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Tottenham must fix defense to get back into Champions League

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Tottenham: Four transfer targets to help Spurs reach next level in 2021 by Freddie Boston Tottenham Hotspur (Photo by Oli Scarff/Pool via Getty Images) To get back into the Champions League, Tottenham Hotspur must fix their defensive issues.

Rewind just a few years. Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham team were twice in contention for not just a Champions League spot, but the Premier League title.

Harry Kane’s goals were vital, as was the creative play of Son Heung-min and Dele Alli, and the dominance of Mousa Dembele in the middle of the park. But equally as important was Tottenham’s rock-solid defense.

Led by centerback pairing Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, Spurs tied for the best defensive record in the league in the 2015-16 season, allowing a league-low 35 goals. Their goal difference of plus-34 was number one in the Premier League. A year later, Tottenham again had the league’s best defense, allowing just 26 goals, the fewest in the league.

That season, Tottenham also scored a league-best 86 goals, giving them the best goal difference in the league, an incredible plus-60.

Built on a dominant defense and with the league’s best striker, Spurs only lost four games. Somehow, incredibly, they didn’t win the title.

Spurs’ defensive issues of recent years have correlated with the downfall of the club’s success. This past season, Spurs conceded 47 goals. Even more concerning was the lack of clean sheets. With just eight clean sheets all season — the fifth-fewest in the league — Spurs had to score more than once to win most of their games. Add in a significant hamstring injury to Harry Kane, and consistently winning games became a problem.

However, there were some positive signs towards the end of the season. Following an awful performance in a 3-1 defeat to Sheffield United, Spurs would keep three clean sheets in their final six games, conceding a total of three goals in that time. They also never conceded more than once in a single game. As a result, Tottenham picked up 14 of a possible 18 points in the final six games, going unbeaten.

Tottenham recently gave centerback Japhet Tanganga a new deal. His role could increase next season with Vertonghen gone. But Spurs need new signings, preferably another centerback and right back, especially if current-starter Serge Aurier leaves.

Tottenham’s dominant defense helped them become regulars in the Champions League and contenders in the Premier League. Getting back to that level should be the focus this summer.

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