Tottenham Hotspur still technically have the edge in the race for fourth place in the EPL standings, but it is still very uncertain who will make the final cut. A win over Chelsea on Wednesday would see Spurs go one point ahead of Arsenal on equal games played.
Spurs do not look like a crack unit who can outgun their nearest rivals in the battle for that precious Champions League spot. Rather, as of recent they have resembled a company of grunts who happen to have a nuclear weapon for use in an emergency.
This was evident in their dismal showing against Southampton, where the difference was a ballistic missile of a shot from the Gareth Bale warhead.
Even a confidence-boosting win over Chelsea would fail to paper over the cracks in manager Andre Villas-Boas’ team.
Spurs have undeniably performed well over the season as a whole. But the deficiencies that have been laid bare in the past few weeks—during a somewhat crucial stage for Tottenham—are not the signs of a team that is ready for Bayern, Juventus and Real Madrid et al.
In fact, considering AVB’s pedigree and the weight on paper of the team he has assembled, Spurs fans could be forgiven for wondering if they are not cursed to being perpetual nearly-men. Tottenham has quickly gone from hopes of playing Barca to the reality of being knocked out by Basel in the Europa League.
All right, they were desperately unlucky not to get into this year’s Champions League, but still.
Villas-Boas was expecting to win the Europa League this season, but that is now the past. In his eyes, and the eyes of many others, Tottenham should, at the very least, be constantly gnawing on the ankles of Chelsea and Arsenal for third and fourth place.
Such an aspiration is currently easier to attain than it has been in the past, especially when accounting for the uncertainty surrounding the Arsenal hierarchy's perceived lack of desire to challenge at the top.
On the other hand, AVB has the backing of Daniel Levy, a man who has had a huge influence over the resurgence of the north London outfit. Levy will undoubtedly grant AVB funds to make two or three signings, regardless of the future of Gareth Bale.
Naturally, Champions League qualification—and whether or not Bale is still there next season—will affect the decisions of potential suitors. Even if Tottenham do make Fourth Place, AVB will want to ensure that there is not a repeat of this year’s scramble.
Here are some suggestions of areas he could improve, and players he could replace.