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Darren Lewis: Where should Tottenham’s priorities be this season?

04 Nov | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Darren Lewis: Where should Tottenham’s priorities be this season?

The Mirror sports writer discusses whether Spurs should stretch their squad in Europe or focus on a bid to break into the top four

A cup or the top four?

If you’re a Spurs fan which would you prefer?

With Chelsea all over the place and a slot potentially there for the taking, where should your priorities be?

With silverware or a move into European football’s elite competition to attract players and enable the club to take a giant leap forward?

Weeks like this one will pose those kind of questions for Spurs fans right now. Particularly with the race for Champions League football so wide open.

Also with Tottenham’s next two Europa League ties – against Anderlecht and Qarabag – punctuated by the North London derby, a capital clash against West Ham and a home game against Chelsea.

Mauricio Pochettino insisted to us journalists in Anderlecht last month that his intention is to field his strongest side in every game.

To be fair to him he has so far been a man of his word, sending out an eye-catchingly experienced line-up in Monaco and playing several of his big-hitters in Belgium last month.

That defeat against Anderlecht, however, shifted the sands somewhat.

Had Spurs, who had taken the lead, gone on to win then they could have all-but wrapped up qualification at home this week and fielded the fringe players for the remainder of the group stages.

Instead they ended up losing 2-1.

It means Pochettino now has to decide whether his priority is Europe or the top four.

Right now, surely, it has to be the push for Champions League football.

Arsenal, who will have 24 hours extra to prepare for Sunday, are just too good for Spurs to believe they can go there and win after fielding their first-teamers against Anderlecht.

The Gunners’ form in the Champions League might be inconsistent but in the Premier League they have been sensational with five consecutive victories since losing at Chelsea in September.

That run has included cracking wins at Watford and Swansea – both potential banana skins – to prove that these days the mentality at Arsenal is first class and focused.

In an ideal world Spurs would be targeting success in Europe and the Premier League.

They just don’t have the squad, however.

They are stretched by injuries and even with the likes of Ryan Mason and Son Heung Min back they have nothing like the options available to, say, Arsene Wenger.

Had they managed to land Victor Wanyama (watch that particular space) or Saido Berahino during the summer, then maybe they could have continued thinking in terms of a two-pronged assault on the Champions League, with the winners of the Europa League going straight into the following season’s competition as Sevilla did in May.

If they get Wanyama and Berahino in January, Spurs could even have a look at the FA Cup over the second half of this season.

Right now, however, without Harry Kane up front Tottenham simply don’t have the cutting edge to cope.

Erik Lamela is doing better these days but he believes all too often that he is Cristiano Ronaldo and over-elaborates when the simple things would do.

Clinton N’Jie is also still too raw. He is far from ready to do the business over here. We may not see the best of him until next season.

And that, pretty much, is that.

Tottenham have done days out at Wembley anyway. They’ve got the T-shirt, as recently as last season when they reached the Final of the Capital One Cup, only to lose to Chelsea in February.

These days, with a new stadium on the horizon, the club surely need to be looking at the bigger picture.

Arsenal fans might be upset at Arsene Wenger’s view that fourth is as good as a trophy but for Spurs it really is.

A return to European football’s elite competition after a five-year absence would surely attract the players to give Tottenham a better chance of competing for a cup as well as the League next season.

Yes, football is about winning things but it is also about building.

Pochettino has shown, in clearing the decks and placing his faith in youth with a sprinkling of experience, that he has a clear idea of what he wants to do and where he wants to go.

Chelsea’s meltdown has given him an unexpected opportunity – possibly – to get there sooner.

So it has to be the League over a Cup this season surely. It has to be a complete focus on filling a void that might – just might – be left by the Champions.

Rather than running down the miles on the clock needed for his top men to take out an Arsenal side competing for the title, a West Ham side flying and a Blues side that you can never completely write off, Pochettino has to have a rethink.

The Argentine continually tells us that he has complete faith in his entire squad. Now is the time for him to use it.

Because – as the Luis Suarez-inspired Liverpool side found when they came within touching distance of the title two seasons ago – opportunities like the one being eyed by a number of teams this season do not come around very often.

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READ: How much does the Europa League affect Liverpool’s Premier League results?