The beginning of the 2018/2019 season has been one of mixed fortunes for fans of Tottenham Hotspur.
The North London outfit have made their best ever start to a Premier League season. However, performances have not lived up to those of the past three seasons.
This, along with not signing anyone in the summer, the cloud of doubt hanging over their new stadium. and some poor results in Europe, has resulted in a frustrating few months for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
They still sit in fourth place, five points off top spot. Following the most recent international break, Tottenham have a chance to hit the ground running once more.
And hit the ground running they must, as they welcome Chelsea to Wembley for Saturday evening’s London derby.
The Blues have made a flying start under Mauricio Sarri and are unbeaten in the league. There is no denying they provide a stern challenge for Pochettino’s charges.
For Spurs, this is much more than a London derby, and it could potentially have a major baring on where they finish at the end of the season.
Losing on Saturday means losing valuable ground on City, Liverpool and Chelsea, and realistically ending their chances of mounting a serious title challenge.
The current crop of players are fighting to prevent the tags of ‘nearly men’ in their hunt for silverware, and this is potentially the last year to do so before a host of household names move on from the club.
However, they must put those thoughts to one side and focus on playing their own game. They must re-establish the fluidity in their play which has seen them grow from Europa League regulars to a respected outfit on the top clubs’ radar.
Prior to the international break, Spurs went on a four-game winning streak in all competitions. With Harry Kane back among the goals for England Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen at the end of their respective roads to recovery, fans will be hopeful they can push on.
Danny Rose and Jan Verthongen remain on the injury table, as does Mousa Dembélé. This gives Harry Winks the chance to build on recent impressive performances and nail down the central midfield position.
Winks will have to be at his very best to neutralise the formidable Chelsea midfield of Kante, Jorginho and Ross Barkley.
Predicting who will play with Winks in the centre of the park proves a difficult task. They may opt with Moussa Sissoko, who has responded to criticism by showing impressive work rate of late.
Another option is attacking from the off and playing Dele from deep, allowing Eriksen and Lucas to play behind Kane.
Boasting a wide array of attacking options and varieties, Spurs are capable of counteracting the Chelsea attacking threat.
At the epicentre of the Spurs gameplan, however is keeping one Eden Hazard quiet. The Belgian has registered seven league goals and four assists so far this year.
Securing a Legacy:
The vast majority of Spurs fans would have chewed both your arms off had you told them that they would be frustrated with settling for a top four position before the start of Pochettino’s tenure.
Such is the progression the club has made under the Argentinian. The fans now expect the team to do well and improve on merely qualifying for Champions League football.
The football public will refuse to acknowledge the success and improvements of this Spurs team until they win a trophy.
While trophy may not be the Premier League, it is vital that they put in a string of performances in preparation for next week’s crucial Champions League fixture against Inter and future cup bouts.
In what is a crucial few months for them, this Tottenham side can’t rest on their laurels. Remaining content with squeezing out results and using excuses for their lack of success is no longer an option.
Each member of personnel must ensure performances start to improve, enabling them to take control of their own legacy.
Making a statement on Saturday would be vital in taking that next step and ending their trophy drought.