Tottenham Hotspur: 5 Reasons Spurs Can Qualify for Champions League in '11-'12
Competition in the Premier League is getting tougher and tougher every year. Finishing in the top four in previous years has been much easier because of the existence of only four major contenders. The 2011-2012 season looks to have six or seven potential top four teams with a host of others hoping to make the top six. The potential for excitement this season is virtually guaranteed—sure as Peter Crouch is tall. So, five reasons? Let's look at them.
Tottenham need a reliable goalkeeper. Yes, everyone already knows. But it still must be said—with a solid keeper, Spurs only increase their chances of a successful season. Productive spells at Blackburn and Aston Villa can attest to Friedel's competence as a goalie. Here, the important thing is not that he's good—everyone knows he's good and virtually every keeper in the Premier League is good—it's that he's consistent. Consistency in the back is what Spurs need for a good season.
Gareth Bale, Steven Pienaar, Aaron Lennon, Danny Rose, Niko Kranjcar, and even Rafael van der Vaart. This collection of wingers, depending on who stays or is loaned and so on, is a list that would make most Premiership teams jealous. This season, look for speed and strength on the wings to be the backbone of the current Spurs squad. Now all they need is a competent striker.
Strength of Mid-Table Teams
Teams like Sunderland, Fulham, West Brom, and new comers QPR are strengthening and preparing themselves for a cutthroat season in the Premier League. Add these teams to the already strong Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Tottenham and mix in the fairly consistent Bolton, Everton, and Stoke. What do we get? A competitive 13-horse race for the top four positions. I understand that not all of these teams can realistically challenge for the top four, but their existence only makes it more difficult for the seven teams that actually can.
The competitiveness of the mid-table will help Tottenham this season because Spurs are not traditionally a Premier League super-team. United, City, and so on will hope that their depth can get them through these lesser level games. They'll hope to rest during these games to save strength for the big games in the top seven. Smaller teams, like Spurs, realize that they need to focus on every game and not take anything for granted.
Weakening of Arsenal
In most derby rivalries across the world, one team holds the advantage and the bragging rights. The North London Derby, to the dismay of Spurs fans, has been under the control of Arsenal more than it has belonged to Tottenham. Just like anything else, though, times change and eras can grow and disappear.
Now, before all you Arsenal fans explode, I'm not saying the Arsenal legacy is over. I'm just pointing out the weakening trend since the Invincibles. A dreadful loss in the Carling Cup final to lowly Birmingham, complicated goalie issues, selling Gael Clichy, the Nasri and Fabregas situations, and Wenger needing to retire or change the game plan all contribute to their latest difficulties.
All this means that the rivalry between the two North London clubs is becoming closer, giving confidence to Spurs and wearing on the confidence of the Gunners. Who knows what will happen between the two this season, but it will be closer and more intense than it has been and I think Spurs will reap the benefits.
Missing Ingredients to Complete the Formula
What is needed for Spurs to ensure a top four finish this season? Tons of literature has been published on the matter, but here it is in brief:
A solid striker who will score goals.
Not to sell Luka Modric or any other major players.
Don't let the best players get injured.
Keep Harry Redknapp interested and focused on this team and nothing else.
Get rid of fringe players who are tying up wages. (This could work to further strengthen the mid-table, so we must be careful to whom we sell.)
There it is, folks.