Spurs players celebrating their second goal versus Manchester United on matchday two.
At the end of the 2022-23 season, Spurs finished in 8th place in the Premier League after a campaign full of chaos and losses, as Antonio Conte got sacked and Harry Kane left after 14 years at the club. The future seemed bleak for Spurs as their star striker left the club, as well as key players like Lucas Moura.
And yet, here we are. Going into the second international break of the season, Spurs sit top of the Premier League, ahead of the likes of Pep Guardiola’s treble-winning Manchester City and Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, all while being undefeated, picking up 20 points out of 24. Spurs’ new head coach, Ange Postecoglou, has inspired the team and brought a new team spirit. One question sticks out: Can the Spurs keep their consistency and potentially win the title?
A Trophyless History
The last time Spurs won the English title was in 1961, which was 62 years ago. The last time Spurs won any trophy was in 2008 when they won the League Cup. That was 15 years ago. The last time Spurs were close to winning the Premier League was in the 2015/16 season when they were in a two-horse race to the title. With whom you may ask? Leicester City, who are now in the EFL Championship.
It is safe to say, Spurs haven’t been a ‘winning’ team in about a decade and a half. They have lost numerous cup finals, including the FA Cup, EFL Cup, and the Champions League. A trophy has been seemingly avoiding them for the longest time, but this season could be the change.
Positive Signs This Season
There are many factors suggesting that a title challenge is a very realistic possibility, with one of the most prominent being that they don’t have any European football to distract them, in addition to already being knocked out of the EFL Cup. That 8th-place finish in the Premier League last season could have been a blessing in disguise, as fewer games means more recovery time for players, leading to better performances. Furthermore, Heung-Min Son and James Maddison have both picked up the Player of the Month award for September and August respectively, and Postecoglou won two Manager of the Month awards in a row. The last manager to win two awards in the same season was Jurgen Klopp in 2019, and that was in a full season.
Spurs have also played Arsenal (2-2 D), Liverpool (2-1 W), and Manchester United (2-0 W). On the flip side of that, they have also played all three of the newly promoted teams, which seems to discredit their incredible start to the season.
Looking into more advanced stats, Spurs have had the most shots this season (153), third-most tackles (160), third-most passes (4,597), third-highest average possession (61.4%), the highest average rating for all players (7.35/10), and the second-highest goal-differential in the league behind Manchester City and Newcastle who have +11, and tied with Arsenal who has +10.
In addition to this, it looks like Postecoglou is the fix to all of Spurs’ problems. He has changed their style of play, their mindset, and certainly the team spirit. Many Spurs fans would have wanted a high-profile name such as Julien Naglesmann to manage the club, but Postecoglou seems to be the perfect fit.
However, we have seen this before. This wasn’t 20 years ago, 10 years, not even 3 years ago. Just last season, Spurs were having a similar start to the season at this campaign. They had the best start to an English League season since 1963. Kane was flying high with 8 goals in 10 games, as after matchday 10, Spurs were 3rd on 20 points behind Arsenal and Manchester City. Of course, they failed to keep this consistency, as they eventually finished in 8th place, which has been a trend for Spurs in recent years. This season, they have had an even better start, but does that mean they can keep the consistency going?
Consistency has seemed to be the main problem for Spurs for many years, as they have been so close so many times, and always failed to achieve something. Sometimes Spurs can do the unthinkable, like the comeback against Ajax in the Champions League Semi-Final, 2019, and sometimes they can do stuff like losing the Premier League title to Leicester City in 2016 or getting knocked out of the FA Cup semi-final by Portsmouth in 2010, who would later get relegated in the Premier League with 19 points. This has led to a term being used to describe when Spurs do something in a matter of unpredictability, that being ‘Spursy.’
It is almost like we see this trend happening over and over again, season after season, with seemingly no way of Spurs getting a real shot at any good title. Last season's post-match interview with Antonio Conte after a 3-3 draw with Southampton, seemed to perfectly sum up this point. "The problem is we have shown we are not a team. We are 11 players. I see selfish players. It is the same every season, no matter who the manager is. They’re used to it here. Don’t play for something important. They don’t want to play under pressure. They don’t want to play under stress. Tottenham’s story is this.” This led to him getting the sack, but what he said here seems to be a pattern in Spurs’ history. There seems to be hope with Postecoglou being the new manager and bringing a new perspective to the team, but can a new manager simply make this big of a difference?
It can, as it has been shown many times. For example, Claudio Ranieri joined a relegation-fighting Leicester City and won the Prem the same season he joined. Klopp and Guardiola joined their respective Prem teams and created a dynasty of trophies and success. Jose Mourinho dominated the Prem with Chelsea, who have struggled without him. A good manager can make a huge difference, but it is too early to see if Postecoglou is that manager who can change everything for Spurs.
Other Title Contending Teams
Manchester City has been incredibly consistent for the past decade or so, and many people think Manchester City can still win the title, even without key players like Kevin De Bruyne and Joao Cancelo. If anything, this season looks like the season Manchester City won’t win the title, as they have lost their last two games coming into the international break. One to another title contender in Arsenal, but another to a potentially relegation-battling team in Wolves. Erling Haaland is their main man and has had a great start to the season, bagging 8 goals in 8 matches. It certainly looks like no one can stop him, but after having 0.00 expected goals against their 1-0 loss against Arsenal, it seems like he could be slowing down and not the same player he was last season.
Arsenal is the other main contender for the title, and they have a star-studded squad full of young talent who just missed out on the title last season. They are also the only undefeated in the Prem alongside Spurs and are on the same number of points and goal differential as Spurs, but behind on goals scored. They drew 2-2 against Spurs on matchday six and have arguably had a more difficult stretch of games in comparison to Spurs.
So, will Spurs win the league? If I had a million dollars, I would rather bet on Red Star Belgrade winning the Champions League.
Spurs do not have the ability and don’t have the consistency to win a league. Sure, they have had a great season, but I think there is a much higher possibility of Arsenal or Manchester City winning the title. They have had great starts to seasons like last year, but it was shown plain and obvious that Spurs can not keep up with the consistency needed to win the league, something that Manchester City and Arsenal possess.
I would say they would finish in the top four, and quite frankly it would be embarrassing if they don’t, but they simply can’t do it in the first season of getting a new manager, losing their star player, and having a complete rebuild of the entire team. Give them a couple of seasons or two, and I am sure they can have an incredible chance of winning, but it is simply not the season for them. However, always keep in mind that anything can happen, and this isn’t a 100% guarantee. I am sure no one could have predicted Leicester winning the Prem, but they did.
To sum it all up in the words of Giorgio Chiellini, “It is the history of the Tottenham.”