If I was being my most Tottenham Hotspur and most cynical, the progress report would be short and only need a handful of words: “Tim Sherwood is gone, we made progress by default”. But, since I dare not be disingenuous to the World Soccer Talk readership, I’ll give a bigger report since there’s more to Spurs than throwing the gillet to the corner.
There’s a tactical system now! Tottenham look like a team for the first time in many years and just having a shape is a marked improvement. The players have also appear to have bought into the system, and Mauricio Pochettino has melded the players and the system very well. It’s the most dynamic attack in years, seeing as creative players Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Nacer Chadli all seem to have more of a connection with each other. The interchangeable midfield of Etienne Capoue, Nabil Bentaleb and Moussa Dembele are on the same wavelength, providing steel and dynamism. And in goal, the formidable presence of Hugo Lloris remains one of the best shot-stoppers in the league.
However, problems still do exist. The back four has a myriad of problems, which is partially due to injuries, but yet there is a distinct lack of improvement in this department. New kid on the block, Eric Dier is a centre-back currently playing out of position right-back. In the left-back slot Danny Rose remains one of the White Hart Lane faithful’s least favorite players. It may be time to bring Kyle Naughton back into the fold at right-back while the injured Kyle Walker continues his recovery a lower abdominal problem. The rotation at center-back is also a big cause for concern, with Pochettino uncertain of his best partnership yet. Younes Kaboul, a bizarre choice as club captain, has been shaky at times – particularly against Liverpool. 24-year-old Vlad Chiricheș made a fine start to his Spurs career last season, but is he the man to make the starting XI? Many believe that the best way of going forward will be to have Jan Vertonghen and Federico Fazio in the heart of defence, and the pairing kept a clean sheet against Partizan Belgrade in their 0-0 Europa League clash yesterday.
In attack there’s a number of different options that the manager can tinker with. Despite the fact that Emmanuel Adebayor has found motivation and enough form to be named vice-captain, his goalscoring rate has been low of late. However, when you look at the back-up in Roberto Soldado and Harry Kane, then there’s not a lot to turn to. Spurs’ reliance on attacking midfielders to score goals could hurt them if the strikers don’t start finding their goalscoring form.
Sitting on seven points and in fifth position from their opening four league games, Tottenham have made slight progress, despite issues they faced in defeat against Liverpool and in a draw away to Sunderland. Two players in particular, Lamela and Chadli have been reinvigorated by the arrival of Pochettino and are now key members of the starting XI. The signs remain positive for last season’s summer signings, who were heavily criticized for their sub-par start to life at White Hart Lane.
The major doubts about Tottenham’s ability to match it with the bigger clubs remain. Their feeble 3-0 defeat at home to the Reds was another frustrating afternoon against a competitor for Champions League football. Fourth may not be too far off, however, and if Pochettino can rally his troops to make amends for their big game lapses then this talented squad might have enough.
A thrilling cup run and finish as close to the top four as possible would represent a satisfactory season, but with the campaign in its infancy the best thing for Spurs fans to do is not get their hopes up too much!
Rating: 3 out of 5.
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