After heading into their last game knowing everyone around them had already lost, on Saturday against Brighton, Tottenham Hotspur can set the tone for the weekend and apply some real pressure in the race for a top-four finish.
We will never know how much the early results impacted Spurs against Aston Villa. However, given the fast start, followed by a colossal let-down and a problematic first half, the results likely did Tottenham. Sort of like hitting a sugar high, you come crashing down, which was Spurs following Heung-min Son’s early opener against Villa.
This weekend, it will be Tottenham trying to avoid an early opening for their competition by winning against Brighton and applying some real pressure in two directions.
A Tottenham win can increase pressure all-around
A lunchtime win for Spurs would be huge in their race for a champions league birth next season. Currently fourth in the table and three points in front of Arsenal, Tottenham can take a two-game lead on the Gunners and pull within two points of third-placed Chelsea. Both moves would be significant in the top-four battle.
Regardless of the outcome for Spurs on Saturday, they will have played two more games than either Chelsea or Arsenal. The two games in hand for both teams means that anything less than three points leaves Spurs in theory behind the Gunners and out of touch with Chelsea.
If Tottenham losses, it creates a Saturday opening for their competition. Worse, with Chelsea and Arsenal playing each other midweek, Spurs could be behind Arsenal before next weekend, better goals difference or not.
A Spurs win would be felt down the table
Beyond stretching the lead on Arsenal and putting some pressure on Chelsea, three more points for Spurs would leave West Ham and Manchester United grasping for top four air.
Regardless of the outcome, Tottenham will be level on games with the Hammers and at worse six points ahead before West Ham plays on Sunday. Likewise, Manchester United is six points adrift of Tottenham and has played the same number of matches. A win from Spurs leaves both teams nine points back, making their games absolute must-win situations.
Last weekend Manchester United had this slot, and they opened the door for Tottenham to finish in the top four and make the Champions League; they cannot slip up in crucial moments and must win on Saturday afternoon.