2019/20 Premier League preview - Tottenham: Top-three finish again the target to kick-start new era
Richard Jolly runs the rule over Tottenham ahead of the new season, including key player, new signing to watch and predicted league finish
Mauricio Pochettino has said that he would have resigned if Tottenham had won the Champions League. Yet if a chapter ended, a new one has begun.
Tottenham have belatedly spent, after 18 months of self-imposed austerity, with Tanguy Ndombele an exciting, expensive arrival and others targeted, while Kieran Trippier is gone.
Who finishes where in 2019-20?
But there is also the question of how good they are: while reaching new heights in the Champions League, their points total has slipped from 86, in 2016/17, to 71 last year.
Injuries and a focus on Europe were factors, but Spurs lost their last six away league games. Pochettino has a terrific starting XI but, with the gap to the top two, it is another test of his alchemy.
Key player: Dele Alli
Harry Kane’s goals can be taken for granted. Alli’s cannot. His return decreased from 22 goals in 2016/17 to seven last year. It is only partly explicable by sometimes playing in a deeper role and injuries, but also by deteriorating form. Getting Alli back to his best as a big-game scorer would make a major difference.
Signing to watch: Tanguy Ndombele
Spurs’ club record buy looks well suited to Pochettino’s brand of football. The Frenchman’s power and ball-carrying ability mean he is a belated replacement for the hugely influential Mousa Dembele. That physicality equips him well for the Premier League, but he flourished for Lyon in last season’s Champions League.
Talking point: Can Pochettino again get the best from players who thought they were leaving?
Toby Alderweireld was expected to go in 2018 and then had an excellent season. So far this summer, Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose, who could all have gone, remain on the books.
Alderweireld seems resigned to staying again but it is a test of Pochettino’s man-management to motivate the potential departures when the Belgian and the Dane can be his best defender and midfielder respectively.
With Alderweireld and Eriksen out of contract in 2020, Spurs also have to show the persuasive powers to get them to sign new deals, rather than leaving on free transfers.
Updated: August 2, 2019 03:34 PM