It’s fair to say the season so far hasn’t been smooth sailing for Tottenham Hotspur.
The team have underwhelmed on several occasions – the Carabao Cup third-round tie versus Nottingham Forest springs to mind. But they have also given the fans some memorable moments. The recent home game against Manchester City was, fortunately, one of the latter.
An afternoon marked by Harry Kane’s record-breaking 267th goal for the club left many fans with a renewed sense of hope for the season. So, was the match a turning point, or will Spurs fans find themselves despairing once again come the weekend?
The game on Sunday afternoon was a very enjoyable watch. Despite Antonio Conte’s absence due to his recent surgery, there was a real sense of togetherness and team spirit. Cristian Stellini did a great job in filling Conte’s boots and ensuring the team battled hard for the 1-0 win.
An impressive performance from Emerson Royal, who was awarded Man of the Match by the Spurs fanbase, also left many with the sense that this could be a real turning point.
The right-back’s performances have often been a source of despair for Spurs fans this season. But he battled hard in the duel against Manchester City and Stellini was full of praise for the 24-year-old in his post-match interview.
Kane’s record-breaking goal was the real talking point from the match. He slotted home his 267th goal which makes him Tottenham Hotspur’s all-time record goal scorer.
He was honoured by the fans and by his teammates in an array of post-match celebrations including a speech to the home support and a special phone call from Conte who told Kane he had made him proud.
So, did the game mark a turning point in Tottenham Hotspur’s season? The feel-good vibes of the afternoon, the overwhelming sense of togetherness both within the team and the fanbase, and stand-out performances from a range of players certainly suggest the future is looking brighter.
However, it’s important we don’t get too carried away – as many years of supporting Spurs teaches you, it is the hope that kills you.
Spurs head to A.C. Milan on the 14th of February for the Champions League Round of 16. The FA Cup fifth round also looms on the 1st of March when the team will travel to Sheffield United.
Silverware and a Top 4 finish still remain the goals for the season. Although glory in the Champions League seems unlikely (although, not impossible), the FA Cup is more than achievable for the club this season.
After getting knocked out of the Carabao Cup in an embarrassingly half-hearted display against Nottingham Forest in November, victory in the FA Cup is our most realistic chance of ending the trophy drought. With an easy fifth-round draw, there really should be no excuse not to progress to the quarter-finals.
A Top 4 finish in the Premier League is also still undoubtedly within reach.
The team face seven of the bottom eight Premier League clubs in their next nine top-flight games. Fans can only hope the team will build on the result against the champions and go on a winning streak as they embark on a run of games against some of the lower teams in the league.
The January transfer window signings also give cause for optimism. Arnaut Danjuma excelled in his debut cameo against Preston North End in the FA Cup fourth-round tie. And after a dramatic transfer saga with Sporting CP, Pedro Porro has already got the fans excited despite not yet having stepped out on the pitch.
However, there has also been a sense of discontent in the fanbase as many have questioned Conte’s tactics, the transfer strategy of the club, and the lack of investment in the squad.
In recent matches, Conte’s unwillingness to press from the get-go has often seen the team play some uninspiring football; cheaply giving the ball away and failing to register many shots throughout the game.
A pattern of only growing into the game after the opposition team have scored has resulted in many instances of the team giving too little, too late.
Fans were also somewhat disappointed by the club’s actions in the January transfer window. The saga with Sporting CP which almost went down to the final day meant Spurs were close to missing out on Porro.
There are also ongoing frustrations around the lack of overall investment in the squad. Although Danjuma and Porro are great additions to the team, the squad depth has often been the downfall for Spurs when key players become injured.
So, overall, I think a sense of cautious optimism for the weeks and months ahead seems apt. Recent history has taught us it is always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to this team.
The display of togetherness and the sense of joy that came from the win against Manchester City truly could mark a turning point. Our Top 4 hopes and silverware dreams are still alive, and an upcoming run of winnable fixtures offers a sense of hope for the second half of the season.
Too many times we have seen potential ‘turning points’ wasted as individual errors, defensive sloppiness and some questionable managerial decisions have cost us dearly in vital moments.
Essentially, it is now down to Conte and the team to build on this recent win and prove to the fans that this season will not be another write-off.
A Top 4 finish and silverware remain up for grabs. Really, it’s still all to play for.
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