Four days and four catch-up posts to go before the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks-off in Russia, and we’re up to ‘T’ in the alphabet. There’s only one place we need to look today, and that’s towards Tottenham Hotspur. Arsenal fans may want to stop reading now…
Our last look at Spurs at the end of the 2014-15 season saw André Villas-Boas’s side pip Swansea on the final day of the Premier League season to finish 4th before a last-gasp extra-time defeat by Chelsea in the Champions League Final in Istanbul.
It was a busy summer for Spurs, with seven players joining the club for a total of £35m, with the club raising a similar amount in sales with eighteen other players leaving on loan deals and free transfers.
Ezequiel Cirigliano (Swansea, £16.5m) and Diego Rubio (Sporting, £12.5m) were the largest outlays, while Olivier Giroud joined from Bayern Munich in a straight swap for Magnus Wolff Eikrem. Leandro Damião would join on a free from Internacional at the end of the window.
FC Lorient were beaten 3-1 on aggregate to put Spurs into the Champions League Group Stage where they’d be drawn alongside Ajax, Rapid Vienna, and Inter Milan. 0-1 defeats at Inter, and at Wigan in the league, were the only blemishes on the calendar through to the end of October before a shootout loss at home to Brighton in the Carabao Cup.
A 2-3 defeat at Stoke proved to be Villas-Boas’s last game at Spurs, despite the club firmly top of the table. When Claudio Ranieri was sacked at Bayern Munich, the German club swooped for him. Slaven Bilic was appointed from Valencia to replace AVB. Spurs would win the first seven on the spin under Bilic, and go unbeaten in fifteen up to a shock 0-3 defeat at Swansea in early January 2016.
A run of thirteen consecutive wins would follow as the club would win their way through to the Champions League Quarter-Finals where they’d go out to Barcelona, and through to the FA Cup Final after beating Arsenal in the Semi.
Wolves would shock Spurs at Wembley with a 2-0 win but Spurs had the title sewn up at the end of March with a commanding lead at the top of the Premier League, that would be stretched to a whopping 23 points over eventual runners-up Manchester United. White Hart Lane hosted its final match as Spurs beat Norwich 3-1 on the final day.
After a 2-1 Community Shield win over Wolves, Tottenham would move into their new stadium at Perryman Park with £50m of new arrivals in the squad. Davide Santon (Newcastle, £15m), Granit Xhaka (Gladbach, £16.5m) and Viktor Fischer (Dortmund, £13m) were the big names to join.
Ezequiel Cirigliano would leave after one season as he went to join the man who brought him to Spurs at Bayern Munich, with Tottenham also raising £12m with the sale of Gylfi Sigurðsson to Manchester United.
In a quirk of fixture fate, Norwich City – the club who helped Tottenham wave farewell to White Hart Lane – would be the first visitors to new stadium Perryman Park, and a brace from Leandro Damião would see Spurs start their campaign with a 2-0 win. Juventus, Gladbach and Rapid Vienna (again) were drawn in the Champions League and it was the German side who fell upon the Spurs sword first as Tottenham ran out 6-0 winners away from home in their opening group match.
By the end of the year, Spurs were level with Chelsea and Man City in a three-way title tussle and comfortably through to the Champions League Knockout Rounds dropping just two points in their group (a 1-1 draw at Juventus). Spurs somewhat laboured through to the FA Cup 5th Round with wins over Everton and Blackpool before losing in a replay at home to Bolton.
Valencia were beaten in Europe, setting-up a Quarter-Final against Juventus. A Giroud hat-trick would help seal a 3-2 win in Turin, before a 1-1 draw back in London put them through to the Semi-Finals against Manchester United. Emmanuel Adebayor would cancel out Rodrigo’s early goal for United in the First Leg, before the return game at Old Trafford.
Adebayor opened the scoring before Rodrigo’s equaliser, and it was the Spanish striker who would put United in front on aggregate shortly after half-time. Tottenham had 42 minutes to score the one they needed to progress on away goals, but it wasn’t coming as United’s defence were holding firm in control of the game.
With one last gasp, Tom Huddlestone sent one long for Adebayor. A bad first touch took the ball away from him but Chris Smalling nor Phil Jones came to deal with it. One on one with David De Gea in stoppage time, it was now or never… and it was now. Adebayor slotted home for 3-3 on aggregate and Spurs were through to the Final against Marseille.
Domestically, Spurs would beat Chelsea at home but defeats at Fulham and Arsenal would put Chelsea four clear at the top. A home draw against WBA sent the title Chelsea’s way, while Spurs signed off their league campaign with a win over Man City to finish 2nd.
In Barcelona for the Champions League Final, Leandro Damião and Adebayor had Spurs 2-0 up by the 34th minute but Marseille got themselves back in the game shortly before half-time through Morgan Amalfitano. Adebayor made it 3-1 just three minutes after the interval, and while Marseille pulled another back with a Brown Ideye goal, Spurs went on to lift their first Champions League trophy.
As European champions, Spurs could spend big to bring in a marquee signing and they spent £45m on 20-year old Real Madrid striker Iñigo®. Almost £30m was raised with the sales of Steven Caulker (Liverpool, £11m), Sime Vrsaljko (PG, £12m), and Diego Rubio (Corinthians, £7m).
Europa League winners Arsenal were beaten 3-2 in the UEFA SuperCup in Turkey as Spurs came from behind to win courtesy of a late Antonio Valencia strike.
By the end of November, Spurs had only suffered defeat three times: home to Chelsea in the Carabo Cup, home to Aston Villa (league), and at PSG en route to winning their Champions League group that also included Bayern Leverkusen and Polish side Strask Wroclaw.
Tottenham were hot favourites to become the first English side to win the FIFA Club World Cup since Man United in 2008. Qatari side Al-Sadd were beaten 4-0 in Doha with a Gareth Bale hat-trick and a strike from Iñigo, but São Paulo would win the Final in extra-time with Hugo Lloris’s unfortunate error the only goal of the game.
Back home, the club went back top of the table as they caught up their games in hand and Ipswich were brushed aside in the FA Cup before a 4th Round defeat at home to Leicester interrupted a run of ten unbeaten.
AC Milan were beaten 3-0 at home for a 4-1 aggregate victory, before a 2-2 draw at Barcelona in the Champions League Quarter-Finals. Unfortunately Spurs couldn’t become the first holders to retain the UCL title as Barça won 3-2 at Perryman Park to progress.
Spurs won three of their final five in the league, and a thumping 5-0 win at Stamford Bridge ended Chelsea’s title hopes as revenge for the previous season. Despite a 0-3 loss at Wigan, Tottenham would win the title by 5 points from Chelsea, with Man United and Man City 10 and 15 points behind respectively.
A pair of free transfers are set to go through on 01 July: Olivier Giroud will join Marseille, while Angel Di María will join from Real Madrid. Slaven Bilic remains in charge, with Younes Kaboul club captain.