Tottenham: Spurs Suffer Another Final Day Disappointment but Can Hold Heads High
As the dust settled on Tottenham's 1-0 victory over Sunderland, fans at White Hart Lane weren't much up for celebrating.
For the second straight season, a home win on the final day saw Spurs fall one point short of arch-rivals Arsenal in the race for Champions League bids.
So much of the final day's script was familiar for Tottenham.
In each of the last two seasons, Spurs have conceded a lead to the Gunners in the run-in.
In both seasons, they entered the final day trailing Arsenal by a point, needing both to win at home and for the Gunners to slip up on the road.
Last year, despite Spurs winning against Fulham, a 54th-minute goal for Laurent Koscielny allowed Arsenal to stay ahead of their north London rivals. This year, it was a Koscielny goal in the 52nd minute that kept the Gunners in the Champions League.
The similarities are eerie.
However, despite all these parallels, the feeling at White Hart Lane should be very different this time around.
Last season's fourth-place finish was the result of Tottenham, for lack of a better term, choking.
With a nice lead in the league heading into their run-in, Spurs hit a terrible spell of form, lost matches they should not have and ended up as outsiders to Europe's biggest club competition.
This time around, Tottenham's finish in the Europa League spots was not down to their inadequacy but rather their rival's fantastic play.
Through their final 16 Premier League matches this season, Arsenal lost just one match. That loss, no less, was to Tottenham.
Can Tottenham supporters look back on a few matches down the stretch and rue a few missed opportunities? Of course.
This was no collapse from Spurs, though. This was Arsenal earning fourth through some remarkable form.
As opposed to the end of last year, when Tottenham's disintegration made it clear that there were changes needed at the club, Spurs can hold their heads high after this disappointment.
Yes, Tottenham is stuck in another season of the Europa League, but they are slowly gaining ground on their adversaries.
If they can gain any semblance of stability this summer, that should give the north Londoners a leg up on their main Premier League rivals.
Thus, instead of dwelling on any "would've", "could've" or "should've", Tottenham supporters should instead focus on the summer transfer window.
If the club can offload some dead weight, add in a few key areas and make sure that Gareth Bale's stunning late strike today was not his last for the team, then Spurs' upward trajectory will be undeniable.
This is no doubt a gloomy day, but the future is bright at White Hart Lane.
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