All things considered, 2013 started out just OK for Tottenham Hotspur. They didn't lose a single Premier League match in January, and they remain fourth in the league table heading into the first weekend of February. Spurs also happened to get knocked out of the FA Cup, but, looking back at all that went down last spring, that defeat could ultimately prove to be a blessing in disguise for a Tottenham team that has one clear goal in mind; earn Champions League football.
2013 Tottenham Hotspur January review: The big story
Spurs entered the second half of January needing an attacking option in the midfield, some cover for Scott Parker after losing Sandro for the season, and also another front man. They filled just one of those three needs before the close of the transfer window. Lewis Holtby looked like a future star in his 20 minutes on the pitch earlier this week at Norwich, and I'm very excited to see how he'll contribute to the cause moving forward. With that said, Spurs remain one or two unfortunate injuries away from likely falling well out of the European football conversation.
Depth is once again the significant concern for Tottenham. Some have, following Thursday's events, suggested that Spurs will not have a single "top four" player on the bench for the rest of the campaign. They're now stuck with who they got, and players such as Gylfi Sigurdsson and Clint Dempsey (more on him later) will have to step up over the next four months. Otherwise, Tottenham will find themselves in the exact spot they were in after Chelsea defeated Bayern Munich last May.
2013 Tottenham Hotspur January review: POTM
All due respect to Aaron Lennon, who continues to be Tottenham's most consistent player, but I had to go with Clint Dempsey here. The American notched five goals and an assist during his best month in a Spurs shirt, and he saved a point at the death against Manchester United with what could, when all is said and done, go down as his most vital kick of the season. Critics can refer to Dempsey as a "poacher" and as a guy who cannot feature as a forward for a Champions League team all they want. If Dempsey can give Spurs two-to-three goals each month from now until May, he'll have earned a spot in the squad next August.
2013 Tottenham Hotspur January review: The concern
While I'd like to believe that Tottenham have the goods to hold off the likes of Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool, their recent run of form is giving me flashbacks to past times. Spurs haven't won since they defeated Coventry City on January 5, they dropped points when away to QPR and Norwich, and they were more than a little lucky to earn three total points in their final three league matches of the month. Are they on the cusp of another winter swoon?
It sure looks like it.
February is, on paper, a relatively easy month minus two Europa League contests against Lyon. Away contests versus West Brom and West Ham and a fixture at the Lane against Newcastle shouldn't be too much to handle for a true Champions League team. Tottenham will have a chance to put their last four games behind them when they travel to West Brom on February 3. They need three points from that one to guarantee them a spot in the top four on the first Monday of the month.