The news was announced by Chairman Daniel Levy in April that Tottenham Hotspur are to play their home games at Wembley Stadium next season, before moving into the new White Hart Lane in 2018-19. After struggling at the famous ground in last year’s campaign for cup matches, could Spurs fail to make it into the top four of the Premier League come this time next year let alone mount a third consecutive challenge for the title?
Tottenham’s Wembley Challenge
Recent performances at Wembley haven’t been great. Going back to 2008-09, a defeat in the League Cup to Manchester United was the start of the `Wembley jinx’. A further two FA Cup semi final losses to Chelsea and Portsmouth followed in the 09-10 and 2011/12 season. Then in 2014-15 another Chelsea win over Spurs in the Carling Cup Final made it six years and five defeats in a row.
Because of the construction work being carried out at White Hart Lane last season, it was agreed that Tottenham would play all their Champions League games at Wembley. And it started in familiar fashion as first Monaco then Bayer Leverkusen triumphed, which worryingly made it seven defeats in a row.
The final group game was what Spurs supporters would have thought was finally the turnaround, a 3-1 victory over CSKA Moscow ended the horrible run of defeats. However, the North London side were knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage as a third placed team. This meant that they would then enter the Europa League knockout round.
Belgium side Gent were drawn, and after a 1-0 loss away in the first leg, Mauricio Pochettino’s side had it all to do at the dreaded Wembley. A 2-2 draw was not enough and they were dumped out of the competition. Spurs though were playing better at their surrogate home and had it not been for a Dele Alli red card things may have been different.
An excellent FA Cup run last season for Pochettino’s team meant a semi-final return to Wembley to face Chelsea again. A 4-2 win for the Antonio Conte’s despite Spurs having the lion’s share of the game meant that another defeat followed.
Spurs finished second in the Premier League last year with a record 86 points for them. Their home form was unstoppable as they went the whole campaign unbeaten with a record of 17 wins, two draws and not one single defeat in the 19 games.
47 goals were scored in front of repeated sell out attendances. during the last ever season at White Hart Lane before its demolition. Only nine goals were conceded as the team boasted the best defensive record in the league.
The home form was a major factor in the club finishing so high in the League. The closeness of the fans to a relatively tight and narrow pitch helped with Spurs slick fast paced football. So with a record of one win and one draw in their last nine games at Wembley, next season could well be a big challenge for a very young and exciting Tottenham side.
With the talent they have at the club, they should be able to get over this Wembley woe. Recent Wembley performances have been much better despite the results. It could well be a nervy start to the 2017/18 season. For all Premier League clubs involved it will be like a cup final, getting the chance to play at the famous and 90,000 capacity stadium. And this is Tottenham’s challenge. Home fixtures at a ground that isn’t really their home. And a venue where opposing teams will relish visiting. It certainly won’t be like White Hart Lane.
If they can overcome this by starting the season with a couple of Wembley wins then perhaps it won’t be as bad as some may fear. Of course the first “home” game happens to be against Chelsea!