Football

Tottenham feeling the pressure in top four race

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Spurs struggled to get going against Everton (©GettyImages)
Spurs struggled to get going against Everton (©GettyImages).

From jovial media darling to snappy, spiky difficult-to-handle interviewee, the transformation of Harry Redknapp in recent weeks has been remarkable as it has been expected as Tottenham’s slump continues.

 

Asked if his side deserved a draw as they stumbled to a third straight defeat against Everton, Redknapp snapped: "A draw? It was the most one-sided second half you've seen.

 

"We've battered them non-stop in the second half and ended up getting done," he finished as the BBC’s Guy Mowbray was put well and truly in his place.

 

Redknapp’s reaction was understandable, his frustrations clear to see. A ten point gap between his side and Arsenal will be whittled away to almost nothing in the space of three games if the Gunners beat Newcastle as expected tonight.

 

Only twice have Spurs finished above Arsenal in the Premier League era but Redknapp remains desperate to ensure that the third time comes this season.

 

What will anger the 65-year-old more than anything is the assertion that this recent mini-slump in form – the first time Tottenham have succumbed to three consecutive defeats since 2008 – reveals the true face of Spurs; a team tentatively prodding forward when the going gets tough after burning clear a path before them earlier in the season.

 

Fan frustration began to spill over in the game at Goodison on Saturday evening for the first time this season.

 

Some fans chanted ‘Gareth Bale, he plays on the left’ in frustration as the Welshman was deployed out on the right by Redknapp in the vein hope he may be able to find some space to operate in. Luka Modric’s positioning on the left hand side drew an equal amount of ire from the travelling Spurs support.

 

Just as Spurs appear to be losing their nerve, Chelsea and Arsenal are present and pushing to cram themselves into the top four.

 

The Gunners have grown in belief since their own slump which saw them crash out of the F.A Cup and succumb to a 4-0 hammering in their first leg of their Champions League tie against A.C Milan.

 

The manner of response from Arsene Wenger’s side that has taken them from the brink of heavy defeat against Spurs to excellent wins over their rivals and against Liverpool in the match that followed has validated the Frenchman’s long held belief in his on-going project at the Emirates.

 

Of course, Jack Wilshere’s bet with Tottenham fans and the renewed belief that Saint Totteringham’s day celebrations could be back on the agenda this season is just once facet of the battle for a top four finish.

With Liverpool seemingly now out of the running and few expecting Newcastle to be able to sustain their challenge over the last ten games that leaves three trying to fit into two, and despite the turmoil across London, there is cautious optimism filtering its way through Chelsea.

 

With Andre Villas-Boas sacked following defeat against West Brom, interim boss Roberto di Matteo has already laid his cards on the table.

 

His team selection against Stoke was emphatic; no David Luiz, Juan Mata, Daniel Sturridge or Fernando Torres in the first team, the Italian is seemingly ready to shun Villas-Boas new boys in favour of letting the experienced hands guide the Blues home this season.

 

With John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech all in the side and ready to take control Chelsea, just four points themselves behind Spurs, will continue their pursuit of their rivals on auto-pilot having been there so many times before.

 

Di Matteo meanwhile, managed to do something that Villas-Boas was unable to do in his brief time in charge; balance old and new. The former Blues midfielder showed a degree of astuteness as he bought Mata on to open Stoke up and it was the Spaniard who slipped Drogba through for the game’s only goal.

 

On this showing, Di Matteo looks capable of continuing the tradition of success amongst Chelsea’s interim bosses.

 

“I still think we'll finish third," Redknapp added after the dust had settled on the defeat against Everton and his frustrations had lessened somewhat. At this rate, he faces one hell of a battle.

Topics:
Tottenham Hotspur
Football
Premier League
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