A couple of days ago, I happened to comment on Twitter following Man Utd’s 5-0 thrashing of Wigan at Old Trafford and Man City’s 0-0 away draw with West Bromwich Albion, that the title was now down to a two horse race as both Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool had failed to beat either Wolves, Fulham or Blackburn respectively. In making that comment, I had failed to realize that Tottenham had yet to play their match against Norwich, which was scheduled for the following day. Following Gareth Bale’s two goal haul, Tottenham’s 2-0 win put them firmly into 3rd place only 7pts back of United and City with a game in hand. So, the question is, are they capable of catching both of the Manchester clubs to win their first League title since the 1960-61 season ?
If we were to look at Tottenham’s style of play, you could argue that they are playing some of the most exciting and effective football in the Premiership right now, even taking into account the dominance of the Manchester clubs. This season, manager Harry Redknapp, a future England manager candidate, has engineered a squad that is rich in talent, speed, and experience, with a touch of steel to go along with. Redknapp and Chairman Daniel Levy worked tirelessly together at the beginning of the season to persuade midfield dynamo Luka Modric from turning his attentions elsewhere despite serious interest from Chelsea and Man Utd. Additionally, Redknapp brought in veteran American goalkeeper Brad Friedel in to take over from a inconsistent Haurelho Gomes, and also former Footballer of the Year Paul Parker from West Ham to bolster a midfield overflowing in talent. Along with established players such as the mercurial Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon, Rafael Van Der Vaart, Emmanual Adebayor, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, and Ledley King, Tottenham have arguably one of the strongest squads in the League and provided they are not decimated by injuries, certainly have the resources to finish on top.
Recent form has also put them firmly in the title race despite crashing out of the Europa League earlier in December, and their Premier League form since September 1st has been better than the two clubs above them. They have added defensive strength to their portfolio having only conceded 19 goals all season long. Their performance against Norwich the other night started off slowly and I think fans of the club would admit that the game looked like it was heading for a tame draw, right up to the point where Bale stepped in. His dynamic second goal emphasised how valuable he is to Tottenham and what a wonderful future he has in the game. A telling point here is that they won even though they didn’t play well which is a trait that all title winning clubs acquire. Redknapp has also suggested that the title is not beyond them, but has realistically admitted that an achievement of that sort would be hugely difficult.
Most of what I’ve mentioned here is positive but don’t think that Tottenham are all wine and roses, they are not. They have some flaws which may hurt them in the long term. They seem to struggle against both City and United who account for two of their three defeats this season. Frankly, Tottenham were pretty well thrashed at both Old Trafford and White Hart Lane back in August which only served to show how much of a gap existed between those two teams and Tottenham. There is no doubt that they have fixed their early season problems and I’m quite sure when those games are repeated later on in the campaign, Tottenham will give a much better account of themselves. They have in fact, done better against other top teams and their only other defeat this year has been against Stoke City away from home, a tough assignment for any team.
If Tottenham had showed this same form last year, with these same players, I think they would have given United a serious run for the title and possibly had the stamina to win it all, but this year, being 7pts behind two teams rather than just one, I think it unlikely that they have what it takes to overhaul both United and City. Assuming for one moment that Tottenham win their game in hand against Everton, they would be effectively 4pts behind the top two with all things being equal, so United and City would both have to lose two more games each, and Tottenham would have to run the table through the rest of the season.
That scenario would make for a great story, but for me, not possible. I think a more realistic expectation would be to grab a Champions League place by finishing in the top four, but in this game, you never know.
What do you think ?
Are Tottenham capable of winning the English Premier League this season ?
- Yes (39%, 11 Votes)
- No (61%, 17 Votes)
Total Voters: 28