It was just before Christmas 2020 that Jose Mourinho’s Spurs started to fall away. Tottenham had topped the league just a month earlier after beating Manchester City and further positive results against Chelsea and Arsenal put the club in a very good place.
We now know how poorly last season panned out and the soccer betting markets were not too favourable to the club when it came to predicting this season’s EPL champion. Since Antonio Conte took over from Nuno Espirito Santo, there has been renewed hope around the place. But just how well can Spurs do this year?
Transfers In and Out
It is fair to say that the big transfer arrivals this season have produced a mixed bag. Bryan Gil came in from Sevilla with high hopes – and Erik Lamela going the other way – but he has now been loaned to fellow La Liga club Valencia. Emerson Royal has been far more successful and has become a regular in the starting eleven.
But it was the arrival of Antonio Conte – and his signings during the January transfer window – that have sparked excitement in North London. The arrival of Dejan Kulusevski on loan was a coup and the permanent signing of Rodrigo Bentancur, also from Juventus, will bring some much-needed flair to the centre of the pitch.
It now looks as though Spurs will be in a race for the final Champions League spot with West Ham, Arsenal and Manchester United. Qualifying for Europe’s premier club competition will be key to keeping some of the elite players at the club – and attracting new faces to take the team forward.
After a number of postponements, Spurs find themselves with some games in hand. So that is already a positive. Conte’s men will have to win the games to make the difference, of course. But crashing out of the Europa Conference League, although embarrassing at the time, may work in the club’s favour.
Not having a European distraction means that Tottenham can concentrate on the league and securing a high a finish as possible. European qualification is a must but which competition Spurs will end up in will depend on how the side get on in the most important games between now and the end of the season.
Spurs have to go to both Manchester clubs and Liverpool before the end of the season – and they will all be tough games. But there is a crucial home fixture against West Ham in March that could go a long way towards how well Tottenham will do. Finishing off the season with games against Burnley and Norwich could also be hugely important.
Figure 1: Spurs fans will be hoping for some good performances from now on
Chances of Success
So there does seem to be a pretty good chance of finishing in the top four if Antonio Conte can continue to get the best out of his players. But second half collapses, like the game against Southampton recently, cannot be tolerated. It seems unlikely that Spurs will miss out on Europe for the first time since 2009/10, but concentration is key now.
Away from the Premier League, there have already been exits from the Carabao Cup and the Europa Conference League. That just leaves the FA Cup. Although the league definitely has to take priority, the number of top clubs already knocked out from the FA Cup must make Conte feel as though there is a chance of some morale-boosting silverware there.
How well Spurs do in the next few years depends greatly on which European competition they qualify for this season. A Champions League berth would mean a very interesting summer transfer window and the ability to target some top-class names.
But anything less than that could mean the departure of Harry Kane and with that a real problem attracting the talent the club needs to move forward. The next few months look like being a massively important moment for the club.