Anything lower than 5th for Spurs is a failure

7
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Spurs are in a position where 5th place is a realistic target; a finishing position that would represent salvation from what has been widely perceived as an underwhelming season.

Put simply, 6th place in the league is not, nor should not, be considered an option. And here’s why.

Home advantage

The run-in is kind and includes 7 homes games where we should expect to score 14 points; Fulham, Sunderland, Cardiff and Southampton should surely be seen as wins whilst home draws against Everton and Villa aren’t exactly aspirational, if probable. I fully expect us to lose to an Arsenal side who I believe will still be involved in the title challenge when they visit White Hart Lane in a few weeks.

On the road, the fixture list is more troublesome. Being conservative, I don’t expect any return from trips to Stamford Bridge or Anfield, whilst I think that our performance away to Hull at the weekend points to the fact that we might struggle away to Norwich, Stoke, West Brom and West Ham. Still, given the stage of the season and our form, 6 points from those games would be an acceptable return.

The result? 66 points; good enough to finish 5th in three of the last 4 seasons.

Blame Liverpool

Whether 5th is a good enough return on the investment of nearly £100m is debatable, but few would have predicted Liverpool’s form.

In many ways, it is the unexpected quality of the Anfield side that has seen Spurs’ exclusion from the top 4, rather than any specific aberration of our own. I mean, look at the results of the AVB era; yes, the City, Liverpool and West Ham defeats look heavy (especially the latter) but, in all honesty, the most that we would have expected from the City and Liverpool games was a combined total of a point. We lost to Arsenal away; again no massive surprise.

In contrast, Liverpool have been sublime and have enjoyed their best season in many a year. It wasn’t just the red half of Merseyside that caused us problems either; Everton, by virtue of a solid defence and the early season form of Lukaku, went on an obscene winning streak. Gradually, we’ve caught, as their paper thin squad suggested that we would. Be warned, Sunday’s game at the Lane is crucial; lose  and the four point gap is a little too big for my liking.

Our best players are back

So it’s down to Tim to guide us home. Slowly, he’s getting players back too. It was great to see Jan Vertonghen back; possibly the best piece of business we have done for years. If nothing else, we have an alternative to Danny Rose now….

I’m also glad that the Dembele-Bentaleb axis in midfield has been broken up, Moussa being replaced, albeit because of injury, by the more pragmatic Paulinho. For all his promise, Bentaleb, right now is just that. The partnership with Dembele, for me, doesn’t work. We look to open, don’t seem to get forward to support Adebayor from central areas and don’t get enough quick ball to our wide men. Paulinho will solve the first two of those problems. With Sandro and Townsend to return, things look positive. Really positive.

So, the fixtures are kind enough and the side looks to be playing well enough (at least in one half of most games) to get the points we need. We have some of our better players returning after long absences. So we should be hopeful, dare I say it, demanding.

5th place is achievable and realistic. Anything lower is a failure.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. agree with your realistic predictions for the games left but do not agree that 6th would be failure. We are the 6th richest club in terms of revenue, so 6th is our Par score for the season. We have actually been over achieving these last few years, mainly due to liverpool being terrible. I also do not agree, that we invested £100m in the team, we didnt. We simply spent what we sold, thenet investment was zero, so think again on that one.

  2. Anything below 4th will be a failure, the reason Liverpool are ahead of us is they kept their star player and we sold ours, if we finish outside the CL places you can wave goodbye to at least 2-3 more of our best players, Lloris, Vertonghen and Walker all have big clubs admiring them. We will have to buy a stiker if not 2 in the summer before we even start to think about replacing any players who leave.

  3. The article is quite well reasoned as far as it goes. But why on earth would any team “target” 5th, and consign themselves to status as an also-ran? Also, any Spurs follower who “fully expects” to lose to the Arses at White Hart Lane must surely call himself less than a fan.

    • Both our form and our performances against the the top sides in the league suggest nothing other to me than an arsenal win. They’ve got the best away record in the league and thoroughly outplayed us at the emirates. I didn’t say it was the result I wanted but nonetheless it is the one I expect. I hope I’m wrong.

