London: Ending the 2016-17 Premier League campaign above north-London rivals Arsenal for the first time in 22 years was more of a proud achievement than finishing as runners-up for Tottenham Hotspur.
But the one thing the north-London club has succeeded in proving to the other top 5 clubs – Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool – is that money always does not guarantee success and it looks club chairman Daniel Levy will stick by this motto for the upcoming season as well.
If we are to compile a table based solely on points scored in the last two Premier League seasons, it’s Spurs who take the cherry. Unfortunately, that has resulted in no silverware whatsoever with the likes of Chelsea and Leicester City taking the crown as champions.
What looks good:
Believe it or not, Spurs have the most balanced side in the league and the squad looks exciting the way Mauricio Pochettino has moulded a team that suits his playing style.
Over the years they’ve managed to fend off interest in key players and with a blend of young players in the current lot, the team will only get better over time. A humongous chunk of their goals has been possible due to the likes Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen who will once again be entrusted with the same responsibility. Pochettino’s men also have the meanest defence in the league, conceding only 26 goals – the lowest last season.
Coming to individual honours, Harry Kane bagged the Golden Boot award while Dele Alli was named the PFA Young Player of the Year last season. So the signs look promising.
What does not:
Spurs’ redevelopment of the White Hart Lane seems to have hampered their progress in the summer transfer window. While rival clubs like Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton have undergone a huge spending spree, including new comers such as Brighton & Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town who have broken the bank, Spurs are the only team who are yet to sign anyone.
Previously, defender Danny Rose even expressed his frustration of bagging no silverware and that the club should a sign a player whom people do not have to Google search.
At a cost of £45 million (biggest fee for a defender before Manchester City signed Benjamin Mendy for £52m), the club has dug their own grave by directly strengthening a Premier League rival.
Pochettino’s men also have a woeful record at the Wembley Stadium and future looms over how well the team could replicate last season's heroics.
Despite splashing the cash last summer, Spurs are yet to sign a player. Everton’s Ross Barkley has been linked with a move in recent weeks as the Toffees are set to rope in Swansea’s playmaker-in-chief Gylfi Sigurdsson.
After a long transfer saga, Spurs let Kyle Walker leave for Manchester City for a reported sum of £45m, £50m including add-ons.
Schalke have handed Nabil Bentaleb a permanent contract following an impressive loan spell. Clinton N'Jie has joined Lyon, Federico Fazio has signed for Roma and Luke McGee has moved to Portsmouth for more playing time.
Despite sticking to a standard 4-2-3-1 during his initial years, Pochettino has switched to a 3-4-2-1 system mainly due to the addition of ball-winner Victor Wanyama.
This has enabled the Argentine boss to add stability to his three-man defence with the inclusion of Eric Dier, with full-backs Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier marauding up and down the flanks.
What gives the team an edge in the opposition half is the number of bodies going forward. The front three of Alli, Eriksen and Kane are assigned with the responsibility of high pressing, with the former two cutting-inside and playing through the lines. Meanwhile, the full-backs take over the wings and whip delicious crosses into the box.
A trick to dismantle the opposition defence involves playing accurate and quick passes in tight spaces and looking for openings.
Players to watch out for:
Premier League top scorer Harry Kane will once again lead the line for Spurs and on his day, the Englishman can batter even the best of defences. Kieran Trippier impressed during the latter stages of the season, creating the same chances as Kyle Walker despite playing fewer games.
Injury to any of their key players could prove to be nasty; therefore the team needs to reinforce a few back-ups in vital positions. No business in the transfer market could see the team left behind by the likes of Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.
Regardless of wherever the club finish, the priority should be to achieve silverware. Guess how frustrating it could be if Walker tastes glory while the team get their hands on nothing (irrespective of the goals and the star-studded displays)?
Things won’t be easy for the Lilywhites but the team needs to acquire something tangible to remind themselves of the stable progress under Pochettino's era.