Not since the 2003-2004 season has a club, other than Everton in 2005, finished a top the "big 4" in the standings in the Barclay's English Premier League. Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool have enjoyed Champions League football for far to long without any competition from the teams below them. Thirteen games into 2009-2010 season, it looks as though the talent gap has been breached between the "big 4" and the other clubs playing catch up. Tottenham Hotspur, a club from North London built with predominantly English players, have crashed the party and look to be going only one way: up.
Tottenham, a small London club basking in the shadows of its much bigger, wealthier city neighbors Arsenal and Chelsea, have nurtured a young team full of youth and talent together with veterans to build a team finally able to knock off one of the fat cats a top the league. The Spurs, as their affectionately called by their supporters, sent a clear message to the rest of the league with a 9 -1 drubbing of Wigan over the weekend. In their rout of the Latics, Englishman Jermaine Defoe grabbed a English League record tying five goals to stake his case as a striker for England in the forthcoming World Cup.
To avid watchers of European football, club or international, there is no wonder that Tottenham have stormed into 4th. With youth and talent at an abundance, injuries look to be the only thing likely of slowing this team down. Englishmen Jonathan Woodgate and Michael Dawson lead a very intimidating line of defense, with Ledley King and Kyle Naughton looking to maintain fitness. Midfield and attack is where one can find the core of the Englishmen. With the likes of David Bentley, Tom Huddlestone, Jermaine Jenas, and Aaron Lennon available almost on a weekly basis, Manager Harry Redknapp (also English) has a plethora of midfielders to choose from. Up front, Jermaine Defore and lanky-man Peter Crouch form a great 1-2 punch in front of the goal.
As a huge England supporter growing up my whole life I've always respected clubs who have a strong depth of Englishmen on their team, especially in the modern era of English football. Given the fact that most of the Englishmen on Tottenham were not developed in the Spurs youth system, I still credit them for having a core of English in their squad (14 to be precise), something their London rivals Arsenal fail miserably at. For the record, Arsenal only have 3 while Chelsea don't do much better having only 7 Englishmen on the team.
What intrigues me most about watching Tottenham at White Hart Lane is the fact that I'm watching a London club playing with a core of English players, something that is currently hard to come by in the top flight of English football. Tottenham have one of the biggest, if not the biggest, group of English players on their roster in the Premiership. In Saturday's 9-1 thumping of Wigan Athletic, manager Harry Redknapp started six Englishmen, with two more coming off the bench in the second half. Seven of the nine scorers for Tottenham Sunday were English (8 if you count Chris Kirkland's own goal). With the talent on Harry Redknapp's club it's no wonder that the Spurs are due for a long stay at the top of English football (maybe even stealing a title here or there).
While the season is still young, Tottenham find themselves in great position. Sitting pretty in 4th place on 25 pts, and with the leading clubs within reach, White Hart Lane will surely be rocking the next couple of months. Tottenham are within 8 points of leaders Chelsea, 3 points back of United, and tied on points with Arsenal (although -7 on goal difference), and as long as Tottenham remain close till the end, the 3 games against these three clubs in a three week spell in April will surely have massive ramifications. If players remain healthy and in form, White Hart Lane looks to serve as one of the most attractive venues in English football this year.
In a football economy where expensive foreigners are everything, Tottenham is doin' it the English way.