Tottenham Hotspur: 4 Bold Predictions for the Remainder of the EPL Season
If anybody has a point to prove in English football, it is Andre Villas-Boas.
Having fallen foul of Roman Abramovich at Chelsea last March, the young Portuguese coach took the reins at Tottenham in the summer following the dismissal of Harry Redknapp and, despite an unsteady start to life in North London, Villas-Boas has since steadied the ship and Tottenham now sit in fourth place as we approach the halfway stage of the season.
Villas-Boas' mission statement at the beginning of the season would have been simple—Champions League qualification—and while Tottenham currently occupy the coveted fourth place, there is still another five months of the season to go.
Here are four bold prediction's for the remainder of Tottenham's season.
Tottenham Will Achieve Champions League Qualification:
The moment Drogba consigned Spurs to the Europa League.
Amid the jubilant scene's following Didier Drogba's winning penalty that secured Chelsea the Champions League title in May, "Are you watching White Hart Lane?" echoed around the Allianz Area. Why? Because success for Chelsea meant heartache for their London rivals Tottenham.
Despite finishing sixth last season, Chelsea earned automatic qualification into this year's Champions League, thus condemning fourth-placed Tottenham to the Europa League. It was the cruelest of blow's to a team whose efforts throughout a nine month domestic campaign were swiftly rendered meaningless by two moments from Drogba, first with the late equaliser, then with the decisive penalty.
Andre Villas-Boas does not need the motivational skills of a top manager to inspire his troops to achieve Champions League qualification this season.
Having being the person who supplied the DVD's for analysis before and after Chelsea matches under Mourinho's tenure, Villas-Boas needs only provide another DVD, this time a copy of Chelsea's victory in Munich and the Tottenham players, with the painful memories still fresh in the mind, can do the rest.
While motivation will only get you so far, Tottenham also boast the quality in addition to superior resources to reach next season's Champions League.
As it stands, Tottenham sit fourth, two points ahead of Arsenal, Everton and West Bromwich Albion. Tenuous, though if Tottenham spend in January, which they are likely to do, they can steal a march over both Everton and West Brom whose financial situation will restrict them from significantly strengthening in January—unless they sell first.
It is not simply a case of wanting to return among Europe's elite, it is a case of needing it. If Tottenham want to continue growing as a club, they need Champions League football.
With a vast increase of annual revenue, luring quality to the club is also made easier with the promise of playing against the best Europe has to offer. It may also be the only chance the club stand in retaining the services of Gareth Bale beyond next summer.
It is difficult to ignore their top-four credentials. They will banish the memories of Chelsea's success at Munich come May 2013.
Tottenham Will Finish Ahead of Rivals Arsenal:
St. Totteringham's Day is a mock, celebratory occasion created by Arsenal fans in an attempt to poke fun at their less fortunate neighbours.
It marks the point of which Tottenham are mathematically assured to finish below their North London rivals in the Premier League table, something Tottenham have suffered every year since 1995. However, like all good things, ultimately they come to an end.
This is the year Tottenham and Andre Villas-Boas cancel St. Totteringham's Day for Arsenal fans, the year they achieve what no Tottenham team has managed in 17 years - breaking the Arsenal dominance in North London.
Four miles separate both club's in geography, a gulf separates them in history, though Tottenham have significantly bridged the gap to Arsenal's quality in recent years.
Indicative of the great stride's Tottenham have made, St. Totteringham's Day has not been celebrated until the dying embers of recent Premier League campaigns. In two of the last three years, Arsenal have needed a win on the final day of the season to secure the bragging rights and preserve their dominance.
Tottenham, currently sitting in fourth place, two points above Arsenal, can draw on the pain and disappointment of spurning a 12-point lead over their neighbours last season to Spur them on, inspire them to finish a job they came within a single point of completing last season.
Following the departure's of Robin Van Persie and Alex Song last summer, Arsenal have struggled to cope in their absence, spiraling into a mini-crisis in the wake of each defeat. Their regression continues while Tottenham grow stronger. They have the stronger squad. Now, they just need to prove it.
AVB Will Have Money to Spend in January:
Having witnessed Tottenham miss out on the Champions League last season by the narrowest of margins, chairman Daniel Levy will afford Andre Villas-Boas the financial resources necessary to strengthen his squad in an attempt to avoid a similar fiasco this season.
Life was good at Tottenham this time last year. Harry Redknapp had them playing with a brio that had not been evident in a Tottenham team for many years and they were proving a genuine force in the Premier League. With that in mind, Redknapp could have been forgiven for not being as active in January as one might have expected.
In a month where 'Arry kept a low profile due to a much publicised court-case, he also kept his head down in the transfer market, leaving it late before scouring the bargain basement.
He picked up both Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen on short-term deals. Two decent, experienced signings ordinarily, though not when you're in the hunt for a Premier League title, which Tottenham were at the time.
Ultimately, the wheels came off Tottenham's season in sensational fashion. Uncertainty and sloppiness replaced vigour and style as the motif's in Redknapp's Tottenham and as results progressively dipped, both Redknapp and Daniel Levy were left ruing the decision not adding higher calibre of player's to the squad in January.
Although they occupy fourth place at the moment by two points, a lead that could be extended by the time the transfer window opens, in addition to the fact they boast an already capable squad, Tottenham cannot afford to rest on their laurels.
Daniel Levy is not a fool. He is perhaps as shrewd an operator as you're likely to find running a Premier League club and he will have learned the harsh lesson taught to them by Chelsea and Arsenal last season.
Andre Villas-Boas will be welcoming new faces to the club next month, whether he likes it or not.
Jermain Defoe Will Reach 20 League Goals for the First Time:
Somewhat surprisingly, considering his calibre and profile, Jermain Defoe has not yet recorded a 20-league-goal season. He will this season.
For perhaps the first time in his career at White Hart Lane, Defoe is very much the focal point of the Tottenham attack and, having netted nine goals so far this season, it is clear he is benefiting from the faith shown in him by manager Andre Villas-Boas who has even gone as far as bracketing him with Radamel Falcao.
"Jermain is one of the best and I certainly put him alongside Falcao," Villas-Boas said. "His hunger for goal is extreme. The experience I have is with a couple of top strikers, but I put him up there with the best," added the Tottenham boss.
"When games are as difficult, you need players to unlock the game and make the most of opportunities, or an individual moment of brilliance.
"I certainly had that with Falcao. Sometimes you would think that he wouldn't be there to reach a cross and he would appear out of nowhere. Jermain is the same. It's these moments of brilliance that can turn games."
When used correctly, within the correct system, Defoe is as lethal a striker you will find in the Premier League and, barring serious injury, Tottenham fans can expect to see their diminutive frontman bag many more. He is key to Tottenham's aspirations this season.