Following Tottenham’s 2-1 defeat to Stoke City at White Hart Lane on the 9th November 2014, it seemed as if the media and certain sections of the Club’s support were baying for Mauricio Pochettino’s blood. Tottenham’s start to the 2014-15 season was disappointing following two good results in the first two games against West Ham and QPR. The ever expectant Tottenham fans weren’t convinced by Pochettino and his methods, especially considering that the defeat against Stoke was the Club’s fourth league home defeat of the current season. However, following that defeat to Stoke, Tottenham have gone on to win seven of their last eleven league matches, including the quite mesmerising 5-3 victory over table-topping Chelsea. Pochettino has banished players like Younes Kaboul, Etienne Capoue and Emmanuel Adebayor from his squads since that defeat to Stoke and replaced them with eager talent from the academy in the form of Ryan Mason, Nabil Bentaleb and the now talismanic figure of Harry Kane. A fine run in the league has been coupled with an impressive run in the Capital One Cup, where Tottenham will face off against Chelsea in the final on the 1st March. With this sudden turnaround in the season’s fortunes it seems as if the Club are progressing, and that the squad that so many deemed as a “waste of money” last year, is gradually turning into one of the most promising in the league. However, are we jumping the gun? Although Tottenham have won seven of their last eleven in the league, six of those wins have been by a score line of 2-1, with Christian Eriksen scoring late winners in four of those. Is the squad promising or have we just gone through an extended period of achieving “lucky” results?
In many ways this Tottenham team is looking extremely promising. Youngsters from the academy, in the form of Mason, Kane and Bentaleb have energised the team. There is now passion in the heart of the team and a desire to win every match. The same couldn’t be said for the team last season, with it being one of the main reasons for the many embarrassing capitulations. Added to the emergence of the academy players has been the improvement of some of the new signings that were brought in the summer of 2013. Players like Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli have become integral parts of the team, with them scoring a combined sixteen goals in the Premier League this season. Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado have also improved and become more useful to the team. Furthermore, the players brought in during the summer transfer window of 2014 added balance and depth to the squad. Ben Davies, Benjamin Stambouli, Federico Fazio and Eric Dier have all been impressive without hitting their top form and have given Pochettino more options. Although the Club may be lacking the world class talent of players such as Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, Tottenham have a hungry, eager and promising looking team which is currently getting them results.
However, it is key to point out that the squad is promising and not completed. It is still felt by many Tottenham fans that the Club lack quality in certain areas of the pitch and that there are too many squad players who aren’t up to the challenge of playing for such a big club. Tottenham have been fortunate due to the fine form of Hugo Lloris, Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane, who have together continuously kept the Club in games or have been the difference between winning and drawing. A fine example of this was the 3-0 win that Tottenham achieved over West Brom at the Hawthorns. With Tottenham 2-0 up, West Brom carved out two or three good chances which Lloris did brilliantly to prevent becoming goals. Without him it could have been a different game. Without both Kane and Eriksen, Tottenham would have been 25 points worse off. This shows the impact that these players have had and without them we could be analysing Tottenham’s season very differently. The point is that although the squad is a promising one, they are seemingly heavily reliant on three players to win them matches. An injury to any three would leave Tottenham in a precarious position. This means that Tottenham need more players to step up and take off some of the burden from the Club’s key men. This has not happened enough this season. Although Lamela and Soldado have improved they do not make enough impact on the pitch, with just two league goals between them this season. Nor do the likes of Andros Townsend, Emmnauel Adebayor or Moussa Demebele. For the Club to continue improving and to reach the top four, Maurico Pochettino needs more players to stamp their mark on the pitch.
This was always a season where Tottenham were going to be in transition, and many fans were left fearing the worst following the 2-1 defeat at home to Stoke. Pochettino has turned it round, with the help of key players and enthusiastic members of the academy team who have taken their chances with both hands. However, too many of the Club’s wins in the league have been by a margin of 2-1, with Christain Eriksen almost inevitably popping up with a last-gasp winner when Tottenham are level at 1-1. Pochettino has inherited this team and has had good success so far, but they need to be more convincing and less reliant on key players. Pochettino knows that to achieve the Club’s goals this season, then Lamela and co need to make more of an impact.
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