half of the season I suggested that the seven signings Spurs made in summer 2022 have strengthened the squad, and bench, but have not wholly filled the gaps that were left by departing (or absent) starters (Maeva, Ria and Rachel; as well as the hopefully soon-returning Kit).

This blog focuses on what each of our new signings (Drew Spence, Angharad James, Amy Turner, Celin Bizet, Nikola Karczewska, Ellie Brazil and Ramona Petzelberger) has brought to the team and how each has done in the first part of the season.

It also includes first impressions of four young players that have had their senior Spurs debuts this season: Gracie Pearse; Lenna Gunning-Williams, Ella-Rose Houghton and Kayleigh Stead.

Before starting, it’s worth pointing out that Spurs’ biggest problem this season has been a lack of connection across the team. This makes it hard to score players – whether to pinpoint individual culprits or identify individual potential. That’s contributed to a set of scores (out of 10) that are quite middling.

Drew Spence. Image: Girls on the Ball

Drew Spence   7/10

Drew has contributed more WSL goals (3) than the rest of our newbies put together, and that’s not to be sniffed at. She provides glimmers of quality and her close ball control shines through. Moreover, she appears to have taken to heart Rehanne’s command that the team shoots more – she has taken 26 shots in the league (about 3 per game). There have been moments when she has linked up well, most obviously with Ash (for her two goals against Brighton), but also with Jess. However, despite her pedigree Drew has not yet been able to stamp her mark on games, even against weaker opposition. And when things are going less well she can disappear a little, and can appear deflated when she loses the ball. Clearly, it’s an adjustment to go from combining with Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder, to Ros and Niki, but hopefully in 2023 (especially if rumours are to be believed and she is re-combined with her ex-teammate Beth England) we will see a new Drew, one consistently in sync with teammates and able to drive a coherent and creative attacking frontline. Until then she gets a decent, but slightly under-whelming 7.

Angharad James

Angharad James   6.5/10

There have been games (or at least halves) when Angharad seems able to hunt down opposition players, take the ball and thread a pass with ease. A sign of her progressive play is that, despite playing less than seven full games (of the 9 so far in the WSL) she has produced 17 shot-creating actions (second only to Ash). Her contribution is perhaps most obvious in that Spurs control of midfield declines when she is not on the pitch. However, like most of the team, Angharad has been inconsistent. On the one hand, arguably the best of our holding midfielders, but on the other, she has several times left opposition players in space on the edge of the box, resulting in relatively free shots on goal. Additionally, (playing alongside Eveliina) she has struggled to provide reliable cover for our defence and securely transition the ball forwards. More positively, she is emerging as a leader on the pitch – and has taken the captain’s armband in the couple of Conti Cup games in which Shelina has been absent. Angharad also seems to have quickly created bonds with team-mates – special mention here for the dances she and Niki have performed after Niki’s goals. Clearly a useful addition to the team and a definte starter (among currently available players), but not yet a complete Maeva replacement.

Amy Turner   5.5/10

Things haven’t been easy for Amy at Spurs. A lot of that is not her fault. She is a centre-back, who has played most games at right back, thereby freeing up Ash to play further forward. At right-back Amy has put in important tackles and goal-area clearances but has frequently looked uneasy and been caught out of position. Topping off what’s surely been a frustrating start to the season was a horror own-goal away at Reading. That said, on the rare occasions that Amy has been given an opportunity to play at centre back (against Coventry and in the dying minutes against West Ham) she has seemed more assured. And her attitude has been impressive – following the own-goal debacle Amy was a demon for the rest of the Reading game, charging down opponents; consistently first to balls. Off the pitch, her straight-talking after the recent loss to Everton was much-needed. Which is to say I like having Amy at Spurs and as a centre-back (rotating with Molly and Shelina) or even as part of a back-three she is a decent option, but the score of 5.5 is because she’s yet to convince in the position in which she’s being played: right-back.

Amy Turner scores an own-goal for Reading.

Celin Bizet  6/10

Celin is a young player who was not getting minutes at PSG. But she was also the first player (or perhaps second, after Asmita) whose contract Spurs bought out. With that pedigree, expectations were a mixture of crazy-high (obvious potential) and moderated (barely had any game time). It’s probably fair to say that she’s pretty much hit both of those: showing plenty of creative energy and skill down the wing, with a penchant for dribbling, hugging the sideline, before cleverly cutting inside and beating players one-on-one; but she has at times tried to do too much or misjudged opponents, giving the ball away and in the first few games seemed to be adjusting to the pace of the league – and her team-mates. Overall, Celin’s shown more than enough to suggest she will grow into an interesting player and fan favourite. To fulfil that promise and get more end product is going to require she is part of a team that can benefit from and set loose her creativity. Spurs are not (yet) that team. I hope they become it.

