At halftime, NBC Sports’ Kyle Martino said Tottenham Hotspur was “too anxious” after opening up the new stadium with a dominant but goalless first half. It might partly be general halftime analysis; he and his colleagues went on to talk tactically about why the score was what it was. That does not mean, though, the story of what Tottenham Hotspur Stadium means to the senior team’s form is not being written already.
Naturally, that cannot be avoided now as the stadium starts hosting matches, but even before the stadium’s opening, many had begun guessing what it would mean to the team it hosts. Neil Warnock said in January that playing at the new stadium for even six weeks would be an “unfair advantage.” Former Leicester manager Micky Adams told The Telegraph that he does not think Spurs will have a problem “because the season is nearly over and the Champions League game will obviously take care of itself, in terms of atmosphere.” In that same article, former Southampton defender Francis Benali warned of the difficulties the team had moving from The Dell to St Mary’s Stadium: “It took a long time to settle, and results didn’t click straight away. They even brought in a pagan witch to try and exorcise some sort of curse over the ground.” The stadium can be just about anything, depending on who you ask.
Even then, Wednesday’s strong display and 2-0 victory cannot possibly put any concerns to rest. While the day was undoubtedly a celebration of a well-constructed stadium and a team that, at least on day one, felt like it belonged there. Judging solely on the grounds of what the new stadium will do for the team, the sample size is too small. Any of the predictions that the likes of Warnock, Adams, and Benali might have could still be true. The situation feels familiar — a bit like the Wembley situation, to be exact.
From the moment Spurs started its almost two year spell at Wembley, talk of a curse was hard to miss, especially as the team struggled to consistently win and perform at times. Questions were asked if Spurs actually could adjust to playing at Wembley, and eventually they did. The results were as one would expect. Soon, Wembley became an “advantage,” as Harry Kane once put it, but Wembley could hardly be accused of putting a dent in Spurs’ form one way or another.
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, of course, will probably feature some version of a home field advantage. It could also come with a bout of form that persuades Daniel Levy to hire a pagan witch, though it feels as if Spurs’ talents and recent form will be enough to keep that at bay for a while. Either way, whether it helps, hurts, or does nothing at all, it will be hard to have an answer — for a while at least. If Tottenham Hotspur Stadium becomes a fortress, which Martino suggested following the match that Spurs need to do, no one will know for some time. If Spurs end up with a below average home record, no one actually impacted by a new stadium will share the story.
Ultimately, there will be a tactical answer for why Spurs win, draw, or lose every single match they play in the new stadium from now until the last day they do. As for the stadium, it is time mostly to wait for how Spurs’ record shakes out, and to enjoy the view of — and for some, the view from — one of the Premier League’s nicest stadiums.