Sports

Mar 312016
 
Tottenham are second in the Premier League and seem certain to be playing in the Champions League next season

From relegation strugglers to title favourites in less than a year, Leicester’s remarkable rise has been the story of the season, with many neutrals hoping they can clinch the Premier League title in May.

As the team most likely to stop them, Tottenham have become the pantomime villain in the Foxes’ fairytale. But with the chance to win their first league title in 55 years, Spurs’ own story is as remarkable as it is impressive.

A team transformed

Last season Tottenham finished fifth in the Premier League – 23 points behind champions Chelsea – and conceded as many goals as relegated Burnley.

In less than 12 months, the north London side’s improvement has been remarkable. Not only are they the top scorers in the league, but they also now have the best defence.

Only in terms of taking their chances have Spurs failed to improve, despite Harry Kane having another excellent season.

Ranked as sixth favourites for the title at odds of 150-1 by many bookmakers at the start of the season, Tottenham could become the first side to finish outside the top four one season and win the title the next since their arch-rivals Arsenal in 1989.

Achieving that feat would see them win their first top-flight title since 1961 and only the third in their history, moving them level with the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Huddersfield Town.

Winning with kids

It is 20 years since Alan Hansen’s famous claim that “you can’t win anything with kids” was disproved by a title-winning Manchester United side brimming with talented youngsters such as Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Gary Neville.

However, if Tottenham do win the title this season, they would outdo even that side to become the youngest champions in Premier League history.

While Manchester United did have more players aged under 23 than this current Spurs side, it also had experienced veterans in their 30s such as Denis Irwin, Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister to lead them, while the oldest outfield player in Tottenham’s squad this season is 28-year-old centre-back Jan Vertonghen.

An English core

Although there is concern over the number of English players in the Premier League, Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has placed great faith in them, with Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Kyle Walker, Dele Alli and Danny Rose heavily involved in Spurs’ title challenge.

Only four Premier League teams have given more minutes this season to English players than Tottenham, while the three title favourites at the start of the campaign – Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal – have, along with Newcastle, given the least.

Pochettino’s trust in English players has been to the benefit of the national team, with Rose, Dier, Alli and Kane all starting and starring in England’s 3-2 win over Germany on Saturday.

The understanding between Alli and Kane is actually the most prolific in Europe’s top five leagues this season, with the midfielder setting up seven of the striker’s goals – a fact that will please England manager Roy Hodgson heading into the summer.

If the club’s English players continue to play such an integral part and help them win the Premier League, Tottenham would be the champions with the most English representation since Manchester United lifted the trophy in 2001.

Shrewd operators

One of the reasons why Leicester’s title challenge is so remarkable is that they are outdoing the big-spending clubs