It wasn’t to be for Tottenham Hotspur in the end as rivals Chelsea happily fulfilled the role of Premier League title-thwarters at Stamford Bridge, leaving Leicester City as the most improbable of English champions.
However dispiriting it was to see their hopes snuffed out though, this Spurs outfit look set for success sooner rather than later.
The Foxes may have finally shaken the Lilywhites off their coattails in the last knockings of the season, but the evidence is plentiful that Mauricio Pochettino’s men will be back to mount another serious challenge in 2016/17 and quite possibly go all the way.
Ladbrokes see the eventuality as a 7/1 chance behind four other teams, but it’s probably the right time to mention Leicester (in case you haven’t heard) were 5000/1 shots before this season commenced.
Here are five reasons the North Londoners can come back stronger and defy the odds:
Pochettino is the right manager
Since he arrived at Southampton as a seemingly obscure managerial appointment in 2013, the Argentine has made quite the impact on English shores. An unprecedented focus on fitness and a high-pressing game contributed heavily to Saints achieving their equal-highest Premier League finish of eighth in 2013/14, surpassing their record points haul in the process. After a full campaign cementing his devilishly-hard working philosophy at White Hart Lane, in which a League Cup final and fifth position were achieved in ‘14/15, his Lilywhites have blossomed further still this term. The attacking style Poch has implemented is as pleasing on the eye as it is efficient. Recent links with any potential vacancy at Manchester United next season have illustrated his swelling reputation. What joy for Spurs then, that the Argentine is putting the final touches together on a new deal at the Lane to quell any more speculation.
Their overall stats are superb
Tottenham may yet finish with statistically the most robust defence – they have currently conceded two fewer than any other side in the top flight – and the most prolific attack – they’ve scored one less than Manchester City heading into the penultimate round of league games – which is testament to a beautifully balanced team. Pochettino has created partnerships all over the park, from Harry Kane and Dele Alli’s forward chemistry to the cohesion of defensive pairing Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen at the back; Spurs are a soundly constructed and hugely effective side.
These stats courtesy of Sky Sports (via Prem Stats) from April 19th shows how effective Spurs have been this season
— Premstats (@premstats) April 19, 2016
The experience of this title race
Achieving Champions League football with the youngest average-age squad in the Premier League is particularly laudable. The obvious flip-side to this exuberance is the lack of maturity when the hard yards roll around. Letting a two-goal lead slip last time out, before their discipline disappeared completely at Stamford Bridge, was the best and worst example of their greenness when far cooler heads were required. In the aftermath of the ill-tempered derby loss, Pochettino stated that the disappointment at failure was a feeling they ‘needed’ to sample collectively in order to come back stronger. Those young heads can only have hardened for the experience.
Europa League curse shaken off
The last time a side began the season in Europe’s second-tier competition and managed to win the Premier League title was Arsenal (in the old UEFA Cup) back in 1997/98. Since then, only Leicester have bucked the trend of a side not beginning their campaign in the Champions League taking the English crown. The added bonus of participation in the continent’s most prestigious club competition is the calibre of signings Pochettino will be able to attract to North London this off-season.
Harry Kane’s stardust
Whether or not he’s technically ‘one of their own’ is a debated point depending which side of the North London divide you sit on. Whether or not Kane is a goal-scoring phenomenon is not up for discussion though. White Hart Lane’s darling has been exceptional since bursting onto the scene for last season and netting 31 goals in all competitions for Spurs. Blessed with so much natural ability, the striker looks a once-in-a-generation player and is on course to finish the season as the top-flight’s leading marksman. A leading role at the Euros surely beckons and history has shown that prolific goalscorers are essential cogs in title-winning sides, from Alan Shearer through to Sergio Aguero.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.