The market on finishing in the top four could not be tighter, with six teams perceived to be in with a great shout of playing in Europe’s elite competition next term and Everton, the Premier League’s only unbeaten team left this season, interesting outsiders at 10/1 to break the cartel this May.
However, after ploughing the £100m-plus garnered from player sales over the summer straight back into the squad and starting the season with eight wins from their first ten games in all competitions, Tottenham look best-placed of the chasing pack to improve a place on last season’s fifth at 9/10.
After their summer recruitment Tottenham now boast one of the league’s strongest squads
Against Chelsea last time out Spurs’ bench included Jermain Defoe, who’s scored six goals in seven games in all competitions this term, new £25m winger Erik Lamela and midfielder Lewis Holtby, who laid on three assists in the Capital One Cup win over Aston Villa a few days earlier.
Man Utd had to bring on 18-year-old midfielder Adnan Januzaj – a player yet to start a game at senior level anywhere – for Shinji Kagawa in their home loss against West Brom and Liverpool named a similarly callow youth on their bench in the form of 17-year-old Jordan Ibe against Sunderland.
Andre Villas-Boas’ side are two points off top-spot without showing great form so far this term
Spurs have only dropped points against Arsenal and Chelsea this season and were hardly outplayed on either occasion, but with five players featuring at White Hart Lane against the Blues that were not at the club last Christmas, plus Andros Townsend who returned from a half-season loan at QPR, the Lilywhites have lacked fluidity and goals thus far and need time to gel.
Attacking duo Roberto Soldado and Christian Eriksen have only played three games together and when they develop their understanding better the former Valencia man, who scored 24 La Liga goals last season, is sure to significantly add to his modest tally in England.
Missing out on Champions League football for three seasons running can keep Spurs motivated
There are many examples of teams having to fail before they can succeed in the Premier League, with Man City’s recent top four and title successes following seasons when they fell short particularly pertinent.
Spurs regulars Michael Dawson, Aaron Lennon, Sandro , Kyle Walker and Jermain Defoe all went through the heartache of finishing in the top four in 2011/12 but still missing out on qualification for the Champions League and that core of experience could be the difference at the business end of the campaign.