Although results may have returned to something closer to normality since the international break, there is still a sense that there are plenty of twists and turns to come this season in the Premier League, be it the title race or the battle to avoid the drop. It’s been something of a topsy-turvy campaign so far, with strange upsets and freak results defining the start of the campaign, making it increasingly difficult to call the Premier League odds from Betfair.
Despite all this, Tottenham Hotspur find themselves third in the Premier League table, just two points behind leaders Liverpool. After losing to Everton at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on the opening day, Spurs have embarked on an unbeaten run which has included four wins and two draws. Their latest victory over Brighton at home was a landmark moment for the club in that Gareth Bale notched the winner – the Welshman’s first goal for Tottenham since returning to North London.
And amid the turmoil of the current campaign, where stadiums lie empty and players’ voices echo hollowly across the pitch, there is a sense that Tottenham boss José Mourinho might just see this as a chance to be grasped. The nature of this season so far seems to suggest that perfection will not be the standard required to win the title, as it has been in the last three seasons, where Manchester City and Liverpool twice respectively posted points totals in the high nineties and above. A return to more normal levels of requirements to win the Premier League could give a chance to teams like Spurs.
Mourinho has proven himself a master of creating a solid unit which grinds out results and minimises risks. His title-winning Chelsea teams were winning machines, the kind of sides you felt simply couldn’t lose, and his aim since walking in the doors at Tottenham has been to create that same aura at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Of course, there is no sign that Spurs are performing anywhere near the level of those magnificent Chelsea teams, but the wins against Brighton and Burnley proved they are able to produce winning moments when perhaps a draw seems to be on the cards. In Bale, they have a quality option from the bench, a player who has the ability and the star quality to turn a game on its head, and this could prove vital as Spurs embark on a potential title race.
For anyone who watched the Amazon documentary about Mourinho’s opening season in charge of the club, it was clear that the main thing the Portuguese manager wanted from his side was to lose their ‘niceness’, to be more streetwise on the pitch and more difficult to beat. All of Mourinho’s best teams have been nightmares to play against, and if he can instil that same level of tenacity in this Spurs side then who’s to say they couldn’t seriously challenge for the title this season.
They will have their work cut out, of course. Defending champions Liverpool, despite not being anywhere near to their sparkling best, have an innate habit of winning matches from difficult positions, and you would expect Manchester City to return to their best form at some stage in the near future. But Mourinho has the advantage of having been there and done it as far as winning the Premier League is concerned, something previous boss Mauricio Pochettino lacked. In this unique Premier League season, anything is possible.