Tottenham Focus – Forget a striker, defence is behind Champions League troubles

Tottenham do still have a chance of reaching the top four Premier League spots, and the coveted Champions League qualification that goes with that. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s late equaliser meant that Arsenal must win both of their matches, assuming spurs do likewise. A draw for the Gunners against relegation threatened Wigan and Newcastle would open the door for Spurs.

With Arsenal having drawn two of their last four, and having shown questionable ‘bottle’ at times this season, it’s far from time to give up on joining Europe’s elite next year. However, given Tottenham’s mid-season form, it should never have gone down to the wire.

While many have set the blame for late season struggles at Daniel Levy’s feet, for failing to do a deal for Leandro Damiao in January, on closer inspection it appears to paper over a bigger issue. While it’s true Spurs struggled for goals in the absence of Jermain Defoe (and in the presence for a period), it shouldn’t be overlooked that Tottenham have scored more goals than Manchester City – the problem is they have conceded more than Liverpool and Stoke.

Nor can the blame for the poor defensive record lay at William Gallas’ questionable feet, or even at the long-term absence of Younes Kaboul. With Michael Dawson and more often than not, Jan Vertonghen in the centre, and with the return of Benoit Assou-Ekotto, the goals keep coming in.

One clean sheet in the last 13, 16 conceded in the last 10. Two to Wigan, two to Everton, three to Liverpool. Arsenal have conceded just five in the last 10. It’s not that Spurs have a terrible defence, or terrible defenders – that’s not the case, but Andre Villas-Boas needs to find a way to make them water-tight. It’s on a special defence that great teams are made, and too many mistakes are getting in the way.

For next season a settled defence, with a settled first-choice left-back, an in-form Kyle Walker, and possibly a top quality centre-back to join ‘Super Jan’ at the back, would give Tottenham a very good chance of bettering this campaign. Recent links to David Villa and Leandro Damiao would solve a problem that does exist offensively too, and would give Spurs fans great confidence going into the new season.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Stoke v Tottenham

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