After a stunning first half of the competition last season, Tottenham would go on to struggle in the back end, give up an impossible points lead to Arsenal and ultimately miss Champions League. Looking at our squad and performances right now, there is a strong change of history repeating.
The first half and second half of the English Premier League are very different beasts.
The first half is the sizing up period. Everybody has ambition and is out to grab as many early points as they can. Even the strugglers stare starry eyed at a middle-table spot. The football is mostly true and open. Some teams are still putting together new combinations and everybody, to a certain extent, is coming from a relatively clean slate.
By the second half of the competition, teams have pretty much found their place in the pecking order. You know who is a title chance, who will fight for Champions League and who is going to battle it out in the relegation ranks. Team combinations have settled, and everybody pretty much knows what everybody else is capable of, especially given the fact that all teams have had the opportunity to play each other at least once.
Subsequently, the second half of the season is far more tactical. More teams go out onto the park, simply hoping for a point. They will know what players they need to nullify - there is more double-marking and strategic formations.
Unfortunately, Tottenham go into this portion of the season with a target on them. After an impressive run into the top four, few sides will take on Spurs budgeting on three points. A point against Tottenham becomes an achievement. If you're going to Anfield, or even fronting up to Arsenal at present, you still consider your a chance because both of those sides have been prone to losing all three points to inferior opponents.
Tottenham, on the other hand, have earned their place in the top tier of clubs - rivals recognise their strength and quality - particularly in defence. Since, we began our run in mid-November, the only time we've given up more than one goal was against Everton and those goals came impossibly late.
So Tottenham must cope with the same brand of defensive tactics that teams invariably take to Manchester. However, the question is, do we have the same quality as those two sides to be able to still punch through a goal against deep-lying defences.
I have to say that right now, the answer is no. The proof is to be seen against sides who have basically parked from the word go. We never looked like breaching either Stoke or QPR, who both used similar tactics. Sit deep and hassle in mid-field.
Clearly, our strength is on the counter attack. With Bale and Lennon on opposing flanks and Dembele driving through the middle, a running Tottenham can overwhelm any team in the competition - witness even Manchester United's defensive approach last week. And if Manchester United are going to take a counter-attacking approach, it doesn't take a genius to work out what the lower-ranked teams are going to do for the rest of the season.
While we are very good at what we do well, it is my view, we simply don't have the variety in our game to be consistently successful when coaches implore tactics designed to simply stop us winning. It impacted us last year, where we slipped after taking home too many single points against strugglers, and that was when we boasted the passing genius of Modric and the touch of RDV - neither of which assets we have at our disposal this year.
Furthermore, with Defoe losing his goal-scoring touch we lack both clinical finishers as well as a striker who is a likely to land a goal when none look likely.
Fortunately, we start at least four points above our main rivals and as Everton have shown you can keep pace with the second tier of clubs even when you rack up a lot a significant amount of draws. However, in my view it would only take Arsenal or Liverpool to go on a decent winning run, and we will be in very real danger of not being able to bag enough three-points to hold onto fourth.
Of course, all of this is assuming that the club does not spend during this transfer window. To my mind, AVB needs something new, something different so that teams have to think a little bit harder about how they can stop us from scoring goals. Right now, they know you close down Lennon and Bale and put pressure on Dembele, you're going to go along way towards stopping Tottenham. BEA will add a new dimension to our left flank and that will be welcomed, but I believe we need more or we're staring down the barrel of a lot of frustrating games for the remainder of the season.
AVB has shown tremendous loyalty to his players this year. He has given the established ranks first shot at their positions, stuck with those players in form and consistently maintained that he has the quality in his ranks to achieve the club's CL objectives. I admire loyalty, but sometimes you need to take a realistic look at what has transpired and what has laid ahead, and realise that some change is required.