Unfortunately for Tottenham Hotspur, yet again their hopes of Champions League football have all but disappeared after last night’s drubbing by Chelsea.
Since the historic 1-0 victory at Manchester City in the 2009-2010 season which sealed Champions League football for the following year, Spurs have missed out on playing alongside the elite for the past three seasons, and their failure to beat the teams that lie above them, means that although they qualify comfortably for the Europa League, The Champions League keeps on evading them.
They were unlucky in the 2011-2012 campaign as they did manage to finish fourth but Champions League glory for Chelsea, who finished below them in the league, meant that they traded places, and Tottenham were cruelly eliminated.
At home, bar Manchester City, Tottenham put up a good fight, and have had good results against the likes of Arsenal and a creditable draw against Chelsea. But their failure to be able to compete in the big away matches is costing them dearly. From the teams that lie above them, they have collected just 1 point from a possible 18 and they still have an away fixture at Liverpool, and a home tie with Arsenal. They have fared well against Manchester United recently, with two big wins on the bounce at Old Trafford but these results mean nothing if a team just crumbles against the other big guns.
Their inability to compete against those above them has meant that this season especially, a big gap has appeared, in quality and performance, as well as the final marker, the points tally.
Yesterday’s performance at Stamford Bridge was a tactical master class for 56 minutes. Spurs dominated possession and reduced Chelsea to only a few half chances that came from mistakes within the back four. However another mistake by the usually flawless Belgian, Jan Vertonghen, saw an intriguing battle turn into a one sided thrashing. The referee’s decision was questionable, along with the defending from that point, but all Spurs’ hard work was undone, and heads went down.
Tim Sherwood was furious with his players after the game. He acknowledged that the mistake and sending off changed the game, but could not accept the other two goals that were gifted to Demba Ba. When asked what the problem was, he responded with “let’s be honest, lack of characters” and “too many of them are too nice to each other.” He appeared to be attacking his own team’s integrity, as opposed to their ability. I for one completely agree, after Dawson went off, only Sandro showed aggression and desire, and even he made a blunder. Maybe Sherwood was referring to Adebayor constantly walking around the pitch smiling, or Kyle Walker continually helping the Chelsea players up off the ground.
Sherwood’s harsh critique would make sense as this season Spurs have taken some heavy defeats, and it’s obvious that confidence is low when a team goes two behind, but this Tottenham team crumbles under pressure, and they do not seem capable of fighting to get back into a match.
Another season is nearing its end, and with Manchester United’s downfall, this was surely Tottenham’s chance to pounce on the top four, but a squad out of sync with one another and with certain players lacking drive, has meant that Tottenham will yet again fail to qualify for the Champions League and will instead be plying their trade in the second tier of European competition.