Tottenham kicks off its 2023-24 Premier League season in less than a week with a short trip to Brentford, so how does the team look in anticipation of Sunday’s season opener?
Now that the apprehension of the Harry Kane situation is over, or at least I bloody hope it is, we can all finally turn our attention to football.
The summer transfer period stirs a cocktail of emotions, not least of which is fear. Fear that the club you support doesn’t do nearly enough to strengthen. Fear that your club will be cast aside, destined for drab before a ball is kicked.
While the transfer period doesn’t end when the Premier League kicks off, clubs will want most of their business sorted before opening weekend.
Just ask Kane, who professed his need to know one way or the other by Aug. 13. Looks like Levy met Kane’s deadline, ensuring his talisman has almost a week to prepare for Brentford on Sunday.
Unless the unthinkable happens, like seeing Arsenal atop the table in May, Kane is staying, ready to compete with Erling Haaland for his fourth Golden Boot while leading his team with the armband snuggly strapped on.
Angeball taking effect
Ange’s revolution will take time.
A wholesale strategical and mindset pivot doesn’t occur without hurdles popping up along the way. It hasn’t been an ideal pre-season, and Ange is candid about his team’s current readiness.
Playing two matches in Asia and Australia over two weeks, one against a far inferior Lion City Sailors squad, doesn’t constitute an ideal pre-season.
The 5-1 victory against Shakhtar Donetsk, in which Kane scored four, was Spurs’ first and only home pre-season contest. Tottenham plays in Barcelona Tuesday evening for its final test before the Bees.
Despite scheduling challenges, a somewhat foreseeable Thailand monsoon, the Kane uncertainty, and the centre-back saga, Angeball is already taking form and injecting palpable excitement, both for players and supporters.
If you watched any of the matches, you’d be floored by Spurs’ collective positive intent. Sure, it’s a work in progress, but the mindset has clearly been altered, and the players are all in, ardent supporters of Ange and his philosophy.
Ange’s relentless attack yielded these staggeringly impressive numbers in his first three matches. And remember, those matches were all played with Kane’s status up in the air, a sky-covering distraction of uncertainty that enveloped the club.
On the opposing side, you have to consider the inferior level of, more prominently, the Sailors and, less so, Shakhtar.
Goals for: 12
Average: 4 per game
Goals against: 5
Average: 1.7 per game
Shot attempts: 101
Shot attempts average: 34
Shots on target: 44
Average: 15 per match
Average possession: 74%
Average passes per match: 710
Pass accuracy average: 87%
Average corners per match: 13
To avoid big-head syndrome accompanying incurable hubris, I have to reiterate the inferior level of competition. It’s the pessimist in me.
Regardless of its overall inferiority, Tottenham should be proud of its first three matches trying Angeball on for size.
I mean, come on, have you seen the exceptional numbers above? They’re so exceptional it’s almost impossible to pick out the most impressive.
While there’s absolutely no chance of sustaining most of those numbers throughout a campaign in the world’s most competitive and parity-laden league, it shows obvious progression, a hairpin turn away from the listless, defensive, and fear-riddled footy Spurs adopted under Antonio Conte.
Ange, in quintessential Ange style, took accountability for the fleeting lapses during Spurs’ outings. While the end of the first half against Shakhtar boiled the Aussie’s blood more than an afternoon exposed to the Perth heat, Ange took the blame.
Focussing on the Shakhtar match, a five-minute lapse among a few other blood-pressure-raising moments, in the grand scheme of things, lays a solid foundation.
With the knowledge of Micky van de Ven’s imminent arrival and Kane’s non-departure, excitement is reaching unparalleled levels.
Admittedly, I also said that before Conte’s first full season in charge.
This time around, however, feels much different. Ange is different.
Earnest, candid, and honest, Ange is the type of character Tottenham has been waiting for since Mauricio Pochettino exited the scene almost four years ago.
More than anything else, his pure love and admiration for attacking football is getting supporters more excited than seeing @Plettigoal proved wrong.
The only thing better than Ange’s adoration of attacking football is having the personnel to execute.
With a healthy Son Heung-min, a rejuvenated Dejan Kulusevski, a re-inspired Kane, a superbly gifted James Maddison, and when he returns from injury, a tenacious and omnipresent Rodrigo Bentancur leading the front line, Tottenham has the arsenal to do Ange and his philosophy proud.