The simple truth: Tottenham’s home form has not been good enough
BEFORE kick-off on Saturday it was generally accepted that Spurs were facing a must-win home game against West Bromwich Albion. Five days on, little has changed in that analysis.
Tottenham blew the chance to take fourth place, however briefly, and instead Roberto Mancini’s side now hold a four-point lead.
It was Tottenham’s second draw at White Hart Lane in the space of four days and, while the 3-3 tie with Arsenal could be viewed as a point gained given that the Gunners were 3-1 up, the failure to beat Albion has made a simple truth unavoidable.
Spurs’ home form has not been good enough – in fact, it may have cost them their place in the top four. There have been too many draws, and not enough wins. Too many goals conceded, and not enough scored.
A quick comparison with last season is all it takes. The Lilywhites won 14 of their 19 home games at the Lane in 2009-10, drawing just two. This time they have won just eight – importantly, that is the same number of games that they have drawn.
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Granted, Spurs still have two games to play in N17, and they have only lost one league game at home, against Wigan, which is an improvement.
However, even if Harry Redknapp’s side go on to beat both Blackpool and Birmingham in May, they will still end up with six points less than they collected at the Lane last season – which could easily account for the difference between finishing fourth and fifth.
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Meanwhile, a comparison with Manchester City’s home form over the last two seasons is also illuminating, reflecting the relative fortunes of the two clubs in their new rivalry.
Most noticeable is the fact that Tottenham have drawn twice as many home games as Mancini’s outfit (four) this season – and that trend started on the very first day of the campaign, as Spurs dominated Man City at the Lane but were held to a goalless draw.
That still looks costly, and the Lilywhites have gone on to draw with Chelsea and Arsenal. Last season they won those fixtures – and beat City 3-0 in north London.
Spurs have since been held by Everton and Sunderland and, having failed to overcome 10-man Manchester United in January, they have also drawn with West Ham and Roy Hodgson’s Albion.
Add the European ties with Milan and Real Madrid, and Tottenham have won just one of their last six home matches – the narrow 3-2 victory over Stoke.
Should the Lilywhites miss out on the top four, there will be a whole host of reasons to consider, but one of them was underlined at the weekend.
White Hart Lane has not been the fortress that it was in Spurs’ best ever Premier League campaign – and the punishment is likely to be the absence of Champions League football in N17 next season.