Manchester City’s defeat to Everton on Saturday provided Tottenham with the chance to make some real headway in their fading challenge for a fourth place Premier League finish. Yet their evening kick off game at home to relegation threatened Blackpool would prove another setback for Harry Redknapp’s men, as they could only draw 1-1 with the Seasiders, marking the continuation of a terrible run of results that has seen the North London side win just one of their last nine games.
It has been a strange season for Spurs. They reached the quarter finals in their first ever Champions League campaign, won at bitter rivals Arsenal for the first time in 17 years and boast the PFA Player of the Year in Gareth Bale. Yet their campaign is on the brink of fizzling into disappointment, as they run the risk of not just failing to qualify for the Champions League, but not even qualifying for the Europa League, with Liverpool closing in on fifth place. Tottenham’s weakness has been an inability to see off the Premier League’s lesser lights, as Saturday’s draw underlined. In eight games this season against the division’s current bottom four sides, they have managed just one solitary win.
So what has gone wrong at White Hart Lane? Clear deficiencies seem to stand out at the back and up front. Heurelho Gomes has made some spectacular saves this season, but he arguably makes too many high profile blunders to be trusted as a top class goalkeeper. Saturday offered a case study in his Jekyll and Hyde performances; having brilliantly saved Charlie Adam’s penalty, he promptly rendered his heroics meaningless by needlessly hauling down Gary Taylor-Fletcher, allowing Blackpool to take the lead from the spot at the second time of asking. As his defence increasingly loses confidence in him, Gomes’ time as number one must surely be drawing to an end.
Moreover, Spurs have scored fewer times than any of their top six rivals, despite having had more shots than all but three teams in the Premier League this term. The root of the problem would appear to be the profligacy of their forwards. Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko have scored just 16 league goals between them – only one more than Darren Bent, who has humiliated and then sold by Redknapp in 2009, has managed by himself in 2010/11.
Tuesday’s clash with Manchester City has become a must-win game for Tottenham. Defeat would surely extinguish their faint hopes of a second consecutive Champions League campaign, while Liverpool pose a serious threat to their chances of a fifth place finish and the Europa League spot that brings with it. As successful as their exploits on the continent have been, failure to secure a European berth this time around would signify a huge step backwards for Spurs. The lure of the Champions League has the capacity to attract players of the calibre of Rafael van der Vaart to White Hart Lane, and without that pull the club could struggle to maintain their foothold in the Premier League’s upper echelons, while existing stars such as van der Vaart, Bale and Luka Modric may begin to consider their future. This season has given Tottenham fans many fine memories, but there is an increasing likelihood that the Champions League may turn out to have been a mere adventure holiday, rather than a new home.