At this point of the season, Tottenham Hotspur sit firmly entrenched in the third spot of the Premier League. They boast one of the best attacking squads led by Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Aaron Lennon while their defense has been buoyed by the addition of Brad Friedel at keeper. Spurs rise up the table, in some sense, has served as a redemption tale after last season in which after much promise, they failed to qualify for the Champions League. But for all of the positive vibes going around White Hart Lane, Tottenham hasn’t ensured themselves a top four finish. It is more likely that they are set for an epic collapse over the last few months of the season.
Tottenham began the 2011-2012 campaign on shaky ground. Their first match of the season against Everton was postponed because of the riots in London. This was followed by being outscored 8 to 1 by the two Manchester clubs. It took some time, but Harry Redknapp was able to steady the ship and saw his club go on a tear and slowly move up the table. Bale and Lennon were full of pace down the flanks while Modric was a maestro in the center of the pitch. The club was also able to secure on loan a deal for Emmanuel Adebayor to shore up the forward position.
From the outside, the club’s fortunes have been in ascension, but there appear to be some cracks in the Spurs’ armor. In the league matches since the beginning of December, Tottenham has a very impressive record of seven wins, four draws, and only three losses. Going by those results, it would seem like the Spurs would finish the season threatening for the league title. But taking a closer look at the opponents played during the run, we see there were several of matches against the likes of Bolton, West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton, and Sunderland. Basically, Tottenham’s record was inflated by beating up on the weaker teams in the league. Also during this sequence of matches, Spurs outscored their opponents 25-14. Take out the five goals conceded against Arsenal last weekend and this total is even more remarkable.
Some will point out that Tottenham did what they had to do. Harry Redknapp can only play against the clubs that are on the fixture list. With that said, however, the upcoming month of March appears particularly daunting for Spurs. They start off with a match against second place Manchester United followed up with a difficult trip to Goodison Park. Next is a home match against Stoke City and as if March couldn’t get anymore difficult, the month is concluded with a journey to Stamford Bridge. Those four clubs are a combined 50-23-30 (W-D-L) in league play this season. So it is quite possible that with one bad month, Tottenham could drop quickly in the table, as they are only seven points ahead of Arsenal and Chelsea.
Even after twenty-six matches played, it is difficult to know what to make of Tottenham. Yes, they have the flashy names that at times can produce miraculous goals. But the fact remains that against the other members of the Sky Six, Spurs has a very pedestrian record of 2-2-4. A certain amount of blame can be pointed at the lack of quality in the backline. Though Kyle Walker looks like he is a star in the making, he is still lacking experience. Tottenham’s central defense, outside of Michael Dawson, has struggled for much of the season. This was quite evident in the last match against Arsenal as Ledley King looked slow to react against the Gunners’ attack. It is quite possible that Spurs will go as far as the defense will take them.
To this point, Tottenham have been aided by the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea not playing like their normal selves that has lead to those two historic clubs having mediocre seasons. When Tottenham fans look back at the 2011-2012 season, it may be the month of March that was the Spurs undoing. Failing to secure the sufficient amount of points in the next four weeks could be what keeps Tottenham on the outside looking in on the Champions League for a second consecutive season.