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10 Ways Tottenham Have Shown That They're Ready for Champions League

Frank WagnerCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2013

10 Ways Tottenham Have Shown That They're Ready for Champions League

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    With 12 matches remaining in the Premier League season, Tottenham look well set up to achieve their season's goal of Champions League football for next season.

    Spurs sit in fourth position in the league, one point behind third-placed Chelsea, five points behind second-placed Manchester City and four points clear of arch-rival Arsenal for the final spot in Europe's top club competition.

    While the true story of the next few months is how the club can avoid last year's late-season collapse and cross the finish line well, there is something to be said for Tottenham's place in the Champions League and their chances of shining in the prestigious competition.

    After all, it would be a bit of a waste if Spurs were to qualify only to get destroyed in the early stages next season.

    So what has Spurs' season thus far shown about the club's preparedness for a potential European run next season?

    Here are 10 ways Tottenham have shown that they are ready for the Champions League.

World-Class Keeper

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    Since coming to White Hart Lane in August, Hugo Lloris has shown why he is so highly rated throughout the world.

    Lloris won the starting job from the ageless Brad Friedel fairly early in the season and has just gotten better ever since.

    The France captain has conceded just five goals over the past 10 league matches, each of which ended without a loss.

    At just 26 years of age, expect Hugo to be a more than capable fixture of Spurs' side for years to come.

Solid Defensive Core

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    One of the more promising fixtures of Tottenham's side is the center of defense.

    While there is some room for improvement in the back line, there is no doubting how much they have gotten better throughout the season.

    Summer transfer Jan Vertonghen has been an amazing addition and, at 25, has the potential to become a defensive superstar.

    Captain Michael Dawson has finally made a successful return from the injuries that have plagued him and has been like a new addition to the squad.

    The 21-year-old Steven Caulker has been a revelation this season, scoring on his England debut and providing solid support in his first few starts for Tottenham.

    With Younes Kaboul looking to be added back into the mix after he returns from injury, Spurs have a defensive core that should be formidable for years.

A Superstar in the Mix

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    It goes without saying that Gareth Bale is a big part of where Tottenham are right now.

    The Welsh winger has come up huge over the past month, scoring goals like they're going out of style and striking fear into opposing defenses.

    A player like this, capable of creating his own chances and taking them from nothing, is invaluable for a run in the Champions League.

Young Talent...

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    One thing that Spurs have done very well with is loading their team with extremely talented young players.

    Lewis Holtby and Steven Caulker are two perfect examples of this youth movement.

    At 21, Caulker has started well at Spurs, playing solidly at center back and carving out a spot in the first team for himself.

    Holtby, meanwhile, has looked like he could become one of the best acquisitions in Tottenham history.

    After coming to White Hart Lane from Schalke in January for a mere £1.5 million, the 22-year-old German has played incredibly in his first few matches for Spurs.

    Holtby has brought something different to the club and could be a fixture in the starting XI very, very soon.

    While these young players have already made a place for themselves, one can find talented youth all over Spurs' squad: 23-year-old Gylfi Sigurdsson in attacking midfield, 21-year-old Andros Townsend on the wing and 18-year-old striker Souleymane Coulibaly just to name a few.

    Add in the younger members of the starting XI, particularly Sandro and Gareth Bale at 23, and it's quite easy to see how Tottenham are set to get better in the coming years.

...Who Really Want to Be Here

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    While Tottenham's youth is encouraging, there is still the omnipresent problem that arises when they want to leave for a bigger club.

    However, this batch of players seems genuinely thrilled to be at White Hart Lane.

    January signing Lewis Holtby called the move a dream on his blog:

    I have been living my dream for the past few days. I am playing at an absolute top club in the Premier League.

    The day the transfer went through, I left for London with just a small suitcase and a few hours later, I was already on the Tottenham training ground, getting the traditional kick up the backside from my new team-mates by means of welcoming me.

    That's the way things are here in London - hard but hearty.

    Meanwhile, summer signing Jan Vertonghen did the same, even begging former club Ajax to force the move through:

    It was something between me and Ajax that delayed it. It is a long story, but it was over a small amount of money. 

    At the time, I was concerned. But in the end i just told my manager: 'Please close the deal.

    My mind was made up by the feeling [chairman] Daniel Levy gave me. He invited me to the club and came over to Amsterdam to see me.

