Tottenham have been excellent for the last two seasons and have been extremely unlucky not to have a trophy to show for their efforts. Mauricio Pochettino has done a tremendous job in North London and showed that he can manage at the highest level, but like the team, he needs to lift a trophy to cement his reputation as a world class manager. During the 2015/16 season, Spurs finished 3rd and they went one better during the last campaign. If that pattern is maintained, they will win the Premier League title this season and that surely has to be the aim of the club.
There are a few reasons why that will be difficult and their current position in the pre-season odds reflect that the general mood in the game is that Spurs will struggle to challenge at the top end of the division again this season. It will be a blow for them to move away from White Hart Lane temporarily while the new ground is being built. They will be playing their home matches at Wembley during the coming season and their record there is already infamous. Pochettino will need to address that with a few early wins otherwise it could become a huge distraction.
It is always going to be tight in the top six and not one of the teams is guaranteed to finish in the top four, let alone win the league title. Tottenham have managed to finish in the top three for the last two seasons, but they have made no new additions, while the rest of the top six are all strengthening their squads. Pochettino will argue that he already has a great group of players available to him and it would be difficult to improve any one position. Although they have a strong first eleven, they don’t have depth across the pitch and a couple of injuries to key players could provide a huge problem to the Argentine coach.
There isn’t a single one to talk about as Tottenham start the season with a weaker one than finished the last campaign. Kyle Walker has left to join Manchester City in what will was a world record fee for a defender. It was a difficult deal to turn down, especially as the player wanted the move, but Pochettino will argue that it isn’t a great loss. There is no doubting the quality that the England international offers, but he was displaced in the team last season by Kieran Trippier and the Spurs manager will have faith that the right-back can step up over the next 12 months.
It would be a surprise if Tottenham didn’t make a single signing this summer, as it could slow down their progression under Pochettino. New signings are important for several reasons. Although their main purpose is to improve the team, the injection of new competition also has a positive impact on those already at the club, as they step up their game in order to preserve their starting position. Ross Barkley could yet move to North London as he has been heavily linked throughout the summer, but there hasn’t been a lot of progress made on that deal.
How they are expected to line up
There are a small group of players that Pochettino will rely on for the bulk of the matches, but he will expect young players at the club to play a supporting role when injuries are suffered. Spurs are flexible in that they have two formations that are very effective in the Premier League and they will switch between them as the season progresses. Hugo Lloris will play behind a first choice back three of Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. The wing-backs will be Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose, when both are fit to start. That is an excellent back five and Tottenham will expect to have one of the best clean sheet records in the league this season.
Victor Wanyama and Moussa Dembele are the first choice central midfielders, but it is the front three that has the star power. Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen were both excellent last season. They cause a lot of problems in the final third and provide the service Harry Kane needs to thrive. Although they haven’t signed a single player, they still have an incredible side and if they remain motivated, they should challenge at the top end of the league again.
How they start the season
Tottenham have a couple of tricky fixtures to start the season. Their first match is a trip to St James’ Park to face Newcastle United, who are recently promoted to the league. The Magpies aren’t like a typical promoted team, as they are a huge club and have a world class manager in Rafa Benitez. Spurs would have wanted to avoid them if they could. Their second game is even trickier as they welcome Chelsea to Wembley. If they manage to take four points from those matches, it would represent an excellent start. The following fixtures against Burnley, Everton, Swansea and West Ham will provide a good opportunity to start racking points up.
They will be fighting at the top end of the league again as their team is too good not to. A couple of signings would have injected the impetus that they need to push on for a title challenge and it will be interesting to see whether they are active in the market before the end of the month. Pochettino will want another season of consolidation in the top four, but he will also like to see this team win a trophy and it could be that the domestic cups are treated with more respect than they have been recently.