Tottenham's 1-0 loss to Norwich City on Sunday could be a crushing blow to the club's annual pursuit of a Champions League berth.
Since Tottenham Hotspur fired second-year manager Andre Villas-Boas in December and replaced him with former club player Tim Sherwood, the north London side has experienced dramatic improvement in its results.
The Englishman guided Spurs back into the conversation for an improbable place in the top four, gaining 23 points out of a possible 30 in the Premier League while dropping just two points on the road.
However, cracks have finally begun to surface in the first-time manager's side after they lost two consecutive 1-0 road matches: one on Thursday to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the Europa League and the other on Sunday to Norwich.
While it's easy to find reasons to look past Thursday's loss in the Ukraine (it was just one match in a two-legged tie, the side controlled the match, the pitch was apparently awful, the side may have been distracted by the backdrop of a war-torn country), Sunday's loss is much more glaring.
Spurs may have enjoyed the lion's share of possession at Carrow Road, but it is hard to argue that the result was an unlucky one. After all, Norwich were able to create just as many, if not more, scoring opportunities despite possessing the ball for less of the match.
Sure, it took a superbly taken goal from Robert Snodgrass in the opening seconds of the second half to earn the Canaries the victory, but it's easy to see the match swing that way even if the Scot hadn't produced that moment of skill.
The loss marked Tottenham's first away defeat under Sherwood. What's worse, it is the first time that Sherwood's high-flying Spurs have been held with out a goal in a Premier League encounter.
With every team above them winning on the weekend, Tottenham is now staring at a six-point gap between themselves and fourth-placed Liverpool.
As a result, Spurs have almost no room for error in the difficult run-in that lies ahead.
Next month, when they play Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool over a 22-day period, Spurs will almost certainly need all positive results to remain in contention for the top four. Given that the club has yet to defeat any of the clubs currently in the top four, one cannot feel too good about this predicament.
Sunday's loss to a team struggling for form could be the death knell to Tottenham's top-four hopes for this season.
Whether it's also the death knell in the career of Tim Sherwood at White Hart Lane is up to Daniel Levy, the club's fickle chairman, after the season comes to a close.
Then again, maybe it's just the kick in the pants that the side needed to get in gear for their important month ahead.
After all, if a team is going to achieve its goals, isn't it only right that it does so by overcoming its closest rivals?
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