Tottenham Hotspur’s struggles are a warning to Premier League rivals Southampton and West Ham United

At the start of the season, Tottenham Hotspur were claimed to be among the key contenders for a top-four finish in the Premier League; now West Ham United and Southampton are the new darlings.

Tottenham Hotspur are struggling at the moment. Their 2-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion at White Hart Lane in the League Cup fourth-round tie on Wednesday cannot eclipse that.

Heading into this weekend’s round of matches, Spurs find themselves 11th in the Premier League table with just 11 points from nine matches.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side are five points behind fourth-placed West Ham United and just three points above the relegation zone – results have been that bad.

However, back in August, Tottenham were being backed for a top-four spot, with some suggesting that they could even fight for the league title.

Tottenham’s recent struggle is another example of the myopic vision that exists in football. When you win three games in a row, you are set for glory; if you fail to win in five matches, you are set for disaster.

Southampton and West Ham United have made truly brilliant starts to the 2014-15 season, and there are suggestions that they could finish in the top six, maybe even the top four. That could well turn out to be the case, but it would be foolhardly to get carried away after just nine rounds of matches.

As good as the Saints and the Hammers have been, there is no guarantee that they will continue this run of good results. First and foremost, the two clubs should think of consolidating their place in the Premier League; European glory should be a bonus.

Yours truly is not trying to undermine the achievements of Southampton and West Ham so far this season, but it would be unwise to get carried away and start over-hyping the two teams. Both Arsenal and Manchester United are below them, and both have far better squads than them.

True, Southampton’s summer signings have gelled, but there is a reason - often overlooked by the bandwagon jumpers - why Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic were not picked up by bigger clubs in the summer.

Pelle is 29 and has only just played for the Italy national team, while 25-year-old Tadic has yet to prove himself at the highest level. Make no mistake both have been brilliant so far – but they have to continue playing like this over the course of the season. Can they do that?

West Ham have a similar situation. The Hammers’ summer signings Alex Song, Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia have been brilliant so far, but let’s not get carried away too early. Remember Song was put up for sale by Barcelona and Sakho was at Metz until this season.

Tottenham have a different situation. They started well but are struggling at the moment, and now the fear-mongers are claiming that they will fail to even secure a top-six finish, neatly forgetting that they have more talented players that West Ham and Southampton.

Over the years, there have been numerous examples of teams making great starts and then fizzling out. There is no sign yet that West Ham and Southampton will follow suit, but it would be wise to temper the expectations on them.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch