It has to be said that Tottenham are enjoying a decent season so far, even if performances at times haven’t been quite up to standard. Undeserved 2-1 away wins – all courtesy of last-minute winners – against Aston Villa, Hull and Swansea earlier in the season suggests the ability to win ugly, a big difference from last term.
It is so crucial to pick up maximum points when not playing well and it seems as if Spurs have the ability to do this. However, the disappointing defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend has posed many questions about Tottenham’s top four credentials, suggesting that they are still someway short of achieving this finish.
Spurs sit 6th in the Premier League, just three points off a Champions League spot, but importantly are still in three cup competitions. The upcoming League Cup semi-final tie against Sheffield United presents a great chance for a first Wembley appearance since 2009, and perhaps a first trophy since 2008.
The Europa League presents an alternative passage to the Champions League if a club can go all the way, which although tough, Spurs certainly have the strength in depth to go far into the competition. This depth is also why they can also challenge for the FA Cup, a trophy they haven’t won since 1991.
Obviously the most important aim would be a top four finish in the league, and although they have strength in depth, there is still a feeling that they are a couple of world class players away from a return to the European elite. The Palace defeat might have been their first loss for six league games, and seven in all competitions, but if Spurs have serious Champions League qualification aspirations then these are the type of matches that can’t afford to be lost.
Tottenham’s defensive frailties were exposed last Saturday, with Federico Fazio still struggling for the consistent performances week in and week out. Despite keeping the ball extremely well until Palace equalised, the ease at which the home side seemingly were allowed to create chances should worry Mauricio Pochettino. While Tottenham are not short of numbers in defence, a top quality centre-back is an area where Spurs are lacking compared to the other teams in the top four.
On the other hand, the Chelsea game showed that Tottenham are capable of playing eye-catching football when going forward. Harry Kane has been a revelation since becoming a regular in the side. He scored his 18th goal of the season at the weekend with eight coming in the Premier League. It was also his sixth goal in as many league games and he is playing with an extreme confidence that makes him a constant threat to opposing defenders.
Although Kane is currently on fire, Spurs’ other striking options are not. Emmanuel Adebayor has fallen out of favour this season with limited opportunities and even more limited goals. Roberto Soldado is yet to show what he is capable of since signing in 2013, taking a lot longer to adapt to English football than many had expected. With only one Premier League goal to his name this season, Spurs might have to start looking elsewhere this January.
Having two genuine goalscorers is something that could be the difference between a Europa League and Champions League place next season, so this transfer window is could prove pivotal in Tottenham’s season.