Sunday 22nd October 2017
Anthony Mutombo – Student UCFB, Wembley
With 2015-16 wrapped up, there was a brand new Premier League in the horizon. The 2016-17 campaign was to be a completely different playground for all 20 teams involved. With the strong injection of cash following the new Premier League television deal, clubs had the freedom of splashing the cash freely. Liverpool took from Southampton’s plate once more with the capture of Sadio Mane for £34m. Manchester United broke the world transfer record with the acquisition of Paul Pogba from Juventus for £89m, whilst Crystal Palace left heads scratching when they paid £30m for Christian Benteke. Despite the shenanigans, it was actually the managerial appointments that really upped the ante, with Manchester City appointing Pep Guardiola, whilst their city neighbours appointed Jose Mourinho. The dynamic Antonio Conte whom had just led the Italian national team to the Euro 2016 semi-finals had been snapped up by Chelsea, and before you knew it; three clubs that finished below Tottenham in the previous season were already bigger contenders for the league title. There was a new sense of competition to the Premier League, and many believed that Tottenham would regress to their previous form and wouldn’t repeat the achievements of the previous campaign.
Boy weren’t they wrong.
Tottenham only grew stronger, their manager only grew wiser, and their talisman Harry Kane only grew hungrier, scoring an incredible 29 league goals to regain the Premier League Golden Boot, beating the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Sergio Agüero and Zlatan Ibrahimović. Tottenham scored the most (86) and conceded the least (26) goals in the league and finished with 86 points, 16 more than the season before. A tally that would have been enough to have granted you the title in 9 of the 24 Premier League campaigns. Spurs finished comfortably in second position whilst Arsène Wenger’s record of consecutive top 4 finishes came to end. Wenger’s side slipped to 5th and missed out on Champions League qualification; and with Manchester United winning the Europa League days later, 5 Premier League clubs would qualify for the competition for the first time & Arsenal wouldn’t be amongst them, a heavy blow to the Gunners faithful.
Whilst their league form has been of an outstanding standard, their domestic and European forms have been questioned. Tottenham now are arguably a better side to the one Harry Redknapp coached, yet Uncle Harry took his Tottenham team to the quarter finals of the Champions League; beating AC Milan at San Siro in the process. That season also saw the emergence of a young Welshman, but that’s another story. Tottenham crashed out of their Europa League campaign in 2015-16 in the round of 16 at the hands of Thomas Tuchel’s Borussia Dortmund. They were swept away 5-1 on aggregate and looked to be miles away from their competitors. The following seasons Champions League campaign wasn’t much better either. Spurs finished 3rd in quite a difficult group containing eventual semi-finalists Monaco, Bayer Leverkusen and CSKA Moscow. With their failure to qualify for the knock out rounds of the Champions League, Spurs returned to the Europa League but were then dumped out by Belgian side Gent, losing 3-2 on aggregate in the round of 32. Pochettino held his hands up and took responsibility for the loss, and told media outlets that his team would learn from the experience and come back stronger.
Part three to follow at 1600 22/10/17
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