With the league’s big guns all failing to convince at times this season, Rob Conlon suggests Tottenham could make a surprise title charge.
The Premier League has been rather odd this year and as yet it shows no signs of changing. Just over a third of the way through the season and Leicester City are top of the table, Jamie Vardy has scored in 10-consecutive matches, and reigning champions Chelsea have just beaten Norwich City to ease fears they could be relegated.
Even this weekend, defenders Martin Skrtel and Kyle Walker both scored classy goals. It’s getting a bit weird.
And with Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United all displaying vulnerabilities, perhaps this is the year to produce a surprise title winner.
After Tottenham’s draw with the Gunners in the North London derby, I wrote that a top four finish is a real possibility for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, but the title was beyond their reach. Since then, none of the sides that currently sit above Spurs have shown that they are of a far superior quality to the rest of the league.
Now I’ve been forced to have a rethink, especially after the comprehensive 4-1 rout of West Ham at White Hart Lane.
This was a Hammers side that have won at Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool, and have also beaten Chelsea at Upton Park. Slaven Bilic may have been without his star playmaker Dimitri Payet, but he still had his first-choice back four on show, and Spurs often picked them apart with apparent ease.
The result means Tottenham have yet to lose in the league since the opening-day defeat against Manchester United. Even at Old Trafford they were incredibly unlucky to get beat – United’s winner coming from a fluky Walker own-goal.
England striker Harry Kane has forced all those that suggested he was a one-season wonder to eat their words – his double means has now scored eight goals in his last five matches for his club.
Belgian Mousa Dembele – who was seemingly on his way out of the club in the summer – looks like a new player, bossing the centre of midfield alongside young Englishman Eric Dier and Delle Alli.
And even without the suspended Erik Lamela – another player to be revitalised under Pochettino’s management – Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-min were constant threats on the flanks.
While Spurs have always been attractive to watch going forward, Pochettino has now instilled a defensive resolve into the side. Belgium internationals Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld form a steady partnership at centre-half, and in Frenchman Hugo Lloris they are safe in the knowledge they have one of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers behind them.
As things stand only Leicester and Manchester City have scored more and only Manchester United have conceded less.
Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho has admitted it is “impossible” for Chelsea to regain their title following their dreadful start, Arsene Wenger’s decision not to sign any outfield reinforcements looks like it could cost injury-ravaged Arsenal, questions remain whether Manchester United possess enough firepower, Manchester City look incredibly porous without Vincent Kompany, and surprise package Leicester were taken to the cleaners in their one fixture against top opposition.
Next week could be the ultimate litmus test as Spurs host Chelsea – who have shown signs of resurgence in recent weeks – only three days after the energy-sapping trip to Azerbajani side Qarabag FK.
If Tottenham continue to march on next Sunday, who knows what they might achieve?