Although few would place a bet on Spurs winning the Premier League this season, they are a strong contender for finishing in the top four. It’s a place where the club is very comfortable, having finished in or near the top four for much of the last decade.
However, Spurs missed out in 2019/20, finishing sixth behind Leicester, Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, and league champions, Liverpool. It still earned them a spot in the Europa League qualifiers.
Finishing in the top four is important for big clubs as it sees them earning significantly more money than they would in the Europa League or no continental competition at all. For context, the winner of the Europa League earns just under €17 million, while the club that wins the Champions League gets just over €66 million.
Each club that makes it to the Champions League group stages earns more than €15 million, regardless of how well they perform or how far they progress. So a club that finishes in the top four of the Premier League will receive almost the same amount from UEFA as the club that wins the Europa League, even if they lose each of the group games they play in.
It’s easy to see why Spurs would benefit from a strong finish in the Premier League. But ahead of the 2020/21 season, a supercomputer made predictions on the outcome of the competition and it wasn’t good news for Spurs fans.
According to The Daily Mirror, which reported the predictions, Manchester City are most likely to win, with Liverpool in second, Manchester United in third, Chelsea in fourth and Tottenham in fifth.
But will this prediction be right? Or can the Lilywhites beat the machine and get back into the top flight of European football?
Things Are Looking Good So Far
As well all know, predictions and tips can change rapidly and significantly based on the outcomes of games. So with the hindsight of several games already played, we now have a better picture of how each team is faring this season.
With nine games played, Spurs sit at the top of the table, ahead of Liverpool on goal difference.
After an unfortunate start to the season, losing 1-0 to Everton at home in mid-September, the club bounced pack with a 5-2 victory against Southampton the following week. This was then followed up with a 1-1 draw against Newcastle at home.
Unlike some other teams, Spurs have had a hectic start to the season. Between the club’s first game on 13th September and their game against Manchester United on 4th October, they were playing a game every 3-4 days thanks to Europa League qualifying and playoff games, an EFL Cup game, and Premier League matches.
This made the Lilywhites’ 6-1 victory against Manchester United on their home turf even more impressive. The team went 1-0 down after just two minutes, but Tanguy Ndombele had levelled the store just two minutes later.
After United had Anthony Martial sent off 28 minutes into the game, Spurs capitalised, knocking another five goals past David de Gea. This meant the Red Devils suffered their joint heaviest defeat since the start of the Premier League. Spurs also became the first club to score four goals against United in the first half of a game at Old Trafford since November of 1957.
The club that did it 63 years ago? That was Tottenham too!
More Big Wins
Beating the supercomputer will be dependent on two main factors: picking up points against the other top-four contenders and not losing points to clubs lower down the league.
So far, Spurs have done a decent job of this, though a 3-3 draw against West Ham and a 1-1 draw against Newcastle mean two good opportunities for three points were wasted.
Since then, things have been going to plan. Son Heung-min netted a solitary goal in the 76th minute against Burnley to pick up three points against the northern side at the end of October, while Harry Kane and Gareth Bale scored one each against Brighton in early November to secure a 2-1 victory.
The following week, Kane secured another three points with an 88th-minute goal against West Brom, helping to push the club close to the top of the table.
In addition to the three points earned from the 6-1 thrashing at Old Trafford, more crucial points were picked up against Manchester City on 21st November. Son Heung-min and Giovani Lo Celso scored in the 5th and 65th minutes respectively to secure a 2-0 victory. This was despite City maintaining possession for two-thirds of the game and making 22 shots compared to Spurs’ four.
Can This Be Maintained?
Spurs have currently got four players sat out due to injuries and illnesses. Japhet Tanganga has been out since the end of September due to thigh problems, though his absence doesn’t appear to have affected the club too much given its performance through October and November.
However, Matt Doherty, Erik Lamela, and Toby Alderweireld have picked up injuries or short-term illnesses in November. Each of them has played in the majority of games this season, including Europa League matches. So their absence may be notable in the coming games. The loss of Alderweireld, in particular, is a big blow as he has put in several great performances this season.
These injuries are particularly concerning due to the games the Lilywhites are due to play next.
At the end of November, Tottenham head across London for a derby against Chelsea. A week later, they take part in the second of three London derbies, hosting Arsenal at home, with a third away at Crystal Palace the following week.
Bookmakers are predicting each of these games will be close, though Chelsea have a slight edge in the first game.
After this, the Lilywhites have two more pre-Christmas games. The first will be against Liverpool at Anfield and the second will be against Leicester at home. These will be tough games, and while Spurs may not be the favourite going into them, they do stand a chance of picking up points.
Come the New Year, with at least one game against each big club out of the way, we’ll get a better understand of whether the supercomputer was right. Though, from the performance we’ve seen so far, and looking at where some other clubs sit in the table, it might end up being very wrong.