Nickname: The Spurs
Home Ground: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
- 2 English Premier League Titles
- 8 FA Cup Trophies
- 4 League Cup Trophies
- 2 UEFA Europa League Titles
- 1 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Trophy
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino
Tottenham Hotspurs have finished the 2017/18 English Premier League season in 3rd place and have secured another season of the UEFA Champions League football. The Spurs are entering a new season with high expectations.
After coming close in 2015/16 to win the English Premier League title, Tottenham have failed to replicate that form. The club has invested heavily into new infrastructure and the Spurs will open a new stadium this year, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Tottenham have been quiet during the preseason but I expect that they will ramp up their transfer market activity in the coming month, before the transfer deadline. I have prepared an overview of main Tottenham storylines and a short preview for the upcoming English Premier League season.
Previous Season Summary
Tottenham are coming off another strong season in the English Premier League. After being stuck in the mid-table shuffle for almost two decades, the Spurs have managed to become elite again and the last several years have been steady performers, forming the Big 6 with Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.
The Spurs finished the previous English Premier League season in 3rd place, a massive 23 points behind the league winners Manchester City. This shouldn’t be a huge concern though, since Manchester City has been able to put together one of the most dominant league performances in modern soccer history and they have broken a number of records while doing it.
Tottenham had the 3rd best offense in the English Premier League as they scored 74 goals in 38 games, only behind Manchester City and Liverpool. The Spurs played attacking football that is pleasing to the eye and their fanbase.
If there is one thing that I can point out as the key reason for the Spurs falling out of the title race is their record against the Big 6 teams. Tottenham had a lot of problems playing their direct competitors throughout the season. They finished the season with 4 wins, 5 losses and 1 draw in the matches versus the Big 6 teams.
A pair of midfielders, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli, were not far behind. They each scored 14 goals and made 10 assists apiece. A remarkable twin-like performance from the duo was the dynamo behind one of the best offenses in the English Premier League last season.
Key Additions and Departures
Tottenham have been unusually quiet during the whole offseason, which goes against the way they used to conduct business in the previous years. Yet, they are still expected to make major moves until the transfer deadline.
A number of players are expected to leave Tottenham, as they do not feature in the first-team plans of Mauricio Pochettino. Toby Alderweireld has been constantly mentioned as one of the most likely players to leave the Spurs this offseason. He is entering his last year of the contract and is unhappy with the terms. If the Spurs are not able to agree on a new contract with him, Alderweireld might be sold to the highest bidder, since this is the last opportunity to get some value for him.
Left-back Danny Rose is also one of the potential departures, as he has been struggling with injuries and form and has lost his starting spot to Ben Davies. The Spurs might cash in and bring in another player to challenge Davies at the spot.
Fernando Llorente is another face that might not stick around at Tottenham. The Spanish striker has been delivering underwhelming performances and is on the wrong side of 30. The Spurs would probably bring in a younger talent with room to grow in the backup spot for Harry Kane.
The speculations about the departure of some of the biggest Tottenham stars to major European clubs has been present as well. Hugo Lloris has been linked to a move to Real Madrid who seem desperate to sign him.
Another Tottenham star linked with a major European club is Christian Eriksen. The charismatic Danish midfielder has been instrumental to the success of Tottenham in the recent years and supposedly Barcelona are ready to broker a blockbuster deal that will send Eriksen from Tottenham to Barcelona.
Tottenham have been connected to a number of world-class players during this offseason but none of those moves have materialized as of yet. The only tangible transfer news we have regarding the Spurs is that they have agreed with Aston Villa on the transfer fee for the transfer of striker Jack Grealish to Tottenham. The fee hasn’t been made public yet, so the transfer is not yet official.
The rumor is that Mauricio Pochettino is a huge fan of Bournemouth’s Lewis Cook. The Spurs are willing to spend GBP 30 million to acquire the 21-year-old midfielder from Bournemouth and strengthen their midfield that might be facing multiple departures during the transfer window.
Brazilian 21-year-old winger and attacking midfielder Malcom is also one of the main Tottenham’s priorities this offseason. Malcom currently plays for the French side Bordeaux and could be lured away with a lucrative transfer to the English Premier League.
