Last season, Tottenham were very close to securing a Champions League spot after they were 13 points ahead of arch-rivals Arsenal at one point. You could sense the white side of North London hungry for a place in the UEFA Champions League. The 10 points gap between Tottenham and Arsenal increased after the high-flying Spurs trashed Newcastle 5-0 and from Harry Redknapp’s post-match conference, his side were all but ready to secure a Champions League spot.
Come February 26, 2012 and a dream North London derby win would’ve seen Tottenham stretch their 13 points gap to 16 points. The dream was alive when Louis Saha and Adebayor put Spurs 2-0 ahead at the Emirates in less than 20 minutes. However, an inspired Arsenal side came from behind to win the game 5-2.
From then on Spurs were doomed and were left licking their wounds after losing their healthy 13 points lead to Arsenal, missing out on Champions League qualification in the process. In my opinion it was totally unacceptable, especially when manager Harry Redknapp was fully confident of finishing above Arsenal and also winning the title at some point.
End of season and Harry Redknapp was replaced by former Chelsea boss Villas-Boas. It didn’t take long for him to make his mark with a historic victory against the mighty Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Come January and Gareth Bale was turning into some Ronaldo- type player, scoring goals from all angles and dragging Spurs out of the mud. The signing of Moussa Dembele also added some creativity and guile to the Spurs’ side, ably replacing Madrid-bound Lukas Modric.
That form sparked Spurs to secure a 4 point gap ahead of Arsenal, and a win against Arsenal in White Hart Lane would extend the points to 7. Goals from Lennon and the red-hot Gareth Bale was enough to secure that victory. A similar come back goal from big man Mertesacker proved useless for Arsenal, and Spurs were now 7 points ahead of Arsenal.
A win against Fulham at home and Spurs would extend the gap to 10 points, while Arsenal had to play a difficult and organized Swansea side at home. Well, that was never to be the case as a drilled Arsenal side beat Swansea 2-0 courtesy of goals from Nacho Monreal and the Ivorian Gervinho.
It was all left to Tottenham to beat Fulham and maintain a healthy gap ahead of their North London rivals. In the twinkle of an eye, a second half goal from Berbatov was enough as Fulham sunk Spurs 1-0 to reduce the gap to four points. In the most abhorrent manner, AVB eyes grew like wild fire during the closing stages of the game. His post conference talk after the game was a bit shocking especially in the manner Spurs lost. He said something about his “big stars being tired” and that he isn’t “too concerned (worried) about the loss to Fulham. ”
Giving away 13 points last season was horrendous and with the same event likely to happen again this season, especially with AVB clearly stating that he isn’t too concerned about the loss is worrying to say the least in the final weeks of the season.
With 9 games to go and 27 points to play for, I won’t write them off too early. They have had a fantastic season. It is never easy to gain maximum points at Old Trafford and to beat Arsenal in the North London derby was encouraging as well so you can’t possibly take anything away from Spurs. They have worked very hard this season and they need to start getting back to winning ways as soon as possible.
A win in their next game after the international break should be a tricky test for Tottenham’s top four ambition, especially with an in-form Arsenal looking ready and loaded to rip apart a struggling Reading side next, along with a game in hand in mind as well.
If Tottenham fail to secure a Champions League spot, it could be disastrous one for the club. AVB might actually lose his job and their big stars, especially Bale, might opt to leave for bigger clubs with the promise of trophies and Champions League football.
A top 4 place is a must for Spurs. Anything less would be a major disappointment. They have all the ability and personnel to do so, but they must regain their rhythm before it’s too late.
Written by @femi4arsenal
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