Manchester City Match Could Define Season for Tottenham
No one at White Hart Lane wanted it to come down to this.
After an agonising conclusion last season, Spurs face another nerve wracking final five weeks in the Barclays Premier League.
While the loss to a resilient FC Basel side last Thursday hurts, the prospect of missing out on Champions League football next season is simply gut wrenching for Tottenham fans.
This was supposed to be the year.
After somewhat surprisingly parting ways with Harry Redknapp after last season, they signed Andre Villas-Boas, the Abromovich cast off, to a lucrative contract. AVB was charged with playing the style of football he cultivated at FC Porto that had caught the Russian billionaire's eye in the first place.
After a somewhat shaky start, the 35-year-old Villas-Boas delivered.
As of March 31, Spurs were third in the table and only five points behind a reeling Manchester City squad faltering under failed expectations and internal strife.
Spurs were two points ahead of the Champions of Europe, Chelsea, and four points ahead of their North London rivals, Arensal. It looked as if a top four finish and Champions League birth was in the cards as long as Spurs and Villas-Boas kept it up.
But after Arsenal's stunning come from behind win at the Emirates yesterday, Spurs suddenly find themselves licking their Europa League wounds, tied for fourth in the table with Chelsea.
Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon are injured. Emmanuel Adebayor sleepwalks through scoring chances, William Gallas struggles to mark even the most pedestrian of strikers and Clint Dempsey has shown why it was so difficult for him to secure a transfer last summer.
Amongst all the turmoil, Villas-Boas must regain the magic that fuelled Spurs for most of the season with the other Manchester juggernaut coming to London next Sunday.
Although there are five weeks left, the clash with Manchester City already has the hue of a must win match.
Arsenal and the maligned Arsene Wenger have found their form in the last month. With Chelsea also finding its stride, it appears that Tottenham will not be able to rely on a few key victories by bottom of the table teams to end the season in the top four. Arsenal proved as much yesterday against a pesky and determined Norwich side.
Further still, as well-funded vultures around Europe look to snatch the magisterial Bale from White Hart Lane, a top four finish may be the only way to keep the Welshman in white and blue.
Yet, the future is not all murky for Villas-Boas and Spurs fans, Bale and Lennon could very likely be healthy when City comes to town.
Although capable of greatness, Manchester City have been a team divided this season and locker room fissures appear to be effecting their play on the pitch.
Sunday's match against Wigan, could be an indicator of which Manchester City team will visit Tottenham a week today.
Regardless of which Sky Blue team chooses to leave the tunnel next Sunday, this match is ultimately about Spurs. With very winnable games versus Wigan, Southampton, Stoke, and Sunderland to round out the campaign, next weekend's City clash could end up being the decider.
It's time for Villas-Boas to make his money.
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