Tottenham's modern existence as a top-six team has been plagued by a post-Christmas drop in form, which, in recent years, has kept them out of Europe's most prestigious competition. 

Spurs' first appearance in the UEFA Champions League came in the 2010-11 season and saw the north London club explode onto the European scene, reaching the quarter-finals, including a shock win at the San Siro against AC Milan in the previous round. 

A fifth place finish in Premier League the following year saw them enter the Europa League, crashing out in the group stage in a seemingly tactical move towards domestic success. 

Their early season form had seen Spurs launch a legitimate title challenge, but after a dramatic loss at Manchester City a run of just six wins in the final 17 matches saw them drop to fourth place, and out of the automatic qualification places for the Champions League. 

Normally, fourth place means a qualifying play-off round in Europe's top club competition, but Chelsea's European success nullified Spurs' spot, as the winner of the competition is entered into next year's group stage draw, regardless of domestic position. 

This bout of bad luck wasn't the only factor in Spurs' failure to qualify, as they held a ten-point cushion over fourth placed Arsenal at the beginning of 2012, with only themselves to blame.

Chairman Daniel Levy felt their inconsistencies lay at the helm, and sacked Harry Redknapp in favour of this year's newly-appointed manager Andre Villas-Boas. 

AVB's early managerial success at FC Porto may have been overshadowed by his infamous stint at Chelsea, with his reign lasting only nine months under trigger-happy owner Roman Abramovich. The Portuguese boss has arguably seen more success with his new club, as a slow start has been turned into a favourable fourth place league position with the team on a sizzling streak after just one defeat in the last 11 matches in the league. There have been early warning signs in 2013 pointing towards another potentially disastrous ending to the season, as Spurs could only draw to Manchester United and QPR, with Clint Dempsey needing to net an injury-time winner to grab a point against the Red Devils.

Despite feeling they should have beaten United in an inspiring performance from the side, Tottenham still welcomed the result as it marked the first time that Spurs had gone a season without losing to United, with the reverse fixture seeing a historic 3-2 victory.

With a vital period in the league approaching accompanied by a Europa League tie with Olympique Lyonnais, Spurs will need to turn every ounce of belief instilled by Villas-Boas into results.

 

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