After the disappointment of losing at Wembley to Monaco in their Champions League opener Tottenham bounced back in the best possible fashion by beating Sunderland 1-0. The scoreline suggests a tight game but Jordan Pickford rightfully won the plaudits that afternoon after his string of saves kept the score respectable.
That win saw Tottenham continue their unbeaten start and they now move to third in the Premier League. There is still a long way of the season to go but Spurs fans would no doubt be delighted if they could stay come the end of the season especially with what is set to be a much tougher campaign this time around.
Mauricio Pochettino will probably dismiss any talk of the Top 4 at such an early stage of the season but let’s now look as to the three reasons why Tottenham can return to Europe’s top club competition.
A mean defence
Tottenham’s defence is once again proving to be very miserly. They have only conceded 2 goals in their first 5 matches and are yet to concede from open play. A defence that gave very little away last season was the bedrock of that impressive Tottenham side and it looks like being the case again this time around.
With Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld at the back they arguably have the best centre back partnership in the Premier League and with England internationals Kyle Walker and Danny Rose on either side this is a defence to be reckoned with.
Not only that but now this defensive tandem has had a season to bed in then they will look to be even stronger this time around, add to the fact that Alderweireld is such a threat from set pieces and that adds another all important bow to his game.
But it’s not just the four names mentioned above, one of key strengths last season was that each player could be replaced with minimal disruption to the side. Kevin Wimmer, Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies are all more than able deputies and that will be important throughout the course of the campaign.
A squad game
One of the criticisms that Mauricio Pochettino came in for last season was the fact that he was perhaps to loyal to his key players. This led to key players probably a few too many games and it really started to show towards the final few games of the season.
The mitigating circumstances could well be the fact that Pochettino didn’t quite have the squad depth in which to rotate as much as he liked to especially in midfield and attack but with the new summer signings it looks as if that issue has now been rectified.
With Moussa Sissoko joining other new faces Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen it means Pochettino has options and he has already shown this season that he is not afraid to bench such stars as Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen. With there now being competition for places in the squad this should invariably raise everyone’s game as they bid to make the starting eleven.
It also shows that Pochettino is willing to learn from his faults from last season and that can only be a good thing as it shows that he’s a manager who is always looking to adapt and improve. A good manager can identify weakness in his players but a great manager can identify weaknesses in himself.
Goals across the board
Harry Kane may have started slowly but even with the fact that he has only scored two league goals it hasn’t been to the detriment to the side. The fact that the load has been spread around the Tottenham side has been a real positive and it’s going to be all the more important now that Kane is out for an unconfirmed amount of time.
Tottenham have arguably been incredibly lucky that Kane hasn’t had a major injury in the last two seasons especially when there was no-one to replace him. With the addition of Vincent Janssen to the squad they finally have that backup striker that they have been craving for so long, the aim for Janssen now is to get that first goal and make sure he doesn’t follow in the footsteps of the last Number 9 they had at the club, Roberto Soldado.
But with Heung-min Son bagging a double at Stoke and goals coming from Lamela, Wanyama, Rose and Alli it shows that Tottenham are capable of scoring goals throughout the side and that will somewhat soften the blow of Kane’s unfortunate injury.
As mentioned previously with their defence being so tight it means that they don’t necessarily have to score a hatful of goals to win a game, as victory against Sunderland proved. But should they be required to do so then they certainly have enough players who know where the net is in the hunt for all important league points.
Ultimately if you finish in the Top 4 one season, it’s no good just playing well in that competition you need to make sure you play well enough to get back there year after year. It’s not going to be as easy for Tottenham this time around but they certainly have the means in which to do so, it’s certainly not going to be dull in the last few months at White Hart Lane.