Can Tottenham’s defence bring trophies to White Hart Lane?
Holly Thackeray | 25 October 2016
Is Spurs’ defence key to silverware success this season?
As Mauricio Pochettino’s men head into Premier League matchweek nine as the only top tier team left unbeaten, Coral consider if Spurs’ solid approach will lead to Tottenham trophy odds being slashed, or ultimately the Londoners lacking enough creativity to win titles.
Can Spurs shut gung-ho Manchester City out of the title race, just as they clamped down on Pep Guardiola’s guys to win 2-0 at White Hart Lane at the beginning of October? Odds of 10/1 with Coral say they can go on to claim the PL this term.
Sloppy Spurs is how the nearly men of White Hart Lane have been known since a last FA Cup final victory in 1991, which was followed by decades of major trophy drought – aside from a League Cup success in 2008.
But, since his arrival in 2014, Argentine Pochettino has slowly transformed Tottenham, and their unmistakeable whiff of also-ran status, into genuine silverware contenders and a Champions League level team once more.
No longer do prize assets such as Dele Alli or Harry Kane look vulnerable to capture by ‘bigger’ clubs, like previous great hopes Dimitar Berbatov, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale. Now, a coach has finally been able to build, which makes Spurs a tempting 5/2 to claim a major trophy this campaign.
After the English capital club crept into third place in the Premier League last term, only one point behind second spot noisy north London neighbours Arsenal, the fine tuning and title tilts were supposed to take place this season.
It’s certainly so far so good on the face of things, with the Londoners yet again straddling third and only one point off league leaders Man City.
Tottenham’s water-tight central defensive trio of Belgian centre back partners Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen plus super stopper Hugo Lloris, have picked up where they left off last campaign – keeping defence on lockdown.
Spurs have leaked only four goals in the PL so far, much less than closest competitors Man City (eight) and the Gunners (nine).
Of course, the ever-improving full back options also deserve credit with Pochettino able to pick and mix from Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies without the standard dropping.
Yet, despite this defensive stability which was supposed to finally be the last piece of the puzzle, something is amiss. Spurs aren’t quite their usual selves, despite only one goal conceded in the past four matches and just the single defeat across all competitions this campaign.
It is four draws that have hampered Tottenham, and which make them odds-on at 2/7 not to win a major trophy this term with Coral. But, is it finally unbeaten Tottenham’s time or will their defensive security stop Spurs from killing off games?
Spurs lacking striker spark, must look to last season
The White Hart Lane outfit may be ahead in the defensive stakes, but lag behind the rest of the top five for goals scored – a whopping six less than their two rivals above and five behind chasing pack team Liverpool in fourth.
This will have to change but, Spurs do have the quality to thrash sides again as they did last season, when there were four smashed past Man City, West Ham United, Monaco, Sunderland, Stoke City and Colchester United. While Bournemouth were battered 5-1 in a show of strength.
Recent drubbings of Stoke and Gillingham show Spurs still have this ability in their locker, but one goal in the last two outings and back-to-back draws is not good enough for a team with glory in mind.
Upcoming tests against the Cherries, Liverpool, Leicester and Bayer Leverkusen will say much about Tottenham’s chances before the first north London derby against Arsenal in November.
The smart summer additions of former Southampton battle axe Victor Wanyama and energetic utility man Moussa Sissoko have certainly strengthened Spurs’ squad and made the team tough to play against. No side has scored more than two past Tottenham this term and Monaco still only won then by a one-goal margin.
Strengthening what could sometimes be a soft centre has worked wonders, and it is tricky to see who can pummel Spurs this season.
But, too much muscle in midfield can be overkill and it was the youthful exuberance and interplay between deep-lying Eric Dier, Alli and Christian Eriksen plus the box-to-box dynamism of Moussa Dembele that made Spurs a joy to watch last season.
If Pochettino can get his side to go up a few gears, and loosen the reins, we could be looking at a terrifying Tottenham vintage.
Tottenham trophy odds worth taking
Of course, there are mitigating circumstances, as hitman Kane is out with injury until the beginning of November. But this season’s Spurs were supposed not to be a one-man team.
New striker signing Vincent Janssen is still to settle but Pochettino needs players prepared for a title fight if he is to succeed this season. So, winter transfer window rumours are doing the rounds, with Tottenham lately tipped to make a big money move for Napoli and Italy’s Lorenzo Insigne.
A player in his prime, this type of signing are the kind Tottenham, so cautious with their purse strings, should be making. While, inconsistent stars like Erik Lamela should start stepping up.
In the meantime, Tottenham look the toughest team to beat in England. And, with Alli firing from midfield and Son Heung-Min finally finding his feet and scoring boots, as well as the anticipated return of homegrown hero Kane – when it all clicks and comes together customers could do worse than the cracking 100/1 price on offer for both FA Cup and EFL Cup success.
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