Tottenham Hotspur: A Season to Remember
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on February 19, 2016
Tottenham Hotspur currently sit in 2nd position in the Premier League, level on points with London rivals Arsenal and just two points behind surprising league leaders Leicester City. It has been a strange season where, if not for Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, Spurs would probably be tied for the lead. But this season is far from over as the current top four all are in contention for the title. Tottenham fans have had to go through a severe reality check this season as the club are indeed contending for the title It has been a season that is certain to go down in the memory books, regardless of the outcome.
The start of the season was nothing special to look at; if anything it could have forecasted another poor season from the Lilywhites. Spurs took three points from their first four games, a 1-0 loss to a lacklustre Manchester United and three poor draws that could have been wins, and would see them top the table now. A 2-2 draw at home to Stoke City, after being 2-0 up, could have put Spurs fans on alert for another mediocre season. But that was far from what is currently going on.
It all started with the first win, away at Sunderland. The hard-fought victory at the Stadium of Light started a huge wave of momentum, as Spurs then went on a 14 game unbeaten streak in the league. An impressive unbeaten streak that was soon ended in front of the fans at the Lane, with a 2-1 defeat to Newcastle. But the unbeaten streak enabled Spurs to state their presence within the, what was then, top four contention. Spurs managed to take notable victories throughout that spell, such as a 5-1 away win against AFC Bournemouth and a 4-1 home win over title challengers Manchester City.
Mauricio Pochettino is a very strong candidate for the ‘Manager of the season’ award, and rightly so. The current Tottenham squad averages at an age of 23, the youngest in the league. Many have dubbed the squad as ‘unable to handle the pressure’, due to the young presence they produce on the pitch, but these claims have been rubbished by the brilliance of young players like Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier. Pochettino has more or less started the same bunch of players throughout the squad, and they have all shown that they can handle the pressure on the big stage. Pochettino has been allowed to axe every single player at the club who wasn’t prepared to follow the philosophy, as seen by departures of Roberto Soldado, Emmanuel Adebayor and Federico Fazio. His philosophy of high and intense pressure on the opposition requires the correct squad build, which he has got at Tottenham. However, Pochettino has the ability to put trust in a lot more youth players. Youth is something that you would question existed a couple years back, with various different managers. Dele Alli, a young 19-year-old has broken through into the first team from League One side MK Dons and has proved to be quite the talent. Pochettino has also shown faith in Cameron Carter-Vickers, who has recently been included in the Europa League squad, and Josh Onomah, who has made numerous appearances for the club this season and was rewarded with a new contract. This all shows positive signs for Tottenham fans to be excited about for the future.
The main reason that Spurs are contending for the title this season is the defence. Tottenham have always struggled within the defensive area of the pitch and this has sometimes been the downfall with the squad. However, this season, the story is completely different as Tottenham sit with the best goal difference throughout the entire league. They currently have a +27 goal difference, only conceding 20 goals so far this The main reason as to why they have such a secure and solid defensive record is the signing of Toby Alderweireld. After snatching the Belgian from Southampton, he has linked up well with compatriot Jan Vertonghen and the Belgian duo have a fond reputation with each other, spending time at Ajax alongside one another as well as playing together in the national side. Alderweireld has reassured the backline and given a stable base for the team to play around. Pochettino is also very fond of rotating the fullbacks. This was initially noticeable on the left-hand side, with Ben Davies and Danny Rose both fighting for their name to be on the team sheet, something Pochettino has been able to use to his advantage. Each player currently has played thirteen league games apiece, and has seen this rotation moving across towards the right-hand side as well. Kieran Trippier has shown that he has the capability to compete with Kyle Walker for the right back position.
In my opinion, this is Spurs’ strongest XI is for this current season. Although new signing Heung-Min Son does not feature in this side, he would still be able to make an impact from the substitute bench. Although it is clear that Pochettino will always rotate full backs when he sees fit, their best options are Kyle Walker and Ben Davies. Kyle Walker offers blistering pace which enables him to bomb upwards into the opposition’s third, whereas Davies is solid enough at going forward, but is a better and more assuring defender than Danny Rose. As for Alli, he is most dangerous just behind the striker as he has the mentality and ability to make darting runs forward, which we have seen result in goals such as when he has netted against the likes of Everton and West Bromwich Albion. Since Alli is best in the ‘Number 10’ role, this means that Spurs have to utilise their main playmaker, Christian Eriksen, in a wider position. This isn’t where Eriksen would ideally like to play but, for the majority of this season, he has been able to drift into a more central position, allowing either Davies or Rose to play a more attacking role on the left. As for Dier, he has been pivotal in Spurs’ success this season as he is a rock in the centre of midfield and he has the ability to read the game well, allowing him to jump for balls and break up play. Pochettino has developed a system where the Englishman drops deep into the role of a third centre back when Spurs are attacking, due to his known ability to play in that position, allowing the fullbacks to go forward with their enhanced freedom. The XI above has been the group Pochettino has started pretty much each week, and it has shown that they can produce on a weekly basis.
Can Spurs Go All the Way?
With games getting fewer and fewer each week, the question on every fan’s mind is: ‘Can we win the league?’ Although they will have to wait and see, there is a very good chance that Spurs will be able to close out the league as champions. However, they will need some help from clubs, with Leicester in the current driving seat and Arsenal alongside them. For any Spurs fans reading this, you will want to look out for the upcoming fixtures against Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea. If they manage to take a reasonable amount of points from these games, then you could be seeing Spurs lift the Premier League trophy come the end of the season. But this season is certain to be a turning point for the club and, from here on out, every Spurs fan should look forward to a promising and exciting future.