Tottenham Hotspur enter new era of uncertaintyPublished on: September 25, 2019Author: Sam F
Last weekend saw Tottenham Hotspur throwing away a one-goal lead to lose 2-1 to Leicester City. Although a controversial VAR decision was blamed for the result, it’s clear that Spurs just aren’t looking confident at the moment. With further humiliation in the League Cup at the hands of Colchester United, all Tottenham will definitely be getting nervous.
The Leicester defeat came after Tottenham threw away a two-goal lead against Olympiacos in the Champions League. Plus with a defeat at the hands of lowly Newcastle United, and a lack of conviction when it counts, it’s already looking like a massively frustrating football season for the Tottenham faithful.
But why are Mauricio Pochettino’s team looking so inconsistent? The club enjoyed a busy summer transfer period, and they initially looked good to finally get some silverware this season. But with ongoing confusion over the Christian Eriksen saga, it seems that Spurs are still some way from fulfilling their true potential.
Tottenham’s troubles on the road
For a supposed ‘big six’ team, Tottenham don’t appear to be travelling very well. Spurs have had a shocking away record over the past year, and their recent defeat at Leicester was just one in a long series of away losses.
The last time that Spurs won away from home was over eight months ago at Fulham. This only came about through a Harry Winks goal in injury-time. In fact Tottenham have only won two of their last 14 games away from home, and they have lost nine of these encounters.
Apart from the Leicester defeat, Tottenham have also lost away to clubs like Bournemouth, West Ham, Southampton and Burnley. All of these encounters should have been easy wins for a club like Tottenham, but the team have repeatedly crumbled against smaller sides away from home.
Tottenham’s next away match is at Brighton on 5 October, and this could give them their first away win in nearly 10 months. It’s a game that they must succeed at if they wish to boost their sorry away record, particularly as their next away game is at Anfield on 27 October.
Mauricio Pochettino has already stated that the team ‘need to improve our performance away from home,’ and it’s clear that something must be done if the team want to pick up any silverware this season.
The club have thrown away two-goal advantages away at Arsenal and Olympiacos in the past month, and their second-half performances have shown a lack of belief and tenacity.
Although Spurs suffered a blunder when they lost 0-1 at home against Newcastle United, they appear to look much more comfortable at their new Tottenham Hotspur stadium. Their recent 4-0 demolition of Crystal Palace revealed a Spurs side who were relentlessly creative and ruthlessly efficient in their attack.
The win against Palace came after Pochettino reportedly gave the team an hour-long talking to ahead of the match. It seems as though the Argentine manager will need to repeat these actions if the team are going to get anything out of the season.
A lack of fire in the Tottenham mindset?
Tottenham’s defeat against Leicester City has left them in seventh place in the Premier League table. With just eight points from six games played, it’s clear that more needs to be done if they are going to get another Champions League place.
Spurs have finished in the top four in each of their previous four Premier League campaigns. For a while they looked like one of the most exciting teams in the division with plenty of young stars and a hugely talented manager ready to guide them on to greater things.
But as the side has matured, they have started to look a little uninspired at times. Their dismal Champions League final performance highlighted a lack of creativity, and recent Premier League disappointments could have been avoided if they played at the peak of their abilities.
So what’s the blame for Tottenham’s listless performances? There is little doubting Pochettino’s enthusiasm, but the Argentine manager has clearly been frustrated by a team that repeatedly goes against his orders as was seen in the recent away draw with Olympiacos.
There are now questions about who is right player to take the captain’s armband. The usual captain, Hugo Lloris, sat out the Leicester match due to family issues. This left Harry Kane in the captain role, and although there is little doubting Kane’s striking prowess, it’s evident that he couldn’t inspire his teammates to clinch the match.
It’s all a far cry from the Tottenham side who produced an awe-inspiring 2-3 away victory against Ajax in the Champions League last season. This shows a Spurs team who would do anything to achieve the most unlikely of results, but it seems that the side just can’t maintain this kind of consistency.
Tottenham often seem to save their best performances for the bigger teams. Picking up handy draws at both Manchester City and Arsenal shows that Spurs can get decent results when it counts. But with points thrown away in 2019 against the mediocre likes of West Ham and Southampton, it’s clear that Tottenham have to raise their effort levels for each minute of every match.
The Eriksen affair still causing tension
The ongoing saga over Christian Eriksen has been casting a big cloud over Tottenham’s campaign this season. The Danish international made it clear that he wanted to leave Tottenham at the end of last season, and for much of the summer transfer period, he looked like he was heading to mainland Europe.
However, Eriksen now faces a somewhat embarrassing few months at Tottenham as no clubs appeared willing to pay the huge amounts of money requested to sign the Danish star. Just to emphasise his unhappiness at Spurs, Eriksen has repeatedly turned down any future contracts with the club and will face a long wait until the next transfer window opens up on 1 January 2020.
For much of the summer, it looked like the 27-year old was set for a big money move to Real Madrid. But the Spanish side’s boss Zinedine Zidane has stated that the club’s board was unwilling to pay the fee necessary for the player.
As a result, each Tottenham match now usually begins with a discussion about whether Pochettino will include Eriksen in his starting 11. Both Arsenal and West Ham have suffered from mixed fortunes from including want-away players like Alexis Sanchez and Marko Arnautovic in their line-ups, and Pochettino will want to avoid this situation.
Last weekend saw Eriksen on the bench against Leicester, and the Danish player has struggled to have much of an impact in any of the games that he’s played. Barring a decent performance against Aston Villa, Eriksen has been looking out of sorts, and he risks dragging the rest of the Spurs side down with him.
It’s a sad end for a player who has been pivotal to Tottenham’s strong form over the past four seasons. Eriksen has so far scored 50 Premier League goals in 198 starting appearances, and his role in creating assists makes him a player that will be hard to replace.
Although there is talk that Tottenham may try and poach Leicester’s James Maddison in the next transfer window, the fact that Eriksen will be out of contract in May and is desperate to leave spells trouble ahead for Spurs.
Reasons for Tottenham to be hopeful
Spurs might be having a shaky year, but there are plenty of reasons for the Tottenham faithful to be hopeful. In Harry Kane they have one of the world’s best goalscorers, and the England international looks to be free of the injury concerns of last season. Son Heung-Min is full of restless creativity and can be relied upon to create something out of nothing.
Tottenham also had a very eventual summer transfer period. While they didn’t manage to add the Juventus star Paulo Dybala to their attack, a few of their recent signings are already looking good further back in the pitch. Tanguy Ndombele has proven to be a real midfield powerhouse, and Moussa Sissoko has shown that he can give Tottenham an extra level of pace in the midfield.
All Spurs fans will know that this is a team who can be capable of delivering some exhilarating highs before crashing back down to earth. There is still plenty of hope that other new signings like Giovani Lo Celso can find their place in the team if and when Christian Eriksen makes his exit.
In Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham have easily one of the best managers in the country. His enthusiasm for the club has never been in doubt, and it’s clear that he wants to help Spurs finally get their hands on some silverware. But if Tottenham keep throwing away easy victories, Pochettino could soon be looking for a new club who are worthy of his managerial talents.