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Tottenham can now qualify for the Champions League even with a loss to Everton

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+8 goal differential, baby.

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Tottenham Hotspur fans were rightfully in a dark place after yesterday’s 1-0 loss at Bournemouth. It was yet another golden opportunity to clinch finishing in the top four squandered with two players (including Son Heung-Min, of all people!) sent off with straight red cards. Going into today, Spurs were in a position where they now HAD to beat Everton at home on May 12 in order to be assured of a Champions League qualification place. Anything else involved complicated scenarios, most of them involving a draw against Everton, and all of them had both Manchester United and Arsenal improbably dropping points.

But a funny thing happened in today’s Premier League match action: both Manchester United and Arsenal improbably dropped points. United crazily drew 1-1 at bottom-of-the-table Huddersfield, a result that knocked them out of top four contention. Meanwhile, Arsenal ran into a giant green Brighton bus driven by former Tottenham player Chris Hughton, also drawing 1-1 in a match that was perhaps the most terrifying game I’ve ever watched that didn’t involve Spurs.

Here’s the top of the table after today’s games.

The end result is this: Tottenham can now clinch finishing in the top four heading into the last match of the season under the following scenarios:

  • Tottenham beat Everton
  • Tottenham draw Everton
  • Tottenham lose to Everton and Arsenal loses or draws at Burnley
  • Tottenham lose to Everton and Arsenal wins but doesn’t make up Spurs’ +8 goal differential

That is a good, good thing.

This is the part where Spurs fans are going to tell you that it’s not clinched yet, that Spurs still have one last chance to step on a rake, fall down the stairs, and land in the Europa League. They will point to the 2015-16 season ender against Newcastle, one Spurs lost 5-1 while Arsenal beat Aston Villa 4-0. And honestly: they’re right! This is a mathematical possibility and you can’t argue with math.

So if you’re one of those fans and you want to guard your heart so it won’t be broken, I understand. It’s why I’m not going to make any predictions here, though I really REALLY want to.

However, we all just witnessed a series of events today and in the past few weeks where Spurs are on the verge of being saved not because they haven’t been bad, but because all of their rivals for top four have been even worse than them. Take a look at this.

Now, that’s unequivocally bad. From everyone! Spurs included! But I think what it really shows is the effects of a long season on teams in the Premier League who are competing in multiple competitions (and who aren’t Liverpool or Manchester City). It’s not that any of these teams didn’t want to finish in the top four. They all obviously do. But what it shows is that winning things is really, really hard, especially at the end of the season and especially ESPECIALLY when you’re an injury-ravaged side with virtually no depth, like Tottenham.

Some other people are going to try and tell you that Tottenham don’t deserve to qualify for Champions League this year based on their current form. That’s hogwash, those people are grumps, and you should ignore them. The final table position is the end result of an entire season’s worth of work and effort. Spurs have been pretty compellingly terrible in the league since April, but there were times earlier in this season where they were very, very good. It’s looking extremely likely that the good parts of this season are going to ever so slightly outweigh the bad parts.

I’m not going to tell you to start celebrating. That would be foolhardy and I’d get yelled at. What I will tell you is that it’s perfectly okay to take pleasure in what happened today. And if you want to have the confetti in an easily accessible place heading into next Sunday, literally no one would blame you.