Celin Bizet. Image: Girls on the Ball

Niki Karczewska   6.5/10

I’m going to preface this by saying that I LOVE Niki. She does so much well, especially for a player of her age (just turned 23). She is big and awkward for defenders to manage, backing into opposition players in a Harry Kane-esq manner. She can hold the ball up and bring in other players. And she has scored in the WSL (1) and Conti Cup (2). None of her goals were beautiful, but they were the kind of messy goal we want to see from a penalty box striker, whose sole priority is getting the ball across the line: one involved her getting on the end of a rebound, one was poached from the goalkeeper and the final one (the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Southampton) involved her pushing the ball into the goal with her body. What’s undermining all those positives is that Niki has been plagued by a series of minor injuries that have meant she’s rarely played more than a half of football (racking up just 252 minutes across the nine WSL games so far this season). The fact that Spurs have missed her when she’s not on the pitch is a sign that Niki is easily the best option currently available at centre-forward (at least until a Beth England transfer comes to pass). But how she (and Spurs) do, may depend on whether she finds a way to maintain her fitness and health so that she gets a decent run in the team. Hopefully if she does, and even if a more senior striker is brought in, Niki will continue to get minutes because she has masses of potential.

Niki’s first goal came in the Conti Cup. She has since scored another in the cup and one in the WSL.

Ellie Brazil   6/10

Ellie played just 94 minutes across the first three games of the season before sustaining an ACL injury. The injury came about as she was closing down on the goal-keeper in a period of play (against Manchester City at home) when she was looking good. We’d seen enough of Ellie (fast breaks down the wing; a willingness to win the ball back) in games against Leicester and Liverpool that her absence is a loss. But we haven’t really seen how she’d settle into the team. This is her second serious injury and she’s spoken about how difficult she found it was to come back from her previous one. So it’s really sad to see her out again.

Tweet from Ellie Brazil following her injury.

Ramona Petzleberger   N/A

Ramona played the last 28 minutes of the North London Derby and that is it. She was an unused substitute the preceding game (at Leicester) and had minutes in most of the pre-Season friendlies (in the US and against Chelsea). The club has made no statement about her three month absence. Whatever it is, hope she is okay and able to return to the team soon. Until then, it’s impossible to judge her – so we may as well fantasise that she’ll transform the team when she does return.

Ramona has been missing from the team for almost the whole season so far

Spurs’ other new players

As well as our seven summer signings, we’ve seen debuts for some of Spurs’ younger / Academy players. None of these players have yet played enough minutes (or faced tough enough opposition) to give ratings. But the following are first impressions:

Gracie Pearse: Came on when Spurs were 7-0 up against Brighton and looked assured on the right wing, demonstrating a nice touch, good passing skills and a willingness to get forward. Since then she has started in two Conti Cup games: against Coventry and Southampton, playing at centre-back both times. Despite a few slightly wobbly moments early on, Gracie grew into these games. She seems to be a good prospect, and a solid back-up for our main centre-back pairing.

Lenna-Gunning Williams: The young striker made a dream debut against Coventry in the Conti Cup. Came on on 73 minutes and scored a powerful header in injury time to take the score to 5-1. Her confidence and willingness to take shots was again in evidence when she came on to the field in the 70th minute in another Conti Cup game against Southampton, although she did not find the back of the net this time, she showed herself able to find good positions in attack (less perfect: Lenna barged into a player just outside Spurs’ penalty box but luckily this was not called). For a club short on goalscorers, Lenna is an especially exciting young player and I look forward to seeing more of her.

Ella-Rose Houghton: The defensive midfielder was on the bench for both the Coventry and Southampton Conti Cup games, coming onto the field for her debut against Coventry at half-time. In a game that Spurs won comfortably, she was relatively untroubled, but was perhaps overly cautious with the ball, rarely passing forward. As such she did not make mistakes, but also did not progress play as effectively as she might. I expect that this is a confidence issue and something that will improve over time.

Kayleigh Stead: Came on in the 78th minute as a right-sided attacking midfielder against Southampton. Again, there wasn’t a lot of time to see what she could offer. But she made a couple of good passes and took on players in the final third as well as getting back in defense. Kayleigh won a couple of free kicks and also conceded a few, two of which came shortly after having been dispossessed. In the limited minutes she showed potential although clearly is not yet the finished article.

