After 11 Premier League games, Tottenham sit 3rd in the table, behind Manchester United on goal difference and in front of Chelsea by a single point. With the International Break ensuing and a vital North London Derby on the horizon, now seems a suitable time to analyse Spurs’ start to the 2017/18 Premier League season.
The stats behind the start
Spurs have accumulated 23 points so far, comprised of seven wins, two draws and two losses.
In that time they’ve scored 20 league goals, equalling an average of 1.82 goals per game; currently lower than the 2.26 averaged throughout last season.
Defensively, Spurs have already kept six clean sheets and have only conceded seven goals thus far. That’s an average of 0.64 goals conceded per match which is slightly lower than the Lilywhites averaged in 2016/17.
Notably, Tottenham lead the league in the total number of crosses (263) and corners taken (80). Meanwhile, they are behind only Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool in terms of passes completed.
Elsewhere, Pochettino’s players have covered a combined distance of 1246km, the third most in the league; continuing a familiar theme of the Argentine’s tenure.
Wembley hoodoo no more
The early season was awash with repetitive headlines regarding Spurs’ Wembley curse – a media-generated story that Mauricio Pochettino repeatedly downplayed. Regardless, Tottenham took four league games to eventually win at their temporary ground.
Thankfully, this narrative is no longer prevalent. Spurs have now won three consecutive league games at Wembley on top of their historic recent victory over Real Madrid.
But Tottenham’s issue was never really Wembley in the first place. Rather, their problem has been an inability to breakdown defensive-minded teams.
With the exception of Liverpool, every league team to play Tottenham at Wembley so far has approached the game to defend and frustrate; including Chelsea.
This tactic isn’t isolated to Wembley and was equally evident at White Hart Lane at times last season. Despite this, Spurs almost always found a way to win at the Lane, as they have begun to do at Wembley recently.
The team must continue to show patience in these circumstances and move the ball with an intensity and purpose which will eventually unlock stubborn defences.
Outstanding away form
Away from home there were no-such early season issues for Tottenham. Having won their first four games on the road, the Lilywhites finally succumbed to an away defeat at Old Trafford in late October.
Performances against Everton and Huddersfield were particularly impressive, whilst what should have been a comfortable afternoon against West Ham very nearly turned sour. Fortunately, the players showed resilience to push through the final minutes and come away with a deserved victory.
How have the new signings performed?
The big Columbian has justified the big price-tag, slotting into Spurs’ defence seamlessly to complete a formidable back-three.
Still only 21, Sanchez possesses an air of dominance and physicality beyond his years – a gritty and aggressive defender, powerful in the air and competent on the ball. His calm yet domineering style may even draw some comparisons with a certain Ledley King.
Tottenham’s signing of the summer.
Llorente is yet to score for Tottenham, appearing to follow in the glorious footsteps of Vincent Janssen.
Despite an impressive display in the Bernabeu, Llorente hasn’t started a game in the league. The towering centre-forward has come off the bench six times so far, but Spurs have rarely played to his strengths.
Whilst Llorente clearly lacks mobility, he’s an aerial powerhouse, and Tottenham must learn how to utilise this as an alternative weapon.
The former PSG full-back was a polarising signing for Tottenham fans and has continued to polarise in his performances.
Whilst Aurier’s Champions League bow against Borussia Dortmund was exceptional, his Premier League debut against West Ham was reckless and naïve.
Aurier is clearly talented, possessing bags of pace and a strong skillset on the ball, but a poor performance against Crystal Palace last-time-out hasn’t helped his cause. The Ivorian has a battle on his hands with Kieran Trippier to secure the right wing-back spot; one he is currently losing.
Signed from Estudiantes, the young centre-back has been limited to two Carabou cup appearances – one for the future.
With Hugo Lloris injured, Gazzaniga was a surprise selection against Crystal Palace last-time-out. The big Argentine shook-off early nerves to produce a series of crucial saves and a man-of-the-match performance.
It wasn’t a faultless display, but an encouraging one nevertheless.
