Hands reach into pots, balls are extracted, ankles twist, and sometimes the result of it all is harsh. Spurs are… what exactly? A young team on the rise, who contended longer than any other Premier League team for the title that the Foxes would eventually win—ready to state its claim both domestically and on the continent? Or a side still lacking something—a bit of steel, or quality, or depth, or now, its talisman—that will deny its place in the elite of England or the upper echelon of Europe?
The next month will probably render a fairly conclusive answer to those options. Seven fixtures in three different competitions and only one of them in London and none of them, presumably, featuring our top goal scorer. And the home fixture is against the team dominating the league which, prior to last season, had made a habit in recent times of thrashing our Lilywhites. Gauntlet: meet Trial.
Ok, to be fair, three of the away fixtures within the league offer a fairly good chance to gain three points: Boro Saturday, West Brom after the international break and Bournemouth the following weekend. The real question is with crucial Champions League games looming in Moscow and Germany will Pochettino entrust league contests—against weaker competition– to starting XIs where the likes of Janssen, Alli, Eriksen or Dembele might not play? He will have to at some point, and one shouldn’t wax too confident over the performance of our youth contingent against League One Gillingham. The biggest hurdle here is Tony Pulis and his knack for throttling a Spurs attack—so expect Spurs to win no more than 7 points from those three away games.
Liverpool for the EFL Cup is eminently predictable depending on prior events. It comes at the end of this stretch, when our Champions League fate should be more clear. Wins in Russia and Germany—or even a win and a draw—will cause Poch to play a side similar to last night at Anfield, and if that means Klopp and Co. win what would still be a feisty affair, so be it. But should Europe have gone south, then the prospect of domestic silverware gets more important. Except that four days after the trip to Anfield comes Leicester to the Lane, a day that Spurs must burn to reverse last year’s result. I think the League Cup must be a sacrificial lamb in almost any scenario.
The City game will be the biggest, by far, in this stretch. The wins both at the Lane and the Etihad were proof positive about both Spurs ascendancy and the troubles under Pellegrini—but Pep is a different story. This might be the game of the year, and with only international games following it– expect our best XI—which probably means Dembele and Wanyama to try to break down DeBruyne and Silva, and an interesting choice of two from Eriksen, Lamela and Son to go with Janssen and Alli up front. That will be the day when we’ll know if we are a) title contenders, b) a solid Top Four prospect, or c) holding on for dear life to avoid Thursday nights in Moldova.
Let’s play the games. If we survive this stretch in all three competitions (nice bar-setting, Kyle. How did that Quadruple go for City last year??) and see a Kane return in November, this might just be the best Spurs season in decades. We can only hope.
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