Champions League qualification for a third consecutive season, progression in the FA Cup and Champions League, The 2017-2018 season was a season worth writing home about and here’s why
Home From Home
Coming into this season the narrative was very much focused on Wembley and in particular Tottenham’s struggles within their new makeshift home. With just two wins in ten games at the national stadium since it’s reopening back in 2007, the parallels between Wembley and White Hart Lane were there for all to see. Spurs dropped just two points from a possible 57 in their farewell season at the Lane, whilst they possessed a win percentage of just 20% at their new home before this term.
Spurs’ almost impeccable home form at White Hart Lane was always going to be hard to follow up on, especially at a ground that they so notoriously struggle at. Sealing a Champions League place at a close-to neutral stadium is a fantastic achievement. Looking at last year’s league position (2nd) and this seasons (3rd), it would be easy to suggest that Tottenham have gone backwards. However, when Spurs offer the lowest wage bill in the top six and the fourth lowest net spend in the division, the job Mauricio Pochettino has done in retaining a top three finish for the last three years is truly remarkable, especially considering the year away from home.
Moments to Remember:
It’s been a season filled with magical moments, the notable highlights within the Champions League. Going into this season the notable progression that had to be made was within the Champions League, and Spurs did not disappoint this time around. This season’s Champions League journey was a complete parallel in comparison to the last campaign, last season Spurs drew an ”easy” group yet went out of the competition with a whimper, although this time around drew the “group of death” and finished top of the pile.
Notable highlights of this season were the Borrusia Dortmund games (home and away) and the victory over Real Madrid, this game showed the potential of this “project” that the Spurs hierarchy have spoke of in recent years, this showed that on the big stage against the big teams Spurs have the opportunity to become a very big club. The Real Madrid game was one of the few games this season that Wembley has been united and the fans have created an electric atmosphere. This game had all corners of Wembley singing in unison, and for a split second was reminiscent of the games under the lights at White Hart Lane.
However, my moment of the season is not the victory over Real Madrid. My favourite moment of the season has to be the win at Stamford Bridge.
The struggles that we’ve had on the road against Chelsea are all to familiar, without a win in their backyard for almost 30 years, this narrative had been used to beat Spurs with on an all too consistent basis.
The character, fight and sheer heart that was shown on that day was something very special for the Spurs faithful, coming from behind and then completely dominating the Champions in their own backyard (albeit a demoralised Chelsea side) again showed how big a stride the club can make with the right decisions from the appropriate people.
Honorable mentions also include:
- Tottenham 4-1 Liverpool (PL)
- Tottenham 1-0 Arsenal (PL)
- Tottenham 2-0 Man Utd (PL)
Moments to Forget:
There have been two moments this season which have left a gut-wrenchingly low feeling in the hearts of Spurs fans.
The Champions League run was excellent and created some brilliant memories, however, the manner in which we were eliminated really was a damp squib. The desire and character shown to claw back a 2-2 draw in Turin after going two-down so early on, really did feel like somewhat of a watershed moment. Going one-nil up in the return leg and being so dominant across two legs but having nothing to show for the brilliant efforts was utterly heartbreaking, and did feel again like somewhat of a watershed moment at the complete opposite end of the spectrum.
The other is a circumstance that is all to familiar for Spurs fans. Semi-final defeat. After seven consecutive FA Cup semi-final defeats, going into this game it did feel like we had learned our lesson from last year and that things were different last time around.
In reality the only difference was the fact that we took the lead in the semi-final this time, which was arguably more heartbreaking. We looked so good and looked so dominant in this game and to me at least felt like we had one hand on the trophy up until the equaliser was slammed home. From here, the difference in quality between the two sides really showed, and again felt like a watershed moment.
Utter heartbreak, for me this was the difference between a good season and a great season.
For me it was best summed up, by Dele Alli in his post-game interview:
It’s disappointing, we can’t keep doing this. – Dele Alli.
Player of the season – Jan Vertonghen.
From the outside perspective of a neutral football fan, it would be easy to look at the Spurs side and in particular look at Harry Kane and his 41 goals this term and say that he has been the standout player for Tottenham this season.
For me this is not the case, Jan Vertonghen has been absolutely impeccable this season and is by some distance Spurs’ player of the season. Yes, Harry Kane has been excellent, 41 goals in a single season is not an easy feat, but the consistency and class of Vertonghen has been stunning this season.
Kane has been the difference maker on many many occasions this term, but, on the other hand has been somewhat anonymous in some games this season. Jan Vertonghen has been *for me* a 8/10 (or higher) performer in every single game this season.
Vertonghen has been somewhat of an unsung hero at Spurs for a while now, and he was really forced into the spotlight when Toby Alderweireld was injured. Having to maintain the same high standards previously set without the *in my opinion* best centre-half in the league, as well as mentoring a learning-on-the-job defender in Davinson Sanchez is something that really has gone under the radar this season.
Davinson Sanchez has been fantastic in his first term in North London, and looks especially assured when partnering Jan Vertonghen. However, on the odd occasion that the Colombian has had a few wobbles, it is no coincidence that it has been in the absence of Vertonghen.
Jan Vertonghen, what a player.
Biggest underachiever of the season – Serge Aurier.
The Full Back area is such a crucial part of the way Pochettino’s Tottenham play, and on occasions can be as important as any position on the pitch.
During Pochettino’s tenure we have seen the evolution of Danny Rose and even Kyle Walker from diamonds in the rough to arguably the best full backs in the country, we have also seen the likes of Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier go from respectable Premier League players to very reliable and dependable squad players.
However, Serge Aurier remains one of the biggest challenges Pochettino has had at Tottenham thus far.
As Kyle Walker became Tottenham’s second most expensive export at £55 million, it was pretty clear that whoever would replace the Englishman would have pretty big shoes to fill.
The jury is still out on Serge Aurier, the Ivorian promised so much after a fantastic debut against Borrusia Dortmund, but his career in North London has been a disappointment thus far. Conceding three penalties, being dismissed once already and an inability to do a simple task of taking a throw-in would suggest that maybe it may be time to cut our losses with the former PSG man.
However, the 25 year old has shown some promise in his first year this season, with the most tackles made in the Spurs squad, two goals and three assists would suggest that the Ivorian is very much a raw talent that would need further nurturing.
In my opinion, Aurier remains very much a rough diamond, he has been underwhelming this season, yet he has also shown glimmers of hope.
Replacing Kyle Walker would be a big task for any full back in World Football at the moment, and maybe the pressure of succeeding such a good player is a stick Aurier is beaten with all too often. Aurier has the potential but just needs the right mental and physical application to match Walker or even surpass his level, as he has a very good base platform to build off of.
To conclude, I feel this season has been a good one. There have definitely been moments of sheer euphoria yet on the same hand the lows have been a very bitter pill to swallow. The disappointment and recency of the Juventus (at home) and Manchester United (FA Cup semi-final) games have left somewhat of a damp squib on the season.
It is important to note that there have been arguably more high points in this campaign than low points, and that coupled with the achievement of gaining Champions League football in spite of Wembley makes this a good season. For the first time during Pochettino’s reign we face crunch times, we may have hit a glass ceiling with this squad, and now it’s important that the hierarchy at the club are aware of the strides that need to be made to keep Pochettino and make sure this club moves in the right direction.
Here’s to a bright future,
Tottenham are going home…..
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