Last weekend’s win over Crystal Palace was overdue for Tottenham Hotspur after a rough stretch that effectively ended the quest for fourth place. Champions League qualification was always a long shot, but it looked for a period of time that any European competition was going to be difficult to earn (which some, including myself, are ok with).
However, those three points make it nearly certain that Spurs will finish in the top seven, and perhaps even sixth to snag a Europa League berth. Any sort of result against Aston Villa, who sits just three points back, should be enough to keep Tottenham ahead given Villa’s final two fixtures: Liverpool and Brighton.
Even with a loss, Spurs are likely to get more points against Brentford and Leeds than Villa will in its two, meaning Saturday is not necessarily a must-win for those hoping for an extra competition next season, though a win especially puts that to bed and could also go a long way toward any effort to stay ahead of Brighton.
Aston Villa (8th, 54pts) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (6th, 57pts)
Date: Saturday, May 13
Time: 10:00 am ET, 3:00 pm UK
Location: Villa Park, Birmingham, England
TV: Peacock Premium (USA)
Villa has been a bit of a pleasant surprise this season, hovering near the top seven despite squarely midtable metrics. A stunning 8-2-0 stretch starting in late February is what boosted the club to the cusp of the European places, but consecutive losses over the past two weekends put a significant damper on those chances.
Still, this season has been a success and should be something to build upon next year. Ollie Watkins ranks ninth with 14 goals scored, and the squad’s second half charge should provide some optimism heading into the summer. However, the final three fixtures are tough, and it is quite possible the season ends on a bit of a skid. Nevertheless, that should not completely erase the all positives.
- Jan 2023: 0-2 loss, home
Spurs did not exactly dominate Palace, but a win is a win. Ryan Mason is showing a bit more flexibility in his tactics, and while everything is sure to change with a new manager next fall, all supporters are probably ready to move onto something completely fresh from the Antonio Conte/Cristian Stellini failures, so change is always welcome.
The latest player to get a little revival was Emerson Royal, who put in a nice shift last weekend. It feels like changes are going to happen all across the backline, so these last few matches are essential for players like Royal, Clement Lenglet, and Ben Davies. Pedro Porro has a longer leash, but his development is crucial to this club’s success, so a strong final month from him would be welcome as well.
Of course, the focus will continue to be on the attacking band, with Richarlison proving his potential — with or without actual goals — and Heung-Min Son calming down some of the critics with a decent end to the year. All eyes remain most focused on Harry Kane, though, as he climbs up the record books while also considering his future.