Tottenham Hotspur will finish Matchweek 9 in first place in the Premier League, ahead of Liverpool on goal difference in stark contrast to last season.
Clearly suffering from a Champions League Final loss hangover, after nine matches in league last season Tottenham Hotspur were a middling 7th place, on virtue of goal difference. Their 12 points from 9 matches had Spurs tied with three other sides with half the points of league leading Liverpool who had 24, with a game in hand. Now a long, strange, year later and Tottenham now sit tied for tops with Liverpool and ahead on goal difference.
Tottenham 2019 v 2020
After nine games in 2019, Tottenham had already had highs and lows. A 3-1 win on opening day over Aston Villa – where Tanguy Ndombele scored – was a bright spot, as was a 4-0 romp over Crystal Palace. However, for each win Tottenham had secured through nine games – three – they had a draw and a loss to boot. At 3-3-3 Tottenham were a team lost and looking for an identity.
A Run to Forget
Not only had Spurs lost three matches, the nature of those losses was particularly difficult to accept. Things started to go south with a loss to Newcastle between draws with Arsenal and Manchester City. Following that Palace victory Spurs lost two of their next three falling 2-1 at Leicester City and 3-0 at The Amex to Brighton. That Brighton loss was particularly tough on Spurs as they also lost Hugo Lloris for a large portion of the season that day to a significant elbow injury.
Matchweek nine saw Spurs struggle against to be relegated Watford, securing just 1 point on late goal from Dele Alli. Tottenham had fallen behind on a goal in the first six minutes and were fortunate to get the Dele goal after a Ben Foster fumble in goal. That point, actually pushed Spurs up to 7th in the table on goal differential.
From there Tottenham only had three more league games under Mauricio Pochettino, a loss to Liverpool and then consecutive draws to Everton and Sheffield United, leaving Spurs in 14th place on 14 points a full 20 points behind league leading Liverpool.
Wins to Remember
Contrast that with this season, where Spurs have only lost once, but have been stung by two other draws. So while Tottenham have no been perfect, they are unbeaten in eight and some of the little issues that led to the dropped points against West Ham and Newcastle – failure to close a team our and failure to focus on defense – seem to be things Spurs are working through.
Evidence was put forth this past weekend with the 2-0 victory over Manchester City. That evidence provided proof that Spurs are also developing an identity as a football team. An identity that looks a lot like their manager.
That said, all Tottenham have done is put themselves in a position to make the next stretch of games very meaningful and now have control of their own fate. While it is far too early to talk title, the reality is, Tottenham do not have to look up in the table or even look down, they just need to look at the next game.
It is that next game mentality that will keep Spurs on track and moving toward the ultimate prize, a Premier League trophy. Until this, we appreciate Liverpool helping us at least spend a weekend in first place. Oh what a difference one year makes.