Tottenham Hotspur need to sort out their Wembley problem
Much has been made about Tottenham Hotspur’s problems at the Wembley Stadium. With their current ground, White Hart Lane, being reconstructed and essentially rebuilt, Spurs are playing their home games this season at Wembley. The national stadium is one of the best grounds in the world and already has an immense history. However, Spurs are currently finding it difficult to settle in at their new home.
Just like West Ham United discovered when they moved to London Stadium last season after leaving the Boleyn Ground at the end of the 2015-16 campaign, Tottenham are taking time to adapt to their new surroundings. True, Spurs played their Champions League and Europa League matches at Wembley last season, but that was simply not enough for the players or the fans to get used to the stadium.
Tottenham’s start to the 2017-18 Premier League campaign has not been great, and a significant reason why is due to their performances at Wembley. Notably, the North London outfit recently got the better of Borussia Dortmund at home in the Champions League, but in Premier League games they have slipped up. Mauricio Pochettino’s side conceded an injury-time goal to draw 1-1 with Burnley, lost 2-1 to Chelsea and did not score against Swansea City. Spurs even failed to register a convincing victory over Championship club Barnsley at Wembley in the EFL Cup, with their performance and the final result strongly criticised by former club chairman Lord Sugar on social networking site Twitter.
Spurs’ disappointing results and performances have seen them slip down to fifth in the league, five points behind leaders Manchester City and Manchester United. Of course, that is not a massive gap, but given the strengths of City, United and Chelsea, who have picked up 10 points from their five league matches so far this season, Spurs cannot afford to fall any further behind. The fact that the latest football betting odds on bet365.com have them at an alarmingly long price of 16/1 to win the Premier League title should also be a concern for all Spurs fans; this is the team that finished 2nd last season after all.
There is no doubt that Tottenham have a good team. Their first Xi is one of the best, not only in the Premier League but in Europe. Hugo Lloris, Toby Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane and Dele Alli are some of the best players in the world. However, it is important that the team and the fans get used to playing at Wembley as quickly as possible if they are to have a successful season like in 2016-17.
The pitch at Wembley is bigger than the one at White Hart Lane and the atmosphere generated is not as intense or loud, both of which are factors Spurs must re-adjust to imminently. While one can understand Spurs’ failure to adapt to the new and unfamiliar surroundings so far, it is crucial that they put in extra effort. It would not be a bad idea if Pochettino’s team train at Wembley for a couple of days a week for the next two or three months. Given the signings that United, City and Chelsea made in the summer transfer window, it was always going to tough for Tottenham to compete with them for the Premier League title. If they do not sort out the Wembley situation and their home form does not improve, then even a place in the top four could be under threat.