The promising future of Tottenham Hotspur depends greatly on if they can climb into the top four of the Barclays Premier League standings with their remaining four games. If so then their sights are set on the prestige of Champions League with their superstar Gareth Bale returning for another year. If not then next season’s outlook is very bleak. A 2-2 draw against Wigan is a discouraging outcome for their aspirations.
The champion of the Barclays Premier League has been decided. Manchester United secured its 20th league title on Monday with a Robin van Persie hat trick over Aston Villa. With only a few games remaining of the season, there are a couple of storylines to keep things intriguing.
One of the less important storylines is who will be the three teams relegated to the second tier of England soccer. The loser of the matchup between Queens Park Rangers and Reading will be guaranteed relegation and even the winner will most likely follow suit.
Wigan Athletic is currently in place to be the third team to move down a league, but Newcastle United is giving them competition with their poor play. Newcastle, who last year finished in 5th, gave their fans plenty to worry about with Liverpool’s 6-0 annihilation of them on Saturday. Newcastle and Wigan are two of the teams at the bottom of the table who hope to play in their best form for their remaining games in order to stay among the Premier League elite.
The more interesting storyline however is what squad will finish in 4th and therefore qualify for the Champions League. Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, and even Everton as a wildcard are the teams in contention for the final two spots in Champion League qualification.
Tottenham Hotspur has arguably the most to gain from finishing in the top four, but also the most to lose by not making the cut. Spurs is a team on the rise with a solid group of young players who have yet to reach their prime. They also have arguably the best player in the Premier League in Gareth Bale.
Bale’s 18 goals on the season have acted as his coming out party. Bale is only 23-years-old and has already become the undeniable leader of this Tottenham team. His absolute takeover of their April 21st contest against Manchester City showed his dominance over the pitch. Bale provided a beautiful ball across the box that lead to a Clint Dempsey equalizer and then sealed the victory with a spectacular goal that floated over Man City’s goalie Joe Hart. The performance of Bale in Spurs’ remaining four games will be crucial if Tottenham wants to play against elite European competition.
The downside of Bale’s emergence is that it has attracted the attention of many of the high profile clubs around Europe. Spanish outfit Real Madrid has been the team associated with most of the rumors about Bale’s possible transfer. Many also speculate that if Spurs were to qualify for the glamor of the Champions League then Bale could be persuaded to stay. “The information I have from the club is that if we make the Champions League then Gareth will stay,” said Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Champions League qualification will also do numbers to increase the transfer budget in order to build an improved team around Bale. Suffice to say, Spurs has a lot hanging in the balance regarding the future of their team in these upcoming games.
Their race for 4th place got off to a very disappointing start with a 2-2 draw against Wigan. While Wigan also had high stakes to play for by trying to get out of the dreaded bottom three, the draw was mostly an underperformance by Spurs in a time when they cannot have none.
Things started off promising when a crucial mistake by defender Maynor Figueroa and goalie Joel Robles lead to an early Gareth Bale goal. However, one of the major weaknesses in the match was the back line and allowed a quick equalizer off an Emmerson Boyce header when Spurs’ Jan Vertonghen didn’t mark properly. A strike by Wigan’s Callum McManaman for his first Premier League goal seemed to doom Spurs to a devastating loss until a Boyce own goal evened the score and allowed Tottenham to salvage a point. Still they left a crucial two points on the table that make their Champions League aspirations an uphill battle.
With a huge contest against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge looming in the distance, Spurs have to make sure that they don’t overlook their easier matches against bottom half clubs in Southampton, Stoke City, and Sunderland. If Manchester United can defeat Arsenal on Sunday then that could also help their cause.
In terms of their play, patching up their problems in the defensive third will help their chances drastically. Villas-Boas hasn’t gotten consistent play out of either Kyle Naughton or Benoit Assou-Ekotto to commit to a surefire starter at Left Back. Improved play at Left Back and Right Back by Kyle Walker, who played many poor balls at Wigan, will be particularly key.
Striker has also been a weak spot for Spurs, but Villas-Boas going with Jermain Defoe over Emmanuel Adebayor could be the temporary fix. Adebayor has severely underperformed this year and has only scored three Premier League goals. Adebayor never seems to take the proper urgency to get open in the attacking zone and has led to his benching. Defoe meanwhile provides speed and a high attacking rate that always seems to lead to him being in the right place. In his first game back from injury, he provided the go ahead goal against Man City. Defoe gives Spurs the best option at striker to act as a complement to Bale’s talents.
Tottenham Hotspur’s prosperous future depends on if they can squeak into the top four in their four remaining games. If they can then they will be destined for the glory of playing in the Champions League against top tier European competition. They would also most likely retain the services of superstar Gareth Bale and be able to build around him and their great group of young midfielders. If they cannot qualify, then Bale will depart to greener pastures and the team will devolve into mediocrity. So mark May 8th on your calendars, because their matchup with Chelsea could very well decide the fate of this Spurs team that is hopefully on the rise.