Tottenham’s start to the 2023/24 Premier League season has been nothing short of superb.
After beating Crystal Palace 2-1 last Friday, Spurs went five points clear at the top of the Premier League – their biggest lead on second place in the top-flight since the final day of the 1960/61 campaign (eight points), when they last won the title.
Not only are Tottenham unbeaten after 10 games of the Premier League campaign, they are winning matches playing very good football – something Ange Postecoglou was quick to highlight post-Palace.
“Top of the table is great and the results are great but it’s more in the manner we’re doing it,” he said. “Pretty much from the first game we’ve had all sorts of different challenges we’ve had to overcome. Every time there has been a real focus and clear-headedness about the group collectively to deal with that.
“That has been a really pleasing thing and because they’re getting rewards from that then that gives us opportunity to accelerate the growth of giving them more tools out there to help them for whatever we need to overcome.”
Such an impressive start to the campaign has led to many neutrals suggesting Spurs could be in contention to win the title this season, one of which was former Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger.
“I like always to say what I feel, really,” Wenger said. “Deeply, I believe Tottenham will be one of the contenders for the league.
“They bought Maddison, who is a great player. He is that link from low midfield to high midfield and added some technical creativity to the team They bought Van de Ven, who I find absolutely exceptional. They had weaknesses there and last season [Hugo] Lloris had not the best of seasons as well. And the movement from Son into the middle looks very good.”
But despite all the plaudits they are receiving and the superb start they have had, Tottenham will not win the Premier League this season.
On paper, it is easy to see why some fans believe Tottenham can be crowned Premier League champions. They have no European fixtures in 2023/24 and are arguably playing the best football of any side so far this term.
However, Spurs simply do not have a strong enough squad to compete with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool.
Their first-choice XI is very good and on current form, is a match for any side in the top flight. Outside of that XI though, things are not looking too good.
An injury to either one of Cristian Romero or Micky van de Ven would see the return of Eric Dier to the fold and even the most die-hard Spurs fan will admit you cannot win a Premier League title with Dier playing on a regular basis.
At left-back, meanwhile, Destiny Udogie – who has been excellent this season – is now out with a muscle injury, meaning Ben Davies will likely have to fill in over the coming weeks.
It is a similar story further forward, James Maddison has taken up the number 10 mantel from Harry Kane this campaign and, to his credit, has been the best midfielder in the division so far. However, if Maddison picks up any sort of injury, Spurs have nobody on their books to come in and even get close to filling his boots.
Compare this to title favourites Manchester City who have already lost their best creative outlet, Kevin De Bruyne, to a long-term problem and the gulf in squad depth becomes clear. With KDB sidelined Julian Alvarez, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden have all stepped up to the plate.
But regardless of these hypotheticals, even if Tottenham are somehow able to keep the likes of Romero, Maddison and Pape Matar Sarr fit all term, they are still going to have to navigate the early stages of 2024 without Heung-min Son.
The 2023 AFC Asian Cup takes place later this season between January 12 and February 10 and as South Korea are among the favourites to reach the final, Tottenham will be without Son for an extended period.
Son has eight goals and one assist in 10 Premier League games in 2023/24, so losing him will be a major blow. And once again, Spurs don’t really have a credible replacement for him. Richarlison has scored just two Premier League goals in 37 outings for the north Londoners, whilst Brennan Johnson is yet to get off the mark for his new side.
Manchester City, meanwhile, have no players taking part in the Asian Cup or AFCON later this campaign.
So, whilst a top-four finish seems to be on the cards for Tottenham – an impressive achievement in of itself – title glory is very, very unlikely in 2023/24.