Premier League: Tottenham and Pochettino are light on run-in savvy

Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino hasn't got a favourable springtime record
Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino hasn't got a favourable springtime record

The last four times that Tottenham were in the top five after 26 matches, they dropped a position rather than climbing...

"Pochettino has seen a dip in his side’s points-per-match average in each of his past four full seasons across three different clubs, a pattern that his few remaining critics would perhaps pin on the extent to which his tactical approach drains players."

There is no denying Tottenham's status as the form team in this season's Premier League title race. Whether you span the last five games, the last ten games, the last 17 games or rewind to the start of September for the last 22, they are on top of every one of those tables.

The message is clear: if you wipe away August, when they followed a narrow 1-0 loss at Manchester United on the opening day with draws against Stoke, Leicester and Everton, they have been the outstanding performers in the division.

Current evidence points to them getting better rather than tailing off, with the Lilywhites on a five-match winning streak and delivering their classiest result yet on Sunday, a 2-1 victory at Manchester City to move to within two points of leaders Leicester and into 3.8514/5 second favouritism.

However, there are 12 more matches to play and those encounters, in which a single slip can prove season-defining, are a different beast to the 26 which precede it.

Sir Alex Ferguson called it "squeaky bum time" and, though he also reportedly described Mauricio Pochettino as the best boss in the Premier League recently, a look at how both he and Spurs have handled run-ins in the last five years raises some concern as to their title pedigree.

The Argentine has seen a dip in his side's points-per-match average in each of his past four full seasons across three different clubs (Espanyol, Southampton and Tottenham), a pattern that his few remaining critics would perhaps pin on the extent to which his tactical approach drains players.

More reassuring is the fact that that the slumps have been less pronounced in the Premier League than in Spain, with Southampton sliding from 1.5 to 1.42 in 2013/14 and Spurs decreasing from 1.69 to 1.67 last term. Yet it is still a worry as improvement on the current rate may be required to resist Leicester, Arsenal and Man City, who were three of the top four in 2014/15's "final 12 games" table.

The north Londoners climbed two places from seventh to fifth despite slightly diminished form in the closing months of Pochettino's debut campaign, but that was because they were competing with less accomplished or experienced Southampton and Liverpool squads.

They need to ascend the table to claim the title, but on the previous four occasions that they have been in the top five after 26 fixtures, their record across the finishing dozen has been below the demanded standard by such an extent that they have fallen one position every single time.

If you expect this trend to rear its head again, you can lay Tottenham for a top-two finish at 2.245/4, whereas if you trust them to unshackle themselves from their historic chains, they are 3.8514/5 to end a 55-year wait.

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