Nobody is talking about Tottenham as title contenders. You might argue that no one ever does but in recent years they've been considered pre-season dark horses at least. This term you can get north of 70/1 on the Lillywhites with all the bookies agreed that the champions will emerge from a big five of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.
But you can make a case for Tottenham. Last year, when they were more fancied, they had lost their best player, Gareth Bale, and had seven expensive new signings to assimilate. It ended in disaster with the new boys struggling to come to terms with the unfamiliar rigours of the Premier League, the manager Andre Villas Boas appearing to lose interest before his untimely departure and the subsequent reign of Tim Sherwood nothing more than a forgettable stopgap.
This year those seven highly rated players have a year's worth of English experience under their belts and are now fully integrated. In Mauricio Pochettino they have a tactically astute new boss with a reputation for motivating and improving his players. The public praise and appreciation heaped on him by the Southampton charges that he made into stars has been remarkable.
Tottenham have a squad rich in quality and depth and they're adding to it with a bit more care and precision than they did last summer. Goalkeeper Hugo Loris, one of the world's best, has signed a new contract and Dutch international Michel Vorm, brought in after an impressive couple of years as Swansea's number one, will provide excellent back up. Kyle Walker is probably England's finest right back and the addition of Welsh wunderkind Ben Davies at left back will provide very strong competition for Danny Rose.
Jan Vertonghen - like Walker, good enough to be coveted by Barcelona - may be joined in central defence by Villarreal's Mateo Musacchio but even if he isn't there are the experienced Dawson, Kaboul and Romanian captain Chiriches to choose from.
In midfield the choice is even more extensive with internationals Sandro, Capoue, Dembele, Paulinho and Bentaleb contesting the defensive berths and the zesty Eriksen, Lamela and Townsend likely starters further forward. Up front Adebayor, one of the Premier League's most effective attackers after he came back into the team last year, will compete with Soldado and the improving Harry Kane.
And as if this glittering array of talent weren't enough there are likely to be a one or two more well chosen additions before the transfer window shuts.
Some will say that despite the talent, the new leadership and the liberatingly light expectation, this team can't possibly finish above all five of the leading contenders. Maybe not, but Spurs fans can still back them at 75 on the betting exchanges knowing that the price will shrink considerably if they're still in touch with the leaders in late autumn. That's the time for those of a nervous disposition to cash in for a tidy profit. (And start praying for the slightly less ludicrous prospect of a top four finish).
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