Andre Villas-Boas admitted at the end of the season that Tottenham would need to increase their points tally to achieve success in the Premier League. Quoted on BBC Sport the manager said,
Having achieved 72 points this season, a record for Tottenham in the Premier League, it becomes more difficult to show year on year improvement but that’s the task facing Andre Villas-Boas and the players next season.
“To achieve 72 points and not make it shows that to compete at this level we will probably have to make more than that as other clubs have great, great squads.”
Setting aside individual player’s contribution to the season, where are the areas which can provide Spurs with the additional points next season?
P 19 W 11 D 5 L 3 For 29 Ag 18 Pts 38
This is one area where there is room for improvement. Spurs had too many draws against teams they would have expected to beat – WBA, Norwich and Stoke City. The draw towards the end of the season against Everton is cited by some as one the reasons why Spurs didn’t make it into the Champions League but the Goodison Park side finished one place below Spurs and are a difficult team to beat. Spurs home record improved as the season progressed but they struggled to score goals at home and the two defeats against Wigan and Fulham proved costly – two games they should have won but couldn’t find a way through a well organised and hard working team.
Tottenham took 26 points from the bottom six teams. Manchester United took the maximum of 36 points while Arsenal took 32 points. Taking only one point from Wigan was disappointing especially in the away game at the end of April when Spurs had been gifted an early lead. Rather than build on that, Spurs conceded quickly and were glad of a late own goal to salvage a point. In contrast, Spurs did reasonably well against the top teams, taking 11 points against the top four in comparison to Arsenal who only took two points.
Slow Start to the Season:
For the second successive season Spurs made a slow start to the season sacrificing points in the opening matches while transfer negotiations continued to 31st August. Taking two points from what should have been three winnable games left Spurs playing catch-up, not a good position to be in in a highly competitive League with so many teams hoping for a Champions League finish.
Late goals conceded were a problem in the first half of the season which led to dropped points. It culminated with losing all three points at Everton in December when they conceded twice in added time. From then on, Spurs turned the problem around and in the closing months, it was Spurs who were grabbing points with late goals – Gareth Bale at West Ham and at home to Southampton and Sunderland while Gylfi Sigurdsson’s late equaliser enabled Spurs to take a point at Stamford Bridge.
In the latter part of the season, Spurs conceded too many goals from corners and free-kicks. They always appeared to be in danger of conceding from a set-piece yet rarely troubled the opposition from corners and free-kicks of their own.
Two questions need answering. When defending corners, the inevitable question raised was why they didn’t they have someone on the posts to try to reduce the problem. While for a team with players capable of delivering a cross into the area, why were so many corners and free-kicks wasted? Bale scored from a number within shooting range but so many other opportunities went begging.
Spurs had 9 clean sheets in the Premier League, only eight teams had fewer. Chelsea had 18, Liverpool had 16 and QPR managed 7.
It’s never going to be easy to add to your record points total in the Premier League but if Tottenham are aspiring to achieve greater things they will have to resolve some of the issues which occurred during the season and build on what they achieved over the past ten months.