Surprises and disappointments
For many, the meteoric rise of Harry Winks will be seen as Spurs’ surprise of the season. But as most avid Tottenham viewers will profess, Winks’ ascent to first-team stalwart was inevitable. In fact, had he not sustained an untimely injury last season, he may have established himself sooner.
Instead, Tottenham’s surprise of the season probably resides in a pleasant improvement of Moussa Sissoko. Written-off and a laughing-stock, few expected Sissoko to recover from a dire first season. Unexpectedly, the former Newcastle man has forced himself back into contention, proving to be a valuable member of Pochettino’s squad this time around.
Whilst his technical ability is still very much in doubt, the Frenchman’s physicality and work-rate has impressed. Whether it will be enough to save his Spurs career remains to be seen.
Aside from Sissoko, the performances of Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies have been a welcomed surprise for Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino has generated something of a reputation for developing full-backs, and rightly so. The British pair have contributed a combined total of two goals and six assists – that means they’ve either scored or assisted 40% of Spurs’ total league goals.
The injury problems of Vincent Wanyama and Mousa Dembele have been a real shame. The dominant-duo were outstanding for Tottenham last season and a joy to watch at times, but they’ve only started one game together so far this season.
Whilst Wanyama has only just returned to training, Dembele is in serious contention to play against Arsenal this Saturday. His magisterial presence and unparalleled ball retention could provide a huge boost for Spurs’ midfield in the derby.
Harry Kane is undoubtedly Tottenham’s gem and has continued to prove himself as one of the best in the world in his position. He’s the Premier League’s joint top goal-scorer and a club legend in the making.
Having said this, Tottenham’s player of the season so far is Jan Vertonghen. The Belgian International has continued as he left-off from last season. Occupying a left centre-back role, Super Jan has been a model of consistency and class, having played every minute of Premier League football thus far.
Statistically speaking, Vertonghen is leading the Tottenham team in terms of tackles, clearances, touches and passes; a tribute to his all-action style. The former-Ajax man recently became Belgium’s most capped footballer, and he’s still only 30 years old.
Best League Moment
Spurs’ 4-1 victory over Liverpool is the obvious choice – the Lilywhites first real statement of intent against a team hoping to rival them this season. Despite this, Tottenham’s 25-minute obliteration of Huddersfield away was equally, if not more impressive.
Though Huddersfield were far from their best, Tottenham were ruthless and clinical and it was game-over within half-an-hour; the perfect away performance.
Tottenham’s second goal was a particular highlight – a gloriously smooth one-touch move which eventually set Christian Eriksen free before a touch of fortune allowed Davies to score. Then, just minutes later, Kane made it look almost too easy riffling home Tottenham’s third of the game.
Spurs were out of sight in the blink-of-an-eye and played-out the remainder of the game at half-pace – a luxury they deserved.
Worst League Moment
Home draws against Burnley and Swansea were hugely disappointing, but this is surely a toss-up between Tottenham’s two league defeats.
Whilst the Chelsea loss was a bitter pill to swallow, the fact it came so early in the season has perhaps dampened its significance a touch. Therefore, defeat in Manchester takes this one.
With the game goalless after 80 minutes, Tottenham were well-poised to get a positive result. Yet without Kane, they appeared to lack the belief to get a winner. After Dele Alli missed a huge opportunity, United immediately went up the other end and inflicted the killer blow.
Worst of all, the goal came from a direct long ball, usually a simple formality for the defence to deal with. But a momentary lapse in concentration undid all of Spurs’ hard work.
The next 10 games
Tottenham face Arsenal in this weekend’s lunchtime kick-off, searching for their first win at the Emirates since 2010. If Pochettino’s men can secure a derby-day win it could well ignite their Premier League season.
Following this, the Lilywhites face predominantly mid-table opposition before they travel to the Etihad Stadium on December 16th. Spurs will be hoping to close the gap with Manchester City between now and then in order to give that game a major significance.
Ten games from now, Tottenham host West Ham at Wembley on New Years Eve and will be looking to move into 2018 in a rich vein of form.