Spurs Have Made Life Tough on Themselves, but the Top-4 Race Remains On

Glenn HoddleFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2014


It was interesting to be with Jamie Carragher at Carrow Road on Sunday as Spurs suffered a shock setback in their chances of maintaining their momentum toward a Champions League spot.

I don’t blame Jamie for thinking that Liverpool should be looking up toward the title, rather than over their shoulders at Spurs and Everton.

However, I don’t want Jamie to get carried away! And to be fair to him, I don’t think he is carried away as he pointed out that while Liverpool are now the Premier League’s highest scorers, he is still concerned about their lack of consistency at the back.

Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Swansea was followed by Spurs' surprise 1-0 defeat at Norwich, and while I was pleased for my old mate and former Spurs teammate Chris Hughton—as this was a big win for him personally—I was less than impressed by Spurs performance for obvious reasons.

Norwich deserved their win, thoroughly deserved it, while Spurs didn’t turn up.

NORWICH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23:  Aaron Lennon of Tottenham Hotspur reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur at Carrow Road on February 23, 2014 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

"It's the first major setback I've had and we're going to need to be spirited to show we can bounce back," Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood said, per BBC Sport

Sherwood added: "We can't rely on other people to lose all their games and us qualify for the Champions League, because that's not going to happen."

I don’t think that Spurs have blown it in the race for the fourth spot. But they have certainly made life hard for themselves.

There is no doubt that Liverpool have a very comfortable cushion sitting six points ahead of Spurs, but Spurs have got to go to Anfield and win, and they are capable of doing that.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23:  Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool celebrates scoring his team's third goal  during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Swansea City at Anfield on February 23, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

However, while Liverpool have not looked so convincing away from home, they have been convincing at home.

At home they are getting closer to the good old days when Anfield was a fortress and you went there believing you would end up losing. Liverpool are not quite back to that point as yet.

Their result against Swansea, coupled with Spurs losing at Norwich, has given them a major advantage now, you cannot deny that. But as they are still very much Jekyll and Hyde with their away form not quite there, I still cannot see them winning the League.

"I worry always to play good football. I'm not totally satisfied with always grinding out results," Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers said after the Swansea match, per Sky Sports. "Up to now we've got away with it. But at times we concede poor goals—it is mistakes or decision making that's costing us."

As for Spurs, that was as weak a performance away from home I’ve seen from them in a long time.  They just didn’t seem capable of opening up the Norwich defence.

You could say there is plenty of room for improvement there, and for me, if they want to make it to the next level, they are still some top-quality players short and will need to find some solutions, as Norwich were the better team from the first minute to the last.

The battle of the bottom is still red hot and involved so many teams, and while it was a big win for Norwich they are not out of the woods yet, not by a long way.

It’s given them much-needed breathing space, though, and that is important.

It was only a few weeks ago that Sunderland were flying, but now they are back down there in the bottom three.

In a way there is not going to be any breathing space down in that lower half of the table for the rest of the season. The only team that has has earned itself some breathing space is West Ham, and they have done really, really well to pull themselves out of trouble.