Tottenham Hotspur: The Next 3 Matches Are the First True Test for Spurs

Sean BabcockCorrespondent IISeptember 7, 2011

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 06:  Nenad Milijas (L) of Wolves is challenged by Sandro of Tottenham during the Barclays Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur at Molineux on March 6, 2011 in Wolverhampton, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Wolverhampton, Liverpool, and Wigan. Those are the next three fixtures on the English Premier League schedule for Tottenham Hotspur.

No more nightmarish competitions against top-four clubs. No more scrambling to keep up with the league's top two powerhouse offenses. At least not for awhile.

Spurs had a very disheartening start to the 2011-12 campaign, having been outscored 8-1 and failing to salvage a single point from their opening fixtures. But those two matches against Manchester's best are hardly an indication of what Tottenham has to offer in the new season.

Rather, that indication will come over the next few weeks, as Spurs travel a slightly less difficult road and face competition more indicative of the average opposition that they'll face over the next nine months.

We've seen how Spurs fare against the toughest clubs in the league this season, but we still have no idea what to expect from Tottenham against the other seventeen clubs in the league. There are a lot of questions yet to be answered, and if Spurs can show that they're capable of holding their own against rivals who are decidedly less talented than their first two opponents, then all is not yet lost.

While Wolverhampton is enjoying a tremendous start to their new season, they have yet to really face a quality Premier League side, and many have questioned whether they can keep up the pace. Still, they are notoriously difficult to defeat on their home turf, and will provide the first real test for Tottenham on Saturday.

Wigan is another low-finishing side from last season who are undefeated in their first three fixtures. While they should constitute an easy three points for Tottenham, it's important to note that Spurs only secured one point from the club last time around, drawing on the road and falling to Wigan at White Hart Lane.

Liverpool should easily come away as the most dangerous threat in the coming weeks, having seemingly retained the form that saw them quickly climbing the table in the second half of last season. Even when Liverpool was at the top of their game last year, however, Tottenham found a way to defeat them at Anfield in the closing weeks, a feat that they will have to repeat in eleven days if they want to show that they can bounce back from the blows dealt to them by Manchester.

There are a few things to look out for as Tottenham strives to improve on those early performances, the first of which will be the immediate impact of Emmanuel Adebayor on the club's forward momentum and attacking game.

We have yet to see how the Togolese striker will fit in at White Hart Lane, as his loan agreement disallowed him from participating in Spurs' most recent match against Manchester City. But, in the coming weeks, we will get our first glimpse of how much of a difference a quality striker will really make in Tottenham's starting lineup.

The next question revolves around Tottenham's resilience and depth. Last year's top goalscorer, Rafael van der Vaart, was involved in Spurs' first two losses of the season, but will be absent from the more winnable fixtures to come with an injury that has ruled him out for six weeks. Spurs can't allow the misfortune to dishearten their efforts if they hope to come out of his recovery stretch alive.

And, of course, will Luka Modric return to top form in the first matches following the closing of the transfer window, knowing now that he will remain with Spurs for at least another couple of months?

Last season, Spurs found it surprisingly difficult to compete against lesser rivals in Premier League fixtures, a fact that was intimately involved in them ultimately dropping out of the top-four by the end of the campaign.

Squandering opportunities against sides like Wolverhampton and Wigan cannot be allowed this time around. If Tottenham are going to have as much difficulty against the powerhouse squads as it appears that they will, then they'll have to make up for it by finding success against the clubs that they failed to overwhelm in 2011-12.

In the coming weeks, they'll finally have that opportunity. And we'll all see the true character of this squad, for better or for worse.

We'll finally know, for the first time, what to really expect from Tottenham this year.