Following a massive home win over Manchester City, which European competition might Tottenham find themselves trending towards for the next campaign?
Thanks to Harry Kane’s 15th-minute goal at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, Spurs remained in the battle for a Champions League berth while Kane became the club’s all-time leading goalscorer.
With an important three points earned in the league coming after victories over Preston North End (FA Cup) and Fulham (Premier League), Tottenham has moved to just one point off the top four, while also moving on to the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Now with a trip to Leicester City nearing before facing AC Milan in the Champions League knockout stage, Spurs are looking to keep the momentum going as they face matches on three different fronts at this stage of the season.
As Tottenham looks to stay alive in both Europe and in domestic cup action while also battling to move up the table, what would it take to qualify for a UEFA competition next season?
Success in qualifying
Say what you will about the club’s record in Europe recently or its lack of silverware, Spurs are nonetheless consistent enough to qualify for a UEFA competition on an annual basis.
Since the 2006-07 campaign, the club has appeared in a continental tournament every season except one (2009-10) and is currently on pace to qualify for the 14th straight time.
So while the three UEFA trophies in the cabinet could use some company, Spurs’ streak of European appearances is actually the joint-longest in the Premier League (alongside Manchester City).
Steps to Europe
I believe at this point that supporters know what is needed to qualify for Europe in 2023-24, but I’ll quickly revisit the basics.
In any given campaign, at least five teams from England’s top-flight reach one of now three European competitions (Champions League, Europa League, and Europa Conference League). Finishing in the top four sends you to the Champions League while finishing fifth means Europa League football.
The winner of the FA Cup is guaranteed a spot in the Europa League, but if they have already finished in the top five and qualified through league position, this spot is passed down to the sixth-place side.
The process is similar for the Carabao Cup, whose winner clinches a spot in the Conference League. If the Carabao Cup winner has already qualified for Europe either through the league table or as FA Cup champions, the spot is moved to the league’s seventh-place team.
As of right now, the Carabao Cup final is set with two teams that are in the top four (Manchester United and Newcastle), so the spot for the winner being passed further down the table is a real possibility.
It is a bit more difficult to see where the FA Cup winners will finish in the standings, seeing as the fifth-round draw was just recently made. Currently Manchester City, Manchester United, and Spurs are the only remaining sides in the competition that are also inside the top five automatic European qualifying positions in the league table.
What competition will Spurs qualify for?
I’d like to think I’m a dreamer, so I want to say they will qualify for next season’s Champions League by winning this year’s edition. But I am a Spurs supporter, so I know better than that.
Following the 1-0 triumph over Manchester City, Tottenham is fifth in the table with 39 points. They moved to just one point back of fourth position and a UCL spot but have played one more match than Newcastle. Spurs are also three points behind Manchester United in third, but United also has a game in hand.
So while it seems Spurs are safe for at least a Europa League spot in fifth, they can’t afford to get too comfortable.
Brighton is currently sitting sixth in the table and five points back of Tottenham but has played two fewer matches. Brentford is in seventh – the possible Conference League spot – and six points behind Spurs, but have played one fewer game. And while they are struggling currently, Liverpool and Chelsea cannot be counted out just yet in the race for European places either.
Tottenham could also win the Champions League, although that seems highly unlikely with the teams still remaining even if they do manage to get past AC Milan.
The club could also end a 15-year trophy drought and win the FA Cup, guaranteeing them at least a Europa League spot if they somehow slide down the table.
Prediction: Part 1
I believe Spurs will make a run at the top four once again but will fall just short, finishing in fifth place and qualifying automatically for the Europa League.
Too many inconsistent performances, the struggling league form of Son Heung-min, a defence that has given up far too many goals, and the constant rumors surrounding Antonio Conte’s contract will be too much for the club to overcome to return to Champions League football.
The FA Cup: Part 2
One thing that is clear however is that Spurs have a fantastic chance to end a silverware drought by winning the FA Cup, and they should make it a priority.
There are only seven (potentially eight) Premier League sides remaining in the competition at its current stage alongside Spurs, four of which are battling in or near the relegation zone (Leeds United, Southampton, Leicester City, West Ham). All of those clubs will likely prioritise Premier League survival over a cup title.
Manchester United is also currently preparing for the Carabao Cup final, playing in the Europa League and trying to finish inside the top four. If they win a cup final in three weeks’ time, will they focus on other priorities?
The same can be said for Manchester City, who are trying to chase Arsenal for the league title and have yet to reach the pinnacle of football as Champions League winners. This season’s team is clearly not as strong as years past, so I’d say it’s not likely that they move to the top of the table and win multiple knockout competitions.
That leaves just Brighton, Fulham, and a slew of lower-tier clubs in the competition. If Spurs put their strongest team on the pitch during each remaining round of the cup and take it seriously, the trophy drought can end this season.
I am going to go out on a limb and say Tottenham win the FA Cup while finishing fifth in the Premier League, qualifying for Europe yet again next season.
Would silverware and Europa League football mean the Harry Kane rumours end and Antonio Conte returns with a new contract?
Who knows, but a trophy of any kind is nothing to complain about when you are a Spurs supporter.
What competition do you believe Spurs will play in next season?
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