Premier League Team Focus: Tottenham Hotspur Aim to Close the Gap

For a few short months last season, Tottenham Hotspur fans actually thought they were in with a chance of challenging for the Premier League title. That hope dissipated quickly though, with a familiar collapse beginning in February crushing all hope of catching the runaway trains that were Manchester City and Liverpool.

Spurs eventually finished 4th in the Premier League after being leapfrogged by London rivals Chelsea. It may have been a trophyless season for Mauricio Pocchettino and company, but it was far from an unsuccessful one. They claimed their fourth consecutive top 4 finish in the league while maintaining a Champions League campaign that took them all the way to the final in Madrid.

And they did it all without signing a single player.

That’s not even mentioning the constant uncertainty surrounding their new stadium, which they eventually moved into in April. Now, Spurs can look forward to a full season in their stunning new home, and Daniel Levy has even opened the chequebook in celebration. They have signed Tanguy Ndombele and Jack Clarke so far, but the most important transfers could be the ones that don’t happen.

Can Spurs close the gap to Manchester City and Liverpool this season, or will their perennial mid-season dip come back to haunt them once again?

Find out what we’re predicting for Spurs in our Premier League Winners and Top 4 Betting Tips.

Position last season: 4th

Top scorer: Harry Kane – 17 goals

Key Stats:

  • Spurs set a record of going 27 matches without a draw from the start of the season, eventually ending the season with 2 stalemates.
  • They also became the only team in Premier League history to go the whole campaign without drawing away from home.
  • Harry Kane has now been Spurs’ top scorer for each of the last 5 seasons, scoring 122 Premier League goals in 168 appearances over this period.
  • Tottenham lost 13 league games last season but still finished in the top 4. Birmingham City lost 15 games in 2010/11 and were relegated.
  • Tottenham conceded 72% of their Premier League goals last season in the second half, more than any other top 6 side and second only to Crystal Palace (75%).

Transfers

Arrivals

Tanguy Ndombele – Lyon – £53.8m

Jack Clarke – Leeds – Undisclosed

Kion Etete – Notts County – Undisclosed

Departures

Vincent Janssen – Monterrey – £5.7m

Kieran Trippier – Atletico Madrid – £21.7m

Michel Vorm – Released

Fernando Llorente – Released

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news daily here, and find a list of every confirmed Premier League transfer here.

Possible Line-Up

Tottenham Hotspur Potential Lineup

Player to Watch

Kyle Walker-Peters

Kieran Trippier has hit critics, but he was one of the highest rated Tottenham players throughout last season and his sale to Atletico Madrid for the relatively meagre sum of £21.7m will undoubtedly have raised some eyebrows. They’re also reportedly looking to sell fellow right back Serge Aurier, which leaves Spurs desperately short on the right side of defence.

However, Tottenham are no strangers to promoting youth products into this role. Many feared for Spurs after they sold Kyle Walker to Manchester City, but Trippier stepped up to the plate to deliver a couple of fine seasons. Now, it’s time for Kyle Walker-Peters to shine.

Walker-Peters made his full Premier League debut back at the start of the 2017/18 season and has gone to to make 19 first team appearances for Spurs over the last 2 seasons. Now 22, the Spurs academy product has been started in both of their pre-season International Champions Cup matches so far and looks favourite to take the starting lineup position vacated by Trippier.

The Season Ahead

Full-Back Rebuild

We’ve already discussed Tottenham’s change at right back following Kieran Trippier’s departure, but there could be more change on the cards in North London over the next couple of weeks.

Reports suggest that both Danny Rose and Serge Aurier are up for sale, which would leave Tottenham with just one proven top flight full back at their disposal. Ben Davies is undoubtedly a great choice at left back, but it would be a major risk to go into a Premier League campaign with so little depth and proven quality to back up their central defenders and launch attacks down the flanks.

Tottenham Hotspur Spurs Kane Trippier

The signs given off in pre-season won’t have made Spurs fans any more comfortable either. So far, Walker-Peters has started both games at right back and been replaced at half-time by Juan Foyth and George Marsh, neither of which are natural right backs. The other side of the defence is even more speculative, with Cypriot defender Anthony Georgiou starting both games and being replaced by two relatively unknown academy players. First came midfielder George Marsh against Juventus, and then 17 year old Harvey White against Manchester United, who is also a midfielder.

Between them, these 3 players have made just 2 first team appearances, and out of the 6 players used in full back positions this pre-season only 2 of them are recognised full backs.

Eriksen or Dybala?

Without the heavy investment available to the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, and Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur have promoted stability in their squad rather than lavish spending. It might not have taken them to the top of the pile, but this approach from Daniel Levy has worked well. They have earned themselves the status of Champions League regulars after 4 consecutive top 4 finishes, and had their best ever European campaign last year despite not signing a single player.

However, Levy and Pocchettino alike will know the dangers of standing still in football. Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Harry Winks and company might still be improving, but their over-reliance on their relatively slim squad has harmed them in the past. Maybe now is the time to invest in a global star?

Enter Paulo Dybala.

Tottenham Hotspur predictions

Tottenham are reportedly very keen on the Argentinian forward, who has slumped in form a bit since Juventus brought in Cristiano Ronaldo last summer. He may have slumped in form, but that hasn’t stopped the Turin giants valuing the player at £80m and trying to exchange him for Romelu Lukaku at Manchester United. That’s the sort of sum that Spurs just can’t afford right now.

However, the sale of Christian Eriksen would make a move for Dybala possible. The Danish midfielder is thought to be interested in a move to Real Madrid after 6 successful seasons in North London. He’s one of the most important members of the Spurs squad and is one of those rare players who can improve the performance of players around him just by being on the pitch. Opting to effectively swap Eriksen for the prodigiously talented but ultimately inconsistent Dybala would represent a huge risk for Tottenham.

But is it a risk worth taking as they look to challenge the top 2?

Wondering how Liverpool will fare next season? Click here for our Premier League Team Guide on Liverpool.

Tottenham Hotspur Betting Tips

Tottenham to Win Premier League (without Man City or Liverpool) at 7/4

While there are a few questions surrounding Spurs’ overall squad depth, along with their strange conundrum at full back, the North London club are undoubtedly looking like one of the strongest top 4 contenders this season.

They have a first team squad filled with proven talent and one of the world’s finest strikers in Harry Kane. Having the likes of Lloris, Vertonghen, Alli, Son, and Eriksen at your disposal is always going to put you in with a chance, and bolstering their midfield with the highly rated Tanguy Ndombele could be a gamechanger for them.

The main reason that we fancy them to claim 3rd position, though, is the situation at their rival clubs. Chelsea are in for a huge season as the inexperienced Frank Lampard takes charge of an Hazard-less Chelsea in the midst of a transfer ban, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks determined to completely overhaul his Manchester United squad. Arsenal could be their main contenders for this position, but The Gunners are still looking decidedly dodgy at the back and the imminent departure of Laurent Koscielny won’t help matters there either.

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