Tottenham season restart preview

Joe Prince-Wright
NBC Sports

With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they are at ahead of the final nine weeks of the season as Tottenham are up next.

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Tottenham have had a rough season but there’s still a chance for Jose Mourinho to salvage a top four finish and Spurs will be boosted by the return of several star players from injury. Defensive mistakes have been their biggest problem and before the suspension they were ravaged by injuries. With Kane, Son, Sissoko and Bergwijn now back fit, are Tottenham primed for a dramatic late-season surge?

[ MORE: Every PL season restart preview ] 

Let’s take a closer look at all things Tottenham when it comes to the season restart.

Outlook: They are currently seven points off the top four and on paper their remaining schedule isn’t too bad, as they face Sheffield United and Arsenal around them and wins against those teams would significantly boost their chances of a top four finish. They’d still need a collapse from Chelsea and Man United above them, and that doesn’t seem likely. Mourinho has tried to improve Spurs defensively but with Jan Vertonghen’s future still uncertain, one of Davinson Sanchez, Eric Dier or Japhet Tanganga will likely partner Alderweireld in central defense. Mourinho has tried 3-4-3, 3-5-2, 4-3-3 and every other formation in-between but Spurs have leaked so many goals. Going forward they now have Kane, Son and Bergwijn all fit, as Lo Celso, Lamela, Sessegnon, Lucas Moura and Dele Alli will be fighting for those attacking positions too. Going forward Tottenham will be dangerous but Mourinho needs to work his magic to strengthen their defense, with the holding midfield area a particular concern ever since Mousa Dembele left in January 2019.

Tactical analysis: Tottenham have been a mess tactically all season long. Yes, injuries have hit them hard, but when Mauricio Pochettino was in charge up until November they switched between a 4-3-3 and 3-4-3, something they used to do effortlessly in his first few years in charge. There is a huge hole in central midfield, with Eric Dier playing at center back, they do not have a true holding midfielder with Harry Winks often bullied out of games. Since Mourinho replaced Pochettino the biggest change has been in their possession stats as Tottenham have become a more direct team and aren’t as focused on high-pressing. Spurs average fewer passes per Premier League match under Mourinho (476.7) than under Pochettino (526.7) this season, while they also average less possession per game (50.1 percent) under Mourinho compared to Pochettino (55.8 percent). Mourinho’s side are spending a lot of time defending and that is not playing to the strengths of his squad. This Tottenham squad is better suited to staying high up the pitch and trying to keep opponents from getting out of their own half. They haven’t had a lot of experience in sitting back and soaking up pressure and that shows as the tactical different between playing for Pochettino and Mourinho is huge.

Possible XI (4-2-3-1) 

—– Lloris —–

— Aurier — Alderweireld — Tanganga — Davies —

—- Sissoko —- Winks —-

—- Bergwijn —- Alli —- Son —-

—– Kane —–

Remaining schedule:
Home: Man United, West Ham, Everton, Arsenal, Leicester
Away: Sheffield United, Bournemouth, Newcastle, Crystal Palace

Predicted finish: They could sneak into a sixth place finish but top four seems unlikely. They would probably have to win eight of their final nine games to be in with a shout and then need a lot of help too. The main thing Mourinho will be looking for is that his players are adapting to his tactics and are able to build a new identity. This extended period on the training ground should help with that and if Mourinho can get his side to defend, we know that have goals galore in them.

Tottenham season restart preview originally appeared on NBCSports.com

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