Tottenham Hotspur’s players are still asking questions of themselves in the wake of Saturday’s 1-0 loss to then-Premier League doormats West Bromwich Albion. A win in the match would have assuaged doubts about Spurs’ poor form of late and meant that Spurs would need only a point in its last two games to clinch top four.
Instead, it was more disappointment. Jake Livermore’s scrappy injury time goal may not have saved West Brom from relegation, but it put Chelsea to within two points of Spurs, certainly ratcheted up the pressure on Tottenham with two games to play.
But if you think Spurs’ players aren’t keenly aware of the situation they have put themselves in, think again. Club captain Hugo Lloris questioned the club’s mentality in quotes printed in the Telegraph today, and pretty much confirmed that the Spurs players are tired as the season winds to a close.
“We are in a period of the season where — and it is the same for every team — we don’t have the freshness that we had in September, October and November. It is difficult to play in every game with the same intensity. We do need to question ourselves and realize that the next two games are very important for the future of the club and the future of every player in the dressing room.
“I think we need to put into our minds that it is going to be difficult until the end. Until the last game. Until the last minute against Leicester because we are in the Premier League and we are fighting against Liverpool, against Chelsea for the top four and they are both top clubs. They are used to competing and playing at this level.”
The irony is that despite the loss to West Brom, Liverpool’s loss to Chelsea on Sunday means that Spurs’ destiny is still very much in their hands. They are still two points back of Liverpool with a game in hand, which means if Tottenham wins their final two games — home to Newcastle on Wednesday and home to Leicester on Sunday — they will finish the season, perhaps improbably, in third.
Fans may be skeptical, based on the performances the last few weeks, whether Spurs can pull off two wins, even at home against two teams with nothing left to play for. But Lloris says that this isn’t about tiredness and preparation — it’s about intelligence and mentality.
“Now it is all mental. It is not about fitness or physical condition. It is mental and in this game we lacked a bit of aggression in key moments. It’s a bit disappointing because we could have managed the end of the season in a better way.
“It is up to us. But we need to stay confident and keep believing in ourselves. It is not the moment for doubt.”
Spurs hold a commanding goal differential lead over Chelsea. A draw and a win will be enough to clinch fourth. Two wins will mean finishing ahead of a Champions League finalist and a solid end to what’s been a very weird Premier League season, even if it’s kind of limping across the finish.