Premier League

Tottenham Hotspur preview: Here’s why Pochettino’s men won’t match their own lofty standards

The Spurs have one of the best starting XIs in the Premier League. But will that be enough?

Tottenham Hotspur have been the most consistent team in the Premier League over the last two seasons. They finished third in 2015-’16 and second in 2016-’17. Natural progression would indicate that they would finish first this campaign but that is easier said than done.

There are six teams who genuinely think they can win the Premier League in 2017-’18. Tottenham are certainly one of them. But among the six, Spurs are the only club not to make any major signing so far. While buying many players doesn’t guarantee success, it does however add numbers to the size of the squad.

Spurs have one of the best starting XIs in the Premier League. They have an excellent goalkeeper and captain in Hugo Lloris. They have the best defence from the last two seasons as they conceded the least number of goals in both campaigns respectively. They have a fluid midfield who defend very well and have skillful attacking players. And they have Harry Kane – a truly world-class striker who has scored in excess of 20 league goals in each of the last three seasons.

My boys finally meet each other! 😍⚽️

A post shared by Harry Kane (@harrykane) on

All this makes them a genuine title challenger, as they have been in the last two seasons. But this season seems different. There are two main reasons why Tottenham might struggle this campaign and not even end up in the top four.

Summer business

Manager Mauricio Pochettino has proved that he is very good at giving young players a fair chance and improving them at the same time. Under him, the likes of Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier and Kane have become established first-team regulars. They have all become England internationals as well.

But in football they say, “buy when at the top”. Strengthen the squad when the team is doing well. Spurs have done next to nothing in the summer transfer market. With the departure of right-back Kyle Walker to Manchester City, they have in fact sold one of their better players to a direct rival.

Both manager Pochettino and club chairman Daniel Levy have talked about the importance of keeping hold of the players that they have. Levy has even criticised the huge transfer sums paid by Tottenham’s direct rivals on new players. But that doesn’t change the fact that Spurs haven’t bought any players – whether they be big-name ones or bargain buys to bolster the first-team squad – so far.

Spurs didn’t suffer many long-term injuries last season. Kane, though, was sidelined twice during the campaign and that directly affected their results. He was injured at the start of the season and Tottenham made a slow start. Second-choice striker Vincent Janssen struggled throughout the campaign to score goals.

This shows how thin Tottenham’s squad is. An injury to either Kane or Alli, or even Christian Eriksen, could cost them a lot of points. Tottenham are an attractive club – located in London, playing Champions League football, have a young and talented squad, and a very promising manager. So why aren’t players arriving?

The issue, though, might be financing. This usually happens when a club is building their own stadium. Arsenal faced similar issues from the mid- to late-noughties. Spurs may simply not have enough money to buy top-class players and afford their wages.

Wembley’s bane

Tottenham will most likely move into their new ground, which is being built adjacent to where their old home White Hart Lane was situated, for the start of the 2018-’19 campaign. Till then, they will play all their designated home matches at Wembley Stadium this season. So, effectively, they will play all of their matches away from home.

Wembley has not proved to be an easy host for Tottenham. They played all their home Champions League and Europa League matches at Wembley Stadium last term and their record was very poor. They played four European matches at Wembley and won only one of them. They also lost the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea at the same ground.

The quality of the opposition was good in almost all of those matches, but Tottenham did seem like a fish out of water in the unfamiliar surroundings. A whole season playing home Premier League and Champions League matches at England’s home of football might be quite detrimental to their ambitions.

Prediction:

5th: Tottenham are one of the best Premier League sides to watch with their fluid play and transition from attack to defence and vice versa. But a thin squad and playing home matches in another ground will most-likely affect their results for the 2017-’18 season.

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