Preview: Crystal Palace vs Tottenham (22/01/2016)

Written by Robert Sutherland

Spurs winning the league wouldn't sit well with me; it wouldn't be right.

They're meant to show promise and then combust in a mightily hilarious way for everyone to point and laugh. Mauricio Pochettino turning them into a more consistent team with a group of incredibly promising youngsters within their ranks is very worrying.

Spurs being Spurs or ‘Spurs-y’ is a football cliché I don’t think I could do without!

In all seriousness, the job Pochettino is doing is one to admire. For the first time in over a decade, the first half of Harry Redknapp's tenure aside, Spurs have a manager whose future isn’t constantly being discussed by fans and the press and furthermore, it seems he actually possesses some clout within the club. Could it be that Daniel Levy has found a manager he actually respects?

Surely not.

The job the Argentinean did at Southampton was impressive but he could eclipse that if the potential on show at Spurs is fulfilled in the next few seasons. Defensively resolute and attractive on the eye moving forward, Pochettino’s team are emerging with every game and if this season has come a bit too soon for them, they could emerge as serious title contenders next season.

The core of the side is strong with quality players through the centre of the side; their defence being a prime example. Huge Lloris, Jan Vertongthen and Toby Alderweireld are one of the finest defensive axes in the Premier League and provide a very solid base on which the rest of the team is built. Alderweireld in particular has been excellent this season and displayed the quality that made his signing one of Pochettino’s main priorities last summer. Knowing his international colleague Vertonghen well prior to signing probably helped the former Southampton loanee settle in but either way, he has been exceptional.

The three of them are all under 30 and could well be in place for another three of four seasons and the youth, and potential, of this current Spurs team must be exciting for their fans.

Pochettino, as he did at Southampton, is more than happy to blood youngsters in league games and as with Ryan Mason, Dele Alli and of course, Harry Kane, Tom Carroll and Josh Onomoah are beginning to feature in Tottenham’s first team squad with one or both likely to be involved on Saturday.

In Dele Alli, Spurs possess, perhaps, the most exciting youngster in the Premier League and the flagbearer for Spurs’ bright future. Having arrived from MK Dons, it was thought that Alli would be slowly introduced to the Premier League but having shown promise in his first few appearances from the bench, Alli is a now a guaranteed starter  and with good reason. His ability to drive beyond the opposition defence from a midfield role has been compared to Steven Gerrard, an idol of the boyhood red. Five league goals is a cracking return for a player who was plying his trade in the third tier last season and has seen Alli already burst into the England setup.

Expected to be in Roy Hodgson’s 23 man squad for this summer’s Euros, Alli may even start the first game against Russia if his current form continues between now and the end of the season.

Another Spurs man hoping to be starting against the Russians is Harry Kane. Given his form for the last 12 months, you might think that Kane is a shoe in to start in June but taking into account Hodgson's preference of playing with just one up top, Wayne Rooney being almost undroppable and the form of Jamie Vardy this season, Kane is far from guaranteed a starting place. A good run of form between now and the end of the season wouldn't just be good news for Spurs' chances of having a great season; it would increase Kane's chances of getting the nod from his England boss.

As Leicester are proving, this season is the most open for years. It may actually be Spurs' best chance of a substantial title challenge but it looks like its come too soon for Pochettino's emerging side. Too many draws up till now see them five points off the top of the league but with Arsenal, Leicester and City stuttering in recent weeks, it's not completely out of the question for Spurs to get involved in what could become the most exciting title race for a generation.

The future does look very bright for Spurs with the move to a new stadium on the horizon too. It was felt at the time that Pochettino was only going to leave Southampton if he was given assurances that he would be given time to build the side and a style that he wanted.

Such assurances must've been given and 18 months into his tenure as boss, Spurs look like a club going in the right direction.

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