Tottenham are enjoying another superb season under Mauricio Pochettino, but will they finally manage to break their trophy duck in 2019?
Spurs may not be seen as genuine title contenders this year, as Liverpool and Manchester City begin to pull away at the top of the Premier League table, but at the moment they make a strong argument to be considered as the best of the rest.
Pochettino was the only top-flight manager unable to bring in any new faces during the summer transfer window, but he has still managed to guide the team comfortably into the top-four, while also fighting on two other fronts for silverware.
In Europe, the Lilywhites managed to overcome insurmountable odds and qualify for the last-16 of the Champions League, picking up credible victories against PSV Eindhoven and Inter Milan, along with a thrilling draw at the Camp Nou against Barcelona.
After losing their opening two games in Group B, Pochettino’s men fought back admirably and have been rewarded with a glamorous knockout phase tie against Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.
They also have a Carabao Cup semi-final to look forward to against Chelsea, after ousting arch-rivals Arsenal 2-0 in the quarters and many supporters will now be dreaming of a first trophy since 2008, which would be a remarkable feat considering the club’s modest budget.
Pochettino is an advocate of fluid, attacking football, incorporating quick passing interchanges while the full-backs bomb on to add extra potency in the final third and it seems that with each passing year his team becomes more adept at executing his vision on the pitch.
Next year could be a huge one for Spurs, but with the recent news coming out of Old Trafford that Manchester United are on the lookout for a new permanent manager, they may have a fight on their hands to keep hold of their Argentine commander.
Harry Kane. The Englishman has led from the front for Tottenham once again, scoring nine goals and contributing three assists to further his reputation as the most consistent centre-forward in the Premier League.
The 25-year-old has managed to hit over 20 league goals in each of the last four seasons and looks on course to do so once again, feeding off the service of creative defensive splitters Christian Eriksen and Delle Alli like a ravenous predator.
Kane is without a doubt one of the most complete strikers in European football, with his ability to hold the ball up, aerial prowess and finishing ability up there with the very best. He remains the focal point of this Tottenham team and his continued presence up front will be vital as Spurs chase major honours in 2019.
Danny Rose. The 28-year-old full-back has struggled with a World Cup hangover this season, struggling to hold down a place in the first team after the emergence of Ben Davies as Pochettino’s number one choice at left-back.
The English defender has been restricted to just nine Premier League appearances so far and has largely only been used as a starter in the Carabao Cup, failing to show the consistency that made him a fan favourite over the last few years.
In order to get back into the team, Rose is going to have to improve defensively and show he can concentrate at both ends of the pitch for a full 90 minutes while taking full advantage of every opportunity he gets to prove his worth.
Tottenham chief executive Daniel Levy is renowned for being extremely tight with the purse strings at Tottenham and that looks unlikely to change during the winter transfer window.
Spurs have been linked with a number of high-quality players recently, including Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele, Ajax defender Frenkie De Jong and Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish – who they made a late play for during the last transfer window.
However, as The Guardian reports, Pochettino himself has already come out publicly to state that he expects no new faces at the club in January, exclaiming: “I don’t have any money!”
Spurs have coped admirably with their current squad during the first half of the season after all of their main rivals strengthened over the summer, but it remains to be seen whether or not they can keep up with the relentless pace at the top if it happens again in the new year.
Mauricio Pochettino has proved himself as a tactically astute, calm and composed leader of men over the last few years in England, both at Southampton and Spurs, which has naturally earned him admirers from across Europe.
According to The Guardian, Real Madrid are waiting in the wings for the right time to lure him away from North London, but the more pressing worry for Spurs fans at the moment will be the current state of affairs at Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho was axed last week after overseeing the club’s recent slide down the Premier League table and although United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been installed as head coach on a caretaker basis, the general feeling among experts is that Pochettino is next in line to take the hot seat permanently.
Metro Sport reports that even Sir Alex Ferguson wants to see the Argentine take charge at Old Trafford and if the Red Devils do indeed come calling next summer, he will have a huge decision to make.
Tottenham are arguably a better team than United these days and are due to move into a luxury new stadium in the new year, with all signs pointing towards a bright future.
However, Pochettino is absolutely vital to the project and if his head starts to turn towards Manchester as the end of the season approaches, the consistency and quality Spurs have shown over the last few years could be headed right out the window.
Realistic aim for rest of the season
Tottenham can realistically win two out of three of the trophies they remain in the running for in 2019, with the only odd one out being the Champions League.
The likes of Manchester City, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Liverpool will rightly be considered among the favourites in Europe next year, while Spurs are perhaps still a step behind the elite.
However, Spurs did produce a stunning display to beat Chelsea 3-1 in the Premier League back in November and if they can repeat that performance in the Carabao Cup semi-finals, a place in the showpiece event against either Burton or Manchester City awaits.
Barring a huge upset City will make the final but Spurs would surely be full of confidence heading into that clash and anything can happen in a one-off game of that magnitude.
The FA Cup is their next best route to silverware and they will be hoping to improve on last year’s semi-final showing, with a third-round tie against Tranmere Rovers up first in January.
In the Premier League, consolidating third place should be Tottenham’s aim, while pushing Liverpool and City as close as they can, but much could depend on Pochettino’s state of mind as the allure of a dream offer from Manchester United looks set to remain on ice until May.