Tottenham Hotspur are entering the final stretch of their season. It has been a campaign that has featured everything you could imagine. There have been big wins, disappointing losses, missed opportunities, a rash of injuries, and players stepping into bigger roles. Somehow, amid all the chaos and adversity, Tottenham’s resolve has stayed strong. Only a month remains, and Spurs are in a good position to finish in the Premier League’s top four. They have also advanced to the Champions League semi-finals, where they will play Ajax.
Tottenham’s Resolve Tested in Roller Coaster Campaign
In a season that has had a little bit of everything, Tottenham still has the opportunity to realize some lofty goals. Manchester City and Liverpool separated themselves from the rest of the league as the only title challengers this season. Spurs are in the driver’s seat for a third-place finish with three matches remaining. The ultimate prize of Champions League glory is still within reach after a wild quarter-final tie with City. There has been no shortage of big moments this season, some that fans will cherish forever and some that will give them nightmares.
The biggest test to Tottenham’s resolve has been the mounting injuries this squad has faced. Star striker Harry Kane missed time earlier with a hurt ankle and is currently out for the remainder of the season after injuring it again. He finished with 17 goals in 28 appearances after scoring 20 or more in each of the last four campaigns. Spurs have had to mix and match the likes of Son Heung-min, Lucas Moura, and Fernando Llorente to lead the attack. However, there is no replacing Kane, who is one of the best strikers in Europe.
The midfield has been hit particularly hard by injuries. All five players Spurs have employed in central midfield have missed time due to injuries. The versatile Dele Alli missed time at the turn of the year but has come back over the last few weeks. Victor Wanyama was unavailable for much of the early season but is solidified once again as a reliable option in the centre of the pitch. Eric Dier has been in and out of the squad for the entirety of the 2018-19 campaign. Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko became stalwarts in Tottenham’s midfield, but even those two have missed time recently. The back line is the only area that has not been hit hard by injuries.
The depth of Spur’s midfield has been tested all season. The partnership of Winks and Sissoko was put together mainly out of necessity. There just weren’t any other options for a club that hasn’t brought in a new player for two consecutive transfer windows. A pairing that was made in desperation became the foundation that much of Spurs success has been built. Winks has developed into a potential star at centre midfield; with his work rate, quick passing, and composure improving each match. Sissoko is now a staple of this team’s plans. Almost through sheer will, the Frenchman has made himself invaluable to this club. His energy, passion, and athletic ability have been on display all season. He had transformed from overpriced flop to an integral piece and fan favourite in the past seven months.
Combined with the injuries, Spurs also started the season with most of their players coming off the World Cup last summer. The lack of an off-season or a pre-season led to slow starts for Kane, Alli, and Christian Eriksen. Mercurial winger Erik Lamela stepped up early in the season with six goals and three assists in his first eleven appearances across all competitions. Injuries caught up to him as well, however, and he hasn’t played since March.
Lucas Moura has proved to be a solid option in attack. The winger has ten Premier League goals in 29 matches. His quickness, combined with the skill and flair associated with Brazilian footballers, gives Spurs a different look. Moura provides an alternate style of attack than the rest of the squad. Llorente is still an enigma to fans. The big striker has frustrated at times whit his lack of production, but he has also scored at crucial times this season. None of his goals are bigger than the one he scored off his hip to push Spurs into the Champions League semi-finals. Seven of his eight goals have come in cup competitions.
The Belgian centre-back pairing of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld have been the closest thing to constants Spurs have had. Their partnership at the back is where the bulk of Tottenham’s resolve is located. This defence is fourth in the Premier League with 13 clean sheets, and only the two clubs in the title race have conceded fewer goals. Alderwiereld has been a steady presence and leads the squad in passes, clearances, and minutes played. Vertonghen has been one of Europe’s best defenders over the past few seasons, and a consistent performer for Spurs once again.
Left-back Danny Rose has also returned to good form in 2019 after missing most of last season through injury. His pace and crossing provide Spurs with width down the left flank. Unfortunately, the right-back position has been a problem area this campaign. After a solid first season in north London and a good showing at the World Cup, Kieran Trippier has struggled. While all players make mistakes, his ones have been punished with particular harshness. He has two errors leading directly to goals in the league and has multiple other miscues leading to chances for the opposition.
Despite the injuries and the miscues, Spurs have survived. They lost four times in a five-match winless streak between February and March. What was a double-digit cushion over fourth place has quickly evaporated. The opening of the new stadium emboldened Tottenham’s resolve and they have been able to right the ship since. Three consecutive home wins, coupled with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United dropping points in the last week, have settled some nerves. Mauricio Pochettino’s squad are back in third and even have a bit of breathing space with three matches left.
Two wins from the last three will secure third place. If they get some help from other results, that security could come as early as this weekend. In a season with so many ups and downs, that would be a turn of good fortune this club would covet. The Champions League semi-finals begin next week, giving Spurs a chance for a monumental achievement. There are sure to be tough tests and adversity to face in the coming weeks, but Tottenham’s resolve has held firm all season. A strong finish could make this truly a season to remember in north London.