Slick Spurs in best shape to end eight-year trophy drought
It was Duffy’s ‘Mercy’ that dominated the airwaves as UK number one the last time that Tottenham Hotspur won a major trophy. Back then, on 24th February 2008, Ledley King raised the League Cup trophy aloft following a dramatic extra-time victory over Chelsea.
In the eight years since, Spurs fans can be forgiven for thinking the lyrics to that song were all too apt, but under the slick tutelage of Mauricio Pochettino, this Tottenham side look equipped to finally grant some mercy with an end to the silverware drought.
While the League Cup is now out of sight following a home defeat to Arsenal, Spurs are still competing on three fronts.
With the enthralling contrasts of youth and experience, sturdiness and creativity, energy and composure currently on show at White Hart Lane, there’s every chance Pochettino will lead them to overdue success, with 16/5 available on them winning any major trophy. Here’s what they’re in for:
In a season where Chelsea have skidded, Man Utd have spluttered and Leicester have stunned, there’s a fresh new outlook to proceedings at the top of the league that could well see a relative newbie crowned champions come the end of the season.
While leaders Arsenal are current 21/20 favourites, their fans will know only too well about their record from February onwards the past three times they led in January, while second favourites City (6/5) seem too dependent on the unreliable fitness of key players to get a winning run going.
It’s therefore testament to the consistency and stability that Pochettino has instilled in his side this season that they are currently 11/1 third favourites to win their first title since 1961.
Currently six points off the top, Spurs have lost just twice in the league all season, and most impressively have gone four games unbeaten since their shock last-minute reversal to Newcastle. They host Leicester in their next league match – a game that will offer the best insight yet into the staying power of both clubs.
While Southampton boss, Pochettino made no effort to hide his mixed feelings about Europe’s secondary competition, claiming once that it could “kill” teams and that it was not a tournament that he dreams about. Last season, as Spurs crashed out to Fiorentina in the round-of-32 after wholesale changes to the team, it seemed as though the Argentine hadn’t changed his mind.
But the performances and selection in Europe this season suggests that the Spurs boss may be warming to it, just as the fans are as the very real possibility of success becomes ever closer.
Spurs topped their group impressively, as Anderlecht, Monaco and Qarabag were all beaten in a group where Tottenham surrendered only the once – away in Belgium – and next up, once again, is a high-flying Fiorentina side.
With revenge on the table – and no League Cup final distraction this time – expect the likes of Harry Kane to be fielded rather than rested. At some point, they may have to negotiate Borussia Dortmund, Man Utd and Europa League specialists Sevilla but, at 16/1, seventh favourites Spurs look tantalisingly-priced should they successfully negotiate their opponents from Florence.
Terry Venables and Brian Clough were opposing managers the last time Spurs lifted the FA Cup in 1991, and it seems inconceivable that a club who have won the competition eight times have not even made a final since.
Their poor record in the cup since then goes some way to explaining why, despite being third favourites to win the league, they are only 14/1 sixth favourites to lift England’s famous old cup.
With a home tie against Leicester, it will be interesting to see how both sides line up given their respective potential success in the league, not to mention their Premier League tussle days later.
In truth, as with their European adventure, Tottenham’s success in the FA Cup is likely to depend on their commitments elsewhere. If they remain well and truly in with a shout of an historic league title come March, not to mention a Champions League spot, expect Pochettino to pursue that alone.
And for any Spurs fan who really believes it’s their year, they can get 225/1 for the FA Cup and Europa League double. Arsenal fans might be more interested to learn that it’s 2/11 for their old rivals to come away with nothing.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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