Inside the Opposition: Tottenham Hotspur

Following last weekend’s loss to Leicester, City welcome another title chaser to the Etihad this weekend. Tottenham have been having a good season and are clearly going somewhere under Mauricio Pochettino.

Spurs are in the midst of some good form and should be feeling confident. We spoke to Spurs fan Billie to find out about Sunday’s opponents.

Hi Billie, thanks for coming on! So to start at the top, Spurs have had a great season so far – do you think you will win the league? Will Spurs throw the Europa League to try and win the Premier League?

This season I feel like I’ve been enraptured by some kind of euphoric dream invented by my subconscious to suppress the pain and anguish Spurs have delivered so frequently in my life. Seeing Spurs mentioned as genuine title contenders is not something I’m used to so it’s all a totally new experience. I haven’t really been able to generate much genuine belief that we’ll win the title as being a Tottenham fan is a bit like being trapped in a cinema that endlessly plays The Hangover 3 on repeat; you suffer and watch it over and over again hoping that the end might change one time but in reality it always lets you down. As is well documented, Spurs have a unique ability to mess it all up in spectacular ways so I am always wary about our chances for success. Having said that, there is so much to be pleased with about our current team and set up, I don’t think we will get a chance like this again for a long time. As for the Europa League, at the beginning of the season I thought it was our best chance of making the Champions League or winning a trophy. Now, with our current situation, it’s neither of those things so I expect us to rest key players for it.

Dele Alli is having a decent year so far too. Is he the best/your favourite or is it one of the others?

dele alli 2

Dele Alli’s season has been nothing short of ridiculous. From the moment he nutmegged Luka Modric and Toni Kroos on his debut it was clear that he has something special about him. I don’t think anyone could really expect him to be this good though and he keeps finding new ways to be amazing. Obviously the goal against Crystal Palace stands out and should definitely win goal of the season but against Watford last weekend he came on at 60 minutes and assisted our winning goal within minutes of being on. For him to be consistently doing things like that at 19 years old is incredible and he’s got a very likeable personality too. He is definitely one of my favourites but the current Spurs squad is the most likeable it’s ever been. Pochettino has got rid of a lot of let downs (RIP Paulinho) so I’m left with a genuine love for pretty much all of our current players.

How much of the current success is down to the players and how much is down to Pochettino? Or am I oversimplifying that?

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say hiring Pochettino is the best thing that has happened to Tottenham for a very long time. The way he has transformed the club from a bunch of panicspendthebalemoneylosers™ into a competent side with the youngest average age in the league is remarkable. We have some extremely talented young players such as Kane, Alli and Eric Dier, but Pochettino’s greatest strength is developing players so a lot of it is down can be attributed to him. Before Pochettino, it was almost as if Danny Rose was a Make A Wish project inflicted on Tottenham’s left flank. Now he’s one of the best left backs in the league. My only worry is that he will one day outgrow us and leave for an elite club as I’m confident he will soon be regarded as one of the best managers in world football. That day will break my heart but I hope we can achieve some tangible success whilst he’s here.

I’m sure we all remember Spurs beating City earlier this season with a helping hand from the ref/linesman. Do you expect a repeat this time? Will Spurs try and blitz City or play a more defensive, reactive game?

I think it would be naive to expect a win at the Etihad as it’s probably the hardest fixture of the season and unfortunately we can’t all be Leicester. We are very comfortable in Pochettino’s system and rarely change our game plan, home or away. One of the strange things about this season is we haven’t once been outplayed in the Premier League (which has made each of the 3 losses very disappointing) so I think we will stick to our usual plan.

We were in a fairly similar situation a few years ago under Redknapp. Everything was going well and we were playing the best football in the league and we were in touching distance of you. We pulled it back to 2-2 and Defoe had a great chance to put us 3-2 up. Obviously you know what happened next and our season fell apart that day and we stumbled into fourth place. I think in many years to come I will be able to ascribe my inevitable mental breakdown to that day and just sit rocking back and forth muttering ‘Defoe at the Etihad’ over and over.

(Great, great times – Ed.)

What weaknesses should City be looking to target in your defence?

Our defence is the best in the league at the moment so there’s no obvious weakness and believe me it feels very strange saying that as a Tottenham fan. Some things just shouldn’t be associated with each other, like adults and wrestling or Tim Sherwood and any football club in existence. It feels like Tottenham and a solid defence is one of those things but Toby Alderweireld has made a huge difference. I think on current form he is the best centre back in the league and has totally transformed our defence in the way that Ledley King used to in his prime. However, him and Vertonghen formed a superb partnership so Jan’s injury is a real worry. Kevin Wimmer has looked excellent alongside Toby so far but he is very young for a centre back and lacks experience. He hasn’t had to come up against anything like Aguero yet so it will be a real test to see how he handles it.

Predicted line up and score?

Line Up: Lloris; Walker; Alderweireld; Wimmer; Rose; Dier; Dembele; Eriksen; Alli; Lamela; Kane

1-1

Thanks, Billie. Sounds like City have their work cut out. I would take a 1-1 draw right now… 

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Interview by Alex Timperley

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