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A look at the new season

Mixed feelings about Spurs fixtures

If you look at our newly released fixture list for the forthcoming 2020-21 season, you will see that we have a potential 66 games to play. Such a marathon would entail reaching both domestic cup finals as well as the Europa league Final. To reach that final, being held in Gdansk, Poland, would require passage through 17 games, including no less than three qualifying matches. Because of the Covid-19 delayed start to the season and the need for Carabao Cup early rounds to be completed by the end of September, Spurs could be playing two midweek games per week twice in the first month. Jose Mourinho will clearly prioritise the Europa League which offers a path to the Champions League, so I fear the need to play a complete second string in the Carabao (EFL) Cup will lead to progress being sacrificed in that competition.

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Only one of our first eight Premier League opponents finished above us last season. That was Manchester United. The only other team we face in those games which finished in last season’s top ten is Burnley, who were tenth and five points behind Spurs. The trouble is, by the time we travel to Old Trafford for only our fourth league game, we might already have had to play 8 times in three weeks!

The fixture gods have been kind to us in terms of the Premier League finish too with Manchester United the only team above us last season among our last eight opponents. Before you get over-excited and look at this Unibet offer regarding your Spurs-related betting prospects, you might like to have good look at the full fixture list. Between November 21st and December 19th, we will five four of last season’s top five, plus London Derby matches against Arsenal and Crystal Palace.

There are reasons to be optimist about our opening league programme. Take a look at this chart, which shows our full Premier League record against the other 19 teams we play this season:-

             Pl  W   D   L  For-Ag  Pts  (Per-game)      

1. Brighton   6  4   1   1   8 - 6  13    2.166
2. C. Palace 22 13   6   3  30 -14  45    2.045 
3. Burnley   12  7   3   2  25 -10  24    2.0
4. S'hampton 42 22   7  13  74 -47  77    1.83
5. Everton   56 27  21   8  88 -55 102    1.82 
6. Fulham    28 15   6   7  46 -25  51    1.82 
7. Man City  46 24   7  15  66 -64  79    1.71 
8. West Ham  48 24   9  15  69 -54  81    1.68 
9. Wolves    12  6   2   4  24 -18  20    1.66 
10.West Brom 24  9  11   4  35 -24  38    1.58 
11.A. Villa  50 21  15  14  71 -54  78    1.56 
12.Leicester 28 12   5  11  52 -46  41    1.46 
13.Newcastle 50 22   6  22  72 -76  72    1.44 
14.Leeds     24  8   6  10  31 -33  30    1.25
15.Sheff Utd  8  2   3   3  11 -16   9    1.125 
16.Arsenal   56 13  23  20  69 -90  62    1.107
17.Liverpool 56 14  15  27  64 -95  57    1.017
18.Chelsea   56  7  19  30  55-102  40    0.714 
19.Man Utd   56  9  12  35  50 -94  39    0.696 

Statistically, our first opponents Everton are one of our favourite opponents in the 28-year history of the Premier League. As you can see, we’ve only lost 8 of 56 games played, and we currently have a record of fifteen games unbeaten against “The Toffees”. We haven’t lost at home to Everton since November 2008, and our points per game record in the Premier League is the best against the other five ever-present teams at 1.82.

              P  W   D   L   F - A  Pts (Per-game)
1. Everton   56 27  21   8  88 -55  102   1.82
2. Arsenal   56 13  23  20  69 -90  62    1.107
3. Liverpool 56 14  15  27  64 -95  57    1.017
4. Chelsea   56  7  19  30  55-102  40    0.714 
5. Man Utd   56  9  12  35  50 -94  39    0.696 

This will be only the 8th time that we start a Premier League programme at home, and of course this time, because of Coronavirus, it has to be behind closed doors. Like all regular attending fans, I am worried about the probability that not all games will be televised, unlike during “project restart”. We have often played Everton within the first few games at the start of the season and twice opened our programme at Goodison Park in 2002 and 2016. We were supposed to have opened the 2011-12 season with a home game against Everton, but the riots put paid to that.

Our second league game will be away to Southampton against whom we have a marginally better points per game record than against Everton. That is thanks to less draws in this fixture, but Southampton have beaten us 13 times in 42 games, including our last away league game there on New Year’s Day. The “Saints” beat us the season before too, so that will be a tricky fixture and of course it could offer our new signing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg an early return to his former club. Hojbjerg’s former team-mates would be keen to get one over him without a doubt!

Our opponents in our third league game will be Newcastle, and they gave us a shock defeat at White Hart Lane last season. Our overall Premier League record against “The Toon” is not so good thanks to poor results in the first 11 years of the Premier League, but we have won nine of our last 15 league meetings.

After the trip to Old Trafford (let’s not dwell upon our points per game record against this team!), we face West Ham, Burnley, Brighton and promoted West Brom, before the other Manchester club comes to Tottenham. Let’s hope that well before then some of us at least have the chance to watch our favourites from our stadium seats!

The transfer window does not close till early October. Manchester City and Chelsea have already spent big money with the prospect of more to come. That is a level of investment that Spurs are clearly unable to match, although we hope for more activity before the beginning of the season proper. Liverpool will surely continue to be all-powerful, and perhaps Manchester United will have vulnerability. The bottom line is that top four will be hard to achieve. I suspect that The Europa League will be our primary target, but that and the whole season will be on a long rocky road.

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