Finally, the dam has broken. Tottenham Hotspur has crashed out of the Champions League, the FA Cup, and the League Cup and looks to have not even hit rock bottom. Antonio Conte’s days are numbered, players are voicing their frustrations publicly, and it certainly seems like this will be another summer full of turmoil.
After failing to score against Milan, all that remains to play for is fourth place. This is, of course, still an important objective to fight for, though it is very hard to feel optimistic about the club and its chances to hold on against four other team who remain in the hunt with two months remaining.
On some levels, it might seem like shedding the extra competitions would be helpful, but there have been no indications of anything magically changing Spurs’ current form. Saturday’s visit from Nottingham Forest should normally be a reprieve, but given last weekend against Wolves — as well as Forest’s victory in the League Cup — three points is more of a hope than an expectation.
Tottenham Hotspur (4th, 45pts) vs. Nottingham Forest (14th, 26pts)
Date: Saturday, March 11
Time: 10:00 am ET, 3:00 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
TV: Peacock Premium (USA)
Like Wolves, Forest is a member of the massive relegation mess that involves nearly half the league, and two points from the last four matches have not helped, though one came from a draw against Manchester City. It will be a real challenge to survive for another year in the top flight with fixtures against nearly every team fighting for a European spot remaining.
The metrics are against Forest as well. Bottom-three goals scored and allowed numbers lead to bottom-three goal difference and xGD figures, and both ends of the pitch have been pretty bad as of late, as was the case when Tottenham came out ahead in August. The League Cup upset could provide some hope, but overall this is a bad squad.
There is probably no fixture that inspires a ton of confidence for Spurs right now. Discontent seems to be the theme, but perhaps looming apathy is even more dangerous. As Conte quickly (finally?) enters lame duck territory, it feels like this season is about counting down the days.
It is just really hard to call out what can even change. Heung-Min Son, Dejan Kulusevski, and Richarlison are missing the mark, and Cristian Romero has been absolutely out of control since the World Cup. When the players responsible for carrying the team are all drastically underperforming, there is little hope for any sort of success.
The schedule is somewhat favorable for the next month, and Tottenham has the opportunity to really improve its odds to capture fourth place, starting with this Saturday. However, too many times this season the club has failed to seize the path laid in front of it, and at this point we are well beyond the definition of insanity.