The good news for Spurs fans is their side are 3/5 to halt a four-game all-competition winless streak at home to Nottingham Forest in the Capital One Cup. The bad news is somewhat more complicated.
If Mauricio Pochettino’s men throw in a similar performance to that served up against West Brom in the Premier League at the weekend, when Spurs were lucky to only lose 1-0, then a Forest outfit that has won seven out of ten 2014/15 games will surely land 4/1 victory odds in the capital.
Pochettino blasted his Lilywhites charges after the Baggies loss for lacking urgency of any kind and being laboured in their play. Spurs basically performed the inverse of the pressing tactics their Argentine gaffer requires.
However, Pochettino cannot be exempt from blame after handing the captain’s armband to Younes Kaboul, who was only just the second-worst player on the pitch because of the sheer ineptitude of centre-half partner Vlad Chiriches.
The only home defender who emerged from the match with anything but a severe downgrading was new signing Eric Dier, who has been used as an emergency right-back despite being unable to lug his granite-hewn 6ft 2in frame up the wing too often.
It’s not all bad news with regard to Spurs’ defence. Three-quarters of a better back four, in centre-halves Jan Vertonghen and Federico Fazio, plus left-back Ben Davies, could be in situ by the weekend clash with Arsenal, while right-back Kyle Walker will walk into the side when finally fit.
Pochettino needs to bench his new captain, and mend rumoured broken bridges with Vertonghen, but the former Argentina defender looks to have done some good backline business over the summer, so the chaos witnessed directly in front of Hugo Lloris against Alan Irvine’s men may be temporary.
Conversely, the coming Spurs crisis will be in attack.
The north Londoners wasted the £100m-plus reaped in transfer fees last summer on midfielders and forwards identified to fit former boss Andre Villas-Boas’ tactics, not Pochettino’s.
Even Christian Eriksen, who is almost universally seen as the best of ‘The Beatles’ Spurs acquired when they sold ‘Elvis’, isn’t working out under the Argentine, while many from the Gareth Bale sale-inspired splurge are simply being used out of necessity at present.
Eriksen fired seven goals and laid on eight more for teammates in 25 Premier League appearances last term. The 23-year-old has managed a goal and no assists so far this season, despite playing 415 of Spurs’ 450 top-flight minutes.
The White Hart Lane faithful still somehow have faith in Erik Lamela, the wide-forward signed in the summer of 2013 for between £15-30m, depending on who you believe. The seven-cap Argentina international is yet to find the net in 747 Premier League minutes over 14 fixtures.
Striker Roberto Soldado last scored a top-flight goal in March, which is his only such strike this year, Nacer Chadli’s three Premier League efforts so far this season means the Belgium winger has scored four in 28, and Emmanuel Adebayor has bagged once in five fixtures this term.
If the Togolese was required to remain on the White Hart Lane pitch until notching against the Baggies, he would surely still be there.
Unlike in defence, there isn’t a wealth of Spurs attacking talent waiting in the wings or on the sidelines.
Andros Townsend has only ever scored five in 54 all-competition matches for the club he broke through the youth ranks at.
Aaron Lennon’s last Premier League goal came in a 3-0 win at home to Stoke last December, 22 appearances ago, while the Leeds native’s previous top-flight strike before then dates back another 16 games earlier.
Mousa Dembele, Harry Kane, Paulinho and Etienne Capoue make up Tottenham’s Premier League first-team gang thus far this term. They ‘boast’ 11 goals for the club in the division between them.
Luckily for the gaffer, fans recognise that Pochettino has been lumbered with a job-lot of attacking players he can’t use and was only able to bring in young Frenchman Benjamin Stambouli, a deep-lying midfielder, outside the defensive ranks.
It seems certain that the 42-year-old will spend significantly on at least one striker during January, with more additions likely to come after moving on the likes of Soldado, who is reportedly being targeted by Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan.
The former Valencia man arrived at Spurs having struck 24 times during the 2012/13 La Liga campaign, but his lack of pace and mobility renders him practically useless to Pochettino.
Southampton’s last remaining England international Jay Rodriguez is expected to return for the Saints after a serious knee injury sometime before Christmas.
The lively former Burnley youth, who struck 15 times in the top flight last term, is exactly the kind of forward his old boss needs right now, and it will be interesting to see if a quick return to form under Ronald Koeman sparks a Spurs bid in January.
Pochettino will need many more new faces in attack alongside the 25-year-old though, with Eriksen surely proving he must be dropped back into midfield, much like Cesc Fabregas has at Chelsea, instead of being marooned out wide or stuck in the congested area in front of opposition defences.
Lamela, Chadli, Townsend and Lennon should all suit a Pochettino 4-2-3-1 formation, as all four are nominal wingers blessed with some pace, but the quartet’s goalscoring record is too terrible to put any trust in.
None of them have shown they have the discipline to press off the ball the way Southampton’s forwards did under Pochettino, who must have been given assurances by Spurs chief executive Daniel Levy that there will be ample opportunities to bring in his own men once he ships a few out.
With Adebayor surely no significant part of the long-term plan either, despite bizarrely being made a vice-captain when Kaboul got the armband, it’s conceivable that Spurs will need to fill all four attacking-midfield/centre-forward positions with new signings when the current campaign ends.
Considering the disjointed, fluxive state of their squad, the north Londoners seem far from certain to retain their place in the Premier League top six this season at 31/50, with Everton currently rating a far better price at 31/20 to achieve said outcome.