Comparing what Mauricio Pochettino inherited at Spurs to Arsenal now
The Athletic’s David Ornstein suggests that the Gunners see the Argentinian as a “credible option” in what would surely be the most bitter switch between local rivals since Sol Campbell’s Bosman move from White Hart Lane to Highbury in 2001.
Last year Pochettino said he’d rather “work on my farm in Argentina” than manage Tottenham’s fierce rivals, but being sacked by Daniel Levy might prompt a change of heart. How would succeeding Emery compare to succeeding Tim Sherwood back in 2014? We’ve taken a look.
Last league finish
After Andre Villas-Boas’ had a poor start to the 2013-14 season, he was shown the door shortly before Christmas. Tim Sherwood gave the side a short-term boost, but five defeats from the last 11 Premier League games and little progress in the cups ensured he wouldn’t stay on beyond that campaign.
Tottenham finished sixth in the end, three points behind Everton and ten points behind Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, before appointing Pochettino that summer.
Last season, Unai Emery led Arsenal to fifth in the table, one point behind Pochettino’s Spurs, narrowly missing out on Champions League football on two fronts, having lost the Europa League final to Chelsea.
The Spaniard leaves the club with Arsenal sitting eighth in the table after 13 games, eight points behind Chelsea in fourth. 18 points from 13 games represents their worst-ever start to a Premier League campaign.
Tottenham had used 28 players in the Premier League season before Pochettino arrived. As follows:
Hugo Lloris, Michael Dawson, Paulinho, Mousa Dembele, Roberto Soldado, Aaron Lennon, Kyle Walker, Andros Townsend, Christian Eriksen, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Nacer Chadli, Jan Verthonghen, Danny Rose, Kyle Naughton, Emmanuel Adebayor, Sandro, Vlad Chiriches, Nabil Bentaleb, Jermain Defoe, Lewis Holtby, Younes Kaboul, Etienne Capoue, Harry Kane, Erik Lamela, Ezekial Fryers, Milos Veljkovic, Alex Pritchard & Brad Friedel.
This season, Arsenal’s first-team squad is as follows:
Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin, Kieran Tierney, Sokratis, Dani Ceballos, Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil, Lucas Torreiera, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Rob Holding, Nicolas Pepe, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers, David Luiz, Reiss Nelson, Emiliano Martinez, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Joe Willock, Matteo Guendouzi, Sead Kolasinac, Emile Smith Row, Matt Macey, Granit Xhaka & Gabriel Martinelli.
There are some parallels between the two squads, but Arsenal undoubtedly have more proven, prolific goalscorers on their books than Tottenham had then, with Harry Kane yet to make a great impact.
Both seem to have a scattergun array of midfielders with which there’s undoubtedly talent and pedigree, but a question mark over how to mould the midfield into a cohesive unit. Both have good full-backs but dubious centre-halves.
In Pochettino’s first summer, Tottenham spent £43m on players, with a net spend of just £4m after selling £39m worth of players.
Out went Sigurdsson, Sandro, Livermore, Naughton, Dawson and Fryers.
Ben Davies at £11m was that summer’s most expensive signing, and Federico Fazio, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, DeAndre Yedlin and Michel Vorm all arrived that season for modest fees of less than £10m.
This summer, Arsenal have spent £137m backing Unai Emery, making Nicolas Pepe their record signing at £72m. They’ve also looked to fortify their defence by bringing in David Luiz and Kieran Tierney, while young Brazilian star Gabriel Martinelli looks a bargain at just £6m.
Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba was also signed at a cost of £27m before being loaned back to the Ligue 1 club for this season.
That’s a net spend of £89m. The Gunners sold £48m worth of assets, the most lucrative of which was Alex Iwobi to Everton for £27m.
At Tottenham, Pochettino’s first season in charge, the 2014-15 campaign, was the season a 21-year-old Kane exploded into life, having done little of note in loan moves away before then. The academy graduate scored 21 league goals, 31 in total, and hasn’t let up since then.
They also recruited young that summer. Dier was 20 when he joined from Sporting Lisbon, and Davies was 21 when he moved from Swansea.
Alli was 18 when he joined from MK Dons on the deadline day of the winter window before subsequently being loaned back to his boyhood club for the remainder of the season.
At Arsenal, there’s a lot of buzz that their current crop of youngsters could go on to achieve similar things. Martinelli (18) has seven goals in 11 appearances for Arsenal this season, and Eddie Nketiah (20) has been in prolific form for England’s Under-21s and on loan at Leeds.
Elsewhere, Guendouzi (20), Saka (18), Nelson (19) and Willock (20) are all either already making a first-team impact or expected to in the near future, not forgetting Saliba (18) to come in next season.
What happened next
Pochettino missed out on the top four in his first season at Tottenham, and narrowly missed out on delivering a trophy, losing the League Cup final to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.
But what’s next is history. Kane has scored over 170 goals under Pochettino’s guidance and Eriksen, Son, Dele, Alderweireld, Verthonghen, Walker and Rose have all enjoyed spells as some of the league’s most outstanding players at their very best.
Spurs went on to finish in the top four for four consecutive seasons, having only done so twice before Pochettino took over in the Premier League era. No trophy ended up being delivered, but last season’s run to the Champions League final and the dramatic victories over Man City & Ajax have already gone down in the club’s folklore.
In the present situation at Arsenal, there’s already a sizeable gap behind in-form Chelsea and Leicester sides, so expecting any new manager to make that up this season is a big ask.
But there’s a lot of potential in their squad, improvements to be made, and young talent to work with.