To discuss about Tottenham‘s Premier League Campaign 2020/21, we have to dive deeper. If we have to look back in the Premier League in the last decade and have to point out the most improved team of the tournament, then the name of North London outfit Tottenham Hotspur will surely emerge in the top 3. Spurs, having only finished in the ‘top six‘ 3 times throughout the 2000s decade, made a huge improvement and haven’t been dropped out from the top six in the 2010s and finished 4 times in the top four on the league table.
They became regular in the UEFA Champions League in the last half of the decade with finishing as the runners-up in the 2018-19 season, the first time in their history they played in the final of Europe’s most prestigious club tournament.
Credits go to former manager Mauricio Pochettino and key players like Harry Kane, Heung-min Son, Hugo Lloris, etc. But that being said, the thing that matters the most in any sports, Trophies, haven’t followed the path of White Hart Lane even during one of the most joyous times in the club’s history. Every season it was ‘so near, yet so far’ moment for The Spurs at the end. Pochettino was relieved from his job just after 6 months of guiding the club to their first-ever Champions League final. But the abysmal start of the 2019-20 season and some shambolic results made things complicated for the Argentine manager.
Tottenham’s Premier League Campaign 2020/21
However, On 20 November 2019, Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho was appointed as the manager of Tottenham Hotspur on a four-year contract. Wherever the iconic Portuguese often termed as the ‘Special One‘ went, trophies followed. It was no brainer what thought the Spurs CEO Daniel Levy was having before appointing Jose.
Spurs were struggling at the 14th place in the Premier League table after taking just 14 points from 12 games and some embarrassing defeats made the atmosphere around the club toxic. Jose went on to win his first two games as Spurs manager by a scoreline of 3-2 both times. His first defeat came in his third game when Spurs visited Jose’s former club Old Trafford in early December.
Since then he tried to steady the ship but the results were inconsistent but some important wins, especially the win against Pep Guardiola‘s defending champions Manchester City in February established a belief among the supporters that they can dream about something special with the ‘Special One’. They were even thinking of reviving that season and make a top-four finish in the end but when the league resumed in June after being postponed for 3 months due to Covid-19 pandemic, too many draws and one heavy 3-1 defeat against Sheffield United ended the hope of top four as they eventually finished sixth in the Premier League, their lowest since 2014-15.
But Jose needed time and patience from the owners as well as from the fans to turn things around in the next season. Jose wasted a little time when the transfer window opened in July and made a flurry of signings to get going in his new club. At first, he made the loan deal permanent of Argentine midfielder Giovani Lo Celso and scooped Sergio Reguilon and formers Spurs’ star Gareth Bale(loan) from Real Madrid.
Other notable signings were Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg, Matt Doherty, Joe Rodon, Carlos Vinicius, and Oliver Skipp. Höjbjerg was highly rated at Southampton and the central midfielder was often termes as a proper ‘Mourinho’ player by the analysts for his sumptuous work rate and the stability he provides in the midfield, something which is important for Mourinho’s playing style.
Jose, however, started the 2020-21 season with a 1-0 home defeat against Carlo Ancelotti‘s Everton but got back in style with a thumping 5-2 win against Southampton the next game. Spurs put a statement for other clubs of the league by thrashing Manchester United 6-1 at Old Trafford that they’re not messing around this time in the league.
If we look at the tactical aspects of Spurs’ resurgence in form, we will see notable effective changes made by Mourinho to get the results. He often uses either 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 in the season and both have been evidently effective for the London outfit. In 4-3-3, he uses a midfield trio of Höjbjerg, Ndombele, and Sissoko with Höjbjerg being the heart of the midfield who acts as the key player to switch the play from one side to another and also as the link between the defence and the midfield.
The resurgence of form for Tanguy Ndombele is something Jose can take credits for. Ndombele’s physical presence and his linking upfront with the forwards create havoc in opposition defence. The midfield formation is well-drilled as when Ndombele runs upfront Sissoko and Höjbjerg sit deep to prevent opponent counters and vice-versa when Sissoko runs upfront Ndombele sits deep with the Danish midfielder to give the backline stability. The pace of the full-backs Sergio Reguilon at the left and Serge Aurier/Matt Doherty on the right is utilized for the quick counters something Jose is known for the most.
In a more defensive formation 4-2-3-1, Jose uses Höjbjerg and Sissoko as the double pivot behind Ndombele and Heung-min Son and Lucas Moura or Steven Bergjwin at the wings with Harry Kane up front. The transformation of Eric Dier as a Centre-Back makes him an obvious choice in the backline to partner Toby Alderweireled or Davinson Sanchez. But the key thing of Jose’s new look spurs is the partnership between striker Harry Kane and electric winger Heung-min Son. Tottenham’s Premier League Campaign 2020/21 is absolutely incomplete without this duo. Son is Premier League’s 2nd highest scorer at the moment with 10 goals and Harry Kane is sitting atop of the assist chart with an insane 10 assists in 12 games.
Kane even outnumbered the likes of Kevin De Bryune and Bruno Fernandes in terms of assists this season so far. But only the numbers won’t tell the full story of how influential this duo has been for Spurs so far. Jose made a role swap of the duo as Kane now despite playing in the striker position, acts as a creative play-maker whereas Son cuts inside from the left-wing and uses his pace to reach the opponent box. Thus Son this season is getting more goals whereas Kane getting the sumptuous assist numbers.
The duo has combined for 12 goals already in the Premier League this season and the record of Alan Shearer-Chris Sutton duo in a single season(13) is one goal away with 26 games to go. Harry Kane also got defensive duties from the manager during set-pieces and also to maintain the midfield shape when either one of Ndombele and Sissoko drives forward.
But there isn’t everything rosy for any football club and especially in the Premier League where any clubs can cause upsets in their day, life is uncertain. As the post-pandemic league season started much late, fixture congestion and fatigue is something to be wary of for the manager. On the other hand, Spurs’ bench strength is a little concern when the going gets tough, there aren’t many players who can change the course of the game on their own. The injury problem of Gareth Bale and Lucas Moura’s dip in form isn’t helping to give the first choice forward line any backups when needed.
Premier League is entering in its most congested festive fixtures when the risks of key players being injured are very high. Tottenham’s gameplay is heavily dependent on players like Höjbjerg, Son, Kane, and Dier if any one of them gets injured in this tough festive fixture, it might get tough for Jose to grind out results. Other than these reasons, the quality of other title challengers along with Spurs are very much world-class, and any slip-ups from Spurs and those teams can surely surpass them in the points table.
Still, it’s so early in the Premier League this season, and teams in the top 10 are so close in the table. Hence, we’ll see what happens in the next few months but as said earlier life for Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League is ‘so far, so good’ at the moment and they’ll surely travel to Anfield to play Liverpool in the midweek in what we can call an ‘early title decider’ between the two in-form teams.
What is your take on Tottenham’s Premier League Campaign 2020/21? Can Jose do the wonder again? Let us know in the comment section below.