The 2015/2016 Premier League season is one that will already go down in the history books no matter the outcome. A season that has seen a lot of twists and turns, most notably the rise of Leicester City and the downfall of Chelsea, it is no surprise that at this stage of the season, four to five clubs have a realistic shot at the title.
Despite this, many fans and pundits, including Jamie Carragher and Harry Redknapp, still see Arsenal and Manchester City as the major favourites. However, there is a certain team getting closer and closer to the title picture — that team is Tottenham.
In recent weeks, Tottenham have proven they have are in the title picture and can upset the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City. Here are five reasons why they should be considered serious title contenders.
1. Excellent defensive record
Since the start of the season, Tottenham have lost just two games after 20 played — a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United on the opening day via a Kyle Walker own goal and a last-gasp 2-1 turnaround by Newcastle in November. One reason for this is their excellent defensive performances at the back.
Though they might not be the best defenders individually, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld have been ever-presents in the Premier League this season, conceding a league-low 16 goals in the process. The duo are also the only centre-back pairing to have played every minute of the Premier League season thus far — a combined 3600 minutes. The consistency of the defense has seen Tottenham have the joint highest goal difference in the Premier League (18).
When you factor in this consistency at the back (compared to Manchester City who have had to shuffle their team a lot) along with the performances of Eric Dier — formerly a defender — in midfield, it’s easy to see why Spurs are hard to break down. And a good defense is always a major factor to a title winning team.
2. Good record against top clubs
Recent history has shown that if any club is to win the league, they must have favourable results against the top six in the league. Arsenal in particular for example, have fallen victims to this predicament in recent years (though to their credit, they’ve improved this season).
However, of all the teams in the top six, Tottenham have only lost to one of them which was to Manchester United on the opening day of the season. Other than that game — which they were pretty unlucky to lose –the major highlights for Spurs this season were a 4-1 thrashing of Manchester City in September and the 1-1 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates. The latter of which, Arsenal were highly lucky to get a point from.
If Tottenham keep this up, there is no reason not to believe that they can’t be in the title picture, come May. If one of the reasons Arsenal are being considered major contenders is because of their results in big games this season, then Tottenham should be no different.
3. Harry Kane’s heroics
Harry Kane has been a revelation for Tottenham since his promotion to the first team ranks in the 2014/2015 season, being pivotal for them ever since. 2015 proved to be a record breaking year for him as the England striker set a club record of 27 Premier League goals in a calendar year, beating the previous best of 25 by Teddy Sheringham.
Kane initially struggled for goals in the early stages of this season, going six games without a goal before finally netting in the 4-1 win over Manchester City in September. He then went on to score 10 in his next 11 appearances in all competitions, and he is keen for even more.
His impressive performances which have seen him score 13 goals this season makes him the fourth highest goalscorer in the league, also accounting for 38% of Tottenham’s total league goals this season. Coupled with his desire to do even better, Tottenham will definitely be a force to reckon with if he can continue this rich vein of form.
4. Inconsistency among top clubs
This season has brought a lot of twist and turns and has even seen the usual top four reshuffled. In the space of a couple of months, four different teams (Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Leicester City) have held top spot and given it away.
Leicester, who were the surprise revelations this season thanks to the heroics from Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, have been top for majority of the Premier League season. Until last month, only Arsenal had beaten Leicester City but it must be noted that even with their stunning performances, many pundits still didn’t consider them as major title contenders.
However, recent under par performances from Leicester have seen them go on a three match winless run (two draws, one loss and no goals scored) — a run that saw them slip to two points behind Arsenal in the space of two weeks.
The same can be said of current leaders Arsenal who looked somewhat consistent compared to the others until the recent 4-0 drubbing at Southampton in December. The result showed Arsenal can suffer their usual blips while most recently, was Arsenal’s unconvincing 1-0 win over Newcastle — a match in which the Gunners were fortunate to win as they struggled to display a performance of potential champions.
Manchester City on the other hand, had a bright start to their campaign with five impressive clean sheet victories. That form has been up and down recently with unconvincing wins bundled with some dismal defeats — three of which were to Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal. It begs the question of whether they can really challenge especially without Vincent Kompany and their below par away record this season.
Given how no team seems to want to run away with the league this season, Spurs must do whatever they can to take advantage of these teams’ slip ups.
5. Points difference between the top four
Six points currently separate leaders Arsenal and Tottenham who sit in fourth place. While six points is a lot in a league like La Liga, the points difference between Tottenham and the Gunners mean the title is still well open and Tottenham are still in with a shout to win the league.
Spurs just need to remain consistent from now until the end of the season and with home ties against Manchester United, Arsenal and Leicester in the second half of the season, Mauricio Pochettino’s men just may be able to pull off what is a very unlikely title victory. Of course, there is every chance of Spurs finishing in the top four come May, but after their performances in recent seasons — anything more than that is already progress under Pochettino.
Thierry Henry, Jamie Carragher, and former Tottenham coach Harry Redknapp have all stated that Tottenham should not not be taken for granted in the title race. One would be foolish to underestimate the other team from North London.