The 2016/17 Premier League season has wrapped up and it has been another successful season under Mauricio Pochettino for the North London team. A league high points total of 86 points saw Tottenham have their best ever premier league season and it only seems to be onwards and upwards for the next season.
This season saw tactical innovations as after a poor start for Antonio Conte’s Chelsea saw the rest of the league, especially Mauricio Pochettino, openly embrace the 3 at the back formation with the 2 wing backs allowed to push higher up the pitch and have one centre back act more as a sweeper with the other 2 defenders act as regular centre backs covering for the sweeper. Mauricio Pochettino’s version of the 3421 formation saw Eric Dier act as a sweeper which allowed him to also play higher up the field starting attacks while Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen were covering further back the field. This also meant that for the first half of the season Kyle Walker and Danny Rose, before Rose’s injury, were able to bomb up and down the wings creating many chances for the attackers.
In the midfield Mousa Dembele and Tottenham’s signing of the season, Victor Wanyama were able to win the ball back in the midfield and create quick counter attacks with their large frames able to bulldoze opposition players off the ball. Chelsea played with combinations of Eden Hazard, Pedro and Willian as wingers able to cut inside and even transition into number 9’s while Diego Costa would either peel off to the wings or sit deeper as an acting number 10, whilst the wingers stay higher up the pitch without needing to track back as the full backs would be able to cover at the back. Tottenham’s equivalent involved some combination of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen (Tottenham’s Player of the season) and in Erik Lamela’s absence, (due to niggling hip problems for most of the season) Heung-Min Son would play as number 10’s with Son offering the extra threat of bombing down the channels to create numerous chances which saw him and Dele Alli record their highest goal totals in the league with Dele getting 18 league goals and 7 assists, whereas Son got 14 goals and 6 assists.
As Tottenham’s front man Harry Kane won the golden boot for a 2nd consecutive season, he also joined an elite group of players who scored 20+ goals in consecutive seasons which includes, Thierry Henry, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Alan Shearer and at the end of the season Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero also joined this group. Kane’s hold up play again improved this season as well as his vision for picking out teammates and is becoming an increasingly complete forward registering 7 premier league assists and scored 7 goals over the course of the last two games of the premier league season scoring 4 vs (old loan club) Leicester and scoring a hat-trick vs Hull. The star striker’s season was rewarded with a golden boot and a player of the month award for the month of February getting 4 goals in 3 games. Despite having a season plagued by ankle injuries picked up vs Sunderland and vs Millwall in the FA cup.
Along with Harry Kane winning the player of the month for February, two other Spurs players won player of the month awards with Heung-Min Son winning it twice this season picking up the award in September and April being one of the breakout stars of the season. Dele Alli also picked the award up for the month of January getting a brace vs Chelsea to be one of the few teams to beat the league champions.
Despite being a much improved player in the 2015/16, (and was a personal shout to be a player of the season candidate for Tottenham) Erik Lamela picked up a bizarre hip injury which has kept him out for a large majority of the season. This, as with any injury, was disappointing to see but it has really been a blessing as it allowed Heung-Min Son to have a starring role in Spurs’ record premier league season. Son did extremely well while Harry Kane went through his first injury spell early in the season. The South Korean perfectly suited the new version of the 3421 system with his pace, unpredictability and brilliant ability to beat the defenders allowed him to get his 14 league goals.
The ultimate turning point of the season for Spurs came on the 2nd of October 2016 when Spurs beat the unbeaten Man City at White Hart Lane 2-0. The scoring opened by an Aleksander Kolarov own goal after deflecting a Danny Rose cross into his own net over Claudio Bravo. Spurs doubled the lead as Heung-Min Son threaded the ball through to an on running Dele Alli to place the ball past Bravo. The season really kicked on from this point as Spurs were in 5th before the game and after that they climbed to 2nd place over the next few weeks and held their place until the end of the season.
The summer transfer window last season was very very hit and miss. Victor Wanyama was brought in by Pochettino after being linked to the club for £11 million and has been without a doubt our signing of the season. The barrel chested Kenyan muscled Eric Dier out of the CDM/CM role as his commanding runs and brilliant tackling ability saw him get very big praise as he also turned up to win games such as the Crystal Palace game at White Hart Lane. Wanyama has become a very established member of the first team and looking forward to the new season he still has potential to become arguably one of the best central/holding midfielders in the league.
However the bigger money moves that Levy made this year have been considerably more disappointing. In fairness Moussa Sissoko was a baffling transfer as Newcastle got relegated the season before, (despite beating the Lilywhites on the last day of their season 5-1 at St James’ Park) so the £30 million price tag was bizarre and has definitely been one of the worst panic buys in recent years. Vincent Janssen however came in for £18.6 million coming off a fantastic season with AZ Alkmaar being the top scorer in the Eredivisie with 27 goals seemed like a very good deal at the time. What followed was a disappointing season for the 22 year old being left out of the subs bench on many occasions while only chalking up 2 premier league goals and 2 assists.
Realistically moving forward, Spurs again will be playing in 4 competitions as they qualified for Champions league football for the 2nd consecutive season meaning that the squad depth should be a pressing issue for Pochettino and Daniel Levy. Priority areas should be back up strikers as Janssen didn’t live up to expectations as a backup, backup central defenders as Toby and Jan will need to be rested after midweek games when Spurs play the smaller teams and the 3rd area of backup should be wingbacks of real pace (there will be a dedicated post to specific transfer rumours and how they would fit the team in the coming days.)
As with another window, the stars of Tottenham as always are linked to big money moves away from the club. The biggest and longest running rumour of the summer so far has been Kyle Walker to Manchester City who does make a lot of sense as he would be the exact fix that the sky blues need as they have released Zabaleta and Sagna so they are in need of new wing backs. Spurs really seem to hold a position of comfort as they don’t need to sell which allows Daniel Levy to ask for more and more of Sheikh Mansour’s money. Kyle Walker leaving does seem like a very real possibility and has been one of the most improved players over the past few seasons so it will ultimately be sad to see him go but looking forward Levy already seems to be lining up potential replacements, for example, Ricardo Pereira from Porto who has spent the past two seasons on loan at Nice in France.
The other three players who could be leaving have been clumped into the same category of being relatively poor off the bench who ultimately aren’t really up to the standards of back up. Kevin Wimmer has been a relatively lacklustre signing since he signed from FC Koln at the start of the 15/16 season and does seem rather likely to leave in the summer. Last summers signings of Vincent Janssen and Moussa Sissoko ultimately need to go as backups they haven’t proven their worth at all, as harsh as that sounds there are other replacements such as Chicharito (Javier Hernandez) and Jean Michael Seri would be available for roughly similar prices that Janssen and Sissoko signed for.
With a league high points tally it’s still encouraging that hopefully with a few signings, the new season could yield even bigger rewards potentially being a trophy or two as Spurs fans have been without a trophy since 2009 so even another league cup would be a sign of intent that Pochettino could truly cement himself as a great manager as ultimately when people look back on players and managers careers are measured by success and their trophy cabinets.
Onwards and upwards for the Spurs boys next season #THFC
Additional help provided by: @DevilsFollowing.