Jun. 19, 2020
Tottenham Season Recap/Preview
The Premier League is back! While it might not feel the same, the season is finally going to resume after a three-month hiatus. Liverpool may have the title wrapped up, but there is still much to play for, including the UCL spots, UEL spots, and the fight to stay up. With nine games remaining, Tottenham is still fighting for a spot in Europe next season, and with the likes of Kane, Son, Bergwijn, and super Sissoko returning, the club is still very much in the running.
Spurs currently sit in eighth place with 41 points, one point ahead of North London rival Arsenal. To say it has been a disappointing season for Spurs would be an understatement. Coming off of the first Champions League final appearance in club history and another season finishing ahead of Arsenal, many Spurs fans, including myself, thought this could finally be the year the trophy cabinet gets a new addition. All hopes of a great follow-up season were soon dashed after club legend Mauricio Pochettino was sacked in the middle of November, leaving Spurs in 14th place in the league after 12 games. Jose Mourinho was brought in to fix the damage and did so splendidly, winning four of his first five games in charge, including a 5-0 win at home against Burnley.
The great run of form didn’t last long, however, as Spurs went on to win just one of their next six games, only scoring four goals in that span. The loss of Harry Kane during the Southampton game proved crucial, as the club went three games without scoring. The club sought out offensive help, and although they didn’t buy a proper number 9 as the fans wanted, the addition of Steven Bergwijn from PSV seemed to be a good one. The Dutch international scored a beautiful goal on his debut against reigning champions Manchester City to give Spurs the lead.
A three-game league win streak from January into February helped steady the ship a little bit, but it was followed by a three-game losing streak, including a 1-0 loss at home to RB Leipzig in the Champions League. They then hosted bottom of the table Norwich City in the fifth round of the FA Cup with a chance to turn things around. After taking the lead in the 13th minute courtesy of Jan Vertonghen, the hope of a trophy was still alive. After a botched ball from Vorm fell to the feet of Josip Drmic, the momentum shifted. Heading into the penalty shootout, I already knew how it would end. After an overhit Erik Lamela penalty and two fantastic saves from Tim Krul, Tottenham is knocked out of the FA Cup. A 3-0 hammering in Germany six days later, officially eliminating Spurs from receiving any silverware this season, is where Spurs left this season.
With no cup competitions to distract them, Jose Mourinho’s men will be able to focus solely on the nine remaining Premier League games to claw their way back into a European place. The first task, Manchester United at an empty Tottenham Hotspur stadium. The Red Devils went into quarantine hot, going unbeaten in their last five, including 2-0 wins at Stamford Bridge at home in the Manchester Derby. If other results go their way, a win could see Tottenham move one point behind United in fifth place, which could end up being a Champions League place due to City’s pending UEFA ban. Before the lockdown, I would expect United to come to London and boss Spurs around, especially with the addition of Bruno Fernandes. However, with Kane, Son, and Bergwijn all returning from injury, and the fact that neither team has played in three months, this game is very much in the air.
A game against a dreadful West Ham game follows. Spurs won the reverse fixture back in November in Mourinho’s first game in charge, going up 3-0 in the first 50 minutes but eventually winning 3-2. I am hoping for a repeat of the first half of that game and if the returning players can get back in the grove early, I can see it happening.
One of the biggest remaining games, in my opinion, is the game in Sheffield. Sheffield United sit three points ahead of Spurs and are also competing for a spot in Europe. The two sides split the points last November in London and ended up being the last game of the Pochettino era.
Games against Everton and Bournemouth follow, two games in which Spurs should take all six available points, but so far this season we learned nothing is for certain. The next big game will be the North London Derby. It will be played in Tottenham this time, the reverse fixture was all the way back on matchday 4, a game that ended 2-2 after Spurs gave away a 2-0 lead. Arsenal is only one point behind Spurs in the league, and even after a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City, they are still very much in the race for the top six. This game will not only provide bragging rights if there is a winner, but it could also help decide which North London club gets to play European football next season. It is a shame there will be no fans from either side there to see it.
The three remaining games come at St. James’ Park, at home against Leicester City, and at Selhurst Park. Hopefully, neither of those teams will have anything to play for at that time. Newcastle is not safe yet, but there is a great chance they will be secure in six games. Crystal Palace is in a similar situation, although they are only two points behind Spurs at the moment. Leicester is 8 points clear of Manchester United in 5th, barring a total collapse, Brendan Rodgers’ men should be guaranteed a Champions League spot by matchday 37.
In short, there is a lot to be excited about as a Tottenham fan. They may be eliminated from winning any silverware this season, but the fight for Europe will be exciting and could be a huge help financially if they can pull it off.
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