Spurs have been dealt the handicap of champions without winning anything. Sides will now raise their game due to Wembley’s perceived grandeur. This will either push them to the next level, or cause them to stagnate under the pressure of that grand arch.
The added stress of having to perform on England’s biggest footballing stage every second week could prove costly for them. What is, in reality, only a small shift out of their comfort zone, may as well be that dinner your wife makes you have with your mother-in-law.
North London’s second biggest club are renting a ground that enables their opponents to find more. While only dropping four points at ‘the Lane’ last year, Spurs have already notched a defeat in their new surroundings.
Maybe a drop back down to reality will help. Pochettino guided them to a runners-up spot, but you could argue this position was as genuine as the average Tiger Woods apology. Mourinho tanked United’s season before Christmas; Jurgen Klopp still believed he was in Dortmund and could shock a league with average defenders; Arsenal didn’t even finish fourth.
So does the season even count?
New signing Davinson Sanchez could help shake things up. Prominent pundits seem baffled by the move, having never heard of him. This, the same Davinson Sanchez who played in the Europa League final against Manchester United last year. To Paul Merson’s credit, the final clashed with a Dora the Explorer omnibus, so he’s excused.
Here’s the problem though. If you’re Mauricio Pochettino, you can’t come out and state that Wembley is affecting your performances. This is ultimately where you want some of your squad to play their home games at international level. It’s also the ground you aspire to play in come season’s end – in a cup final.
Perhaps the logical answer would be to assess yourself. Operating on a pitch that’s wider than the gaps in Arsenal’s backline should actually play into your hands. You can stretch the game and allow Dele Ali to nip into bigger pockets than Warren Buffet’s. But no – Spurs’ approach instead seems to be: let’s starve our general play of width and complain when you can’t expose a back three while playing directly in front of them.
The psychology of away games in the Premier League has always been the same.
If you went to Old Trafford (prior to Davie Moyes’ impersonation a football manager), you sat deep and tried to play on the counter. The mental preparation as well as the training ground shape made sure you would drop to the edge of your eighteen-yard box and pray your goalkeeper was on song.
This is actually a really good point from Conte. Wembley might intimidate Spurs' players while motivating the opposition pic.twitter.com/g6ITk2Yujk
— Elko Born (@Elko_B) August 21, 2017
Tottenham even had this to a degree last year. They had the majority of possession forty yards from the opposition’s goal. Regardless of any low block system, you’ll create five or six good chances in this situation.
But in a stadium where Spennymoor Town have won a trophy, you’ll have a go. You’ll get that extra shot of adrenaline to see you through the last five minutes. All the benefits of a home game are now completely taken away from them. Yes, they can help themselves – but other teams won’t anymore.