Uplifted by winning two on the bounce, coupled with back-to-back losses for Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur is suddenly in prime position to finish fourth and claim the Premier League’s final Champions League position.
Tottenham has made a big jump in a short time.
Just eight days ago, after Arsenal beat Leeds while Spurs drew with Liverpool, Tottenham was four points behind Arsenal, with only three matches remaining. With the first of three games being the north London derby, Spurs had a real chance -20% according to FiveThirtyEight.com as of 11-May – to overtake Arsenal and finish fourth.
First came Spurs’ resounding win over Arsenal in the derby. The nature of the victory left Tottenham riding high and Arsenal laying blame. Despite not accepting the defeat, the Gunners still had a one-point lead with two games to go. Both teams have played since that Thursday romp, and things have certainly gone Tottenham’s way.
First, Tottenham caught a break with the penalty. As any Spurs fan knows, there have been multiple occasions over the last several seasons, including a Champions League final, where some dubious handball interpretation has cost Tottenham. Twice last season, Spurs were penalized for handballs less blatant than the one called on Ashley Barnes this past weekend.
Regardless of how Tottenham won on Sunday, the key is they played well collectively and won, putting themselves two points in front of Arsenal. Then Eddie Howe’s improving Newcastle side throttled the Gunners 0-2, leaving the Lilywhites with their two-point lead.
It has been a six-point swing in just five days, and now Spurs are in the catbird seat with only one match left to play.
Almost as critical as the two-point lead Spurs currently hold on Arsenal is a significant advantage Tottenham holds in terms of goal difference, which would be the first tie=breaker between the two teams.
Spurs are currently at +24 goals, whereas Arsenal is only at +9. With a +15 goal-difference advantage over Arsenal, Tottenham only needs to draw on Sunday at Norwich to finish fourth. Even if both teams finish on 69 points, Spurs’ far superior goal difference will win the day. Spurs’ advantage does not mean they should play for a draw, only that a draw is all that is necessary to finish fourth.
Suddenly, with one game to go, a season of ups and downs could end on a high for Spurs, which fans can only hope propels the team forward to future success.