EPL Previews: Will Spurs bounce back after a massive collapse in 2016?
After Leicester City’s 5000-1 odds to win the Premiership, capping off what is, in all likelihood, the most fantastic championship in major sports history, the perennial powerhouses have gone hard towards defeating the slew of underdogs currently rising up the table. With the addition of three world class managers, Antonio Conte, Jose Mourinho, and Pep Guardiola, this season could shape up to be even crazier than the last.
While international competition has been outstanding, as usual, we can’t help but miss that massive hole in our heart and pine for the return of the soccer league CoachUp loves the most. In order to prepare the loyal and initiate the newcomers, CoachUp will have you all ready for the August 13th showdown between current title-holders Leicester City and newly-promoted Hull City.
We’re counting down by previewing the league’s top ten clubs from 2015-2016, detailing the players to watch, and their European (or lack thereof) adventures. So, without further ado, here's Tottenham Hotspurs and their never-ending quest to put together a full season of successes.
Yes, this is an article about Tottenham, but, in order to truly understand the plight of a Spurs supporter, you must first acknowledge their older brothers in North London: Arsenal. To the delight of Gunners fans across the world, Spurs have desperately tried to become a major player in European football, but haven't finished above Arsenal in 21 years. This, of course, includes the collapse by a very talented, hard-working squad in the last month or so of the 2015-2016 campaign. After sabotaging themselves in the race against Leicester City, they only needed one point against Southampton or near-last place Newcastle. Instead, they lost 2-1 against Southampton and then were downed in a 5-1 humiliation at the hands of an already relegated Newcastle side that were down to 10 men.
But a third place finish is nothing to scoff at though, right? Spurs qualified for Champions League outright for the first time since 2010-2011 when Gareth Bale led them on an epic run to the quarter-finals. With Harry Kane, last season's Golden Boot winner, up top, Spurs have a prolific attack that the rest of England should be terribly afraid of. Alongside Kane is the PFA Young Player of the Year Dele Alli and the ever-crafty winger from Denmark, Christian Eriksen, is still a menace on free-kick opportunities.
The majority of their core players participated in this summer's major tournament festivities -- for France, England, or Belgium, mostly -- and the addition of Victor Wanyama from Southampton will make Spurs a threat to the powerhouses once again.
Even if Kane is unable to score 25+ goals, Spurs will still be anchored by one of the best defenses in England. In the middle, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen have been absolute rocks and, of course, sit in front of Hugo Lloris, an elite goalkeeper. While outside backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker have their spells of error-prone football, the duo's elite speed and offensive chops help support an already electric side in the final third.
Their addition to Champions League meant that Spurs needed to bring in a new striker -- that man in none other than Vincent Janssen, the Eredivisie's top scorer in 2015-2016 with 27 goals. Instead of stretching the fitness of Kane throughout the League and FA Cup, Janssen should be a more than capable substitute for the less important fixtures. If Spurs can start strong and funnel their attack through Alli and Kane once more then there's no telling how high they can climb in 2016-2017.
PREFERRED STARTING XI
PLAYER TO WATCH
Dele Alli, playing in his first game for Spurs since he was suspended in late April for punching Claudio Yacob in the stomach. While many believe that Harry Kane is Spurs' most important figure, it's almost certainly Alli, who is the engine in Tottenham's dynamic midfield. Kane, in all likelihood, will continue to bang in goals for Spurs, but without service and through balls from the electric Alli, the opportunities will come about far less often.
Should Alli, who has a hot streak in him, stay under control and build his legacy for Spurs in Europe, against the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona, then they'll have a decent chance of hanging around far longer than they have any right to.
HIGHLIGHT FROM YESTERYEAR
Before Spurs' dreams of a Premier League title were dashed, their 3-0 victory against Manchester United set the stage for an epic finale. United, still clinging to life and a shot at Champions League, could have certainly used a draw at White Hart Lane, but it was not meant to be. That day, Spurs completely outclassed the English giants, dwarfing them in both effort and skill. A fine brace from Erik Lamela helped Spurs supporters feel invincible and a legit contender for the Premier League crown -- a euphoric feeling that would last until the final few gasps of the campaign.
GETTING OFF TO A GOOD START
8/13 @ Everton -- Draw, 1-1
8/20 vs. Crystal Palace
8/27 vs. Liverpool
9/10 vs. @ Stoke City
9/18 vs. Sunderland
9/24 @ Middlesbrough
10/1 vs. Manchester City
For Spurs, the first few months of the season offer them the opportunity to prove that they can be consistent in the face of an up and down schedule. Following their opening fixture draw against Everton, they'll have some tough matches against fellow mid-tier teams like Liverpool and then at the Britannia vs. Stoke. The Potters are notoriously tough at home, so Spurs will need to proceed carefully following the league's first international break of the year in September.
Finishing up initial slate with Manchester City is a tantalizing battle between two of the league's best strikers: Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane -- and the winner of that game may be in the driver seat for Champions League football until after the January transfer window. Rating: 6/10
As constructed, Spurs are in a delicate position for 2016-2017. This summer, they needed no major powerhouse additions to the squad -- between Kane, Alli, Eriksen, Lloris, Alderweireld, and Vertonghen, the need to spend 60 million pounds on a flashy, new transfer would've caused more damage than good. However, it's fair to wonder if this team is ready to complete, with the added of pressure of Champions League, for another full 28-game Premier League slog.
Their youthful exuberance got Spurs into title-contention, but it was also why they ultimately fell short. In all liklihood, especially as teams like Manchester City, Manchester United, and Liverpool reloaded, Spurs are another year away from serious title contention. But that's OK! They've come along quicker than any young core in recent memory and have the potential to be the best, homegrown team in England very soon.
Unfortunately, it may not be this year -- but another top 4 finish and a Round of 16 berth in Europe would be more than pleasing for the ever-hungry fan base in North London.
English Premier League Previews 2016-2017:
9th: Stoke City
7th: West Ham
5th: Manchester United
4th: Manchester City