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    Tottenham Hotspur Season Review: 2015/16

    By Tom Regan

    To say the season ended on a sour note is a major under-statement. Being hammered 5-1 by relegated Newcastle United was nothing short of abysmal, but the most painful blow was surrendering second place to our bitter North London rivals Arsenal.
    On the plus side, we have qualified for the Champions League for just the second time in our illustrious history, avoiding the play-off round in the process. Harry Kane heads to France this summer in sparkling form having scored 25 league goals for his club.

    Tottenham sealed their highest ever Premier League position. There were dramatic improvements compared to last term, winning six more points, scoring 11 more goals, conceding 18 less goals, and climbing two places in the league.
    Mauricio Pochettino successfully trimmed his squad in the summer, with Paulinho, Lewis Holtby, Etienne Capoue, Benjamin Stambouli, Roberto Soldado, Vlad Chiriches and Aaron Lennon all shown the exit door at White Hart Lane.

    The Emmanuel Adebayor saga dragged on until Autumn when an agreement was finally reached to mutually end his contract. Adebayor went on to sign for Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace in January.
    A significant signing had been made in January 2015 as Spurs captured promising midfielder Dele Alli from MK Dons for £5 million. Alli was loaned back to MK Dons for the remainder of that season. Pochettino wasted no time in subjecting Dele to Premier League football with a substitute appearance at Old Trafford on the opening day of the campaign.

    Alli became a crowd favourite almost instantly, and would go on to have a sensational season with 10 goals, including a stunner at Crystal Palace. He made his full England debut in a friendly against France where he scored with a spectacular goal from long range.
    One of the main reasons for the significant defensive improvement was down to the capture of Toby Alderweireld from Atletico Madrid. Toby was a rock at the heart of the defence, forging a solid partnership with Belgian compatriot Jan Vertonghen. He played every single league game and received just three bookings along the way. His pinpoint long passing became a trademark, and he scored in games against Man City, West Ham, Man United and Arsenal. Subsequently, Alderweireld went on to be named ‘Player of the Season’ for the Lilywhites.

    Kevin Wimmer, an acquisition from German side FC Cologne showed he was a more than capable replacement when Vertonghen suffered medial ligament damage at Selhurst Park in January. The Austrian was unfortunate to lose his place once Vertonghen returned to match fitness.
    The other additions were right-back Kieran Trippier from Burnley, as well as attacking midfielders Son Heung-min from Bayer Leverkusen and Clinton N’Jie from Lyon. Son showed his class by scoring a brace on his home debut in the Europa League, plus a late winner at Watford in the Premier League, but he did look lightweight at times. Injury prevented N’Jie from breaking into the starting XI.

    Pochettino demands his players to press high up the pitch whilst retaining possession. This puts a huge demand on the full-backs, and whilst Kyle Walker and Danny Rose are clear first choices in those positions, Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies provided good cover when they were called upon.
    Mousa Dembele showed his class for a majority of the campaign, but let himself down after gouging Diego Costa’s face at Stamford Bridge, an act that would see him banned for six games.

    Erik Lamela had struggled immensely since joining from Roma in 2013, but he was starting to win over his doubters by giving 100%, and most importantly, he was starting to affect games in a positive manner, not least with his assists. The best example of this was his inch-perfect pass which allowed Christian Eriksen to score the winner at Manchester City on Valentine’s Day. Without question, this was my favourite moment of the season, and I really started to believe that winning the Premier League was a distinct possibility.
    Eric Dier showed fantastic strength and composure in a defensive midfield role with Mousa Dembele, and the 22 year old can surely only get better under the guidance of Pochettino. However, strengthening the back-up in the defensive midfield area will be vital.

    August – Tottenham made a slow start to the term with three draws and one defeat. Notably, Dele Alli scored his first Spurs goal at Leicester with a well-executed header. Regrettably, Riyad Mahrez equalised straight away and the game ended 1-1. The Foxes were already in the top four, and once they returned there in November, they never looked back, eventually sealing their first ever Premier League title with two games to spare.

    September – It must be the thrilling 4-1 win over Man City at White Hart Lane. Vincent Kompany was sorely missed for the visitors. Harry Kane scored his first Premier League goal of the campaign after failing in his first six, but he never looked back, eventually sealing the Premier League Golden Boot.
    October – Another high scoring win followed, this time defeating Bournemouth 5-1 at the Vitality Stadium. Kane got his only hat-trick of the season to start a run of 6 consecutive games in which he scored.

    November – This time, West Ham were comfortably dispatched 4-1 at White Hart Lane. Kane got a brace then Alderweireld and Walker completed the rout.
    December – A happy Christmas for Spurs saw victories over Southampton (A), Norwich (H) and Watford (A). The win at Vicarage Road was particularly satisfying with Son’s last gap winner sending both the players and fans into elation.

    January – The Lilywhites beat Sunderland 4-1 in the league, but a 1-0 home loss to Leicester later followed. The highlight was definitely Dele Alli’s sublime goal in a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace. A terrific away day.
    February – A packed month of football saw the club climb into second place. A fantastic 2-1 away win at Man City showed the club had a resilience rarely associated with the club.

    March – Not a great month for Tottenham.  A 1-0 loss to West Ham at Upton Park, and a comfortable loss against German heavyweights Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League. However, a 3-0 win against Bournemouth put Pochettino’s side five points behind leaders Leicester.
    April – The club got back on track with a superb home victory against Manchester United, and a breath-taking 4-0 away hammering of Stoke City. However, Tony Pulis’ West Brom but a huge dent in Spurs’ title hopes when they picked up a point at White Hart Lane on April 25th.

    May – Sadly, we only took two points from our last four games. Our title hopes ended in a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, despite a great first half that saw us take a 2-0 lead. Defeats to Southampton and Newcastle followed, and Arsenal sealed second place. A woeful end to the term.
    Mousa Dembele was not alone in getting a retrospective ban. Dele Alli sat out the final three matches after punching an opponent in the West Brom game. They let their club down badly and it could have been very different had they been on the pitch for the final few games.

    The future looks bright for the Lilywhites, with Wembley announced as our venue for home Champions League games next season, and for the whole of the 2017/18 campaign. When we leave White Hart Lane, a state of the art 61,000 seat stadium awaits.
    Pochettino has continued his policy to encourage youth players, and the likes of Josh Onomah have been given a taster of first team action. The highly-promising trio of Harry Winks, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Shayon Harrison have a strong chance of featuring for the Lilywhites next season.

    Strengthening the key positions will be crucial this summer if the club are to compete with the very best in Europe. Succeeding in the Premier League and Champions League is essential, but the cup competitions must not be disregarded either, with the last silverware won eight years ago in the League Cup success over Chelsea.
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    Item Reviewed: Tottenham Hotspur Season Review: 2015/16 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Tom Regan
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