Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Tottenham Hotspur
Can Tottenham Hotspur go again?
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That’s the big question ahead of this season as Mauricio Pochettino’s young squad finished third in the Premier League in 2015-16, pushing Leicester City all the way for the title until they fell off late in the campaign.
Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier are the young English heart of this side, while Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld bring the experience and defensive nous. This is a superbly balanced time which is capable of carrying out Pochettino’s high-pressing style expertly.
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Losing out on second spot to Arsenal on the final day of last season was a tough pill to swallow for Spurs fans despite their stunning season. They’ve qualified for the UEFA Champions League and it will be intriguing to see how their young squad handles the pressure of expectancy following their breakout campaign last season. Another top four finish will be on the minds of everyone at White Hart Lane ahead of their new stadium move and an exciting few years ahead for Spurs.
The north London club have another crop of promising youngster coming through and Pochettino is certainly the right man to get the best out of them.
Poch’s team will win the title because... They are young, hungry and will learn from their sobering experience in the final weeks of last season. Spurs ripped teams apart on their day and now they have some help for Harry Kane up front in the shape of Vincent Janssen, they should have more staying power at the top of the table. Playing UCL games at Wembley Stadium will give them a big boost and if they get off to a good start, who knows?
Most likely they will struggle to hit the heights of last season and battle for fourth because... That’s probably where this team is at. They were sublime last season, don’t get me wrong, but they overachieved and got pretty lucky with injuries for the most part. Vertonghen will be a big miss early in the season and with the perennial giants all spending big and bringing in talented managers, Spurs will find it tough to stay in the top four.
Best Possible XI
----- Lloris -----
--- Walker --- Alderweireld --- Vertonghen --- Rose ---
----- Dembele ----- Dier -----
---- Eriksen ---- Alli ---- Lamela ----
------ Kane ------
Transfers in: Victor Wanyama ($14.3 million, Southampton), Vincent Janssen ($22 million, AZ Alkmaar)
Transfers out: Alex Pritchard ($10.4 million, Norwich City), Grant Ward (Undisclosed, Ipswich Town), Charlie Hayford (Free, Sheffield Wednesday), Christopher Paul (Free, QPR), Emmanuel Sonupe, Armani Daly (Both released), Federico Fazio (Loan, AS Roma), Filip Lesniak (Loan, Slovan Liberec)
Last season: Their highest-ever finish of third in the PL was a sensational result for this young Spurs side. Up until the final weeks of the season they pushed Leicester City hard for the title but then fell away drastically once their title dreams were over. In the Europa League they lost in the Round of 16 to Borussia Dortmund, plus lost in last 16 of the FA Cup to Crystal Palace. Overall, though, a fine season as they easily sealed UCL qualification which was their aim.
Star player: Harry Kane - He’s the man who puts the ball in the back of the net and the reigning PL golden boot winner will be their main man once again. Kane, 23, has scored 46 goals in his last 72 appearances in the PL for Spurs. He’s a goal-scoring machine who will be eager to make everyone forget about his woeful performances for England at EURO 2016 this summer.
Coach’s Corner: Pochettino has worked wonders to rebuild Spurs. When he arrived from Southampton two summers ago it took time to implement his style but now he’s had the squad he wants together for over 12 months, we are starting to see the benefits. The Argentine manager demands extreme work rate from his players but his methods get results. Leading Spurs into the UCL group stages is a superb achievement but he’ll want to make a splash in Europe and again in the PL this season.
PST predicts: Spurs will challenge for a top four finish but expectancy plus UCL rigors may way heavy on the shoulders of their young squad. We may not see another title challenge but Pochettino’s side can expect to challenge for at least the top four and go far in the Champions League. It will be interesting to see how Kane, Alli, Dier and Co. cope with the disappointment of failure with England this summer. Will they have a EURO 2016 hangover?