Tottenham are expected to come alive in the coming few days, as the situation around the potential departures from the Spurs becomes a bit clearer. They definitely need to add depth at several positions so they can comfortably enter the new English Premier League season.
Style of Play
Mauricio Pochettino is hailed as one of the most talented managers of the new generation in the soccer world. He has managed to transform Tottenham into a elite club in England and a regular title contender in just 4 years he has spent with the club.
Pochettino’s philosophy is actually a hybrid one, borrowing from several great managers and incorporating it into a solid unit. Like Jose Mourinho, Pochettino’s main concern is to defend well and not allow easy goals. But Argentinian manager loves to play in the final third of the pitch and constantly put pressure on opposing defenses, which is something that Pep Guardiola has been known for.
Tottenham’s system is built on maintaining possession and quickly regaining it when it is lost. In order to achieve that, Pochettino has employed an intensive pressing scheme which starts as soon as the ball is lost to the opponent. This pressing system is very reminiscent of the ones Jurgen Klopp has used at Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool.
So far, Pochettino has had tremendous success with the system, as he was able to constantly break into Top 4 in the English Premier League and challenge the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, even though he has a much more limited budget.
Tottenham mostly lines up in two formations:
The same principles are used in both formations, except that the 3-5-2 features two dedicated forwards up front, which the 4-2-3-1 does not. The key to both formations and the system is the play of two central midfielders.
They are the backbone of the system, as they are the primary ball-winners when Tottenham are defending, while playing an integral part in the counter-attacking and offensive moves as well. The midfielders are physically imposing and able to read the game well and cover a lot of ground.
The Belgian duo of center backs, Vertongen and Alderweireld are fantastic on the ball decision makers, which enables them to fluidly move up the field into empty space and help organize the attacking moves. The fullbacks are encouraged to maintain width and be aggressive on the counter-attack and when running into space.
Up front, Harry Kane is the offensive anchor around who everything revolves. He is constantly putting the pressure on opposing center backs by playing on their shoulder, dominating aerial ability and fantastic goal poaching.
Kane is supported by the duo of offensively minded midfielders that can both score and create chances at the same time. The duo consists of Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli, both of which have demonstrated that they are world-class players.
Pochettino’s hybrid system works and it offers a lot of flexibility to Tottenham, depending on what kind if an opponent they are facing.
2018/19 English Premier League Season Expectations and Predictions
Tottenham are entering the 2018/19 English Premier League with high expectations. The club has managed to stay competitive in the title race for the last several seasons and the appetite of the Board and the fans has grown over the years.
It is extremely difficult to put Tottenham among the main favorites for the Premier League title now since they have a lot of questions surrounding their current roster, potential departures and replacements that are expected at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The early schedule certainly hasn’t been too kind to Tottenham as they will have to face Newcastle, Manchester United and Watford away, Liverpool and newly promoted Fulham at home, in the first 5 matches of the Premier League.
As the season progresses, the schedule does become more favorable to Tottenham, especially in December, which is the heaviest month in terms of games on the schedule. All English Premier League teams will play 7 games in December, the month when many streaks both positive and negative happen. During that stretch, the Spurs will play only one Big 6 club.
It is no secret that Tottenham will have to improve their play and result in the matches against the Big 6 clubs. This has been their downfall for several season now. Nobody expects them to flat out demolish their Big 6 opponents, but a respectable winning record in the Big 6 derbies should be enough to keep Tottenham in the title race.
Much will depend on the outcome of the transfer market movements that Tottenham undertakes this offseason. A huge number of players are being connected to both arrivals and departures from Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino should focus on strengthening the attack by getting another forward to help Harry Kane out. The left-back spot is also vulnerable if Danny Rose leaves the Spurs.
This is why I am skeptical about Tottenham being able to challenge for a Top 3 spot in the league. They do have chemistry and experience of playing together for several seasons, but still, it seems that the Spurs are a few players away from being able to be legit challengers for the English Premier League title.
This is why I have picked the Tottenham to finish 4th in the English Premier League. I do believe that Arsenal and Chelsea are going through some kind of transitional phase and they should be really vulnerable. But I find it very difficult to believe that they have enough firepower to dethrone Manchester City, or endanger Manchester United or Liverpool in the title race.