Richard Jolly is analysing all 20 teams competing in the Premier League and giving his verdict on how they will fare. Here he looks at if Tottenham can continue their run of finishing in the top four
Premier League preview 2018/19 - Tottenham: Lack of transfers put pressure on Pochettino
Lowdown: In one sense, Tottenham regressed last season, taking fewer points, scoring fewer goals and conceding more.
In another, they over-performed, punching above their financial weight to expel Chelsea and Arsenal from the Uefa Champions League places.
Their rise was reflected when they had the most players in the World Cup semi-finalists’ squads and contributed the most goals in the tournament.
Now they return to a rebuilt White Hart Lane, looking to repeat their remarkable home form at the old ground – 53 points from 57 in 2016-17 – but with the complication that a team who can be slow starters have five of their first seven games on the road.
Key player: Harry Kane – The World Cup Golden Boot winner has scored 76 goals in his last two seasons for Spurs, even if he is famously barren in August. The difficulties of first Vincent Janssen and then Fernando Llorente, the strikers signed to understudy him, show Kane’s significance.
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino – Signed a new five-year deal in May, just before the Real Madrid job became vacant. Tottenham kept the man who, with three consecutive top-four finishes, is their greatest manager in the league since the legendary Bill Nicholson. But with every year, the talk of the need for a trophy grows louder.
Talking point: Will Spurs’ lack of signings cost them? One of Pochettino’s great feats has been to improve the players at his disposal. But with much the smallest wage bill and net spend of the top six, his is an uphill task that seems to get ever steeper.
While Jack Grealish may yet join, 18 other clubs had made a signing before Spurs.
It had seemed that Toby Alderweireld would leave and other defenders arrive, but Pochettino has been left in limbo, without reinforcements and facing the annual task of having to coax still more from his current charges just to keep up with their peers.