DANNY MURPHY: Sorry Spurs, but it’s now the Big Four not the Big Six: Tottenham could pull off a shock win against Chelsea but it’s time to call it quits on their status as a top club
- Tottenham host London rivals Chelsea in their Premier League clash on Sunday
- Spurs have not been Champions League qualifiers for the last two years
- Top strikers Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane will face off in the London derby
- Lukaku scored a Champions League winner this week, while Kane faced Rennes
It is possible for Tottenham to shock Chelsea in a one-off London derby but to talk about them as being part of a Premier League Big Six doesn’t make sense any more.
We’ve got to the stage where realistically there is a Big Four. Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea have been our Champions League qualifiers for the last two years and I’ll be gobsmacked if that is not the case again.
And I can’t see the situation changing for a few years yet given the strength in depth of those clubs already at the top and their ability to spend when required.
Tottenham being a member of the Premier League Big Six doesn’t make sense anymore
In contrast, the aspirations for Tottenham and Arsenal this season will be along similar lines to Leicester’s, West Ham’s and maybe even Everton’s: a run for the Europa and hope to reach a domestic cup final.
Even their own supporters accept it. When the north London clubs signed up for the European Super League, most of the mickey-taking came from their fans who found it laughable their clubs would be considered good enough.
Tottenham have a great deal of prestige and history but it’s irrelevant to call them part of a Big Six when they finished below Leicester for the past couple of seasons.
To be part of a group that’s elite, you have to be competing for the major trophies. Spurs are on a different playing field at the moment. Qualifying for the Europa will be regarded as a good first season for Nuno Espirito Santo.
Predicting the top four nowadays doesn’t take much working out, and of course Chelsea are in there. The squads of those clubs are so much stronger than elsewhere. Even Liverpool, considered the lightest back-up, were able to beat AC Milan without Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino last week.
There is a train of thought that Tottenham should have taken £120million for Harry Kane to start a rebuilding job but I’m not so sure.
Money in the bank doesn’t automatically result in wise spending, and Kane’s personality and attachment to Spurs means he’ll guarantee goals and assists.
It’s a tough job for Nuno, who I thought was a surprise choice to replace Jose Mourinho. Not because I don’t rate Nuno — he is a well-organised coach who did outstanding work at Wolves — but because he’s also a pragmatic manager who doesn’t naturally play on the front foot as Spurs supporters want.
Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo faces a tough job after replacing Jose Mourinho
The spotlight will be on Harry Kane (L) and Romelu Lukaku, and the Belgian enters in good form
Personality-wise, he is different from Mourinho — humble and understated, which I am sure Daniel Levy appreciates. But Spurs fans like their team to take the initiative to try to win games. I know it was a different time but I remember the enjoyment they got from the Martin Jol side I played in with Robbie Keane, Dimitar Berbatov and Aaron Lennon.
Attention on Sunday afternoon will centre on Kane and Romelu Lukaku. They are both 28, less than three months apart in age, and I find it hard to think of two strikers who have been so consistent without collecting a mass of medals.
For me, that means they will both be very hungry to achieve. But Lukaku will be skipping into training at the moment. In midweek he scored a Champions League winner, while Kane was running around Rennes in the Europa Conference. Not the status that defines a Big Six club.
Is it really zero carbon?
Tottenham are aiming to make today’s match against Chelsea the first zero-carbon match staged in elite football.
They have teamed up with Sky Sports to reduce emissions as far as possible, encouraging fans to take public transport and choose plant-based food inside the stadium. It is an ambitious target for an event expected to attract 50,000 fans and the club have pledged to make up any shortfall with an investment in carbon offsets. Geoff Shreeves, the Sky reporter, will cycle to the game.
Spurs are working with a carbon-measurement firm to calculate the emissions and hope to have a full breakdown.