With the calendar year coming to a close, many pundits and fans a like are asking whether this Tottenham Hotspur side are better than the side we saw challenge for a title between January and May of this year?
The obvious answer, based on league position and media hype is no, the Tottenham of the first 6 months of 2016 was far better than the side that has got to 5th place in the half way point of the 2016-17 season.
Why? The 2015-16 season saw the rise of Belgian international Mousa Dembele who drove Pochettino’s side to impressive performances against many of the big sides in away performances particularly, for example Manchester City away, and the game at Anfield, where he was awarded man of the match. This player simply has not reached those levels in the second half of the calendar year, surely the side cannot be as strong without it’s best performing central midfielder?
In addition, during the battle for top spot last season many of the young creative players at Spurs were being recognised for the tireless effort and influence on games, with Erik Lamela and Dele Alli at the forefront of the Pochettino press (for example vs. Manchester United at White Hart Lane). With injuries and a seemingly more relaxed attitude the majority of the younger players at the club have failed to reproduce the performances of last season, suggesting that the club has decreased in quality in the second half of the year.
On the other hand, Tottenham appear to be better since August, with fullbacks Danny Rose and Kyle Walker being more consistent. The pair have also began affecting the game further forward with a wide collection of assists and chance creation between the two England internationals.
Furthermore, the clubs attitude to being in and around the 4 – 7th positions seems to be less positive than it was before. The fans do not want to settle, there is ambition matched by the manager and a belief that last season was not just a flash in the pan. With the injuries to key players like Toby Alderweireld and Harry Kane, the level at which the club has remained suggests how far this club has come in a year, as they can remain competitive at the top end of the table without key players.
It is clear there are far more arguments to be made for either side, but it is obvious that under the stewardship of Mauricio Pochettino that Tottenham Hotspur are doing everything in their power to improve and win trophies in 2017. Who knows what the next year will bring? Vicarage Road, on New Years Day will be the first place to see how another chapter will begin for Tottenham Hotspur.
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