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Levy’s worst nightmare: 2016 season proves Tottenham cannot be complacent on final day

Tottenham Hotspur have all but qualified for the Champions League.

They simply need to avoid an eight-goal swing in Arsenal’s favour on the final day to ensure that they are playing in the European competition next season.

Failing to qualify, however unlikely it may seem, would be Daniel Levy’s worst nightmare. The pressure on his shoulders has been exponentially rising during a period of time in which Spurs have endured something resembling a transfer sabbatical.

Lucas Moura has been the only player to arrive at Tottenham over an eighteen month period and fans are running out of patience with their non-existent transfer policy.

The building of the new stadium has naturally been a huge financial burden. It’s a state-of-the-art footballing cathedral designed both architecturally and financially for monumental Champions League occasions, so it’s absolutely imperative they earn their right to partake in the elite European competition again.

The consequences of failing to earn a place in next season’s competition could be absolutely catastrophic for the club, leaving Levy in a position where he cannot provide Mauricio Pochettino with the calibre of players he deserves.

Tottenham will receive a considerable cash injection for progressing to the showpiece final in June, but that in itself underlines the importance of qualifying once again this season.

Of course, even if they fail on the final day, they will qualify by winning the competition itself.

Despite the fact it seems impossible to envisage a scenario whereby the Lilywhites don’t qualify for the competition, fans could be forgiven for worrying about the fate of Mauricio Pochettino’s side in the top-flight.

After all, in the 2015-16 season, Spurs finished third in what many considered to be a two-horse race, having pushed Leicester City all the way in the year of their miraculous win.

The north London club lost their penultimate game of the season to Southampton but they still sat two points clear of Arsenal in the Premier League table.

Heading into their final game of the campaign, then, they knew that they merely needed to avoid defeat against Newcastle United, Rafael Benitez’s already-relegated side, to finish above the Gunners.

It would have spelled the end of St Totteringham’s Day, the tradition of Arsenal supporters celebrating the fact that Spurs can no longer finish above the Gunners. But then it all went wrong.

In a game in which Newcastle bade farewell to the Premier League, Georginio Wijnaldum opened the scoring in the 19th minute and then, amazingly, Aleksandar Mitrovic made it 2-0 before half-time, powering a phenomenal header past Hugo Lloris.

Erik Lamela sent an effort past Tim Krul just after the hour-mark, a bizarre effort that seemed to bamboozle the Dutchman from the left flank, and Mitrovic was then sent off for a horrific foul on Kyle Walker.

It appeared as though a comeback was in the offing.

Moussa Sissoko, now Spurs’ best midfielder, drove into the penalty area, though, and was brought down by Jan Vertonghen. Wijnaldum scored the spot-kick.

Spurs began to commit men forward as they attempted to reduce the deficit and Newcastle picked their moments.

A fine cross from the right flank saw Rolando Aarons send a venomous half-volley into the top corner. And then it was five. Daryl Janmaat surged forward on the right flank, collected a fine through ball and passed the ball into the bottom corner.

Arsenal, for their part, hosted another relegated side, Aston Villa, on the final day.

Olivier Giroud scored the opening goal and the Gunners appeared to play rather nervously thereafter until the Frenchman netted his second, firing home from close-range. He completed his hat-trick after a fine ball from Hector Bellerin and goalkeeper Mark Bunn then diverted a Mikel Arteta effort into his own net as Arsenal completed a comprehensive 4-0 victory.

There wasn’t a need for an eight-goal swing that season. Just points were enough. But that 92nd-minute own goal from the Villa stopper ensured that there was an eight-goal swing.

Just as Tottenham can’t be ruled out in the craziest Champions League season in recent memory, nor can their ability to self-destruct be overlooked.

If an unthinkable repeat of the eight-goal swing happens this weekend, they will have to win in Madrid to have any chance of qualifying for Europe’s elite club competition.

Article title: Levy’s worst nightmare: 2016 season proves Tottenham cannot be complacent on final day

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