Do Tottenham represent a genuine threat?

If you’d told Spurs fans five years ago that their captain would soon believe that they could challenge for the title they’d have never believed you. But as Manchester City fans will tell you: a lot can happen in a short space of time in football. When Redknapp took over in north London Spurs were facing relegation, now Ledley King has come out and said they’re up there with the best in the league:

“I hope we can be the biggest challengers to the Manchester teams. We feel we can win every game and that showed against Fulham, although we didn’t play well…But there was still the feeling we could get the result, and that’s something new. Maybe the old Spurs side have played good football but when it gets tough we were not there to stick it out. We are better away from home now and able to grind out results.”

As strange as it may seem for many non-Spurs fans you have to admit that apart from the two Manchester clubs Spurs are the in-form team. Joe Jordan said after the Fulham game that they were lucky to win, and they were, but that shouldn’t detract from their brilliant start to the season. Moreover, winning even whilst you don’t play well is the key to success in any league. It is something that Manchester Utd has become exceptionally good at over the years and it has served them pretty well. The other thing you have to consider is that they won at the weekend without their manager. I’m sure Redknapp still has input into each game but whilst recovering from his heart operation he is essentially serving a month long touchline ban.

They may currently sit fifth but should Tottenham win their game in hand they will go fourth or even third depending on goal difference after playing their extra game. It is certainly the strongest Spurs side I have ever witnessed in my lifetime of watching football and I’m sure that statement rings true with fans from an older generation too.

Filled the gaps

Last year Spurs were good, but they were found lacking in particular departments. Notably at right back and up front. But with the return of Kyle Walker and the acquisition of Adebayor they have filled those gaps and put them in a position to move forward. The Luka Modric affair also says two things to me: firstly that this is the only time I have ever witnessed Spurs being able to fend off interest in one of their players from a top club. Secondly that this has to be a season of success for them, if not they run the very real risk of losing Modric in the summer, which would be a bitter blow for them. Scott Parker has also been a revelation and brings the steel to the midfield that they desperately needed.

Form

The only teams Spurs have lost to in the league this year have been the Manchester clubs whilst they comprehensively beat Liverpool and ground out an impressive victory against their local rivals Arsenal. If Ledley’s statement is to ring true then we should know before Christmas when not only will they have been through Redknapp’s prolonged absence but they will have also played Chelsea. Despite Chelsea’s tempestuous form many still consider them favourites to come third this year and Spurs can enter the new year with a victory over Villas-Boas’ team then I’m sure not many would argue with Ledley.

There is undoubtedly a long way to go before Spurs reach the heights they have been able to smell for a couple of years now but if they keep Adebayor and other key players fit they have a good chance of ending the season in a position they can be proud of and potentially finish above their local rivals for the first time in Premier League history. I think to say they can challenge for the title might be a little far considering they lost 3-0 and 5-1 to the top two but third is well within their grasp.

Every season most teams experience a barren spell. Last season Liverpool started terribly before Chelsea’s form evaded them for over a month and then Arsenal collapsed post Carling Cup final. This year Arsenal started badly and have recovered well and Spurs fans will be hoping that they can either avoid such an occurrence or respond well when the potential loss of form does happen. For years we’ve been saying in England that we have one of the most competitive leagues in the world but the statement means nothing if the top four always remain the top four. This year, without the distraction of the Champions League, Spurs will hope that they can announce themselves at the top with a little more conviction than they last year.

For more debate follow me on Twitter @H_Mackay

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