In the wake of Tottenham’s impressive 3-0 victory over Manchester United at the end of August there was excited talk that Mauricio Pochettino’s side might actually be able to mount a title challenge.
But after suffering defeats in their next two games to Watford and Liverpool, Tottenham have since had to face reality, and their task for this season is now more to remain in the top four for a fourth consecutive season.
After failing to sign a single player in the summer, and being forced to stay at Wembley with their return to their new stadium delayed, to keep their place in the top four would represent a successful season for Tottenham.
The gap between Tottenham and the leaders Manchester City and Liverpool currently stands at four points, and will inevitably increase over the coming weeks, but that should not be how to judge their season.
Despite suffering a 4-2 loss to Barcelona on Wednesday night, Tottenham have won their last two games in the Premier League against Brighton, and last weekend at Huddersfield, and will be confident about adding another victory when Cardiff visit Wembley on Saturday afternoon.
The gnawing concern for Tottenham, however, is their over reliance on their leading scorer Harry Kane, who scored twice in their 2-0 win at Huddersfield last weekend (to claim a spot in our team of the week), and comfortably sits at the top of Twelve’s player leader board for the club.
Beyond Kane, Tottenham’s options for orthodox strikers are limited to the untrusted duo of Fernando Llorente and Vincent Janssen.
At the start of the season, there was hope that the Brazilian Lucas Moura was beginning to show his true form and could shoulder some of the goal scoring with Kane, but after his double at Old Trafford in August, he has failed to score in his next six games in all competitions. Here’s Moura’s dashboard for the four league games since the United win, which shows a distinct lack of action in opposition penalty boxes.
After being reduced to spectators at yet another Lionel Messi master class in their 4-2 defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League, Tottenham will certainly be relieved to now face Cardiff City.
After seven games, Neil Warnock’s side are still waiting for their first win and appear to be a Championship side on sabbatical in the Premier League, already prepared to be sucked back down there at the end of the season.
The Welsh side are nineteenth in the table on only two points in what has become their worst start to a campaign since the 1964/65 season.
There is precious little to give Cardiff any hope; they have the joint worst defence in the Premier League, having let in 16 goals, and have managed just four of their own, failing to score in four of their seven games.
It won’t instill confidence in the Cardiff squad that Warnock is already talking like a beaten man who is getting his excuses in early.
“We’ve got there [the Premier League] too quick though, we’ve been victims of our own success,” he said after their 2-1 defeat to Burnley last weekend. “Every few months we’ve jumped up two steps, rather than one. You can’t say no to the Premier League though.”
“How do I fix us looking vulnerable? I haven’t got a clue if I am honest. We can’t work any harder than we do at defending. I can’t be on the pitch to tell them what to do.”
Cardiff have wilted when they have faced the top four away this season, losing 5-0 to Manchester City and 4-1 at Chelsea, and could be on the end of another heavy defeat to Tottenham on Saturday.