  4. Liverpool have been good in patches.
    They were lucky in nearly all of their opening fixtures – including Walters missing a penalty in the last minute against Stoke, a result would have earned.
    I doubt they would have got anything near the result they did at the Lane against any other line-up we could have put out before or since – our back four, including an average right-back at left-back, Dawson trying to play a high-line against Suarez, partnered by a central midfielder returning from injury. It was a recipe for disaster, compounded by a head-coach(AVB) who obstinately refused to even modify his tactics when even instructing his back four to drop back a bit more than usual would probably have seen less of a rout, and going down to ten didn't help.

    The fact is, it is hard to see Liverpool being much better and we are a paltry three points behind them. Their squad is looking thin, and an injury, suspension or 'chomping on the oppos' moment of madness from Suarez would hamstring them – any one of which is quite conceivable.

    It is hard to see us being much worse, however. We having been bedding seven new players in – a process that should surely ease, now (take, for example, the recent performances by Christian Ericksen). We have also changed manager, mid-stream. And also coping with an injury list that included, arguably, our first choice central defensive and central midfield partnerships, as well as Livermore and Lamela. And we are still only three points behind Liverpool.

    Much has been made about Liverpool's fixtures being favourable – but I don't think they are. They have been less spectacular away from home, even against lower half teams. So looking at their home games and seeing it as an advantage that many of their remaining fixtures against the top teams are at Anfield is a little simplistic. They have to play Citeh, and who would see that as an easy game? They face Chelsea, who are fresh from a comprehensive victory at the City of Manchester, where Citeh have been unbeaten all season. And they face us, with many of our injury problems resolved, including in defensive, in a game where we are liable to show more attacking intent, while having less pressure on us to attack. I could easily see them dropping points in all three of these games, and away from home.

    Fourth place is there to fight for, simple as that.

    P.s. anything, notoriously, can happen in a North London derby. I will 'want'to win it, and believe we can.

  5. A reasonable analysis Mario, but I would say that Liverpool's surge was predictable after seeing their finish to last season, the pairing os Soares and Sturridge, plus the midfield creativity of Coutinho galvanised them. Nevertheless, i would go so far as to say 4th is achievable, even if it isn't that realistic. After all, as you pointed out, we are getting a lot of very good players back from injury and if the supporters really get behind them we can lift the players on a wave similar to the one Liverpool is riding. And that means we might be capable of beating anyone on our day, including Arsenal at WHL and Chelsea and Liverpool away.
    I certainly don't see 5th as a failure, given the tumultuous season we're having (which nevertheless sees us with more points at the same stage as our record breaking 2012-13 season!).
    What I find saddest of all is that achieving 5th place will still consign us (even 4th could, if somone lower wins the CL) to another season without CL football and that means that despite having a pretty good season with a bunch of players who are still getting used to one another (13 good signings in the last year and a half), we're still likely to face another summer of fighting to hang onto our best while finding it hard to attract the world's best who are capable of making that vital difference. Indeed it's amazing we managed to get Vertonghen and Lloris and came so close to Hazard and Willian. And all this because of an obsession over the Champions League that is a nightmare to qualify from in the EPL. Indeed it could be argued that the strength of the EPL makes it harder to do well in the CL, as it's just too much to handle the simultaneous campaigns. if you look at all the strongest CL clubs, they tend to stroll relatively sedately through their domestic leagues, especially since they tend to but up the best players of anybody who looks like becoming a rival – just like SAF used to do.
    Thought for the day: maybe we, as fans, need to start reevaluating the undue importance we give to the CL and simply appreciating more a good standard of football and the efforts of the players to help us enjoy it???

  6. A reasonable analysis Mario, but I would say that Liverpool's surge was predictable after seeing their finish to last season, the pairing os Soares and Sturridge, plus the midfield creativity of Coutinho galvanised them. Nevertheless, i would go so far as to say 4th is achievable, even if it isn't that realistic. After all, as you pointed out, we are getting a lot of very good players back from injury and if the supporters really get behind them we can lift the players on a wave similar to the one Liverpool is riding. And that means we might be capable of beating anyone on our day, including Arsenal at WHL and Chelsea and Liverpool away.

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