With the title race now looking to be beyond them for this season, Tottenham are beginning to look like they could well miss out on the top 4 altogether.
Only four games ago, people’s minds were undecided if Spurs were in, out or on the edge of title race. With Manchester City and Liverpool trading the top two places on a weekly basis, Tottenham quietly snuck up on both clubs and put themselves into a challenging position at the right time of the season. But after comfortably dispatching the Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, Spurs have capitulated in dramatic style.
Having been undone and outfought by a then in-form Burnley side, defeats to rivals Chelsea and a draw with neighbours Arsenal has loosened Tottenham’s firm grip on their top four place and seen them looking nervously over their shoulders at both London sides along with Manchester Utd.
The weekend defeat to lowly Southampton after cruising through the first half has set the alarm bells ringing and Spurs head into a mini training break with time to reflect, re-group and go again.
But why has it all suddenly stuttered for Spurs? The loss of Harry Kane and Dele Alli appeared to have little effect on their title charge as the club maintained their place in the table and with little worry about those below them.
Some of Mauricio Pochettino’s squad are now looking tired and jaded after last summer’s World Cup exploits and maybe the lack of signings, none to be precise, over two transfer windows is starting to show as the likes of Kieran Trippier especially need a prolonged rest. Kane himself earlier in the season struggled in a few games as did Ali and there is not a chance of resting over the next two summers with the Nations Cup and Euro 2020 to come.
The constant changing of defensive personnel is not allowing fluid continuity whilst allowing Moussa Dembele to leave in January and not be replaced is now showing a lack of depth relying on Harry Winks, Moussa Sissoko and Eric Dier to shoulder the burden of midfield protection and creativity, the latter missing recently leaving 18-year-old Oliver Skipp as the back-up.
Up front is where most would have expected Spurs to struggle without Kane and Son’s absence in January, but they plugged away and kept in the hunt ready for the talisman’s return three weeks ago.
Nine defeats for a side in third place is too many and still with eight games to go, they could well finish in third place with a record amount of defeats to for such a high placing.
A trip to Liverpool at the end of the month becomes a must win game for both sides as Spurs can’t afford too many more slip ups to keep inside the top 4, the question is whether these players have enough left in the tank to get over the line and take Champions League football back to White Hart Lane.
Written by Trevor Knell
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37
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