With the start of the 2016/17 Premier League season less than two weeks away, Premier League correspondent Richard Jolly provides his previews for each club. Here he looks at Tottenham Hotspur.
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A breakthrough season nonetheless finished in familiar fashion as, for the 21st consecutive year, Tottenham finished behind Arsenal.
Mauricio Pochettino was quick to apologise for the final-day 5-1 thrashing at Newcastle United but there was much to savour from the rest of the campaign.
At times, Spurs looked the best team in the league. A third-place finish secured direct qualification for the Uefa Champions League and also means that, for once, they are spared the draining effect of Thursday night Europa League games.
Tottenham should fare better in other respects, too: the arrival of Vincent Janssen means they finally have a striking alternative to Harry Kane while Victor Wanyama’s move from Southampton means the similarly overworked defensive midfielder Eric Dier may get a rest every now and again.
Given the pace Pochettino’s team play at, strength in depth is imperative. The rapid improvement of players such as Kane, Dier, Dele Alli and Danny Rose is testament to the Argentine’s coaching and offers hope they can get better again.
Yet if Tottenham should be a stronger team, the probability is that most of their rivals will improve, too.
Last season may have presented their best chance to win the title. It would be an achievement if they qualify for the Champions League again.
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The best centre-back in England last season, when he transformed Tottenham’s defensive record to the extent that no side conceded fewer goals. The Belgian was ever present and chipped in with vital goals.
It may be difficult to understudy Kane, given his prolific record and habit of playing every game, but it is crucial someone does after Spurs only had one out-and-out striker. The £17 million (Dh82.3m) Janssen was the 27-goal top scorer in his native Holland last season.
The £22m South Korean is Pochettino’s biggest buy to date but, while he showed some glimpses of quality, he was not in the first-choice team by the end of last season and was outshone by Alli, Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen.
Pochettino’s teams have a tendency to run themselves into the ground and finish seasons poorly. They took two points from their final four games last year. Their last five opponents now include Leicester City, Arsenal, West Ham United and Manchester United, and at a time when much may be at stake.
Predicted finish: 6th
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