With four points taken from a possible six, Tottenham will want to carry on as they started. The opening two months of Mauricio Pochettino seasons are usually slow, and it’s important that Spurs build on their good form.
It’s hardly unexpected that Tottenham have figured out a winning formula this early, however. For much of last season, they had a consistent eleven who understood their roles to perfection, which lead to the team challenging for the title.
In theory, with no upheaval to the squad, Spurs should have been able to carry that form into this season. And do that they have.
Despite having eleven players away on international duty over the summer, no shine has been wiped off this side. A draw away at Everton was flattering for the hosts, and a hard-fought victory over Crystal Palace showed an underbelly which Tottenham lacked before Pochettino’s arrival.
The first 45 minutes of the new campaign wasn’t particularly pretty to watch. Spurs looked sluggish, off-the-pace, almost without purpose. Everton’s goal itself was the result of a fluke, and the team didn’t initially respond positively.
Last season, manager Pochettino was so bereft of options to bring on to change games, dropping many points simply because he couldn’t change the dynamic of a match.
Enter Vincent Janssen.
The Dutch international signed from AZ Alkmaar in the summer, and looked impressive during pre-season. The big question was whether he could carry that form into competitive fixtures, and he certainly did just that.
Brought on for Eric Dier just ten minutes into the second-half, Janssen added an intensity to the game which Tottenham needed. Build-up play was quicker, pressing became higher, and Everton were beginning to crack.
Indeed, it wasn’t long before Tottenham did equalise – Erik Lamela headed home a Kyle Walker cross to level the scoreline.
Janssen himself had a chance to steal all three points late on, but his snap shot was well saved by Maarten Stekelenburg. However, he had done enough to earn his spot and even a place in the starting line up against Crystal Palace.
Once again, Janssen’s physicality and work rate earned him the trust and admiration of the White Hart Lane faithful. Toby Alderweireld later commented on Janssen’s relationship with the fans.
“Did you hear how the crowd reacted to him? That boy suits Tottenham Hotspur,” said Alderweireld.
“He’s the type of striker fans want to see here; tall, physically strong, and held the ball”.
Despite a glaring miss late in the day, Janssen once again had done enough to prove his worth without getting on the score sheet.
The man who did get on the score sheet was fellow new signing Victor Wanyama. The Kenyan flicked on Harry Kane’s header from a corner to give Spurs the win with eight minutes remaining.
A slightly-butchered White Hart Lane was sent into raptures, and whilst the winner wasn’t the prettiest, Tottenham probably deserved it on merit of how many chances they created.
And yet, there’s still a sense that things aren’t complete in the squad.
Pochettino named no wide players or forwards on his bench, with Dele Alli looking like the only player capable of changing the game. For a side preparing to return to the UEFA Champions League, names and numbers are looking thin.
Deals for winger Georges-Kévin N’Koudou and goalkeeper Pau López drag on, but it could be argued that that’s still not enough. Rumours of interest in Mario Gotze earlier in the summer had Spurs fans watering at the mouth, but that’s the only name of note linked with a move to this side of north London.
Pochettino has done enough to earn the unanimous trust of Tottenham fans in the transfer market; clearly bringing in a name too big could unsettle one of the best squad atmospheres in England. But what we have now is simply not enough.
With Nabil Bentaleb being shown the exit door and Mousa Dembele still suspended, we’re lacking much needed cover in midfield. We lack a talisman and ball carrier without the big Belgian, and it’s a hole that can’t be filled with Wanyama, Ryan Mason or Tom Carroll.
The squad is progressing well, but signings must be made before August 31.