Opinion: The good, the bad, and everything in between; Tottenham’s 2021/22 season

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Premier League
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The 2021/22 season has been a rollercoaster at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with fans greeted with the usual twists and turns synonymous with the club. Here’s a recap of our season, with all the highs and lows of what’s been an unforgettable campaign.

August

New boss Nuno Espirito Santos instantly endeared himself to the Spurs faithful, delivering a surprise victory on the opening day against title-favourites Manchester City (Sky Sports).

Two more 1-0 wins over Wolves and Watford followed, leaving Tottenham top of the league (Transfermarkt) and the sole side with perfect results in August.

Outside the Premier League, Spurs faced Portuguese Pacos Ferreria in the Europa Conference League qualifiers, and after a shock defeat in the first leg, a convincing 3-0 home win saw us qualify for the group stages.

After a perfect start in North London, Nuno was named Premier League Manager of the Month (Premier League), however, unfortunately, this was not a sign of things to come.

September

Domestically, September was a month of grossly unsuccessful London derbies to forget.

Back-to-back 3-0 defeats to Crystal Palace and Chelsea followed by a 3-1 humbling in the North London Derby saw Spurs end September without a point, falling 10 places to end the month in 11th.

Aside from league football, a draw to Rennes and an empathic 5-1 victory over Slovenian side NS Mura saw Spurs make a strong start to the Europa Conference League, and despite going 2-0 up at Wolves in the Carabao Cup, it took penalty shoot-out heroics from loan signing Pierluigi Gollini for Spurs to advance.

October

Spurs made a strong start to October, recording consecutive victories over Aston Villa and Newcastle despite a late scare at St James Park owed to an Eric Dier own goal.

A loss to Vitesse in the Conference League unknowing marked the start of our embarrassing 2021/22 European adventures, followed three days later by a fourth consecutive London derby defeat as a Michail Antonio goal saw us suffer at West Ham.

A 1-0 win at Turf Moor saw Spurs progress to the Carabao Cup quarterfinals before a 3-0 loss at home to Manchester United ended another disappointing month in North London.

After a poor start at N17, this proved to be the last straw for Nuno, as he was relieved of his managerial duties (Daily Mail) and replaced by summer target Antonio Conte (BBC Sport) in early November.

A few weeks later, United parted company with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and if Conte hadn’t already been at Spurs, would likely have made the switch to Old Trafford. Given how the season has panned out, in hindsight, despite missing out on the points, Spurs’ were the real winners at Old Trafford that day.

November

Conte’s first 45 minutes of football at Tottenham will be remembered as a whirlwind, as despite taking a three-goal lead over Vitesse in the Conference League, Spurs entered the break just one goal to the good, but held out for a 3-2 win.

Either side of an international break, a goalless draw at Everton followed by a hard-fought 2-1 win over Leeds made for a decent start to Conte’s Premier League campaign.

Unfortunately, the positivity around the Italian was short-lived, as thanks to a stoppage-time goal, Spurs suffered a catastrophic 2-1 defeat against Mura in what is surely one of our most embarrassing results of recent times.

December

Back-to-back wins over Brentford and Norwich got December off to a strong start, however, in true Spurs fashion, this didn’t last long.

Our disastrous Conference League campaign concluded after COVID-19-related issues forced the club to call for our final group game to be rescheduled. Instead, UEFA opted to award Rennes a 3-0 win which subsequently, and somewhat unfairly, knocked us out.

Two weeks on from Norwich, an electrifying 2-2 draw with Liverpool followed by a 2-1 victory over West Ham in the Carabao Cup quarterfinal made for a white Christmas in North London.

On boxing day, Spurs exacted revenge on Patrick Vieira and Crystal Palace delivering a comfortable 3-0 win, before ending the month with a disappointing draw to Southampton where we should have easily taken all three points.

January

A 1-0 at Watford owed to a late Davinson Sanchez header saw Spurs get off to a winning start in 2022.

In between defeat in both semi-final legs to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup, Conte’s side unconvincingly scrapped by League 1 side Morecambe in the FA Cup, as despite running out 3-1 winners, the Lilywhites spent more than 40 minutes behind.

