Momentum. Spurs had it, then they lost it, and now they seem to have it back again. Disrupted by the tax case? By the England manager job becoming available? By a lack of squad rotation? By tactical failings? The answer is probably “a little from column A, a little from column B...” etc etc. Whatever the reason, between the 5-2 defeat at The Emirates and Saturday’s 2-0 win against the horribly demoralised Blackburn, Spurs just could not cobble together a run of good results.
And I do mean cobble together; in the latter part of the season when players are starting to tire (cue some fans raving: “they only play a couple of games of football a week, how can they be tired?”), injuries set in, and form is not so easy to maintain (certainly at Spurs in recent years!), it is vital that – if you want to achieve something, be it European qualification or safety from relegation – you grind out results with scrappy draws and narrow wins. Spurs simply haven’t managed this. With recent disappointing results already well-documented and dissected by respected Spurs bloggers up and down the A406, I will refrain from going into too much detail about the matches that we have managed to eff up.
it is vital that – if you want to achieve something, be it European qualification or safety from relegation – you grind out results with scrappy draws
Instead I will be positive; last night Spurs got a bit of their spark back. The clinical, ruthless streak that we had seen glimpses of early in the season seemed to return in the second half and Adebayor, scoring for the first time since the 3-1 win against Swansea on April Fools’ Day, profited from a revival of confidence, scoring with two out of his four efforts on goal – his second goal very classily taken. We picked off an energised Bolton side (who seemed to have turned the match in their favour in the second half) with devastating counter-attacks at key moments. Bale grabbed two assists and Lennon on the other side provided an alternative outlet with quiet effectiveness, laying on Adebayor’s first goal. All now seems well in the camp as a whole too, with Redknapp telling fans and players alike post-match how lucky he is to be managing such a good club – something he seemed to have forgotten over previous weeks as he flirted with the Football Association.
Regardless of what recent weeks have brought us, Spurs’ regained momentum seems to have come at the perfect moment as we try to achieve Champions League qualification for the second time.
The fixtures in the “fight for fourth” (a rather depressing thought for old-school football fans who see the glory of trophies as far more important than the pot of gold that the Champions League brings) are as follows:
Arsenal: Norwich (H), West Brom (A)
Tottenham: Aston Vila (A), Fulham (H)
Newcastle: Man City (H), Everton (A)
Chelsea: Liverpool (A), Blackburn (H)
Instead I will be positive; last night Spurs got a bit of their spark back.
Arsenal’s fixtures look the easiest at first glance but, as the old cliché goes, football matches are not won on paper. Paul Lambert will be smarting from Norwich’s defensive capitulation against Liverpool, and I fancy him to ring the changes and bring in the fired-up-and-eager-to-impress-on-the-off-chance-that-he-may-make-Roy’s-squadGrant Holt. Still, any kind of result at the Emirates is a big ask, and Arsenal will be firm favourites for that one. Less so for their trip to West Brom, who have had some decent home results – beating Chelsea and drawing with Man City. They will want to send Hodgson off with a bang and, were the Baggies to get something out of that match, the “fight for fourth” may become the “fight for third”.
Newcastle’s season has been nothing short of incredible, with the excellent January signing of Cisse giving them a boost at a time of year when other promoted teams have historically started to dip. Cisse’s incredible start has helped them to continue their form, much to my surprise – I fully expected them to fall away.
Chelsea have bigger fish to fry; The FA Cup, The Champions League – they will be distracted. I expect them to thump Blackburn at home on the final day, but I can see a stutter at Anfield.
And finally Spurs. Our players now go into the final games of the season with the belief that they can win both and secure fourth place. And I believe it too.
...but I wouldn’t be a Tottenham fan if I ended like that. A typically-Tottenham season finale would be if Arsenal were to drop points against Norwich and/or West Brom, only for Spurs to slip-up as well. As any fan will tell you, it's the hope that kills you.
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