“Obviously it was a big result for Liverpool. They ground out a result. It’s their weekend this week, it will be somebody else’s next week, somebody else’s the week after…it’s going to be tight, it’s going to go all the way to the wire,” he said.
Saturday evening’s 0-0 thrashing of Aston Villa was typical of Spurs’ season since the 9-1 beating of Wigan announced their potential goal-scoring threat to the rest of the Premier League. Predictably, since that November goal-burst Spurs have been shut out in 5 of the last 13 games as wary opposition defences have taken a safety first approach and parked two or three buses in front of goal. Against Villa, Brad Friedel joined a growing club of goalkeepers to have a season’s best performances at the Lane and the visitor’s back four (or should that be back 10?) were outstanding as 33 shots on goal couldn’t find a way through.
Despite those five fruitless encounters, Spurs have still only lost once in the last 12 games and are yet to endure a sustained run of poor form. This is the rollercoaster story of the Champions League chasing peloton, whose members have all suffered mini-collapses at some point or another in the season, only to find themselves back in the frame when their counterparts found the same form. No one seems to want to take charge.
Things are tight just below the top, and the next couple of months will be key for Tottenham. The next eight games offer up some winnable ties with Wolves, Wigan, Everton, Man City, Blackburn, Stoke, Portsmouth and Sunderland queued up, and Redknapp will be looking for a similar record from those games as the team have managed in the last 12.
Spurs will need to rack up the points in that spell and create a cushion, as April lives up to its reputation as the cruellest month with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United in successive games. Of course, it would be somewhat pessimistic – and typically Spurs – to predict a tough time in those games, and it would be a sign of ambition to state that Redknapp’s charges could flout convention and take maximum points out of at least two of those games. Unfortunately, our record against the top sides in the last few seasons would suggest that the pessimistic impulse might be the right one. This period of potential hardship makes the need for big points in the next two months even more important.
The situation at the top is thrillingly close, with countless twists still waiting in the wings. Spurs can only control what happens in their own fixtures and a good set of results in the next eight can give them something to protect when April’s tests come along.