Can Spurs Finally go All the Way
Death, taxes, and Tottenham getting a result against Manchester City despite being on the back foot. In the past three league meetings between the teams, Spurs have managed less than 10 shots at goal, and faced over times that number. Yet, they’ve grabbed seven points from those games, scoring six times and conceding just twice.
This latest victory came in a fan-less home ground, thanks to goals from Giovani Lo Celso and fifth Son Heung-Min strike against City in as many games. It means they still haven’t conceded a goal to the former champions in their new home. But most importantly, Jose Mourinho’s men will end the weekend top of the Premier League. ‘I’m very proud’, said the Portuguese manager. ‘They deserve big applause and lots of respect’.
Over the past five years, Spurs have mounted something akin to title challenges. In three of the five full seasons under Mauricio Pochettino, they’d look on for a title tilt before falling short. Even for a brief period under Harry Redknapp, they had a go at it. Ultimately, those were all failures, either by not quite catching the team above them, or by fading and dropping even further behind.
But never had they been top at any real point. Even under Pochettino – when they became a side to be taken seriously. Spurs had a habit of being slow starters. Too many draws would be either side of supposedly statement victories. Uncharacteristic defeats would accompany eye-catching wins. Even when they looked like serious contenders, Spurs were always playing catch-up.
This time, however, they are currently number one in the league. Spurs lost their first league game of the season, in a hapless display at home to Everton. But since then, Mourinho’s side have six out of eight, including four wins in a row. They have the best away record in the league, with four wins from four, and 13 goals scored. Nine games in, with 20 points overall, they are currently above Champions Liverpool on goal difference.
That’s a one more than their tally after as many games in 2016/17, when they had a lasting title challenge and finished with 86 points. It’s the same as the 2017/18 season, and a far cry from last season’s total of 11 points after nine games. This might be crumpled season, but not even Spurs’ peak years of the century can surpass their current points ratio.
But is it too early to really talk about the title? Probably. We’re still only nine weeks into the season, even if it’s late November. Manchester City are in the bottom half. Aston Villa had the chance to go top before Spurs. Leicester could have moved to number one after Spurs. A compressed campaign might give room for others to more than ruffle the feathers of the big guns, but it’s still early days.
Plus, this may be down to the state of the other teams than anything else. Spurs’ 20 points may be more than most of their previous seasons, but it’s still below their 2018/19 campaign, and that was deemed a slow start. In the past three seasons, the teams who were top after nine games have had points tallies that were not less than 23. That was Liverpool and City in 2018/19. In the two seasons either side of that, both sides have led with 25 points in different campaigns.
So, are Spurs benefitting from the sloppiness of the usual suspects? Or are they making significant improvements? Maybe, maybe not. This is still the side that threw away a three-goal in absurd fashion to West Ham last month.
But in such a tight season, but in league proximity, and calendar, an early start could be key. Stumbles will come across the road, but it’ll help that a team has bought itself leeway by being out in front. Mourinho will be the first to downplay any title shout at this point, but the Premier’s League ultimate villain looks to have that glint in his eye again.
There will be twists and turns to come, and it will be a while before the music stops. At the moment, though, Spurs have the parcel.
Kunle Ajao126 Posts
Kunle Ajao is a football writer and columnist for spotkick. Having made a toss of himself trying to actually play the game, he knew better and got a pen instead of boots. Spends a bit of his time with the game, and thinks he's a bit like Sid Lowe. He's not