After a 100-day break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Premier League returned to action in mid-June for a marathon several weeks to complete the season. With more than 90 games left to play, teams would have play nine games each, except for Arsenal, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Sheffield United who all had ten games left on their schedules.
At the restart, Liverpool sat at the top of the table, 25 points ahead of the second-placed team. Behind them were multiple teams looking to finish in a favourable position to qualify for the Champions League and Europa League. Tottenham Hotspur, or Spurs, were among the chasing pack and one that could count the break as a blessing. Indeed, the layoff provided an opportunity for striker Harry Kane to heal from injury and return to the squad in fresh form.
In addition to Kane, Spurs will also have the services of vital players such as Son Heung-min, Steven Bergwijn and Moussa Sissoko, all of whom suffered various injuries before the mid-season break. Sissoko’s contribution in midfield is certainly welcome, while the partnership of Son and Kane could provide the offensive spark needed for a top-four finish.
For club fans and supporters such as Kevin Neal, a season ticket holder who trained at the club as a youth team player, the return to action for some of the team’s vital players is good news.
Better Away Form
Four games into the restart, the rallying cry from Spurs captain Hugo Lloris was for the team to strive for wins when playing away. Coming off a one-goal win over Everton on Monday 6th July, which preceded a discouraging away game loss to Sheffield United days before, the captain was hoping to see a reversal of fortunes when the team travelled to play Bournemouth later in the week.
Speaking after the Everton win, made possible by a first-half own goal, Lloris pointed out that the victory was important for morale after the loss against Sheffield United. However, with the number of pending games to season’s end reducing, the team needed to step up and win away from home. The margin for losses was quite narrow, given other teams were playing hard to finish in a position to qualify for European football. He noted that while frustration and disappointment were evident among the players with the way the season had gone, there was still something left to fight for in the remaining games.
Teammate Toby Alderweireld had positive words after the match, highlighting that the team showed character against a determined Toffees side that also played well. Regarding the team’s next game, he was aware of the need for the three points, noting that their next opponents were not going to make it easy.
The Belgian defender was playing in his first game since March, having been an unused substitute for the three games after the mid-season restart. His hard work in midfield helped Spurs keep a clean sheet against Everton, with his performance mirroring the effort put in by the entire team in the hard-fought win.
Only One Hotspur
From humble beginnings, the North London club’s history is filled with glorious seasons of domestic and continental success, in addition to accomplishing many ‘firsts.’ For instance, Tottenham won the English First Division league title in 1951 for the first time, a lofty accomplishment for a team that had only been promoted from the Second Division 12 months prior. A decade later, the team was the first in the modern era to win the league and FA Cup double.
In 1963, Tottenham became the first British side to lift a continental trophy in the form of the European Cup Winners’ Cup, and afterwards the UEFA Cup in 1972. In between these two trophies (and years after the second European title win), Tottenham Hotspur was a formidable side in the English game, with numerous league and FA Cup titles to its name throughout the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.