Did Spurs blow their chance at top 4?

Spurs have struggled all season with the label of pretender vs. contender for a top 4 spot. After jumping out to a great start, Spurs plagued by injuries suffered defeats to United, Chelsea, and Arsenal. Then they rallied, trudged on and won games they were supposed to win, placing them in the top four picture. However, their last three games have to raise questions, whether this is really the Spurs of old – a quality, yet fragile side prone to dropping points unnecessarily. Spurs had an opportunity to create some separation between themselves and the rest of the pack over their last three games. Instead, Spurs dropped 7 gettable points and dropped out of the top 4 – raising the question, have they blown it?

In their last three premier leagues games Spurs drew against Villa away, drew against Everton, and lost to Wolves. The draw away at Villa was not a case of Spurs “blowing” it, but Martin O’Neil did note after the game that Villa were “lucky” to get a draw an to not take advantage was doubly bad since Villa is a top 4 competitor. Against Everton, Spurs blew a two goal lead in the final third of the game and squandered a late penalty. This was definitely 2 points lost. And finally they lost at home against a team penned in by most to go down. Spurs now sit at 27 points, two points back of Villa for 4th.

This is a bad run of form – but is it catastrophic? It isn’t, Spurs are still on pace for a top four slot, but only just. The last three results now give them little margin for error over the next few games to stay on pace. A few points to consider:

First, putting this season into context, Spurs fans should be quite content with their position all things considered.
First, Spurs have been without their best player – Luka Modric – since August. Second, they have been plagued by injuries in their back line – even having to play Tom Huddlestone as CB at times. Thus, a lot of things have not gone Tottenham’s way, yet they remain firmly in the hunt.

Second, Spurs are on track to hit the target level of points. Judging by the fact that the league is more balanced this year, it will likely take slightly fewer points to break into the top 4. The average point total of the fourth placed team over the last decade has been 67 points. With greater league balance 65 should probably cut it. Spurs are mathematically on track to hit this. They have averaged 1.68 points per game played. Should they continue at that rate they will hit 65-66 points, which should put them right in there for the top 4 spot.

Third, no one else has firmly grasped the fourth spot. Despite their slip, fortunately for Spurs, neither Man City or Liverpool has really taken advantage. City look fragile and Liverpool look staid, while Villa is certainly a contender they have the same squad issues as last year. In other words, it is one hot mess and its still up in the air.

Fourth, Spurs have an absolutely brutal end to the season. In the last five games they play 3 of the top 4 and 2 teams fighting for their lives. Spurs final six games are Sunderland-away, Arsenal-home, Chelsea-home, Man United – away, Bolton-home, and Burnley-away. Hence, Spurs will likely need a bit of cushion going into the final stretch of the season. They will need to be in the top 4 approaching those games.

To conclude, Spurs blew a big chance to plant their flag in a top 4 spot but they are still firmly in the hunt. However, the next few games are critical, as Spurs must not only right the ship, but due to their brutal end to the season, must give themselves some wiggle room.

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