Tottenham Hotspur were said to be potential title challengers this season after going 10 games unbeaten and having an inspiring new manager, as well as outstanding new signings. However, after losing 4-1 against Chelsea and 2-1 against Wolves in the space of a week, Spurs fans are now sceptical. Title challenging aside, what would classify as a successful 2023/24 season for Tottenham?
The main reason it has gone wrong for Tottenham the past couple of games is due to injuries and not having the squad depth to keep up with other teams. During the loss to Chelsea, Spurs lost James Maddison and Micky van de Ven to injuries who are two of the Lilywhites' most important players.
The two new signings have been outstanding so far this season and potential signings of the summer, therefore it’s a major blow to lose them.
Van De Ven picked up a hamstring injury and Maddison picked up an ankle injury; it is not yet confirmed exactly when they will both be back, however it’s highly unlikely to be before the new year. With them being such significant players, it is a huge loss and other players will need to step up.
Another massive problem for Tottenham, however, is the number of other players they are missing throughout the squad. Ivan Perisic is out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury, Manor Solomon is out with a knee injury until 2024, whilst Richarlison has recently had surgery for a groin injury and is out until mid-December. Ryan Sessegnon is also out with a thigh injury until 2024 and Destiny Udogie has been said to have a muscular injury which is currently being assessed.
Spurs are battling with seven significant players being out injured and for the next few games it doesn’t get any easier due to suspensions. During the 4-1 loss to Chelsea, defender Cristian Romero received a straight red and has two games left of his suspension. Midfielder Yves Bissouma has picked up an accumulation of yellow cards this season and is now missing for the sides next match against Aston Villa.
The first game Spurs played with this weakened squad was against Wolves last Saturday where it was obvious that the number of key players missing and the back-ups available had seriously affected the squad. It was not a good game throughout and shows that reinforcements are needed in January to improve the squad depth and push Tottenham towards some sort of success this season.
With the league title now being less spoken about amongst Spurs fans, the focus is now on other ways to make their season successful. This could be getting Champions League football again after missing out on a spot amongst Europe's elite last season. It could also be getting Europa League football which would also be considered a success, especially if the injuries persist. Of course, a trophy would be the most successful but not having European football and not being in the Carabao Cup due to being knocked out in the second round by Fulham, the only chances left are the Premier League title and the FA Cup.
Due to not winning a trophy since 2008, this is Tottenham’s main priority and this season the most likely is the FA cup. With it beginning in January it gives the squad time to improve, recover from injuries and potentially gain some new players. Even to get to the final would be successful, especially if it was along with securing a Champions League position.
If they do not make it far in the FA cup it would be very disappointing for Spurs fans, however, top four in the Premier League would still be classed as a successful season for many. Depending on the team's injury tally for the rest of the season, even securing Europa League would be somewhat successful. It is a must to gain some sort of European football for Tottenham next season to provide a better chance of wining a trophy, which ultimately is the main goal.
For now, it's all about getting the best possible results in the league with the focus is still on winning every game and securing Champions League football.
Next up for the Lilywhites is Aston Villa at home; it will be a tough game due to Villa’s form and there being just one point separating the teams. Hopefully Tottenham can gain their confidence back and come away with an important three points.