Good Start to Busy Stretch for Tottenham Hotspur in Premier League

LINZ, AUSTRIA - DECEMBER 03: Son Heung-Min of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates with Gareth Bale and Giovani Lo (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
LINZ, AUSTRIA - DECEMBER 03: Son Heung-Min of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates with Gareth Bale and Giovani Lo (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images) /

Tottenham Hotspur have gotten off to a good start to one of the busiest stretches of the season that has not always been kind to Spurs over the years.

Tottenham Hotspur have struggled at times at the end of the calendar year over the last few season as games have come at a furious pace. While the schedule has been and will get no kinder to Tottenham between now and the new year, Spurs have coped well thus far this season. So how does the 7 points from first 9 available after the last international break stand-up for Spurs and what does the performance tell us about where Tottenham might finish the season.

Festive Period Performance

The run from the time after the final international break in early November until just after the new year is remarkably busy for Premier League squads. Historically speaking in this space of six to seven weeks Tottenham Hotspur have played on average nine Premier League games per season during this period. Add in annual commitments for European football, as well as multiple other competitions domestically and suddenly this period is quite possibly the busiest of the year.

Tottenham have done okay during this period over the last few seasons, but the better they have done during this time, the more likely they are to be competing until the end for something of meaning. Further not dropping points during this period can be the difference between winning the league or not or making Champions League or not.

Over the last five seasons Spurs have taken 65% of the points available during this period, with their best performance coming in 2018-19 when they took 78% of the available points and worst coming in 17-18 when they took less than 55%. For the 2018-19 team, those points were massive as Spurs faded terribly down the stretch with an extended stay in Europe.

The pressing style and lack of depth eventually caught up with Tottenham as they fell to Liverpool in the UCL final in Madrid and just hung on for 4th place in the Premier League. Had Tottenham not taken all those points over the busy stretch of games, they would not have kept their Champions League position.

Alternatively, in 2017-18 when Tottenham dropped 15 of 33 possible points during this same run of games, Spurs fell out of contention for the title before the new year. While Tottenham did still make top four, any real hope of challenging Manchester City or Liverpool faded with their performance.

Last season, Tottenham were up and down over the final stretch of games in 2019. The squad was still recovering from the loss of Mauricio Pochettino and adapting to the introduction of José Mourinho. Some of the initial success may have simply been the new manager bump, but inconsistency was the only consistency for Spurs last season, dropping 11 points from late November to early January.

Those 11 points would not have brought Spurs any closer to Liverpool in the title race, but even three of them would have meant avoiding the extended qualifying earlier this season. Such is the power of points during this busy stretch where the teams that do not drop significant points position themselves for a chance at glory in the new year.

Tottenham Starting Strong

All this reflection brings us back to this season and the fact that Spurs have taken seven of the first nine points available since returning from the last international break. That equates to 78%, matching the performance in 2018-19. If Tottenham can maintain this performance for the next month, Spurs will be in the conversation come the new year as they were in 2018-19.

While Tottenham are still in four competitions – just as they were in 2018-19 – the squad and the approach are more adaptable to the rigors of the lengthy, extended campaign. Having a legitimate plan B and style besides the press makes Spurs more dangerous and frankly saves some real wear and tear on the players. So, unlike the 2018-19 season when Spurs faded down the stretch following injuries to Harry Kane and Dele Alli, this team is ready to do more.

First, while anyone can be injured at any time, if Harry Kane is injured again this season, it will not be from a result of being overworked. With a legitimate striker to rest Kane in Carlos Vinicius, Kane should get some days off in some non-Premier League competitions. Second, Dele himself is an example of the depth of the squad as it would like take two injuries to get the Englishman back into the Premier League team, such is the competition at Tottenham Hotspur.

All this is not to say Tottenham will win out the rest of the month and no one will get injured, we have already seen that not to be true. Rather it is to demonstrate that this team is a bit more prepared both mentally and physically for the run ahead. Not just the run to end the calendar year, but the run to the end of the season.

When a team takes things one game at a time, suddenly the end does not seem so daunting and if Spurs can keep accumulating rather than dropping points, anything can happen.  So let us hope this run of form continues.