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Premier League

Why Tottenham could be the big winners when Premier League restarts

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Jose Mourinho

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ByBen Snowball
15/06/2020 at 06:59 | Updated 15/06/2020 at 12:27
@BenSnowball

There are clear signs Tottenham could prosper in the new post-lockdown football climate...

It feels like a lifetime since Moussa Sissoko's arm sparked a domino effect that ended with a Jordan Henderson jig and a red-ribboned trophy.

But as Liverpool prepare to take another triumphant step, this time in the Premier League, Tottenham are still tripping over their feet as the spectre of mediocrity looms large once more.

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Gone is Mauricio Pochettino, the architect of their latest revival. In is Jose Mourinho, a man haunted by his two most recent spells in England and who, before lockdown hit, was staring at a dour third. There is a plush stadium but no signs of a fortress. Big money signings but little end product. Out of all competitions. A place in the top four a distant dream.

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But distant dreams may be enough. Tottenham, even for their lengthy rap sheet, are still in an enviable position. Their refusal to diverge from a strict wage structure looks smarter by each passing month, even if they feigned financial vulnerability by fleetingly pressing the furlough button. They are not sandbagged by players on £300,000 a week, nor are they chasing replacements as the squad that stunned Borussia Dortmund, Ajax and Manchester City in 2019 remains largely intact.

Harry Kane walks past the Champions League trophy

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Had the season concluded naturally, any European ambitions would remain unrealised. It's now a different story. Four players are set to return, four players who might just be capable of overturning a seven-point deficit in nine games.

Harry Kane has finally broken the cycle of 'injury, hasty recovery, nurse body through major matches'. Son Heung-min is over a fractured arm and has slyly completed his national service in South Korea. Sissoko, back from knee ligament surgery, will reinforce a midfield that looked ominously porous over winter. And January signing Steven Bergwijn will have a second chance to impress after spraining his ankle in March.

Any club would suffer without those four, so it’s little surprise that attacking stand-in Lucas Moura was running on fumes when Spurs played out their last match, a sorry 3-0 defeat in Leipzig. A refreshed Kane and Son is a partnership that belies Tottenham’s eight-place standing in the Premier League. They are the main reason Spurs are set to soar.

Jose Mourinho, Heung-min Son, Harry Kane

Image credit: Getty Images

And it's another bonus for Mourinho, who can now deploy his defence-led pressure-soaking brand of football without fear of the familiar groans from fans. If he can prove it’s as ruthlessly effective now as it was in the early-2010s, then opinion may swing in his favour. The Bundesliga has shown that results are all that matter now, with all matches suffering from dull patches and even the most important goals (think Joshua Kimmich for Bayern v Dortmund) marked by the briefest celebrations.

Throw in the lockdown breaches, embarrassing for the club but at least hinting at a squad that is desperate for improved fortunes, and a favourable run-in, there is still hope Tottenham could salvage this season and save Mourinho's reputation in the process.

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