Over 70 days and 11 matches, Tottenham Hotspur went on a run to remember bringing back Champions League football to N17 with a fourth-place finish.
As recent as 13 March, there were four teams and six points between Tottenham Hotspur and fourth place in the Premier League. On Saturday, Tottenham had traveled to Manchester and lost to United on a day when Ronaldo recaptured his youth, torching Spurs for a hattrick. Then on Sunday, as Arsenal, West Ham, and Wolverhampton all won, things looked bleak for Spurs. Mired in eighth place, six back four fourth-place Arsenal, Tottenham needed to make a run.
In the 11 matches that followed that loss to Manchester United, Tottenham has changed the course of the club’s near future. In moving from a position outside of the European dining hall to a seat at the bride’s table, Spurs reinvigorated a fan base and rekindled our hope.
Spurs’ success started with defence
Even before the loss to United, Tottenham started showing signs of life under Antonio Conte. Back-to-back wins by a combined score of 9-0 over Leeds and Everton immediately preceded the United match. If not for the heroics of Ronaldo, Spurs surely would have left with a point, but that was not to be.
After Ronaldo’s outburst, it would be five matches before Spurs concede three goals again. Shutouts over Bright and Aston Villa and lopsided wins over West Ham and Newcastle had Tottenham on a roll. Four wins from four following the defeat at Manchester meant Tottenham was back in the top-four race.
Of course, things are never easy for Spurs, and a home loss to Brighton slowed the Lilywhite’s momentum. As it turned out, that loss to Bright was the last time Spurs would lose all season, as the team was unbeaten over their last six games to secure fourth place.
Two draws are the difference in the end for Tottenham
Following the tie with Brentford by beating Leicester – during the normal time – was a massive boost for the team, especially with a trip to Liverpool forthcoming. It turned out that the draw at Anfield was both the difference between Spurs finishing in the top four and Liverpool not winning the title race. The points at Brentford and Liverpool were the two points Spurs topped Arsenal by, while Liverpool lost the title by one point to Manchester City. However, the draw seemed like a loss at the time – especially when Arsenal won – that point was huge in the end.
Following their success at Anfield, Spurs went on a three-match winning streak to end the season. The 3-0 win over Arsenal was huge in flipping the top-four race, and then the wins over Burnley and Norwich demonstrated that Conte’s club had the grit and fortitude necessary to win big matches.
With 26 points from their final 11 matches, Tottenham earned points at a rate of 2.36 points per match. Throughout 38 games, that would have left Spurs with 89.8 points, and Manchester City won the league with 93. That shows how good Spurs were and how big the gap still is between Tottenham and the top of the table. However, step one in closing that gap is complete with a run to remember, clinching Spurs the Champions League.