Spurs bottling top four?

A top four finish is crucial in the Premier League

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Are Spurs bottling their chances of finishing in the top four?

By Joe Harker

Tottenham Hotspur were beaten by Liverpool in the Premier League, causing the latter to go top of the league after an own goal from Toby Alderweireld consigned them to a 2-1 defeat.

Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris also came under fire for a mistake, one of several over the season that has cost the club during crucial points.

Having lost the game, Arsenal's 2-0 win against Newcastle United was enough to leapfrog Spurs.

The Claim:

Arsenal fans are never the most fair and equitable when it comes to the subject of Spurs, but they reveled in passing their rivals in the Premier League. For so long taunted as the team to bottle it and have a weak resolve, Arsenal are enjoying overtaking Spurs, though it was only possible because Pochettino has made them a stronger force.

Spurs have struggled to shed the "Spursy" tag, the reputation for bottling significant moments in the season and falling away when they could have gone on to something higher. Their improvement under Pochettino has helped but they have also had higher stakes for their poor moments, amplifying the "Spursy" insults.

Will Magee of iNews writes that Spurs' biggest fear must be turning into the new Arsenal. The Gunners also have a reputation for bottling it on the big stage and Spurs will not want to become that new team that becomes so predictable that you can set your watch by their meltdowns.

Having gone from just about edging into contention for the title race into the side that looks to be out of momentum for the top four race it is a significant step down for Spurs.

The Counter Claim:

However, Spurs' struggles are perhaps less to do with mental strength (or lack thereof) and more about the realities of having a shallow squad, injuries to key players and money dedicated to a shiny new stadium.

Statistically this has actually been one of Spurs' best seasons ever, but having barely scraped into the title race for a matter of weeks means they look like they have fallen away rather than risen higher than expected.

The injury of star striker Harry Kane has been a problem, though perhaps more so has been that since his return he has not looked at his best and his teammates' game have dropped. The squad rallied round in Kane's absence but now he's back they've tailed off.

As they move into their new stadium, Spurs are entering another stage of their project. The new stadium should bring in more money though it represents a significant outlay. Some players are getting older while the reputation of others has fallen as they have failed to replicate the excellent form of previous seasons.

The Facts:

Before Arsenal's win against Newcastle, Spurs had not dropped lower than third in the league since early December, even managing to climb up to second just before the new year. They were at a point considered able to intrude in the title race between Manchester City and Liverpool.

Now they are only one point above sixth placed Chelsea and three points separates Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester United and Chelsea. With Liverpool and Man City seemingly guaranteed to finish first and second, in which order is anybody's guess, there are four teams fighting to end up in the two remaining places that guaranteed Champions League qualification.

A top four finish will be crucial for Spurs and their plans to keep a number of their best players. Approaching a crucial point in their project, some key players are reportedly transfer targets for wealthy clubs and could decide to move if Champions League football becomes something Spurs can't consistently offer.

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