Farewell to the Lane
Tottenham Hotspur might have ended the 2016-2017 season without any silverware but it was a memorable campaign for Mauricio Pochettino and his young, exciting side. For the second successive season, they made a challenge for the title, eventually falling seven points short of London rivals Chelsea but they finished gallant runners-up.
They finished above north London rivals Arsenal for the first time in 22 years, Harry Kane won the Golden Boot for the second successive season and they dropped just four points all campaign on home soil as White Hart Lane received a fond farewell.
Splashing the cash
After coming close to winning the Premier League title in 2015-2016, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and his young squad were hungry to take two further steps following their third-place finish the previous season.
After impressing for France during EURO 2016, Moussa Sissoko was acquired from relegated Newcastle United for £30 million on transfer deadline day. He joined Victor Wanyama, who linked up with Pochettino again having played underneath the Argentine at Southampton and Vincent Janssen, who came in from Ajax as back-up for Harry Kane.
Tottenham made a brilliant start to the season and finished September in second place, with four wins from their opening six matches. Heung-Min Son started the season in peak form. The South Korean scored braces in away victories over Stoke City and Middlesbrough. The only blow was the loss of Kane for seven weeks after he sustained an ankle injury in the closing stages of a narrow home win against rock-bottom Sunderland.
Poch triumphing over Pep
October began with a visit to White Hart Lane from league leaders Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s side had made an impeccable start, winning their first six league matches of the season but on the day, it was Pochettino who would triumph over Pep. Tottenham got at the Citizens early on and the visitors couldn’t handle their pressing tactics. An Aleksandar Kolarov own goal and strike from Dele Alli helped Spurs to record an impressive 2-0 victory and meant, they were now the only club yet to taste defeat in the Premier League in 2016-2017.
The next period of league matches was frustrating and ultimately, a run of just two wins in eight matches proved to be costly come the final outcome in regards to a title challenge. Tottenham’s unbeaten record remained until the end of November when in their 13th match, they lost 2-1 at Stamford Bridge to league leaders Chelsea. By now, Kane was back from injury and rescued a point from the penalty spot in the first North London Derby of the season at The Emirates Stadium.
Defeat no.2 of the season came at Old Trafford in mid-December. Kane was robbed of possession in the centre circle and Manchester United broke forward, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring the only goal of the game. Tottenham’s response to this setback was a run of six successive victories which meant by mid-January, they were firmly in the shake-up for a top four finish.
15th JANUARY 2017 TABLE
King Kane loves a treble
At the turn of the year, it was Dele Alli who was firmly in the goals. Alli managed to score three successive braces of goals during the festive period, including two headers at White Hart Lane in early January which saw Chelsea’s 13-match winning sequence end in a 2-0 defeat.
Kane was about to enjoy a stunning 2017 which ultimately saw him break the record for Premier League goals in a calendar year. His first hat-trick of the season came in mid-January in a fairly routine 4-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion.
Kane followed this hat-trick up with back-to-back trebles in successive Sundays in February. First, his hat-trick took Spurs past Championship side Fulham in the FA Cup fifth round before a first half hat-trick saw Stoke City condemned to a third successive 4-0 loss against the Lilywhites in the Premier League.
Kane was locked in a tight battle for the Golden Boot with Everton’s Romelu Lukaku but it looked like the Belgian might have the edge, especially when Kane injured his ankle again in the FA Cup quarter-finals against Millwall, putting him on the treatment table again for another month.
With uncertainty around Arsene Wenger’s future at Arsenal and the inconsistency from Liverpool FC and both Manchester clubs, it was Tottenham who were the only team who looked capable of giving Chelsea some nervy moments in the run-in. 10 points behind with 10 games left to play, Tottenham quickly cut that gap to four points, enjoying a fruitful run of nine successive victories – their best-ever sequence in their Premier League history.
The end at White Hart Lane
At the end of April, Tottenham beat Arsenal 2-0 in the last North London Derby at White Hart Lane with goals from Alli and the returning Kane. This meant that Tottenham would finish above Arsenal in a top-flight table for the first time since 1995 and guaranteed a finish in the top four.
There was a sense within the supporters that a genuine bid for the title was on but a week later, that hope expired on Tottenham’s first visit to The London Stadium. Manuel Lanzini’s second half strike guided West Ham to a 1-0 victory, sending their supporters into ecstasy at crushing Spurs’ dreams. By the time Tottenham played their next match, Chelsea had recorded the two wins they had required to regain the Premier League title.
All that was left was for the final-ever match to be played at White Hart Lane. Tottenham were moving temporarily into Wembley Stadium whilst a new stadium was built on the site of the historic ground. Manchester United were the visitors but they couldn’t be the party poopers. Wanyama opened the scoring with an early header and fittingly, Kane would be the final Tottenham scorer at the ground, scoring his first-ever goal against Manchester United in the process.
A 2-1 victory over the Red Devils guaranteed second place in the table, their best-ever Premier League finish and an unbeaten home record in the last White Hart Lane season, recording 15 successive home victories. Only Liverpool FC and Leicester City avoided defeat. There was plenty of emotion as a final celebration was held with Tottenham legends past and present braving the rain to join in the celebrations. Kane wasn’t done though. Seven goals in the last week of the season, including another two hat-tricks as Spurs brushed aside Leicester and Hull City 6-1 and 7-1 respectively. That meant a second successive Golden Boot for the striker.
Alas, there was no silverware for the team but Tottenham Hotspur had produced plenty of excitement and entertainment for their supporters and the neutrals in season 2016-2017.
FINAL 2016-2017 TABLE – THE TOP SIX