Last Saturday’s lunch time showdown between Liverpool and Spurs was billed by some as a clash between would-be title contenders.
As is often the case in these types of games, the outcome was far from as dramatic as billed, but defeat for Spurs is far from the real cause for concern, in their fledgling bid for the title. The performance by the North Londoners was perhaps even more worrying as they looked bereft of creativity.
Ian Wright has called it the worst Tottenham display under Pochettino, and there appears to be no end in speculation regarding Harry Kane’s fitness. All speculation and drama aside, Spurs looked way short of their best. They will need to dig in in their forthcoming matches if they are to stay in contention in The Premier League.
It’s far too early to categorically put Liverpool, City and Chelsea in a three way title tussle. Obviously, you cannot win the league after five, ten or even twenty games, but you can realistically throw away your chances in that number of matches.
This is what Pochettino and Spurs must now contemplate after back-to-back defeats. Their situation is far from fatal, but such is the nature and pressure of a Premier League title race, they are already up against it. They need desperately to keep pace in these early exchanges.
Anything but a win against Brighton would now be a considerable blow. You always need to win of course, but when you’ve lost two on the bounce, a media fueled crisis is as certain as a Neymar dive in the box.
When you also factor in their last gasp defeat to Inter Milan in the Champions League, the fault lines of pressure are really starting to tell on the club.
Spurs have got a wonderful team. Jurgen Klopp was right when he said they were one of the best sides in the world right now. The only thing they lack is depth and that is perhaps hurting them already.
Against Liverpool they were without Lloris, Alli and for the most part, Son, three of their most vital players. Their absence was keenly felt and they lacked their trademark snappy interchanges and movement against Liverpool.
With Vorm in goal, their back four also looked a little reluctant to move the ball out from the back. It may be a little harsh to attribute that solely to the Dutchman, but they will no doubt keen to get Lloris back between the sticks sooner rather than later.
They have more than enough quality in the ranks though to bounce back and can look to United and Mourinho as inspiration.
What will be adding insult to injury for Spurs, is the fact that they have failed to build on their drubbing of Manchester United prior to the international break. That win left them with nine points from three games and six points clear of their rivals from the North West.
Since that comprehensive defeat, Jose Mourinho has engaged his trademark siege mentality. The shutters have come down in pure Portuguese defiance and wins have been ground out against Burnley and Watford.
They are not the prettiest or most glamorous fixtures, but United have filed them neatly away with six points ground out from two tough away days. Crucially as well, the results have allowed them to catch up with Spurs on nine points and restore some confidence in the ranks at Old Trafford.
This is what Pochettino now must do to recover from this early shock. A couple of wins and all is forgiven. Spurs must find a way to do this if they are to elbow their way back in to contention and stop the rot before it really takes hold.