Unless I’m very much mistaken, that was a bit of a rubbish weekend for Tottenham fans. Darren Bent scored twice (although the fact he missed three penalties against Spurs this season must be a source of comfort), whilst Tottenham relinquished grip of a Champions League spot. Consequently, the naysayers of this world are saying nay triumphantly, already reading Tottenham’s obituary in the race for fourth. However, whilst a win away at Sunderland would have represented Tottenham’s best run of results for 20 years or so, perhaps losing out on Saturday will not see the Spurs train come off the Champions League rails just yet.
Before defeat on Wearside, Tottenham were nine matches unbeaten, stretching back to 10 February, where Wolverhampton Wanderers toppled Harry’s men in what was a similarly insipid display. However, the reaction after the defeat was first class, and despite a horrendous injury list, the club came through what could have been a difficult spell in February and March.
This season, Redknapp has proven him-self capable of provoking a reaction out of his players after defeat, to the extent that the club has lost back to back games just once this season, with a defeat 3-1 by Manchester United and then a 3-0 loss at Chelsea. Further, Tottenham have followed defeats with unbeaten sequences thereafter, for example: a defeat by Wolves at home on 12 December was met with a five game unbeaten run, a defeat by Liverpool on 20 January then saw Tottenham go another five match unbeaten, and finally, after another 1-0 defeat by Wolves on 10 February, Tottenham went on a run of nine games undefeated, which included five Premier League victories in a row. Tottenham’s ability to bounce back from adversity this term has seen the club lose just three of their 19 league and cup matches in 2010.
Travelling to Sunderland was always going to be difficult. The Black Cats are now undefeated in nine at home, and with the number of injuries Spurs are currently carrying, it was to a certain extent a patched up team. However, the nature of the defeat, and the ease with which Sunderland dispatched Spurs, will hopefully galvanise the squad. Further, with the semi-final with Portsmouth a week away, Tottenham might be able to approach the Arsenal game on a wave of euphoria having earned a place in the FA Cup final. The likes of Lennon, Dawson, Huddlestone, Corluka and King will all have a chance of being involved in the Portsmouth clash, whilst Palacios, who was out of sorts on Saturday, might benefit from another weeks rest. With Fabregas, Gallas and Arshavin all likely to out of the clash at White Hart Lane in ten days time, Tottenham might have their best chance of beating Arsenal in years, and the game is possibly more winnable than the clash against Sunderland last Saturday.
In essence, Tottenham’s hope of qualifying for the Champions League was always going to be dependent on their run-in against the ‘big three’. After failing to see off the likes of Wolves, Hull City and Stoke City at home, whilst also surrendering leads against Everton and Birmingham City in the League, Tottenham have to prove their mettle by doing something that they have very seldom accomplished in recent times and beat the league’s elite. The defeat against Sunderland, although unfortunate, was to an extent expected after injuries finally caught up with the side. However, if Tottenham show the same resolve as they have throughout the season, there is still hope of a fourth place finish. Games against Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City could not be any trickier. However, if ever there was a season Tottenham could win these fixtures, it’s this term. Perhaps everything’s not lost just yet…
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