Tottenham suffered another blow to their faint hopes of the title on Monday after Chelsea saw out their game in hand to win 2-1 at West Ham and restore a ten-point lead at the Premier League summit. With the race for the top-four being as close at is though, with just six-points lying between themselves and bitter rivals Arsenal in fifth, Mauricio Pochettino’s men cannot take a Champions League place for granted, whether they are involved in the title race or not.
One man in the Spurs ranks who is more than aware of this is star striker Harry Kane, and speaking to Sky Sports ahead of Chelsea’s win in East London, the forward claimed that it is paramount that Spurs press home their advantage against the chasing pack, including Manchester United and Arsenal, to avoid losing out on a top-four place.
“We’ve got to concentrate on ourselves, build a gap on the teams around us and if Chelsea drop points then great and if they don’t then we’ll be second or third”, Kane said.
The psychological barrier will of course stem from Tottenham’s collapse in the latter stages of last season, when having pursued Leicester who occupied top-spot for much of the season, a run of four games without a win right at the bitter end saw Spurs tail-off to not only a concession of the title but a third-place finish behind Arsenal. This time, however, Kane is desperate to exorcise those demons and end a 22-year wait to finish above their North London rivals and prove to themselves that they can see out the season on a high.
“We were disappointed last year, as we all know, but we are in a good position now, trying to catch Chelsea, however, it’s important we build a gap between the teams around us as well and with Man United and Arsenal dropping points it was important we capitalise,” Kane continued.
Another who is desperate to right the wrongs of last season is Tottenham’s Danish international, midfield lynch-pin Christian Eriksen, who told the Sun that Pochettino’s men are prepared to see out the campaign this time around, and that having an extra season to build on last season’s achievements has helped mould the current Spurs side into one capable of coping with the pressure of competing not only for the top-four, but in an optimistic chase for the title.
“We are in the same position as we were last season, but we just need to show we are better now than then. I feel we are”, Eriksen told The Sun.
“It means a lot that we tried last season and we know how it feels. We don’t want to have to feel like that again. We know what we need to do to be up there near the top of the league.
“We have played a few seasons with each other now and I think from the start, we know how each other play. At the moment, the whole team is really clicking and of course it helps with me and Harry getting the ball into each other.”
It is the fear factor of once again slipping-up near the end, and a potential crisis of confidence which may well be the only hindrance to a Spurs side that as looked well and truly in the title race at times this season. Although overhauling Chelsea and winning the league is a long-shot at best, their rich vein of form must continue if they are to secure a top-four finish, particularly so given Manchester City and Liverpool’s return to form.
Manchester United’s recent draw with Bournemouth, and Arsenal’s damaging defeat at Liverpool as now handed Spurs a monumental opportunity. They may not win a title this year, but ending the season on a high will be half the battle on the road to future successes, and finishing above Arsenal would go a long-way psychologically, and for the club’s supporters.
Given their rivals’ recent form, Tottenham may well seal Arsenal’s fate in their pursuit of the top-four in the upcoming North London Derby in April, which renders it all the more imperative that they keep their current form going, for it may not only ensure that they finish above the Gunners for the first time in over 20 years, but it may well deprive them of a place in next season’s Champions League.
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Andrew Watkins.