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Tottenham Hotspur: 2018/19 Premier League Season Preview

“Is the glass half full or half empty?” is somewhat of an apt description of Tottenham Hotspur’s progression across recent years. On one hand, it is clear to see the improvements that have taken place since Mauricio Pochettino took over as manager at the club, but the physical proof, in the form of silverware, is disappointingly absent.

Some fans will be optimistic that this is the year Spurs push it to the next level by winning a trophy, but with a distinct lack of activity in the summer transfer market, there will be pessimists out there doubting their chances of even finishing in the top four and securing a Champions League spot for a fourth year in a row.

After playing a few matches at their “home away from home” at Wembley Stadium, Tottenham will be moving to a brand-new stadium with a capacity of around 62,000. With more fans than ever travelling to see the North Londoners at a permanent home, what better year for Spurs to finally win some silverware and send the club to that much-desired next level.

The 2017/18 Season

Despite finishing 3rd after a fairly impressive Premier League campaign, some Spurs fans will freely admit that after all the improvements at the club, it is hard to deem the 2017/18 season entirely successful when there wasn’t a great deal of evidence to suggest any development from the previous season.

Nevertheless, the Lilywhites played interesting and imaginative football that allowed Spurs to reach a points tally of 77 – enough to comfortably send them into another Champions League.

Last year’s Champions League run is another reminder of Spurs’ unfortunate trait of putting so much effort in, for it all to fall apart under their feet (which is often harshly referred to as “bottling it”). After some brilliant performances in the group stage, Spurs were not done any favours when they were drawn to Juventus in the round of 16. After holding the Italian outfit to a draw in Turin and scoring the first goal in the home leg at Wembley, Spurs were stunned when their opponent netted twice in under four minutes – enough to send them crashing out.

And it was the same story in the FA Cup. Tottenham reached the semi-final, and scored an early opener against Manchester United, only for the Red Devils to rain on their parade and win the game 2-1, causing Spurs to suffer their eighth FA Cup semi-final defeat in a row.

Manager and Preferred Tactics

Previous Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino became Spurs’ man behind the ropes back in May 2014, which makes him the third longest serving manager of a single team currently in the Premier League, behind Burnley’s Sean Dyche and Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe.

Along with the club itself, we have seen a stark evolution of Pochettino’s playing style since he arrived at White Hart Lane. He has grown very specific in the players he believes will work in his squad but will not hesitate in adapting to different situations if need be. For example, much of the last couple of seasons we’ve seen Spurs play with three centre-backs, while Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies acted as wing-backs. However, due to an injury to Toby Alderweireld, Pochettino reverted back to a classic four-at-the-back system, which seemed to work just as efficiently.

It looks like the team may remain in the latter system as we enter a new season, with Alderweireld’s future remaining uncertain.

Key Players

Who else springs to mind here other than England’s World Cup captain Harry Kane? Now 25 years of age, the clinical striker will be looking to once again improve on his goal tally from the previous Premier League season. 30 goals look an extremely hard figure to beat this time around, but with the World Cup golden boot winner status now on his CV, the Englishman will be even more determined to grab the Premier League by the scruff of its neck. If all goes well for Kane, and he can bag 34 goals in all competitions, he will become Spurs’ third top scorer of all time.

Kane seems just as determined to break the August curse this season as well. The 25-year-old has said he plans to play from the get-go in the Premier League and will attempt to score that ever-elusive goal in the month of August.

Pochettino has gradually been developing a formidable attacking force at Spurs, which is beginning to reach its full capabilities. As a trio, Son Heung-min, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen have matured together to become one of the Premier League’s most dangerous set of attacking midfielders, and will no doubt be a key aspect in Tottenham’s fight for the top spots. With Erik Lamela now seemingly returning to fitness after some long and frustrating injury spells, as well as the technically gifted Lucas Moura eager to make an impact, Spurs are not short of offensive prowess, and that attacking midfield will be crucial to the team’s success.

At the back, with Toby Alderweireld’s future uncertain, it would appear that Davinson Sanchez needs to step up to his defensive partner Jan Vertonghen’s level of composure. The Colombian played impressively at the World Cup and transferring this to the Premier League will be vital to Tottenham’s success.

Captain – Hugo Lloris

French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has been at Tottenham Hotspur for almost six years and some may say is reaching the “riper” ages of a goalkeeper’s playing career. 31 years is not particularly old for a keeper though, and the Frenchman is showing no signs of letting up.

Captain of the 2018 World Cup winning team as well as Tottenham, Lloris certainly has experience of what it means to be a captain, and how to be a good one. The 6 ft 1 man is not one to get too vocal at his teammates, which is something that goalkeepers and captains alike are all too good at. According to those at the club, he knows the game better than most, and thus a more scholarly approach seems to be his way of leading from the back.

Transfer Activity

Currently this section remains barren for Tottenham Hotspur. Their entire list of signings made so far extends as far as absolutely none at all. Despite club chairman Daniel Levy stating that there would be some big signings during the summer transfer window, there hasn’t actually been a single signing at all, which is rather frustrating for Spurs fans.

However, a couple of players have been linked with moves to North London, including unsettled Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, and Manchester United’s Anthony Martial. If Harry Kane plans on playing from the opening game, despite his World Cup exploits, an extra striker would definitely add an extra level of assurance.

What’s Expected This Season?

Given the amount of money that the other top clubs have been spending throughout the transfer window, once could say that on paper, simply finishing in the top four would be a successful Premier League campaign for Tottenham.

However, restless fans of the club are desperate for some silverware, particularly as it has now been over 10 years since Tottenham last won a trophy. Spurs put in some of their best performances in the Champions League last year, against some of Europe’s best, and if they can find some of that energy and desire this year, they may have a good chance of going far in the competition.

It’s now getting to that point where, if Spurs fans don’t have something to brag about soon, then questions about the team’s nerve will need to be firmly answered. For that reason, a successful season is quite straightforward – finish in the top four and win a trophy. This could be a stepping stone on to bigger things at Tottenham and may be the only way to take the club further.

Harry Mahon

90maat's team correspondent for Tottenham Hotspur, graduate of Loughborough University and current student at the University of Surrey.

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