Life at the Top

Spurs vs Everton 9th Feb 2014

Soccer Sunday see another Spurs game, the early kick-off this time, and another crunch tie. That is the way of life at the top of the Premier League, it provides a pressure players have to be able to deal with.

Liverpool thrashed Arsenal just as they thrashed us, Chelsea marched on, Man City slipped up away from home again, Southampton, the rank outsiders for a Champions League place, could only draw and Manchester United play the woeful Fulham today. Why weren't Fulham woeful when they played us?

Having been hammered by Man City for the second time this season, all be it with the help of the officials, and only gaining a draw away to Stoke, the Everton game suddenly takes on added significance.

Apart from being our rivals, today you could suggests determines whether we are chasing the Champions League or the Europa League. A look at the Premier League table now see the danger of a gap starting to open.

Chelsea   56 pts GD +27
Arsenal    55 pts GD +22
Man City 54 pts GD +41
Liverpool 50 pts GD +33
Everton   45 pts GD +12
SPURS    44 pts GD -1

Six points behind Liverpool before today. If we are to challenge for the top four we simply have to win today because it is very difficult to close a gap once it starts to open. Our record against the top teams is woeful, the worst of all our rivals, we have claimed only 2 points at home against the top seven.

We have only earned 11 points from our last 10 home fixtures (W3, D3, L4) and we have won just 2 of our last 13 Premier League matches against Everton. That all paints a poor picture.

There are some positives however. We are 2 points better off than at the same stage last season when a record number of points still didn't get us Champions League football. We have scored in all 8 Premier League games under Tim Sherwood, winning 5, drawing 2 and losing 1. Only the current top three clubs have earned more points in the same period. Spurs are yet to lose a league game from a winning position this season.

Negatives, positives, we can look at them all we like, at the end of the day it boils down to how players handle pressure. The end of a season has seen Spurs bottle it more than once, the pressure being too much for some of our lads.

That pressure affects the staff as well, they are under pressure to get the tactics right and can only sit, watch and hope. They get a chance at half-time to change things but it's down to the guys on the field.

Pressure sorts the men from the boys, the good players from the high quality players. You perform or you bottle it. You can handle it or you can't. The mental side of the game takes over, can you pick the right pass under pressure, can you make the right decision again and again and again or is your mistake going to cost the match.

Different players respond in different ways. We don't know how this squad will handle the fear of a gap developing if they lose to a rival today. Their record is poor, this is a must win game. Chasing two teams is a lot harder than chasing one, whilst one may slip up asking two to do so starts putting the odds against you.

What way will Tim's selections go, will he get the formation right, will his gun-ho tactics work against a passing team. In a few hours we will know if we are still outsiders for the Champions League or whether we can virtually give up on that idea.

Fingers crossed, come on boys, COYS.

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