I’m sure Manchester United, West Ham and Arsenal will have opposing viewpoints, but Tottenham are in the best position to secure an all-coveted top four spot.
We all know what is at stake. Inclusion in next season’s Champions League, and with it, the increased likelihood of signing elite talent in the summer transfer window.
It’s going to be a dogged fight to the finish line. It always is, but there are a few reasons Tottenham should be looked at as favourites in their pursuit of a top four spot. Being labelled with the favourites tag is not always a good thing, as it comes with increased pressure and expectation.
Of the four teams realistically vying for Champions League participation next season, United definitely have the deepest, “most talented” team, on paper at least. But their on-pitch performances have fallen way short of expectations, belying the talent they have on their books.
Here’s why Tottenham are considered favourites to capture a spot in the top four.
3. Matches in hand
Tottenham are currently sitting in seventh place, three spots adrift of fourth. However, Spurs are only two points behind fourth place United with two matches in hand. West Ham sit in fifth place, a point ahead of the Lilywhites, who have three games in hand on their east London rivals.
And then there’s Arsenal, who are arguably Tottenham’s stiffest competition in the tussle for positioning. The Gunners and Spurs are equal on 36 points, but Antonio Conte’s side has one game in hand on their bitter north London adversaries.
The match in hand, a trip to the south coast against Brighton, is by no means a sure thing. Quite the contrary, in fact. Brighton are in the top half of the table, in ninth place, but are actually better on their travels. But if Tottenham are to secure a top four spot, they must take all three points against teams like Brighton, no matter where the match is being played.
Based on the numerical advantage alone, Spurs are in pole position.
2. Two out of three matches against rivals at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Two of the three gargantuan six-pointer tilts against direct rivals West Ham, Arsenal and Manchester United will be played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Only the match against United, on Saturday, March 12, is in enemy territory.
Spurs host West Ham on Sunday, March 20 and will welcome the Gunners on a date and time yet to be determined, after the originally scheduled match was, for rather absurd reasons, postponed.
To further reinforce Tottenham’s pole-position status, they will also host Wolves, who are in eighth and still have an outside chance of the top four, on Sunday, Feb. 13.
Winning those matches at home and taking a point at Old Trafford should be enough to pole-vault Spurs into fourth spot. That is assuming the Lilywhites win the matches they must, against teams well below them in the standings.
1. Tottenham strengthened team most of direct rivals
Albeit marginally, Tottenham did the most to strengthen their squad during the recent transfer window, which is more a damning assessment of West Ham, United and Arsenal’s January business than it is a glowing review of ours.
The arrival of Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski should immediately improve Tottenham’s on-pitch proposition, while the other three vying for a Champions League berth didn’t do nearly enough to fortify their respective positions.
There’s nothing really to choose from regarding each team’s remaining schedules. All four teams will play each other, while West Ham and United will face each of the big three. Arsenal doesn’t have to play City, and Spurs aren’t faced with another annoying tilt against Chelsea.
Which team secures the fourth spot will probably come down to how the four competing sides fare against each other.