Tottenham Hotspur faces an obstacle this season in its pursuit of an elusive Premier League title, and that’s home matches at Wembley Stadium.
Or do they?
Yes, it would be better for the North London club to play at White Hart Lane or to have their new home ready one year early, but there’s an argument to be made that Spurs’ Wembley stumbles are a whole bunch of nothing.
— Only one of those six losses came against a team that would be considered clearly inferior to Spurs (Portsmouth in the 2010 FA Cup semifinal).
— The other losses to English clubs were in FA Cup or League Cup semis or finals, two coming to Chelsea and one to Manchester United. Spurs beat Chelsea in the 2008 League Cup Final.
— Spurs went 1W-1D-1L in a decent UEFA Champions League group with Monaco, Bayer Leverkusen, and CSKA Moscow last season. It cannot be argued that the results weren’t disappointing, but Monaco ran deep into the tournament and Spurs outshot and outplayed Bayer in a 1-0 loss (Spurs beat CSKA).
So perhaps this is about expectations more than performance. If observers expected Spurs to rejoin the Champions League for the first time since 2010-11 and run riot, then yes the Wembley results were dismal (and no one’s arguing against the brutal draw against Gent in the UEL).
But if the UCL is a process, which it surely seems to be, then maybe Wembley isn’t a huge concern (at least in the sense that it’s competition was good more often than not).
We’ll posit that Wembley is more of a concern for the Premier League, where — especially given expectations — we saw West Ham United stumble big time at a new home last season.
But that is quickly redeemed by Spurs’ North London rivals at Arsenal. The Gunners went 14W-3D-2L in their emotional final season at Highbury, and went 12W-6D-1L to open life at the Emirates Stadium.
That’s three fewer points for Arsenal, who finished fourth both seasons. Spurs went a remarkable 17W-2D during an unbeaten 2016-17 at White Hart Lane, only drawing Liverpool and Leicester en route to winning its last 14 home PL fixtures last season.
That’s really, really good, and certainly a cause for concern. But it’s also worth noting that a step back should probably be expected regardless of venue. And perhaps, really, the concern should be that Spurs’ disappointing road record is what blew a massive opportunity presented by its near blemish-free home run last season.
In terms of past champions, Chelsea lost a pair of home PL matches in its title run last season, and Leicester fell once while drawing six in its miracle run of 2015-16. The Blues went 15W-4D at home to win the 2014-15 championship.
Being good at home is important, obviously, and that’s why the uncertainty of a new venue for home PL matches strikes fear into some Spurs’ fans hearts. But should it? Have you say in the poll below:
On the latest episode of That’s a Dive, Kyle Martino is joined by Premier League host Rebecca Lowe to discuss some of the latest stories from around the Premier League, Rebecca’s journey to covering the Premier League and the difficulty of being a woman in sports.
After finishing her education, Lowe had plans of becoming an actress and took a job in sports radio as she pursued an acting career. At 21 years old, she entered a soccer reporting competition after hearing about it from a friend and ended up earning a job with the BBC. At that point, acting took a backseat as Lowe ventured into journalism.
As she said on the podcast, “You don’t leave the BBC when you’re 21 to go back to trying to be an actress, so I just stayed.”
What has followed for Lowe is a career that has brought her to the U.S. to lead NBC’s Premier League coverage. Despite her success, it has not been easy for Lowe. “It’s been very difficult,” she said when Martino asked about being a woman in sports.
Speaking of her time working in the UK, Lowe said, “I was abused to an extent to which I decided that I was done…It was so bad, I would be walking down a touchline and would have to have a bodyguard at one ground.”
Lowe hopes to get to a point where she will no longer be asked about being a woman in sports.
“I don’t want to be different,” she said. “I just want to be in the game doing my job. You don’t want to be separated, you don’t want it to be different. You just want to be seen as the role that you’re doing, not the person that you are. ”
To hear the entirety of their discussion you can click on the Audioboom embed above or download and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.
The podcast is also available on Stitcher and can be found on a host of other smartphone apps.
Following their podcast, Martino sat down for a Facebook Live to answer questions on a variety of soccer topics, including rumors of James Rodriguez going to Man United, his Champions League and Europa League final predictions, the best league in the world and more.
The celebrants were ahead by the sixth minute, when Ben Davies collected a short corner and swept a high offering toward the back post. Wanyama floated in the air and hammered a neck-snapping header beyond David De Gea to make it 1-0.
A funny bounce let Heung-Min Son on goal, but De Gea made a point blank save and Christian Eriksen hit the rebound wife of the frame to keep the deficit one. That was one of several key moments for De Gea, who was instrumental in keeping United in the match.