It’s February. It’s been six months since the new Premier League season has begun and Spurs sit second in the table – ahead of Arsenal due to our superior goal difference, a point ahead of Manchester City (who we play next) and now, seven points ahead of Manchester United who are currently rotting away in fifth place. No, don’t pinch yourself – I’ve already done so at least 101 times and it’s only left countless of red marks across my arm.
It’s hard to believe it, isn’t it? Had to check the league table again and again, had to rub my eyes a few times and come to terms with reality – not only are Spurs second in the league, but also with the best defensive record and the best goal difference too, and arguably, playing the best football in the league as well. It’s a lovely, yet a fearful time to be a Tottenham supporter. Lovely for obvious reasons – the club is at the healthiest position it has been in such a long time. The present and the future of the club, especially with the new stadium on the rise, looks to be in good hands and not to mention, the connection between the fans, players, manager and the club overall has been nothing short of incredible this season.
And fearful, well, for obvious reasons again – being involved in a potential title race is unfamiliar territory for the club and the fans. For many years the aim and the continuous demand from the supporters has been the requirement to finish in the top four and bring Champions League football back to White Hart Lane. Whilst it is still not mathematically impossible for us to somehow finish outside the top four this season (even for Spurs standards!), with thirteen more games to play, it is definitely ours to throw away from the position we’re currently in.
Plenty of fans are looking towards a potential dogfight for the Premier League title, while others are looking both up and down the table, in worry of a collapse only Spurs are capable of doing.
In my previous piece, I was a little early off my seat from watching the football that we were playing upon the turn of the year to talk about us contending for the title this season. I was tweeting a lot about it and then I went ahead and wrote an article just short off 1000 words about how we can potentially find ourselves in a similar position to which we currently are in now, later on in the season. A lot of people were very quick to tell me that it was far too early to talk about us being anywhere near battling for the title (and understandably so), but from the inconsistency that was evident so early on in the season from many of the teams which we are so used to looking up at in the league table at around this time of the year, something just told me that we had a very good chance at doing something that many of us have never lived to see Spurs do – finding ourselves in a race for the title.
Now this may have been the case just because I’m a relatively younger Spurs fan who tends to get excited by what he sees very quickly, or perhaps it’s simply because I’ve never seen or heard of a Spurs outfit in such a healthy position in terms of the mixture and balance of youth and experience we currently have in the team, in an awful long time. I am honestly struggling to remember the last time that our backline has been so compact and organised as it is today. To let in only 19 goals in 25 games has been amazingly refreshing to see – it’s fair to say it’s an improvement to our defence from last season which conceded the same amount of goals as relegated Burnley. Undoubtedly our backline has been a key factor to our success this season – to be as strong at the back as we have been this season, especially with the signing of Toby Alderweireld from Atletico Madrid in the summer, it has won us plenty of points so far this year. As a certain Sir Alex Ferguson once said, “attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.”
That being said, it brings me onto the next part which I really wanted to write about – titles. We are still in three competitions having progressed recently in the FA Cup with wins at Leicester and Colchester. The Europa League returns soon as we prepare for a two legged game against Fiorentina – who knocked us out of this competition last season. I get frustrated when I see fans on Twitter talking about choosing to drop out of one of the two cup competitions (some fans even willing to drop out of both!) in order to give us an advantage to finishing our league season strongly. But why? Why choose?
Pochettino has built this team with strength in almost every department, barring the problem we have for only having one out-and-out striker in the form of Harry Kane. I can’t see why we can’t look to progress as far as we can in all competitions we’re in with the set of players we have at the club. Not many have picked this one up, but the rotation in our team has been a big part of our success this term. Pochettino loves changing his full backs every one/two games, depending on the opposition we’re up against. Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier rotate often at RB and Danny Rose and Ben Davies do the same at LB – and again, I can’t remember the last time we had such flexibility in our full back positions that we could rotate so often as we have done this season and find it difficult to notice a change in our play. And again, this is another crucial, crucial part of our success this season – we can change the shape in our team, but it doesn’t change our style of play. It’s still the same work ethic. It’s still the same bunch of players running their socks’ off. It’s still the same eleven players in Lilywhite shirts every week, no matter who’s wearing them, that pull themselves and everyone else around them to pieces to grind out a result.
You know what? Scrap the title. Come to think of it all, the mere thought of having Champions League nights back at White Hart Lane in our last season there with the likes of Dele Alli and Harry Kane in our team sends a shiver down my spine – such exciting, exciting times to be Spurs. Sometimes you just have to get through the bad times (and there have been plenty of those down the years), to get to the good times. I started the season being blindly optimistic about finishing in the top four, anything more than that will simply be a massive bonus – and with the football Pochettino has Spurs playing for the majority of this term, I sometimes find it really difficult to not think why we can’t go all the way and seriously challenge for the league.
Step by step. Day by day. Game by game. We need to focus on ourselves, no matter how hard it is with the talks of a potential charge for the title. Even when we as fans find it nerve wracking when the going gets a little tough and when sides such as Watford come away from home and camp all eleven players in and around their own penalty area, it’s encouraging to see our players knocking on the door, making plenty of chances and getting shots away until the opposition eventually cave in.
For now though, I’m living in the moment. And that’s what football is all about to me. Don’t let others tell you that you’re getting ahead of yourself. Live for today instead of worrying too much about tomorrow. And today, Spurs are in the best position we’ve seen them in in such a long time. So enjoy it. Drink it all in and enjoy watching everything unfold. For a while this was a dream, but it’s slowly turning into reality. And you better believe it because these bunch of players and Mauricio Pochettino are beginning to make me believe in belief.
Up the Tottenham!