    He told me he really wanted to have me at the club and that gives a player an amazing feeling. It is important that a club wants you. Now I'm here, I really love the white shirt. It is a dream come true.

    They are a really quality team and I hope to finish as high as possible. Last year, they were in the race for the Champions League for a long way and we have to try that again.' 

    With players in this mindset, Spurs look well set for the future.

Tactical Mind

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    Manager Andre Villas-Boas' tactical ideas may have gone over like a lead balloon at Chelsea, but the Portuguese wunderkind has done much better at Tottenham.

    The high line that he employs has been working well of late for the defense, which has given up just five goals in the past 10 matches.

    Further, the fluid positions that AVB has allowed to develop in the midfield have helped Gareth Bale reach his potential, as the winger roams and runs at the defense from all different angles.

    Meanwhile, the young manager has not been shy in trying new things, even switching from his normal formation to a two-striker lineup when his attacking midfielders were struggling to perform.

    Unlike he did at Stamford Bridge, Villas-Boas seems to have found a way to adjust his tactics and get the best from almost all of his players at White Hart Lane.

    One gets the feeling that, no matter what happens to the squad, AVB will have Tottenham reaching their potential.

Good Man-Management

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    Perhaps it is merely because the squad is winning, but manager Andre Villas-Boas' man-management has seemed top-class this season.

    Despite some hefty squad rotation and a few players being dropped from the starting XI, one would be hard-pressed to remember a story about a disgruntled player at White Hart Lane since Luka Modric departed.

    Is this all on AVB? Probably not; the players deserve some credit for being good professionals.

    Still, it's good to see Villas-Boas presiding over a unified dressing room, something proven by Chelsea last season to be a key piece in Champions League success.

Keen Business

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    For the flak that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy tends to get at times, the man has shown some incredible business sense over the past few years.

    The club seems to keep raking in money from big transfers, yet buy so well that they suffer no real setbacks.

    For proof, just look at the past two transfer windows, where Spurs have bought the likes of Lewis Holtby, Moussa Dembele, Jan Vertonghen, Hugo Lloris, Clint Dempsey, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ezekiel Fryers while making a profit of £1.3 million in transfer fees alone.

    With business moves like this, it is easy to see Tottenham continuing to improve and filling any gaps in their squad when necessary.

They Really Deserved It Last Year

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    Not to beat a dead horse, but Tottenham really deserved a spot in this season's Champions League.

    The club finished fourth in the Premier League last season, a spot that is said to earn a team a run in the Champions League.

    However, some ridiculous UEFA law took this spot away after Chelsea won the Champions League, a competition that Spurs didn't even take part in.

    Now, this isn't to say that Chelsea didn't deserve a spot as defending champions or even that Tottenham deserved the spot more than them. Rather, it's to say that both should have been there.

    After all, why is there a limit that a league can only have four clubs in the Champions League when there are 76 teams to start the competition? Is it really impossible to operate with 77?

    Anyway, the point is that Spurs proved they are ready for the Champions League by rightfully qualifying for the competition last season.

They Need It

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    Tottenham need Champions League football.

    Not because their players are good enough that there is no reason for them not to be there.

    Not because every other Premier League squad competing for the top four is flawed in some obvious way.

    Not even because failure to qualify would surely send Gareth Bale away from the club while simultaneously destroying their leverage in negotiating his extravagant transfer fee.

    Tottenham needs Champions League football because it's the perfect time to establish itself as a top club.

    For too long, Spurs have been viewed as a seller club, building mid-level players into top players and selling them off in a perpetual cycle of mediocrity.

    That can all change with one qualification.

    If Tottenham can finish in the top four with Gareth Bale and keep the Welshman at White Hart Lane despite the constant pursuits of the world's richest clubs, it will make an emphatic statement about the club's aspirations.

    Add in the attitudes of young budding superstars like Jan Vertonghen and Lewis Holtby, who have waxed lyrical about the club, and suddenly Spurs are cast in a whole new light.

    Most importantly, though, the club would surely become a much sexier destination for top transfer targets.

    Now, this isn't to say Tottenham would suddenly reach the prestige and leverage of a Manchester United overnight (or at all).

    However, the club faces an awesome opportunity to increase their prestige and take a step toward the highest echelon of European clubs.

    They can't do it next year after they sell Bale, though.

    Tottenham must qualify for the Champions League now.

     

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