Monday, 20 February 2012

How good are Spurs?

This season must be the most enjoyable Tottenham Hotspur fans have had in recent memory; they lie third in the Premier League and look set to be involved in the European Champions League again next season, for only the second time. Having spent many years investing in youth the fruit of their labors is finally there to be enjoyed and the style of their football has probably been the best in the league so far this season.

During the summer they added the experience of Brad Friedel in goal, the rugged determination of Scott Parker in midfield and the much maligned Emmanuel Adebayor up front. All three signings have been integral to their success this season and playing alongside the likes of Gareth Bale, Ledley King and Luka Modric the club appears to be going from strength to strength. After a sluggish start to the season they then went on a ten game unbeaten run which was only ended by Stoke City in December. In January they strengthened their attacking options with the loan signing of Louis Saha from Everton.

Some of their attacking play in particular has been breath-taking; with Bale and Lennon on either wing and Adebayor proving to be an immense spear head the goals have come thick and fast but it has been the manor of them that has really made people sit up and take notice. Bale has been a revelation this season and has given them the balance on each wing that they have been striving for. The wingers have also enabled Spurs to allow Modric to truly express himself in the centre where the addition of Scott Parker has taken defensive duties away from the playmaker and allowed him to flourish.

However, the Premier League is an odd place this season with at least three of the supposed top sides going through somewhat of a transition. There is no doubt that Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are not at the level expected of them and there is even enough doubt to suggest that the current Manchester United team is not as strong as those we have seen in the past. At the start of the season Spurs lost convincingly to both sides from Manchester and are about to enter the crucial stage of their season. By the end of March they will have played Arsenal, Chelsea and United in the return games.

There is no doubting that Spurs are a side in the ascendance and thus are a rare commodity in the Premier League. Indeed, if it weren’t for Manchester City I genuinely believe Spurs could have won the title, as it is they look likely to cement third place in the coming weeks. However, there are several things they have to improve on if they are to mount a title challenge next season.

Both of their first choice strikers are on loan from parent clubs which means they could leave at the end of the season and not return. With Jose Mourinho expected to reappear in the Premier League next season Adebayor’s future could be in doubt after the two worked successfully at Madrid last year. It has made such a difference having a focal point who can hold play up and play in the likes of Bale, Lennon and Modric and having finally acquired it they don’t want to lose it.

It is imperative that someone tells Gareth Bale to remain on the left wing! Every time I have seen Spurs recently he is playing through the middle and it is not his area. He is at his best when he is steaming up the left wing and whipping a ball across the six yard box. There is a feeling he is being advised to play more centrally to score more goals but for the meantime it is detrimental for the team (and yes I did see the Norwich goal).

I do not intend to be disparaging about Spurs; they have been a breath of fresh air this season and it will be fascinating to see how they get on in the coming months. A couple of key signings in the summer could well see them established as one of the regular top four and with a new ground on the horizon the future looks bright for Spurs. It is however difficult to assess just how good they are at this moment in time.

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