Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Tough week could help Spurs hang in there

ONE point from two huge games was not what everyone wanted but bear with me while I argue that it might do us a favour.

Wins over West Ham and Arsenal would have left us top by two points - but can a team that has not won a title in 55 years really be expected to lead from the front with nine games to go?

The pressure, focus and searing hot spotlight that comes from being frontrunners is surely too much for a club stalked by its own shadow of late-season stutters.

We have a history of easing off the gas from good positions, so let Leicester take the weight of responsibility for the time being.

With 27 points left to fight for, a five-point gap at this stage is hardly unassailable and 

there is no sense in making ourselves the team to beat at the start of March. 

We are safer riding Leicester's coat-tails as they attract the limelight and deflect attention. 

Apart from anything else, my blood pressure could do with a rest from the nerve-shredding tension of our last two games. How the players must have felt is anybody's guess.

If the Foxes do win the title from here then they damn well deserve it and we should all stand up and applaud rather than picking apart our own supposed shortcomings.

But to put that feat into perspective, they have never won nine top-flight games in a row in their history.

It's a nervy time of year and everyone is dropping points. City lost to Liverpool, United at West Brom, and Arsenal haven't won in four.

Leicester's final two fixtures are Everton at home and Chelsea away. That's a tough enough finish in itself but in the meantime, if panic does finally strike Claudio Ranieri's squad, then any match becomes a banana skin and five points can disappear very quickly indeed.

Our final two games are home to Southampton and away at struggling Newcastle. Although by then they could well be "relegated Newcastle".

With that in mind, the main aim should be to stay within striking distance of the top, keep your fingers crossed we can hang in there and give ourselves a chance come May.

But many Spurs fans are starting to bite their fingernails not just over whether we will be fighting for the title come May, but whether we will still be in contention for the top four.

In 2011-12 we surrendered a 10-point lead over Arsenal in barely a month, the season before we won just one league game in ten from late February, including a home defeat to Blackpool. 

Both seasons we had put ourselves in the driving seat with regards to a Champions League finish. 

Yet in 2009-10 we got it right and beat Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City in a run-in that saw us nick fourth. 

The difference being that season we were underdogs right until the penultimate game, where a shock 1-0 win at City sealed it a game early.

And that is why we shouldn't be too disheartened heading into another crucial week on the back of two disappointing results.

On Sunday it's Aston Villa away, followed by Bournemouth at home a week later. 

Both matches present sides fighting for their lives and, given our recent history at this stage of the season, I'm happier to be going into it with a little less expectation on our shoulders.

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