After three wins and a draw from their opening four Premier League fixtures, Ange Postecoglou’s Spurs are sat second in the table ahead of the visit of Sheffield United to north London this weekend.
Appointed under a cloud of scepticism in June, with the Scottish Premiership the highest level of club football he had managed at before with Glasgow giants Celtic, Australian Postecoglou has enjoyed a dream start to life at Spurs.
After a dismal campaign which saw Spurs miss out on any form of European football following an eighth-placed finish in the Premier League, the north London side were in desperate need of a new direction and injection of life.
Following a season overseen by a three different managers – Antonio Conte, Cristian Stellini and Ryan Mason – Spurs appear to have finally stumbled upon a rightful leader in the form of charismatic Aussie Postecoglou.
The Spurs faithful have certainly taken to the ex-Celtic boss, with the swashbuckling style of play on show from the Lilywhites a far cry from the cautious, pragmatic approach from his previous incumbents.
Faced with a major squad rebuild to develop a side in his own image, Postecoglou let go of 11 players in the summer, with senior figures such as Hugo Lloris and Eric Dier also excluded from his first team plans.
Talisman Harry Kane made a highly-publicised £100m departure for Bayern Munich, whilst a number of unwanted squad players such as Davinson Sanchez, Harry Winks, Djed Spence, Lucas Moura, Tanguy Ndombele and Joe Rodon also headed for the exit.
In their place, Spurs have recruited heavily, spending over £200m on the likes of James Maddison, Brennan Johnson, Micky van de Ven and Guglielmo Vicario.
This much-needed summer revamp has left Postecoglou with a fresh, youthful squad, with the average age of Spurs’ opening day line-up at Brentford just over 25 – the lowest since March 2020.
On top of this, the preferred back four within Postecoglou’s new-look set-up – Pedro Porro, Cristian Romero, Micky van de Ven and Destiny Udogie – has an average age of just 22.5.
This emphasis on youth from the Australian is perhaps a part of his pursuit to turn a new leaf at the club, and mould his squad in line with his own vision.
In this respect, it’s not just been a change of personnel at Spurs, but a radical overhaul of the team’s tactical approach and style of play.
Spurs' transfer expenditure of around £212.3m this summer was the third highest total in the Premier League behind Chelsea (£434.5m) and Man City (£216.3m).
Following the disappointing tenures of Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte, who both implemented comparably pragmatic tactical set-ups, Spurs have gone in a markedly different direction under the more progressive Postecoglou.
If Mourinho and Conte were wily, smart counter-punchers, Postecoglou is a front-foot knockout artist.
Transferring a similar tactical framework from his time at Celtic, which saw him earn five out of an available six domestic trophies over two seasons, Spurs have been almost unrecognisable from the team that struggled to eighth last season.
Lining up in a 4-3-3 formation, both full-backs are utilised in inverted roles, with a holding midfielder protecting two advanced number eights, behind two wingers and a pressing forward.
All players within this system are required to be adept with the ball at their feet, with the new-look Spurs seeking to control possession with a short, sharp passing game and press the opposition hard whenever they are dispossessed.
Postecoglou’s tactical ideas can be acknowledged to resemble those of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, with the Catalan on record as being an admirer of his Australian counterpart’s work from his time at City Group affiliate club Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan.
Any parallels with Guardiola from a tactical point of view must also draw comparisons with his mentor – the great Johan Cruyff – with Postecoglou’s teams mirroring the famous Netherlands 'Total Football' sides of the 1970s with regard to their formation and outlook.
The Australian’s attacking ideals have certainly proven fruitful at the beginning of this campaign, with Spurs the second-top goalscorers in the division with 11 - level with Guardiola's City and one below Roberto De Zerbi's equally adventurous Brighton on 12.
Postecoglou spent three years with Man City affiliate side Yokohama F. Marinos between 2018 and 2021, winning the club's first J League title in 15 years in 2019.
Premier League 2023/24 Most Shots/90:
Tottenham 2023/24 Outright odds:
To Win Premier League - 20/1
To Win Premier League Without Man City - 10/1
To Finish in Top 2 - 7/1
To Finish in Top 4 - 7/4
To Finish in Top 6 - 4/6
To Win FA Cup - 14/1
At the heart of Tottenham’s success at the start of this season has been summer signing James Maddison.
Signed from relegated Leicester City for £40m, Maddison has been a revelation in an attacking midfield position, with Postecoglou giving the 26-year-old the license to act as the team’s primary playmaker.
With the rejuvenated Yves Bissouma marshalling the defence, Maddison and most recently Pape Matar Sarr have been utilised as advanced eights, providing the Spurs engine room with the creativity which was so often absent last term.
A supremely technically gifted player, capable of playing defence-splitting passes and scoring from distance, Maddison has already recorded two goals and two assists in Spurs’ opening four Premier League games.
With the talismanic Harry Kane having departed the club, Maddison appears to have taken up the mantle as one of Spurs’ most influential players - and has already assumed a promising understanding with the England captain’s former trusted partner Heung-min Son in the final third.
The Coventry City academy graduate has so far posted Spurs' biggest numbers in a plethora of metrics in the Premier League, including most shots on target, most chances created, most fouls won, highest xG and highest xA.
Maddison seems to be revelling in the responsibility he has been afforded at his new club, with the Englishman appointed by Postecoglou as one of Spurs’ two new vice-captains alongside Argentine defender Cristian Romero, with the pair to support Son as the new skipper.
Maddison will be hoping a standout season for Spurs will bolster his international chances with England ahead of the Euros next summer in Germany.
Premier League 2023/24 Top Shot-Creating Actions/90:
James Maddison 2023/24 Outright odds:
Premier League Most Assists - 8/1
10 or more Premier League Assists - 4/5
15 or more Premier League Assists - 10/1
PFA Player of the Year - 33/1
Tottenham’s most recent triumph – a 5-2 dismantling of Vincent Kompany’s Burnley at Turf Moor – saw the experiment of utilising Son as a central striker produce magnificent results.
Previously deployed on the left-hand side of Postecoglou’s 4-3-3 set-up, with Brazilian Richarlison through the middle, Son had an underwhelming start to his individual campaign with no goals or assists in his first three Premier League games.
This all changed in his new role at Burnley, with Spurs’ new skipper scoring a scintillating hat-trick with the South Korean’s usual ruthlessness in front of goal on full display.
Having endured a disappointing campaign last term by his own lofty standards, with his 16 league goal contributions his lowest tally across the past seven seasons, a permanent shift to a more central position may just be the key to helping unlock the 31-year-old’s best form once more.
Such a switch, which saw summer signing Manor Solomon play off the left, could also help Spurs plug the gap left by Harry Kane’s exit.
With Richarlison having struggled up front so far this season, with no goal contributions in Spurs’ first four Premier League games, Postecoglou may be primed to turn to his captain to be his main man in attack.
Given the Australian’s preference for his wingers to stay very wide and hug the touchline, Son’s game may now be more suited to playing closer to the goal, with the South Korean’s finishing ability undoubtedly one of the best in the Premier League when on song.
Spurs captain Son is the first Asian player ever to score over 100 goals, register over 50 assists and win the Golden Boot in the Premier League.
Heung-min Son Premier League Stats per Season:
Heung-min Son 2023/24 Outright odds:
Premier League Top Goalscorer - 25/1
Premier League Top Goalscorer Without Haaland - 8/1
15 or more Premier League Goals - 1/2
20 or more Premier League Goals - 5/1
25 or more Premier League Goals - 33/1
Premier League Most Assists - 66/1
PFA Player of the Year - 33/1