Because less players equal more space to pass and move

Will there be a silver-lining to Tottenham’s season?

It has been a mixed week in a mixed season for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

In many ways, that has been the story of Spurs’ season – two steps forward, followed by one step back.

The highs of a north London derby triumph over arch-rivals Arsenal last Saturday were countered three days later by a potentially costly defeat to fellow top-four hopefuls Liverpool.

They started the campaign promisingly enough, but Mauricio Pochettino took longer than he would have liked to get his philosophy across and his side looked almost confused at times by what they were being asked to do.

That is no longer the case, although regular tweaks continue to be made to the starting XI and tactical approach.

It could be that tinkering proves to be their undoing, as history dictates that success is built on consistency and stability. Players like to know they will be playing every week when on form and key men need to be given the freedom in which to express themselves.

Harry Kane has been an undoubted success story, along with fellow academy graduate Ryan Mason, but Christian Eriksen has been shifted from a No. 10 post after hitting top form. That feels like an odd choice, even when taking Mousa Dembele’s resurgence into account, with Pochettino constantly posing himself questions rather than settling on answers.

He can, however, take heart from the fact that he has Spurs in contention for Champions League qualification through two different avenues.

A lofty finish in the Premier League would be their preferred choice, but could it be that cup chases offer Tottenham a silver-lining in more ways than one.

There is no guarantee that they will end the campaign inside the top four, but they will also be aware that success in the Europa League – a competition that has often seen its value questioned – would offer them a seat at continental football’s top table.

Again, there is a long way to go before such possibilities become realistic ambitions, but there is every chance that the White Hart Lane trophy cabinet will be broken open again before the curtain comes down on the 2014/15 campaign.

Top-flight competition remains the priority for Pochettino’s men, but a Capital One Cup final appearance will offer them a welcome opportunity to rekindle that winning feeling.

League Cup betting markets, such as those at bet365, at the time of writing generally have them as 2/1 to win the final. Fans, meanwhile, will be dreaming of a repeat of seven years ago, when Spurs emerged victorious on that occasion in the first League Cup final staged back at Wembley following a brief rehoming in Wales at the Millennium Stadium.

In many ways, present day Tottenham are a stronger outfit than they were back then and have three important games between now and another outing at the home of English football to help sharpen the mind.

By the time they make that journey again, they will either have booked their place in the last 16 of the Europa League and negotiated another tricky derby date in domestic competition, or be licking their wounds after seeing Fiorentina and West Ham United put sizeable dents in their season.

Whatever happens, Pochettino will be determined to ensure that he has something to hang his debut season at the helm on and it could be that he gets no better opportunity to start moving Spurs in the right direction than when he crosses swords with Jose Mourinho and treble-chasing Chelsea.