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Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs' Resilience Has Kept Their Champions League Hopes Alive

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Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs' Resilience Has Kept Their Champions League Hopes Alive
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Clint Dempsey exemplified Tottenham Hotspur's resilience of late.

Tottenham Hotspur are unbeaten in seven consecutive Premier League matches. Since (and including) their 2-1 win over Swansea City, they have won four times and drawn twice.

Five of those games have seen Tottenham rescue points having been behind in the scoreline. One of the remaining pair was the 1-0 defeat of Southampton, which was only sealed by Gareth Bale's stunning late goal (Spurs twice also came back from two-goal deficits against Basel in the Europa League, albeit losing the second leg on penalties).

Spurs' resilience has kept their hopes of a top-four finish and Champions League qualification alive, even as their general form has dipped.

The latter cannot be overlooked. Being in positions where they have needed to mount comebacks is far from ideal for a team with their aspirations.

Still, as difficult as it will have proven to been, should they finish fourth they will not care how they got there.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Charlie Adam's sending off helped Tottenham in their win.

Sunday afternoon's 2-1 win over Stoke City was not the most dramatic of their comebacks during this time (though Emmanuel Adebayor's winner did not come until the 83rd minute). It did, though, require more of the spirit that has stood them in such good stead of late.

Having allowed Steven N'Zonzi the freedom of their penalty box to head Stoke in front, Spurs showed enough desire thereafter to deserve all three points—even if Charlie Adam's dismissal aided the process somewhat.

Clint Dempsey exemplified his team's will, playing a pivotal part in the fightback. Both his equalizer and his assist for Adebayor's goal displayed not only his fine reaction, but his hunger to be in positions to make a difference.

The American has not been as prominent a player for Spurs as he was at Fulham. Still, Dempsey has delivered on more than one occasion this season, as he reminded us (below):

Important goals against Manchester United and Basel away immediately spring to mind. Here he was again, popping up to help his team out in a tough situation.

Tired accusations of Spurs being a one-man team are getting closer to being put to bed. With Gareth Bale largely quiet since his own winner against Southampton last weekend, others have stepped up. Dempsey starred against Stoke, but he was again helped by the resurgent Adebayor.

Besides a largely anonymous showing against Manchester City, the much-maligned striker has improved of late. His penalty miss against Basel overshadowed a decent display on the night, as well as a man of the match showing in the preceding 2-2 draw with Everton.

Following up his goal and assist against Chelsea in midweek, Adebayor was not as influential versus Stoke. But he still scored a late tap-in that showed (again) that Spurs do have more than one player who can contribute in the final third.

It is helping to lift some of the weight off of Bale. The Welshman is expected to deliver just about every time he gets the ball around the penalty area. That is not going to change, but at least in reality, Spurs are not as reliant on him as it might seem.

Tracing Tottenham's development into an altogether tougher proposition, it is easy to forget how soft they were prior to Christmas.

After the 2-1 loss to Everton, they had conceded 10 goals in the final 15 minutes of matches. Had all their games finished after 80 minutes up to that point, they would have been top rather than fifth (that oft-quoted nugget, taken here from the Daily Mail).

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Emmanuel Adebayor has come up trumps for Andre Villas-Boas when he has needed him most.

The effort to improve concentration and organization in defense after that paid off. Spurs did not lose in the league again until mid-March.

Even with the defense's comparatively lax displays since then, that Villas-Boas' side are still in contention says a lot about the overall improvements that have been made.

Spurs being in the position they are in is testament to the manager's ability to keep his team motivated. The way the football club finished the previous two seasons, tailing off as they did, shows how difficult it is to translate this into tangible results.

Tottenham still need Arsenal to drop points, but they know they will likely have to beat Sunderland at White Hart Lane next Sunday to finish fourth.

As commendable as their fortitude has been, Spurs will be keen not to leave it to the last possible moment to win. Seeing as Paolo Di Canio's men need the points too, it might not be as easy as they hope.

Then again, things have never been easy when it comes to Tottenham Hotspur.

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