The three key factors behind Tottenham's improvement this season

Spurs now look a more well-rounded and expansive team than they did last season.

Tottenham’s start to the season has been much like Mauricio Pochettino’s reign to date: slow and steady but always gradually progressing.

Spurs’ opening day defeat to Manchester United could have gone either way, while the subsequent three draws to Stoke, Leicester and Everton should probably have been three wins for the Lilywhites.

It took until the fifth round of fixtures for Pochettino’s men to get that elusive win, with a hard fought-win over Sunderland followed by an assured victory over Crystal Palace.

Saturday’s 4-1 triumph over Manchester City was when the white half of North London truly announced themselves and Spurs’ upturn in fortune can be attributed to three key areas that have seen improvements over last season.

Strengthened Core

Toby Alderweireld’s signing is up there with the best pieces of business done this summer and he has seamlessly slotted in alongside compatriot Jan Vertonghen to provide a well-balanced, intelligent and technically gifted centre-back pairing.

Eric Dier has been much-lauded for his form this season, and rightly so. He has added another dimension to the Spurs midfield and the oft-exposed back four now has real protection in front of them.

The defensive upgrades are evidenced by Spurs’ current position as joint best defence in the league (with five goals conceded) – a stark contrast to last season’s porous side.

Wide Threat

Nacer Chadli was amongst the goals last season but was all too often guilty of disappearing over the course of a game and much of the goal-scoring burden fell to Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane. Erik Lamela and Andros Townsend provided almost nothing from the right last term but Spurs now look in much better shape.

Heung-Min Son looks a real talent and is capable of playing in all four attacking positions, while Lamela seems to have finally turned a corner after countless false dawns.

Clinton N’Jie is slowly being introduced but already appears a very useful addition in his few cameos to date and will start to play a bigger role in the coming weeks.

Alex Pritchard and Andros Townsend are two further wide options with great potential, but what kind of impact they will have is as yet unclear.

Kyle Walker

The pacey right-back was missing for much of the last campaign, meaning the likes of Kyle Naughton, Eric Dier and Vlad Chiriches had to fill in at right-back – none of which were ideal.

Walker has been available from the off this time around and the consistency and balance of the back-four has improved immeasurably.

The 25-year old often comes under criticism and does have the odd calamitous moment in his game, but he remains one of the league's most effective full-backs and Tottenham are a stronger side when he starts.

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