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Tottenham are showing that a title challenge is possible

son heung-min

Before the loss against Newcastle, Spurs weren’t exactly reeling, but some of their verve and joy gone away in their performances against Chelsea and West Brom. It wasn’t that the unbeaten run had falsely foretold Spurs’ future; it was that they seemed to be coasting a bit too much. The comments from manager and players indicated that they needed a reset, and the loss to Newcastle was a covertly welcome respite.

SEE MORE: Spurs became too comfortable during their unbeaten run.

Since then, Spurs were opportunistic against Southampton, ruthless against Norwich, and albeit a bit lucky against Watford, just clinical enough. Spurs have still lost only four games across all competitions in 26 games. That is a remarkable achievement, and one that has not been talked about that much. An argument can be made that there were too many draws early on in the season, but they’ve now won three in a row and are beginning to sow the seeds of a top-four finish.

The team has had its bad moments in every game, particularly slow starts in all of the recent fixtures, but once they got their feet wet, it didn’t take long for them to turn the tides. Quite a bit of that has to do with how well Mousa Dembele has been playing, and his recent injury is certainly a concern. Because of that form, Spurs have the best defensive record in the league. For a team that conceded almost as many goals last season as Burnley, who were relegated, to transform into a responsible and tactically drilled defensive side without losing much cutting edge is a credit to the squad and manager. They saw the problems of a season ago and diligently worked to fix them.

SEE MORE: Watch Son Heung-min backheel Tottenham into third place.

Maybe the biggest conundrum facing Mauricio Pochettino down the stretch deals with rotation. His Europa League team selections give a hint as to how he wants to rotate, and the bench is now full of players that either had earned starts last season or earlier this season. How he massages their egos while keeping the winning momentum will be an interesting juggling act. Nabil Bentaleb, Nacer Chadli, Ryan Mason, Son Heung-min and even Tom Carroll have all at one point or another earned starts this season, and as the bench begins to fill up again, Pochettino has to balance maintaining good form and rewarding players who have earned their places. The good news is that the fixture list begins to fill up again once the FA Cup begins, so rotation is coming. The question is how much.

There have been two turning points in this season for Spurs, both when the pressure was starting to ratchet up, albeit in different ways. At Sunderland, Spurs hadn’t yet won a game and were 10 minutes away from another frustrating draw when Ryan Mason scored a pyrrhic goal to lift Spurs to their first win. After that, they began their true march up the table. And after the loss to Newcastle, the team was clinical enough to punish Southampton and stop a mini-slide that had begun against Chelsea.

Now, as much as Spurs supporters don’t want to hear it, the team has a chance to challenge for the title, and showing the resolve they did at Vicarage Road is evidence that they can mount a charge. Top four is and always has been the goal, but with the depth of the squad, the character and attitude of the players and manager, and the momentum they’ve found again, why not?

 

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Omar Duran

    December 29, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    Spurs winning the League? Doubt it. I do believe, though, that they can finish in the top 4 above Manchester United, Leicester and my beloved Liverpool. (We need one more season under Klopp in order to go into full gear)

  2. Blue Lou

    December 29, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Children, I am actually PULLING for Spurs (people who assume my name refers to Chelsea or Everton or another EPL club are wrong)…but unlike you I didn’t discover EPL a year or three ago. I have been beaten down by reality over and over and over.

    Now it is a fact that this IS a strange year and things look a LOT better than a month ago. Even so, I still think foreign billionaires are going to get what they paid for. Third place and secure CL next year would be huge and I am choosing to be extremely pleasantly surprised if Spurs can do better than that.

    If I am wrong, I am man enough to promise to come back and take my medicine from all you football experts. In the meantime, I apologize in advance for my exasperation every time someone makes a triumphant post here after 3 good results in a row. I have been down this road too many time before.

  3. ribman

    December 28, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    Blue Lou better worry about relegation not Spurs- we’ve got as good a chance as any so why not write about it. We beat City drew Arsenal on road, why not us? The fact that blue loser says 3rd is realistic actually confirms we can win it- what is the difference between 3rd and 1rst 3 pts? anyone good enough for 3rd is good enough for 1rst- I like our depth and youth- good protection for Kane in January and we’re good to go

    sour grapes Blue Lagoon-

  4. DustParticle

    December 28, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Hope, hope is there, but what fan doesn’t have hope? wait.. Maybe Villa about staying up and CFC about retaining the title. Much like city fans before they won thier title, Spurs fans won’t believe it, even if it happens. They won’t believe it’s happened. I suggest all spurs fans choose and use a totem. Just in case the unthinkable happens and you have to use it. Just to make sure.

    There seem to be some comments from people that are absolutely sure Spurs have no chance. Probably the same people that were absolutely sure Chelsea would win the league, that they’d recover and make top four, then NEVER sack Mourinho, etc etc.

    This season is strange, anything is possible.

    COYS

  5. Six

    December 28, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Ryan Mason was hurt while putting that very useful goal. Hence, pyrrhic – at least for Mason (although he might have been willing to take one for the team)

    Blue Lou, on the other hand, can suck my salty chocolate balls.

  6. Blue Lou

    December 28, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Not this *bleep* again. Every single time Spurs string together a few wins there is some genius here ready to predict greatness. It never happens. It won’t happen this year. 3rd place would be HUGE but even that is probably not realistic. Pull your head out of your rear end and learn what “pyrrhic” means while you are at it.

    • Brooklyn Hotspur

      December 28, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      Why don’t you stick that fat head of yours up your own read end and learn what the source of the brown stuff spilling out of your mouth is…

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