Why overachieving Tottenham aren’t ‘bottlers’ – opinion from a Chelsea fan

first_imgThis weekend’s Premier League banter involved labelling Tottenham bottlers for failing to close the gap on title leaders Chelsea to one point with defeat to West Ham on Friday night.It’s the solitary result of note the Hammers have recorded all season, but rather than focus on the embarrassment of their debut year at the London Stadium, all the attention has been on their opponents.Even more remarkable than Leicester City’s triumph last term was the stick Tottenham – not Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea received – for failing to pip the Foxes to top spot. And 12 months later, again Spurs and ‘bottle job’ are being spoken of in the same sentence.It’s a label that fits the narrative in English football of finding a team to belittle and one that, even as a Chelsea fan, I can admit doesn’t deserve to be associated with the north London outfit.Mauricio Pochettino, the Tottenham manager, has respectably sniggered in the face of Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Arsene Wenger this season, once more overachieving with a squad of the lowest value of any of the top six and a squad of the youngest average age of any top flight club.Spurs have been the only team to keep pace with Chelsea at the top of the table. Liverpool have bottled it. Manchester City have bottled it. Manchester United have bottled it. Arsenal have bottled it. But Tottenham? They’ve been brilliant.Golden Boot contender Harry Kane has had two separate spells on the sidelines in both halves of the season. Toby Alderweireld has missed eight games. Danny Rose has been limited to 18 appearances through injury.So Spurs, with a number of key players to adapt without, have still secured Champions League football – a feat which would have been their primary target when making preparations in pre-season – and have done so in awe-inspiring style, scoring 71 goals and conceding a league best of just 23.Chelsea, conversely, have been at full strength in almost every game, certainly since their change in setup in October. And when Antonio Conte, the Blues manager, has been forced to make changes in personnel, his team have stuttered, with defeats to Crystal Palace and Manchester United coming when Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso – imperative to the balance of their 3-4-2-1 – have been absent.Winning the title – let alone competing for it – would not have been high on Tottenham’s realistic aims for the campaign when assessing the quality of recruitment completed by their rivals over the summer.They’ve taken this season game by game and, like Newcastle United in 1995/96, will be remembered among the most entertaining teams to (likely) miss out on the title.In what is essential to any manager, they’ve showed obvious progression from last term and for the first time in 22 years are confirmed to finish above fierce rivals Arsenal – by a country mile.And it’s not all over yet. Tottenham are far from deserving of the label ‘bottlers’ 1last_img

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