Now finding themselves four points off the top of the table, the name Tottenham Hotspur is starting to generate a bit of a buzz. Not that it is unusual for Spurs to be gunning for a top four position as that has been their objective since Harry Redknapp took over as club manager in 2008 and even throughout the managerial changes since then. That has remained the same, however, the club now finds itself in a position where it is believed a title push may be on the cards. The question that remains is do they have the necessary weapons to challenge the likes of Man City and Arsenal for the Barclays Premier League crown. Have their performances this season provided a real basis for fans to be hopeful?
A Slow Start
Tottenham endured a very slow start to their season, With one win in five games and four wins in ten, mostly drawing their fixtures. This essentially has been the team’s season so far having drawn the joint most games so far this season with along West Ham and Everton. While the team now find themselves close to possible contention, upon closer inspection, their ability not lose a game having only lost two games this campaign has both a negative and a positive side. The team is heavily reliant on Harry Kane’s goal scoring form and he endured just a slow as start to the season which was reflected in Spurs’ results. Kane rediscovered goal scoring form in October and the team’s form and momentum followed suit. The issue with this is that if Kane picks an injury in the second half of the season, what other reliable source of goals do they have? This is a problem Spurs may have to assess in the January window or at least find a way to get Son, Lamela, and Chadli more among the goals as all those players have proven at some point that they can proficient goal scorers. With the second half of the season brining additional competitions, squad rotation will be pivotal and in the same breath the team will need goals, this poses a major setback to any possible title assault.
At the other end, Spurs are the meanest and one of the most aggressive defensive teams in the league. This again is an explanation for their large number of drawn games. Spurs are often involved in low-scoring games and hardly look like conceding a goal at times. Standout players such as youngsters Deli Alli and Eric Dier have been consistently solid in midfield for Spurs and have both registered some of the best defensive numbers for deep lying midfielders in the league. Moussa Dembele at some point was seen as a luxury player due to his silky style of play; but he has used his physical attributes to become somewhat of a leader in Tottenham’s midfield and is on record as one of the best tacklers in the this season (which then leaves the defenders). Danny Rose, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Kyle Walker have formed a formidable backline with the Belgian duo centrally being quick to snuff out any potential danger and the pace of their full backs making ball recovery and covering relatively easy. With help from the deep lying midfielders they have a consistent defensive set up which is proving to be one of the hardest to get past. Chelsea, City and Arsenal have all witnessed this themselves.
Forget the title: Help for Harry vital for top four?
Since the suspension of the Europa League, Spurs have been able to thrive on having a full week’s rest heading into Premier League clashes. What they’ve also benefitted from is having their preferred starting eleven remain mostly fully fit. If there was any reason for the favourites Arsenal or Manchester City to blunder and hand the title to Tottenham, it would be because of the management of squad fitness and rotation. Spurs might not make wholesale changes through rotation but Maurico Pochettino has been careful in resting players as to minimize injuries, especially in midfield where the team finds their most influential players as it regards their defensive structure and stubbornness. This however then raises the question of how Spurs will then cope with the return of Thursday afternoon football and with their main goal scorer Harry Kane being the only true out and out forward at the club, the seemingly inevitable injury crisis may need a prevention is better than cure treatment in the January transfer window, especially a possible candidate to swap in for Harry Kane when needed. As we’ve seen Arsenal and City despite their injuries are pushing towards the titles and it’s a testament towards their depth in both quality and numbers, something Spurs comparatively lacks.
With what has been seen throughout the season so far in addition to the team’s position in the league table, it is understandable for Tottenham faithfuls to be enthusiastic however what should be realized that there is no time for daydreaming about the Premier league title. As mentioned above the return and midweek football and the FA Cup will stretch the squad and test Pochettino’s management skills. Most importantly the young Tottenham squad have to deal with the pressure of holding off a chasing pack, as they are occupying a coveted Champions league spot. One team in particular who will be nipping at their heels will be Manchester United, whose campaign has not gone as planned with the team suffering from fielding an inconsistent starting eleven due to injuries. The Red Devils can boast arguably better depth and quality than Spurs and if allowed to gain form, will undoubtedly put enormous pressure on Tottenham. While Spurs defense will be key, goals win games, and we’ve seen over the last 6 years or so top scoring teams are beginning to be the ones that run away with the title, which is not encouraging for Tottenham in their current condition; but if they can maintain their current form top four is almost a guarantee and additionally Pochettino has given the team a healthy foundation to build on.