You can’t help but be impressed by Tottenham this season. Well, unless you’re an Arsenal fan, in which case a begrudging acceptance of their quality this season is not something you’d admit too, even if it were true.
But whilst Gooners – and to a lesser extent, supporters of other London sides – may try and ignore the rise of Spurs this season, it’s hard not to be impressed with what Pochettino has built in his short time at The White Hart Lane, their current position and genuine title-challenge testament to the hard work and togetherness of this young talented side and it’s manager.
Along with Leicester they’ve helped shake-up the top of the Premier League, giving the race for the title and quest for Champions League qualification an extra dynamic in addition to the Foxes’ remarkable achievements.
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But more so than just adding some extra spice to the league, the pleasing thing for Spurs and England is the nucleus of English players that regularly feature in Pochettino’s first XI. Harry Kane and Dele Alli catch the eye and generate headlines the most, but Eric Dier, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker are equally important members of the side. And with Kieron Trippier, Tom Carroll and others also around the squad, Spurs have a lot to be proud of at the moment.
But before this turns into a full Spurs love-in, the important thing to take on board from this is the possible benefit to the England side, particularly one heading to a tournament in the summer.
It’s fair to say England have failed to make a significant impact at most major tournaments since 1966, but some of their better showings have come with two or three Spurs players in the side. From ’86 through ’90 and into the following decade, you had the likes of Hoddle, Waddle and Lineker all playing well for the North Londoners, not to mention Gascoigne, Sheringham, Campbell and Anderton. West Ham may have ‘won’ the World Cup in ’66, but Spurs players have contributed more in recent memory.
It remains to be seen if the current batch of English players with Tottenham can impact as well on the national side as some of these household names of the past, but there is certainly room for optimism given their and the side’s performances this season.
And furthermore, aside from historical bias, the mere fact that our national side could have a strong nucleus of players from a single club gives more reason for optimism. From front to back, Hodgson has five Spurs players who will likely feature in his final 23-man squad, their familiarity with each other’s personalities on and off the field play a definite advantage for the Three Lions.
Harry Kane already has 40 goals in 71 games for Tottenham, a very similar ratio to Lineker’s 67 in 105. Obviously he has a long way to go to catch his predecessor’s tally for the national side, but he has started well (3 in 8) and can only grow into the role as time develops.
Dele Alli can provide good competition to Ross Barkley in the attacking midfield role and also has the ability to play anywhere across the midfield, whilst Dier gives England an extra option in the defensive midfield role, and extra cover at the back should they really need it.
The full-backs are solid in both attack and defence, their fitness and work-rate in that position an important facet in today’s game. How much game-time each of these players actually receives in the summer will ultimately come down to the England boss, but they offer great options should he decide to use them.
And obviously the better Spurs do as a side this season, the more likely they are to get picked and carry some of that good feeling into the England camp.
For now, they’ve got a title-challenge and more to maintain, and their concentration and commitment will be fully focused on that. Whether or not they go on to win the title only time will tell, but as England fans we can only be pleased that a side with some excellent young English prospects is performing well at the very top of the league.
Particularly when that side is Spurs (sorry Arsenal fans).