Tottenham Primed to Challenge For a UEFA Champions League Spot
Roberto Soldado, whose £26m move to Spurs turned into the subject of much ridicule, finally scored a goal again from open play in the Premier League this season. His goal on Sunday was the first in the league during 2014. However, much like he did with Emmanuel Adebayor, manager Tim Sherwood has begun a reclamation project with a high-profile striker. The success of Adebayor since Sherwood’s appointment as manager shows what is possible and if Soldado can find form again, Tottenham has a great opportunity to secure what has the last few seasons been an elusive UEFA Champions League spot.
Tottenham sit just three points out of the final Champions League spot currently held by Manchester City (who have two games in hand). Since Tottenham’s embarrassing 5-1 defeat at the hands of City in January, the Blues have won just once in the Premier League, scoring one goal in three league matches. While Manuel Pellegrini’s side has won the League Cup and progressed in the FA Cup, their league form in addition to four remaining difficult away fixtures must give Spurs hope of catching them. Additionally, League Cup winners often see a dip in form after lifting the trophy. This happened with Swansea in 2012, Liverpool in 2011, Manchester United in 2010, Spurs in 2008 and Chelsea in 2007.
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal side has begun to wobble of late and now sit just five points clear of Spurs with a trip to White Hart Lane still to come this season. While the media tends to make more of the Gunners recent troubles than they should, certainly Spurs have the quality and confidence in their side to push forward and make a real challenge. The return of Aaron Ramsey in the near future to the Arsenal side will give the Gunners a renewed sense of confidence, but Wenger’s side have little margin for error going forward.
Tim Sherwood has restored confidence and harmony at White Hart Lane. He has done it with honesty and old-fashioned English tactics. Spurs are showing the team spirit and fight that often eluded the side under previous manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Injuries have taken a toll on Spurs side this season but with fitness issues solving themselves in recent weeks, Sherwood has almost a full disposal of players to select from. With depth superior to Arsenal and similar to Manchester City, Tottenham can make a real fourth place challenge despite the topsy-turvy nature of this season. Spurs’ ability to keep itself alive in this season for a Champions League spot speaks to the competitiveness of everything happening this year in the league. The top sides have all gone through rough patches and the turnover of managers throughout the division has been remarkable. But Tottenham can see the light at the end of the tunnel and make a real push for achieving the club’s preseason goals despite all the negativity and question marks surrounding the team for much of the season.
The Spurs manager has yet to obtain all his necessary coaching badges to manage at this level and has been thought to be tactically naïve in his first weeks on the job. But in the last two months, Sherwood has shown a great deal of growth and maturity as a manager. The tests get tougher for Tottenham in the league beginning with a showdown with Chelsea on Saturday at Stamford Bridge. But Sherwood has proven he can manage at this level and he has a side that was suffering a crisis of confidence in great shape to potentially snatch the 4th and final Champions League spot.