Spurs then returned to Premier League action in dramatic fashion, stealing all three points at Leicester despite being 2-1 down in the 94th minute thanks to two late goals from Steven Bergwijn.

At the time, the Dutchman was on the cusp of returning to the Eredivisie, but his heroics at the King Power convinced Conte he was worth keeping (Ekrem Konur). However, since then, Bergwijn has just one start in the proceeding 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge as breakout star Oliver Skipp played his final game of the season owing to an injury.

Off the pitch, an underwhelming January window was rescued on deadline day, with Juventus duo Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski arriving in North London (The Independent). As we all know, the pair have been excellent since joining the club, both being ever-present in the side since making their debuts.

Out of favour midfield trio Tanguy N’dombele, Giovani Lo Celso, and Bryan Gil also left the club on loan for the remainder of the season, and once cult hero Dele Alli joined Everton bringing an end to his once legend-bound Tottenham career (Evening Standard).

February

A dominant performance against Brighton saw Spurs advance to the FA Cup last 16, however subsequent disheartening home defeats to Southampton and Wolves marked two massive setbacks in the race for a top-four finish.

The following weekend, a trip to the Etihad saw one of the games of the season unfold, as a Harry Kane masterclass secured all three points for Conte’s side in a nail-biting 3-2 victory to complete an unprecedented double over the reigning champions.

Unfortunately, in typical Spurs fashion, we then suffered a 1-0 loss to relegation-threatened Burnley which caused an Antonio Conte outrage, sparking genuine fear the Italian would quit North London after just three months in charge.

Three days later, Spurs bounced back with a resounding 4-0 win at Leeds where an increasingly dangerous front three of Kane, Kulusevski, and Son all made the scoresheet.

March

Once again, the high of a big win didn’t last long, as Spurs became the second victims, the first being Manchester United, in Middlesbrough’s giant-killing FA Cup spree as an extra-time goal sent the Championship side through.

Spurs returned to Premier League football in style, putting on a show for Monday Night Football viewers by dismantling an underperforming Everton side by five goals to nil however once again, followed a big win with crushing defeat, coming out second best in a crucial game for the top four as a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick saw Manchester United collect three points at Old Trafford.

Finally, after seven games of a win followed by a loss, consecutive victories against Brighton and West Ham ended March on a high, with Spurs capitalising on a tired Hammers side who had played 120 minutes of Europa League football just three days prior.

April

Spurs carried on their good form, as an invigorating 5-1 victory to Newcastle followed by a crucial 4-0 win at Aston Villa saw Spurs take pole position for a top-four finish for the first time in months, igniting real hope within supporters.

However, unfortunately, this was again short-lived, as owed to a late goal, Brighton took the points at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before a goalless draw at Brentford left Spurs with just one point from a possible six, entering the final month of the season behind Arsenal in fifth.

May

In a similar vein to the West Ham victory in March, Spurs took full advantage of a leggy Leicester City side, defeating the Foxes 3-1 in between their Europa Conference League semi-finals.

The following week, in travelling to Anfield, Spurs faced the toughest test in English football, however, escaped with a point which whilst disappointing at the time, ultimately had a significant impact further on, although still left us four points off fourth-placed Arsenal.

An unforgettable North London Derby saw us dominate the visitors, as after Son tormented Rob Holding in an agonising half an hour for the defender, and after a needless challenge, was dismissed. Kane quickly added a second goal, and a third from Son just after the break sealed the win, closing the gap on Arsenal to a single point

Finally, after what felt like an age in Arsenal’s shadow, a tough win over Burnley on matchday 37 coupled with Newcastle taking three points off the Gunners moved Spurs into fourth and owed to the point at Liverpool, avoiding defeat at Norwich would secure Champions League football.

Of course, Conte’s men delivered in style, as goals from Kulusevski, Kane, and Son helped Tottenham cruise to a 5-0 win over the Canaries (Spurs Web). It was a celebratory day all-round as with his brace at Carrow Road, Son joined Mohamed Salah on 23 Premier League goals to take home a well-deserved Golden Boot, ending off a largely successful season.

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