After nine games in the Premier League table looks like this.

    GD

 

Pts
1 Man City

 

11 20
2 Arsenal

 

10 20
3 Liverpool

 

9 20
4 Chelsea

 

10 19
5 Tottenham

 

9 19
6 Everton

 

5 15
7

 

Man Utd 1 14

 

At the same stage last season the table looked like this.

    GD

 

Pts
1 Man City

 

16 21
2 Arsenal

 

9 19
3 Man Utd

 

7 19
4 West Ham

 

8 17
5 Leicester

 

2 16
6 Crystal Palace

 

2 15
7 Tottenham

 

4 14

 

In this article I discussed the view that Tottenham ended up being third because of the last few games. I noted that the beginning of the season was equally to blame. The table from week nine of last season confirms this. The current position is far superior. We have 19 points, 5 more than last time. We have a GD of 9, again 5 more than last time. To help put this in perspective, if we continued in the same fashion, we would finish with 80 points. In 2015-16 that would have landed us second place, the same for 2014-15, fourth in 2013-14, second in 2012-13 and third in 2011-12. You would have to go back to 2010-11 for 80 points to have been enough to be PL champions. If we had beaten Bournemouth on Saturday, we would be on 22 points and top of the table. That equates to 93 points over 38 games, and would almost certainly be enough to win the title.

There is no doubting the improvement. There is also no doubt that there are very few easy games in the PL. The draw with Bournemouth looks a lot less disastrous now we have seen Arsenal and Manchester City both draw at home against teams most pundits would have thought they should have beaten. We have played 9 games, won 5 and drawn 4. At the same stage last year we had won 3 games, drawn 5 and lost 1. We are in a good position to stay in the top 4. We are not in a good position (yet) to win the title.

Given this perspective on the improvement and the perspective of the should-have-won draws of Arsenal and Manchester City, it may seem unreasonable to find flaws. Unfortunately they exist and this team is unlikely to win the title if they are not. Fixed quickly.

We have some fantastic strengths. Our manager is extremely good in many ways. Our goalkeeper may be the best in the world. Our defence and defensive midfield are both excellent, despite having missed Dembele and now Alderweireld. Dembele is not quite match sharp yet, but still makes a huge difference.

What of the attack? Here, we do have issues. Eriksen has not been on form. I believe he was a much better player when Lamela was not in the team. Eriksen has shown over a couple of seasons that he is up to the job. I would drop Lamela immediately and hope to ship him out in January. In my view he has never been a top quality player and is a huge liability. Before people start talking of ‘Lamela hate’, I have no reason to hate any Spurs player. I am simply talking about what I see, and what I see is a poor player. A player with good skills yes, and that is what deceives some people. Skills are not enough. You must have competence. That is the ability to use those skills appropriately and at the right time. An unnecessary nutmeg when a simple pass would have worked may get some people ooghing an aaaghing, but it leaves me cold. Lamela holding his head because he shot wide leaves me cold, especially when he could have shot low and hard across the goal where there was a decent chance it could have been poked in. Lamela demanding to take a penalty then missing leaves me cold. Lamela almost costing his team because of his fouls makes me angry. Lamela losing the ball time after time makes me think we might be better with ten men.

On Saturday I was astonished to see Son go off and Lamela stay on. Janssen should have started with Son, and Lamela should not even have been on the bench.

Who then would I also play? Surely we have not bought N’Koudo to languish in the reserves? He must get some time in PL games. Also, it must be time to give Cameron-Vickers 20 minutes or so in the right games. I would do the same with Edwards. We have of course missed Harry Kane, but his return will not fix a misfiring midfield. Lamela is the weakest link and needs to go.

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