In years gone by, picking our 'Player of the Season' has usually been a simple task. Any discussion this season has often been littered with "but what about?...." Here, Matt Wiggins shares his views on the players in contention.
With about 15 minutes to go of Sunday’s joyous north London derby I turned to a friend, a fellow Spurs fan, and asked: “Who will win Spurs’ player of the year?”
Like a poker player, he sat silently weighing up his hand for a good couple of minutes before revealing his cards.
“It’s between three,” he said. “Kane, Dele and Toby.”
“What? No Eriksen?” I countered.
By the end of the discussion we had arrived at a seven-strong shortlist for the end of season gong, but having given it more thought since then even that number feels a little short!
From back to front there is a case to be made for most of the regular first teamers winning our POTY prize. Some may be stronger than others, but there’s a case nonetheless:
Hugo Lloris hasn’t just saved shots this season, he’s saved entire games. Although his exploits were magnified in the Champions League, where we were a mess, he regularly comes up with big saves in big games, as his MoM at home to Man City attests.
Jan Vertonghen makes more clearances per 90 minutes than any other defender in the squad. Playing in between Toby and Danny Rose in our 3-4-3 system has suited his aggressive playing style perfectly and he’s shone all season.
Toby is the defending champion in this contest and has built another strong CV. Our worst run of form arrived in the period that Alderweireld missed in October and November and our win rate drops from 68% to 47% when he doesn’t start.
The wing-back bros, Walker and Rose. Although the former has come a cropper to rotation in recent games, he has more assists than any other Premier League defender this season, while Rose turned himself into England’s best left-back before injury. We are able to play three at the back because those two guys are such well-rounded full backs.
In midfield, it cannot be a coincidence that both teams fighting it out for the league this season added mobile, intelligent, physical central midfielders to their squads last summer? Victor Wanyama has arguably had as much impact on Spurs as PFA Player of the Year N’Golo Kante has had on Chelsea. Our goal difference has improved by nine from this exact point last season, and the Kenyan is a big reason.
Mousa Dembélé continues to be the most subtly dynamic midfielder in the land. The qualities he brings aren’t found in your everyday player and despite the fact he only has one goal and one assist to his name this season, our attacking play often grinds to a halt when he’s absent.
Heung-min Son has enjoyed a break out campaign. Much is made of our over-reliance on Harry Kane, but the South Korean has more than carried the load in the striker’s absence, scoring 10 of his 19 all-competition goals when Kane hasn’t been around.
Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli are immovable as the side’s attacking midfield options these days and have obvious claims on the POTY trophy thanks to 33 combined goals in all comps and 17 shared league assists.
Finally there’s Kane, the metronomic goal-scoring machine who has missed 16 games this season through injury but has still found time to net 27 goals in all competitions, which is one less than he managed last term.
I feel bad that I’ve named our entire starting XI except Eric Dier here. There’s probably someone out there that could plead the defender’s case, but for now it goes to show just how strong our season has been that reasonable arguments can be made for 10 players winning our end of season award.
Whether we win a trophy this season or not, that is hugely impressive.