Tottenham are currently in fourth place in the Premier League with 42 points, four points behind third placed Chelsea and one point ahead of Everton in fifth. Arsenal are a further three points behind with Liverpool next on 35 points. It will be a close run battle between those clubs for the final two places in UEFA’s flagship competition and there will be many twists and turns over the next 14 Premier League games.
Around Christmas, in the HotspurHQ review of 2012, I felt quite confident that Tottenham could make the top four – ‘I can’t see Spurs getting into the top three but would hope that they have sufficient ability to ensure they finish above Arsenal and the other teams battling it out for that final Champions League place.’ My co-writer, Alan wasn’t so sure fearing a second half downturn to the season – ‘I have an awful feeling we are going to miss out on Champions League qualification again.’
Since then, however, there has been a downturn in not just results but performance and Jermain Defoe has lost some of his early season goal scoring form. His last goal was against Aston Villa on Boxing Day.
It has been quite disconcerting in the last three matches, to look at the list of substitutes and see the absence of a striker. Against Manchester United, needing a goal in the second half Andre Villas-Boas had no option but to keep going with the same. Against Leeds, with Jermain Defoe injured, Clint Dempsey had to take on the striker’s role so Villas-Boas’ only option when trying to recover from a two goal deficit was to use the young, inexperienced Under-21 striker, Jonathan Obika. Against Norwich, again a goal down, late in the game and any changes to be made could only involve the midfield or defence as Defoe, having recovered from injury, was the only striker available.
With Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor as the only recognised strikers in their squad, Tottenham are taking an almighty gamble.
- Jermain Defoe has currently lost his touch in front of goal. His goals through the early part of the season have kept Tottenham up in fourth but a continuing lack of form is the first worry.
- Emmanuel Adebayor has failed to reproduce the form or influence that he had on the team last season. Injury, lack of fitness, suspension and the Africa Cup of Nations have greatly restricted his appearances this season.
- Injury to either Defoe, Adebayor or both is an unthinkable scenario.
- Premier League matches and Europa League games, if Spurs can overcome Lyon, increases the burden on both players with no options for rotation.
Champions League Finish
Having seen Tottenham’s performances in the matches against Queen’s Park Rangers, Leeds and Norwich, it could be suggested that Spurs’ February slump of the last two seasons has arrived a month early this year. Without an additional striker, it is going to be very difficult for Spurs to hold on to that Champions League place so the season could end in disappointment once again with the adverse effect that will have on the retention of players, future signings and the club’s finances.
Over To You!
Can Tottenham finish in the top four to secure Champions League football next season, having failed to sign a striker in January?
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