After next Wednesday’s match at Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur will officially be halfway through the 2016-17 Premier League season. It makes sense, then, to discuss and hand out a few mid season awards.
First, and most importantly, is the half season Player of the Year award. If before the season you were to ask Tottenham fans which player would likely earn this reward by the end of December, most would probably have said Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld, or Christian Eriksen. None of them made our shortlist, either due to inconsistent performance or injury.
So who did make it? Here are our five candidates. You can make an argument for any one of them. Read through the descriptions below, and then cast your vote in the poll at the bottom of the article. And we want to know if you agree or disagree. Who’s your half-season Spurs POY?
Walker is having a tremendous season thus far and is one of only two players on this list to not have missed time in the first half of the year due to injury. Spurs are reliant on their fullbacks to provide width in attack but also to help contain opposition defenders. Walker has excelled in both so far this season. While he hasn’t scored, he’s tallied four assists so far, including two in Spurs’ last two matches. More importantly, he’s played with an intelligence that is almost 180 degrees from the Kyle Walker of four or five years ago. He’s not getting the praise that he deserves from fans or the media, but I’m having a hard time thinking of a better right back in the Premier League on form at the moment.
Danny has blossomed under the tutelage of Mauricio Pochettino the past two and a half seasons. It wasn’t too long ago that Spurs fans, and many of us on the masthead included, were ready to sell him to Sunderland and were cheering when Ben Davies was signed to ostensibly be his replacement. Instead, Rose has locked down his place as both Spurs’ and England’s starting left back. He’s scored two goals — against Liverpool early in the season and just last weekend against Burnley — and has dramatically improved his play around the box as well as his crossing. His commitment to pushing forward in attack is equalled only by his pace and his willingness to make gut-busting runs back to help defend. He missed several matches early on with a hamstring injury, and it’s hard not to wonder if Spurs’ Champions League loss to Monaco in September might have had a different outcome if he were in the side.
Let’s face it, we all expected Toby Alderweireld to be here in Jan’s place on this list, but as important as Toby has been to Spurs’ success this season, his nerve-damaged knee ruled him out for Player of the Season. (If we’re voting for Most Valuable Player, well that’s another discussion.) In Alderweireld’s place, Jan Vertonghen has stepped up and reminded us why we once considered him the best Tottenham defender since Ledley King. Playing mostly beside Eric Dier, Vertonghen assumed the leadership role in Toby’s absence and led Spurs to one of the best defensive records in the Premier League, conceding only 12 goals thus far, behind only Chelsea with 11. That’s not all on Jan, of course, but with Eric Dier looking at times shaky in Spurs’ back line, Vertonghen was there to be Tottenham’s defensive anchor. He seemed to relish the role.
What can we say about Hugo? He’s an astounding keeper, and his goalkeeping heroics have kept Spurs from losing or dropping points on more than one occasion this season. He’s nowhere near the top ten in saves thus far (which is a good thing!), but he’s kept five clean sheets in the league, behind only Thibaut Courtois (10) and Fraser Forster (7), and Spurs have yet to concede more than two goals in a match with him between the sticks. He has made some absolutely tremendous stops. Here’s a compilation video, which includes saves that range from the routine to the absolutely ridiculous.
Sure, if we’re picky we can criticize Hugo for his distribution, which is the one weak area of his game and that has reared its head on a number of occasions so far this season. But the fact remains that without Hugo Lloris, Spurs probably aren’t finishing the first half of the season (knock on wood Southampton match) in fifth place and with only two losses.
Victor Wanyama was supposed to be the primary backup to Eric Dier as a defensive midfielder, but he’s been an important member of Spurs’ midfield since the opening match of the season. The suspension to Mousa Dembele pushed the summer signing into the side early, and the injury to Toby Alderweireld pushed Eric Dier into central defense, causing a ripple effect throughout Spurs’ midfield. In fact, he’s started ever league match for Spurs thus far this season, has had some fantastic matches, and has clearly earned Mauricio Pochettino’s trust. He’s not the same kind of defensive midfielder as Eric Dier — he’s much more of a destroyer with a more limited passing game and a tendency to put in the occasional dumb tackle — but he has justified his summer purchase from Southampton with two goals this season and a number of very solid defensive performances.
Do you agree? Disagree? Who else should be considered for Tottenham Hotspur’s half-season Player of the Year? Vote in the poll below and have your say in the comments.