Spurs: Title challengers, or title winners?

Last year's runners-up sit in third currently, five points off the furious pace set by the Manchester clubs; we look at their season so far

Last year’s best home side stepped away from White Hart Lane for a year while renovations were being performed and relocated to Wembley. Do you believe in the curse of Wembley?

Home woes

From three matches at home against Chelsea, Swansea, and Burnley they have recorded two draws and a loss. Even more frustrating for Spurs will be that they will have felt they should have taken nine points, having dominated possession and general play in all three matches.

Against Chelsea, they dominated play, yet conceded via Marcos Alonso’s left boot twice, and their only goal came via Michy Batshuayi’s ill-directed header. This was despite Spurs registering 68% possession and taking 18 shots. Against Burnley, Dele Alli’s opener was cancelled out by a 92nd minute strike from Chris Wood; again Spurs had 68% possession and 26 shots. A stalemate against Swansea came despite 75% and 26 shots.

The results likely have little to do with Wembley, (it’s worth noting they defeated Borussia Dortmund there in the Champions League) however with every passing league match they drop points, the pressure will only grow on them to prove it wrong. Away from home, Tottenham have been their usual selves; beating Everton, West Ham, Huddersfield and Newcastle in comprehensive performances.

European success

Their Champions League start has been better than expected, with a 3-0 win against to APOEL following a surprise 3-1 win at home to Borussia Dortmund. Few had tipped Spurs to progress to the knockout rounds with Real Madrid and Dortmund being drawn in their group, but at this stage, they look like they might qualify.

Brilliance up and down the park

Harry Kane’s August hoodoo continued, though he got off the mark for this season while on England duty on September 1. Since then, he’s scored 11 goals in all competitions (six in the league) and looks to be powering Tottenham’s campaign once more. Ben Davies has been a surprise package, being amongst Tottenham’s best players for the season so far. The Welshman has gotten on the scoresheet twice already and assisted twice, all while running riot on the left wing. Davinson Sanchez has taken very little time to settle in after his arrival from Ajax and has fit seamlessly into the core of the defensive three that Pochettino has employed this season.

Dele Alli has been the disappointment if there is one for Spurs; perhaps not due to particularly poor performances but simply stuttering on his ascendance to stardom. An impressive 2016/17 season announced Alli to the world as a dynamic box-to-box midfielder.

But can they make the jump?

Spurs have put pressure on the Premier League winners the last two seasons. Their late collapse in the 2015/16 season saw them finish third, but they were the last team to succumb to Leicester’s magic. Last season they finished eight points clear of third place Man City, but seven off the champions Chelsea. It has been an impressive rise under Mauricio Pochettino, but the job is still half-done, they have to bring home silverware.

The fight for the Premier League title this season looks to be far deeper than it has been over the last two seasons, and while Spurs are still in that fight, the added competition from a resurgent Manchester United and Pep Guardiola’s blue horde is their toughest test yet.

Tottenham have two games against Real Madrid, a trip to Old Trafford, a game against Liverpool, and a North London Derby in the next six weeks which will go a long way to defining their title credentials this year. If they can start to rack up wins at Wembley then they have every chance of winning the Premier League this season, but any more dropped points at ‘home’ and they run the risk of losing all the momentum they have built over the last two years. They have the depth, the tactical flexibility, and quality through the spine of the team to overcome early blips and really pressure City and United, but ‘putting the pressure on’ has become a meme against Spurs, this year they simply must finish on top.

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