Tottenham have endured a tough start to the 2019/20 Premier League season, putting Mauricio Pochettino under pressure to remain in the dugout. Spurs find themselves well off the pace of the league leaders Liverpool, dispelling the notion that they can compete for the top-flight crown this term barring a collapse from the Reds and Manchester City at the top of the table.
Pochettino guided his team to the final of the Champions League last season, proving his credentials as an elite manager. Tottenham were beaten by Liverpool, but there was hope that the experience would benefit the team for another crack at the European title. However, their 7-2 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich has put their hopes in advancing from the group stage in jeopardy. The result summed up the mood in North London to start the campaign.
Reasons to Doubt
The minimum expectation in the Premier League will be to finish in the top four, especially considering the struggles of Manchester United and a youthful Chelsea team. As of October 14, Spurs are still backed at 5/4 in the Betway betting odds to claim a spot among the elite for another campaign. It will take a strong effort from the squad and they will have to defy their doubters, who are suggesting that the current group of players have run their course as a team.
Spurs appear to lack unity on the pitch, which began during the summer when players reportedly were seeking moves away from the club. Christian Eriksen is in the final year of his contract and has been continually linked with a move to Real Madrid, although it was not forthcoming during the transfer window. Danny Rose has been unsettled for over a year and his form has dipped at left-back, while Toby Alderweireld has also not been at his best amid a contract dispute.
Kieran Trippier was one player to depart in the summer and the decision to allow him to leave looks foolish to say the least. Serge Aurier has endured a nightmare time since replacing the England international on a permanent basis. Even the consistent Jan Vertonghen has not operated at a solid level and matters at the back have taken a worse turn following Hugo Lloris’ injury, robbing Spurs of their keeper and leader on the field.
Dele Alli looks to be lost and short on confidence after a torrid time with injuries in 2019. The 23-year-old is not short on ability, but he needs minutes on the pitch to regain his touch. However, Spurs cannot afford to carry him amid their other problems. Pochettino needs one of his best players to break out of his slump sooner rather than later.
Reasons to Believe
Harry Kane is always a good starting point. The 26-year-old has remained at the peak of his powers despite the issues elsewhere on the pitch. He has notched five goals in his eight appearances in the Premier League this term and is on course for another 20-strike season. Kane has been a model of consistency since 2014, although more will be asked of him as a leader to step up in Lloris’ absence.
Son Heung-min has also been excellent, continuing to thrive in the final third alongside Kane. His speed and skill are a constant threat. He has proved his quality time and again against elite competition. Erik Lamela has had his moments this term, including a fine strike against Manchester City before turning provider for Lucas Moura to earn a point at the Etihad Stadium.
Tottenham have plenty of goals in the team with Kane, Son, Lamela and Lucas. As long as those players are fit and firing, Spurs can score enough to fire themselves into the top four. Giovanni Lo Celso should be able to help provide ammunition as he adjusts to life in the Premier League, while Alli should find his form as he gains more minutes on the pitch.
Eriksen remains in the first-team picture, although Pochettino has been reluctant to start him. There is always the hope that the Dane remains at the club beyond the January transfer window. Keeping him could be a galvanising force that allows Spurs to make a surge for the top four. Fortunately for them it’s not a bad year to have a slow start to the campaign due to the problems of their rivals.