Kayleigh Stead, Ella-Rose Houghton and Lenna-Gunning Williams before the game against Coventry. Image: @SpursWomen

If you want to see any of these players in action you can get catch up games on:

  • Spurs Play: You have to sign up to get full access to games, but there are highlights of both WSL and Conti-Cup games available and (once signed up) full games on catch-up, irrespective of where they were initially shown. https://play.tottenhamhotspur.com
  • The FA Player: You can find full games and highlights on the FA Player. WSL games have full commentary, but most Conti Cup group games do not (so you simply get the video). That said, it’s all free! https://faplayer.thefa.com

You can find Rachel Lara Cohen on twitter at @spurswomenblog

12 Replies to “Mid-Season Rating of Spurs’ Summer Signings”

  1. Great report, I can forgive Amy Turner for continually playing out of position but I am sorry as I do not agree with Brazil and Petzleberger they both are poor signings “like for like” at best. Their 2021/22 Opta stats were almost non existant. Neither player is anywhere near the standard of Clemmy who left. Spence and Clemmy would have been a maraige in heaven for sure (real shame). However, having said this. they both cannot be blamed for the implode that our team suffers every season since coming up to the WSL. We are awash with contracted players in the front line who are just not up to WSL standard and this is the real reason why we constantly cannot create nor score goals. Maybe Alex Morgan could see that just after a few weeks and ended her short stay early. Ubogagu Naz Ayanne Simon plus Tang (who returned after her loan) are all poor forward signings at best and yet they are still on the books. At least all their contracts bar Naz (who was recently extended) are up this summer, so hopefully, they will all be moved on. We need to be more ruthless and severe contracts that are not working instead of trying to make a happy holiday camp club. We will never get top 4 and CL status with this model whilst other clubs continue to find statement signings each and every time we open up the £Poundland catalogue of misfits. We deserve better.
    Maybe Amy Turner was brought in as the club already knows Shelina will leave this year for pastures new.

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    1. Agree that Maeva leaving was a real blow. She was an absolute rock last year. But as she went to Switzerland for non-footballing (aka ‘life’) reasons not much the club could have done. Ellie Brazil had a very good season (esp in the context of playing for Brighton) in 18-19, but then got injured and had a year out. Her stats last year (the first full year post-injury) were not great, especially wrt attacking actions. But since Rehanne had worked with Ellie at England youth level, I assume she believed that she had the right skills to build on and we’d seen moments of that in the first games. Less convinced about what the rationale was for Ramona (but since she came from a very defensive Villa stats may be a bit skewed). That said, agree that there are players that haven’t done enough to get a renewal and hope that the club will be a little ruthless (tho hopefully retain Ria, who won’t yet be back from injury). Good shout re possible rationale for Amy.

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  2. Thanks Rachel – keep up the good work. Your reporting is so refreshing to read like Abbie on Cartiledge. I haven’t followed Ellie like you may have in her Brighton days – all I judge is what I see when wearing the Spurs shirt when they get picked…. she hasnt played much so maybe I am a bit unfair.
    I wanted better and just couldn’t understand why we signed these players when there were so many better players out there like Lena Hurtig who went to Arsenal. But maybe Hurtig did not rate RS as a coach or maybe we didnt even go asking! and why we now need Paratici to get involved and source top women players like he did for Juve Women.
    RS has worked with Naz as well as Ellie and i do not think she has improved at all – has limited end product like Ayanne Simon and Ubogagu. All rugby 3 pointers at best (rarely can hit the barn door with any venom) and at the other end Spencer is always a liability GK and I have been saying that since she joined us way back when. Korps is far better yet gets rarely picked.
    I now think we have the wrong Skinner for sure. What he has done at Man Utd in 1 year and the club has done in 4 is light years ahead of us.
    Anyhow I really hope Beth brings a new vision to our club and raises us up a notch but agree with you – she cannot carry the whole team on her back and we need a couple more statement front players in asaspo and bench the underperformers I have mentioned until their contracts run out. Fingers crossed it will still happen in the next week or 2.
    Dont get me wrong I love our team and the club but we are awash with limited skill players. I am looking forward to Kit and Ria coming back – they both have what Spurs players should have. Grit and determination in all that they do. Lets get Russo from Manure next !!!!

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  3. Jordan Nobbs was available but seems she has gone to Villa to work alongside Daly (not good for our next game then) … come on RS go get Russo from the manure patch to even up the score

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  4. Now Lucy Staniforth joining Villa … if she joins before our next game it will be a mountain to climb game even if Beth plays

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  5. Hi Rachel … seems only you and me.
    Any idea if we r looking to get any more statementesq players in esp since those around us are making multi signings making them much stronger.
    If we do not, we will for sure still stagnate somewhat even with Beth … although having said that getting Kit back would be like a new signing if she can stay fit and healthy once back.

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    1. Still no rumours about additional players. But like you, hoping that we do get in at least one or two more. Obviously we’ve hopefully got Kit back soon. And have recalled Esther so that’s two old-new players. But agree another one or two would usefully bolster the team.

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  6. I’m still somewhat worried as to where our points will come from especially if we fail against Villa (which may happen) … bar the Leicester game which we should win (so 12 – 18 less than last season)
    I just cannot see how we beat anyone else in the return matches even with a fit Beth. That is why we need 2-3 top players now .. not in the Summer. Maybe Levy doesnt care where we end up as it is unlikely it will be relegation as Leicester is unlikely to get more than 12 points this season.

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