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Could Tottenham Hotspur Be Legitimate Title Contenders?

On the official Tottenham Hotspur website, the club invites you to support the side because “in a world full of Uniteds, Citys and Rovers there is only One Hotspur - Tottenham Hotspur.”  Spurs, undefeated in their last eleven matches dating back to the start of the campaign, are threatening to disrupt the established hegemony of familiar contenders. 

The monopoly of the Premier League’s top-four sides is visibly crumbling. While it’s still early days, the emergence of Leicester City, Tottenham, West Ham and Southampton a third of the way through the season points towards a new era in Premier League history.

With a record TV rights deal injecting massive amounts of money throughout the top flight, the gap between the big clubs and those whose place has traditionally been behind them is closing. The extra cash is allowing traditionally smaller clubs to punch above their weight in the transfer market, retain their top talent and invest heavily in youth development.


"I'll drink to that!" Photo: @TheRealSpin4You | Twitter

Since the Premier League’s inception in 1992-93, Tottenham have only managed to break into the top four on two separate occasions, 2009-10 and 2011-12. With Spurs currently sitting only three points from fourth, could the 2015-16 season be added to that list?

The latest North London derby highlighted Tottenham's new groove with Spurs absolutely hammering Arsenal through the opening stages at the Emirates. The average age of the Tottenham starting eleven: 24-years-old.

It's an astonishing number, particularly when you take into account that most of this youthful exuberance accounts for the traditional spine of their side - Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Toby Alderweireld all being age 26 or younger.  

Tottenham Hotspur Title Top Four Challenge Arsenal

Photo: @WhoScored | Twitter

Traditionally, Tottenham have spent as much time warding off potential suitors for their top talent as they’ve had time to get them performing together on the pitch.

Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Carrick are just some of the talents that have been snatched prematurely from White Heart Lane faithful. 

Leading Tottenham’s latest surge is a core of young English talent in Harry Kane, Alli, Ryan Mason, Dier and Kyle Walker. While many Premier League managers have found it difficult to retain their most impressive talents from the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona, Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping that this group will be together for years to come. 

The English makeup of the side may work in their favor. The old enemy himself, Arsene Wenger, stated that it is 'easier' for English players to stay loyal

Central to Tottenham’s hope for the future is the continued success of Kane. With whispers of a sophomore slump clearly behind him, Kane has now scored 6 goals in 12 Premier League appearances this year. He’s contributing 30% of his team’s goals while averaging 3.8 shots per game, good for fifth in the league. 

If Tottenham are able to finish in the top-four this year, satiating Kane’s desire for Champions League soccer, they shouldn’t have trouble keeping him. Lose out on the top-four and it’s difficult to envision a player of Kane’s quality not participating in Europe’s elite competition at 23 years of age.

Thankfully, Tottenham supporters needn't rely entirely on Kane in order to fulfill this ambition.  

The other English jewels for Tottenham are Alli and Dier. Dier leads all English internationals in tackles this season, personifying the philosophy instilled by Pochettino. Typically portrayed as being soft, Roy Keane belittled the previous Tottenham mindset by writing in his autobiography that "we all know what Tottenham is about, they are nice and tidy but we'll f****** do them."

Sir Alex Ferguson, as revealed by Keane, only felt the need to give a three-word team talk against Spurs: "Lads, it's Tottenham."

This is a new Tottenham, one that leads the league in tackles per game (23.9) as well as yellow cards (27). No one can accuse the current side of lacking both physical and mental toughness.

Tottenham Hotspur Top Four Title Challenge Eric Dier

Photo: @WhoScored | Twitter

Alli, at 19-years-old, has impressed observers with the maturity and composure of his displays. He was named the Young Player of the Year at the Football League Awards for his performances for MK Dons in England's third tier of professional football, but nobody could've predicted his astronomical rise to representing his country in less than a year's time.

Spurs have built a formidable blend of youth and experience that should see them near the top of the table come May. Hugo Lloris seems settled after briefly looking set to move to Manchester United. Jan Vertonghen is one of the most cultured defensive players in the game - an 86.8% pass success rate being uncommonly high for a center half.

Christian Eriksen, 23, has become a more consistent threat from open play, while still delivering from set pieces. He's scored two goals and assisted on three more this year. 

The reinvigoration of senior players Mousa Dembélé and Erik Lamela also speak volumes for the work Pochettino has done. Lamela was all too recently considered one of the biggest flops in Spurs history, an outlay of Gareth Bale generated cash gone horribly awry. 

While filling Bale's boots as a like-for-like replacement was always going to be too much to ask of Lamela, the Argentine has been slowly adapting to life in London. 

Tottenham Title Top Four Challenge Erik Lamela

Photo: @FootballFanCast | Twitter

Additionally, Tottenham's U21 squad currently sits second in their respective league table, ahead of Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool.

Danny Blanchflower, who captained and played for Tottenham Hotspur from 1954-1964, famously declared, “The game is about glory. It’s about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.”

Spurs have lived by this credo for decades but they finally appear to be on the verge of quantifiable glory. For fans of the Premier League, Tottenham's contributions to an entertaining and unpredictable 2015-16 season have us awaiting its return with bated breath. 

Tottenham Hotspur Top Four Title Challenge Eriksen Glory

Photo: @CoysKou | Twitter

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