Tonight’s game was decided when Ashley Williams did yesterday what Toby Alderweireld tried to do at least twice tonight—hand his opposition a gift at the worst possible time in the worst possible place. That subsequent Mahrez goal got the Foxes off and running, and surely the Swans were not going to offer resistance. Our response was, for once, rather tepid, but you can’t expect a team with odds growing against them to be resolute and coldly efficient every time out. And to be honest, tonight’s affair wasn’t a whole lot different than the last home game vs Man U, except that in that case goals two and three came, whereas tonight they were not to be found. Not with Tony Pulis stacking the middle of the box with seemed like a Red Army; not with him exhorting his lads on to play with fire they certainly did not show at the Emirates last week.
It had the feeling of an ending as the final minutes ticked away. An ending to a glorious but futile title run—there was no beating Cinderella this time, and Spurs weren’t ever going to be pumpkin-turners. An ending to Eric Dier’s season? Anyone who watched Steph Curry’s exit yesterday from a critical playoff game knew that he would miss at least a few more—I fear that if the concussion protocol is followed correctly, we may have seen the last of our young Dier-wolf for this season. And one can only guess at how the FA, after levying an additional one-game ban on Leicester’s Vardy, will react to clear-cut video evidence of a punch thrown by their chaser’s young star. Three games seems about right.
Meaning let’s get very real and start worrying about what there still is to worry about. Second Place. Now City and Arsenal must play each other, and should they draw, then each team is capped at 71 pts, meaning Spurs need only to fashion two more draws out of the three remaining games, given our goal difference advantage, But we won’t be so fortunate. If City, distracted by their Champions League tie with Real Madrid, are the ones to lose at home to the Gooners, well our North London rivals have first Norwich, then Villa at home. How fast can you say six points? So we would still need a win and a draw in our three remaining games to secure second. A City win would still require away wins at Swansea (they’ve quit) and the Saints (they haven’t), so perhaps we could still skate into second with merely two draws or one win.
But I don’t want such a glorious season to end in a familiar downer fashion. We’ve never beaten Chelsea at the Shed in the Premier era—out with that ghost next Monday. Poch needs a final win over his former club to wrap up a successful season at the Lane, and there is no way we should ever aid and abet Mike Ashley’s bid to maintain some semblance of respectability by doing anything but driving the final stake into Newcastle’s heart. Sure, they have Townsend, but their Wearside rivals possess Defoe, Kaboul and Yedlin.
So this is a test about what we can expect next year. A Spurs side angry to finish second and hungry for silverware will rebound from tonight and show the world—and themselves—that they must be reckoned with come next August. Tonight they were just a bit Spursy in a way they have not been for so long. Now they must exorcise that demon once and for all and finish second with a flourish. The fairy tale will be over in a few weeks—in the hard dawn of 2016-17 our side must be ready.
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