Harry Kane believes punters and pundits will pay the price for underestimating Tottenham - again.
he Premier League title will be a straight shootout between the Manchester giants, according to the bookies, who said the same last year and got it spectacularly wrong — again.
If you believe the markets, it will be another battle between big-spending City and United, with punters seemingly seduced again by the reputations and spending sprees of Pep and Jose.
City are favourites, United close behind with Chelsea in third.
This time last year the not-so-smart money was on the same two Manchester clubs with Arsenal in third, and the season before the two of them were just behind favourites Chelsea, who ended up in 10th place, if you remember.
Maybe they are right. Maybe Guardiola’s gamble in rebuilding his defence will work this time, maybe Mourinho’s latest Euro-million lottery will pay off.
Meanwhile, the team that accumulated most points in the Premier League over the past two seasons, and over the 2017 calendar year, sits there unnoticed and unfancied, like a wallflower in a village dance hall.
Tottenham have acquired more wins and more points than any other team over the past two seasons with 156, 10 clear of north London neighbours Arsenal. It is 12 more than City, 13 more than Chelsea, and 21 points more than Manchester United. Spurs also have the best record in 2017, having won 16 of their 20 league games, and 21 of their last 27. No team can better that, and yet they are not fancied to give it a go once again. They were fifth in the betting when they came third behind Leicester two years ago, and only sixth favourites last pre-season, when they ended up as runners-up.
What seems to work against Spurs with the punters, but work for them on the pitch, is the lack of big-money signings. You can’t escape from the news that Pep and Jose have smashed records again, and it is a given that Chelsea will always spend big in order to win things. Even Arsene Wenger has opened his purse wider than usual, spending over £50m (€55.2m) on Alexandre Lacazette.
But Spurs have not spent a penny as yet, and Harry Kane for one believes that does them no harm — he indeed argues that it works in their favour.
The only change from last season’s squad is the sale of Kyle Walker to City, but even then Mauricio Pochettino believes he has another young starlet in his near-namesake Kyle Walker-Peters.
Kane believes he and his mostly-young team-mates are getting better and better, and the continuity in the squad will allow them to hit the ground running.
“We played very well against Juventus in Wembley and that will give us great confidence going into the new season,” said the England striker.
“It’s going to be tough with six top teams in the Premier League, and looking at the start of the season any of them can go on to win it.”
He does not feel the lack of transfer activity is a problem. “We’re in a good place. The manager will do what he wants to do in his own time. As a team we are full of belief, we feel we can beat anyone at any moment, so we have to continue working hard and let the manager and his staff do their bit.”
Spurs beat every team apart from Liverpool last season, who were one of only two sides to take a point from fortress White Hart Lane, where Spurs were unbeaten.
The temporary move to Wembley may prove more difficult, given their poor record in recent years at England’s national stadium, but Kane is not concerned.
“I don’t think it affects us at all. It’s a big pitch, there’s a lot of space, we can make teams run, we can press high up the field. It’s about building confidence. Obviously the first game here at Wembley, against Chelsea, is going to be a big one, so we’ve just got to try to play how we normally play and try to win the game.”
Before that they travel to Newcastle on Sunday, scene of a 5-1 slaughter on the final day of the 2015/16 season. Is revenge in the air? “Obviously a lot of us were there when we got beaten 5-1 so we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” said the England striker. “We have to go there with our gameplan and try to win.”
“Obviously a lot of us were there when we got beaten 5-1 so we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” said the England striker. “We have to go there with our gameplan and try to win.”
Kane says the team spirit that has been so strong at Spurs is as good as ever.
“Obviously people say that every year, but we are staying calm, we’re in no panic, we’re doing what we do best. We are a very good side, we’ve had two very good seasons together, so it’s just about continuing that, continuing to build on that and see where it takes us.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved