As the Premier League table currently stands, to the surprise of many, Tottenham Hotspur are sat in second place and have demonstrated that they have the aptitude to win in the biggest of matches, recently defeating Manchester City in their own back-yard. Although they have loitered on the brink of top 4 positions before, Spurs have soon fallen off the pace, admitting defeat and surrendering to a Europa League spot. However, we’re at the back end of the season and Mauricio Pochettino’s men look a tight unit, far superior to previous Spurs sides. Looking at all aspects of the squad, do they finally have enough quality to compete for the title?
To give a clear cut answer at this stage of the season is difficult, especially as this is the main period of Tottenham’s season where they fall from a coveted top 4 place. However, it can be said that the areas of their game that needed to be improved, have been. Punters no longer have a big enough excuse to air their grievances. This can be put down to players stepping up and making more of a goal contribution. When it comes to exactly this, look no further than a certain Dele Alli.
It’s fair to say the teenage sensation has settled in very well to his first year of the top flight and is currently sat on 7 Premier League goals. Although Harry Kane is still top scorer for Spurs, there seems to be a lot of weight lifted off his shoulders since Alli has cemented his position in Pochettino’s starting XI. The Argentine manager laid the foundations for Alli during last season by giving younger players more of a responsibility. Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason were prominent figures in the side but, although promising at times, didn’t provide enough attacking prowess.
Alli on the other hand has scored goals of the highest quality and has provided plenty of assists for others. His goal against Crystal Palace in a 3-1 victory was nothing short of spectacular and a sure contender for goal of the season. If Alli can keep up his great form, something that could see him win Young Player of the Year, the team from White Hart Lane could be onto something very special.
But it’s not just Spurs’ attacking abilities that are receiving so much praise. In the words of Six Alex Ferguson: “Attack Wins You Games, Defence Wins You Titles”. Tottenham have conceded just 19 goals in the League; no other team can better that. The Belgian partnership of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld has steadied the ship for Pochettino’s men, and with the interchanging full-backs, fresh legs are always welcomed. Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier give different dimensions to the squad. Walker is constantly overlapping, while Trippier gives the team more of a direct approach. This freshens up the squad for the better as demonstrated when Trippier recorded the only goal at home to Watford.
There are factors that could be at the centre of Tottenham’s downfall, however. The Europa League is somewhat of a bad distraction from Premier League Football. During the gap between group and knockout phases, they have excelled in the league, sitting only 5 points off league leaders Leicester. Travelling long distances for away ties on a Thursday and then coming back to play in the league on a Sunday can take its toll. This is exactly what they have to do for in their last 16 counter against Fiorentina.
Unfortunately for Spurs, top of the table Leicester only have the League to think about, having no European football. It was Spurs themselves who knocked The Foxes out of the FA Cup in a third round replay, which could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Claudio Ranieri’s side. It’s also out of Tottenham’s hands, having already played The Foxes. Despite the fact that the ball is well and truly in Leicester’s hands, this is a freak season and no one could have ever predicted what has happened so far in this enthralling campaign. There could be one more twist, and Spurs must capitalize if another does arise, moving ever closer after beating Manchester City at The Etihad after Leicester had lost to their North London rivals earlier in the day.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Alex Hannam.