Tottenham bounced back from three successive defeats with a comfortable 2-0 win over West Brom on Sunday and despite their recent results they remain firmly in the hunt for a top-four finish.
Although they still lie down in eighth place, Spurs have a game in hand over the top six teams and bookmakers currently give Jose Mourinho’s men odds of 7/2 to finish in the Champions League positions.
That makes them sixth favourites, but with even the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool looking capable of losing control of what had been considered a formality a matter of weeks ago, Tottenham are well placed to pick up any pieces.
Before Christmas, Tottenham were top of the Premier League table and being touted as title contenders, but an unstable Festive period coupled with an injury to Harry Kane put any such talk to bed.
Man City: 🖐 points clear at the top pic.twitter.com/5TuKOgw3Ov— Premier League (@premierleague) February 7, 2021
However, their top four rivals have also looked unconvincing of late so Spurs have not lost insurmountable ground despite the successive defeats to Liverpool, Brighton and Chelsea.
“When you look at the strength in depth they’ve got, I still think it’s doable,” former Spurs goalkeeper Paul Robinson told bookmakers.co.uk.
“Yes, the Brighton result was particularly disappointing – the performance level wasn’t what it should be and then there were questions marks around Jose for the way he set up defensively against Chelsea.
“But I do honestly think they can make the top four. It wasn’t long ago we were talking about Spurs as title contenders so we can’t rule them out of the running for top four.
“Manchester City seem unstoppable at the moment in terms of the title but there’s nobody else making a definite claim for a top four finish so it’s all to play for.”
Rampant City Up Next
Indeed, it’s Manchester City who Tottenham face next in the league, with the Citizens looking like they’ll run away with the title having amassed a five-point lead over Manchester United and a 10-point lead over Liverpool, with a game in hand in both cases.
City are on a run of 10 consecutive Premier League wins so the odds heavily favour Pep Guardiola’s side in what will also serve as a dress rehearsal for April’s League Cup final.
Tottenham will go into that Wembley showdown aiming for their first piece of silverware since 2008 but Robinson insists the Premier League has to be their priority and hopes they can take points off City this coming weekend.
“The top four is vital for Spurs’ players and the manager,” he said. “Yes, it’s important to win domestic trophies, but a League Cup success when compared to Champions League qualification can’t be considered to be as important.
“When you look at the lost revenue that clubs have already suffered this season, the Champions League is where Tottenham need to be next year.
“They want to be competing for trophies in this country but they also want to be competing in the Champions League, but the top four has to be the more important target.”
The three successive league defeats saw Mourinho’s Sack Race betting odds cut from 6/1 to 7/2 following the Chelsea loss, but the win over the Baggies – aided greatly by the return of Kane – appears to have eased pressure on the Portuguese.
Mourinho’s Sack Race Odds
Mourinho is back out to 5/1 third favourite to be the next manager sacked, behind Sam Allardyce and Steve Bruce, but Robinson does not believe the pressure is real, pointing out that Mourinho is still in the hunt for the League Cup, FA Cup, Europa League and Champions League qualification.
“They’ve got a real opportunity to get in the top four and win a trophy which would be classed as a success,” said Robinson ahead of Tottenham's tricky fifth round FA Cup tie at Everton on Wednesday.
“Yes, they are inconsistent and you could question whether they play too defensively at times, but at the end of the day they’re in a League Cup final and they’re still competing on all fronts.
“Jose was brought in to get the club over the line. This season his remit would have been a domestic trophy and Champions League football for next season.
“Mauricio Pochettino did a fantastic job in the five years he was there, but he couldn’t take the team to that next level and that’s why Jose has been brought in.
“Jose has a better team and a better squad than Pochettino had and it’s now up to him and the players to get the club where the chairman wants them to be and I think he’s on the way to doing that.”
It has been suggested that managers have benefitted from the lack of fans at stadiums this season, with no boos ringing out at full-time following a bad result or mid-game heckling from home support.
Support For Mourinho
Although Robinson agrees Mourinho may have avoided some unsavoury responses from Tottenham supporters of late, he reiterated his support for the manager who he expects to remain in charge for the foreseeable future.
“Not having fans in stadiums has hugely effected football, not only results but all sorts of other things,” he said.
“An empty stadium can work in a manager’s favour without the fans but I honestly don’t think Jose is under any pressure whatsoever.
“If there was a full stadium watching them against Chelsea, considering how deep they sat, there would be a few more murmurs of unrest about the way they play.
“But when you look at the job he’s done overall, the squad that he has amassed, his time in charge has brought improvements. OK, it’s a different Spurs and there are question marks over some of the results and performances, but you’re always going to get that along the way.
“When you look at his tenure as a whole, I don’t see him as being under pressure at all.”
For all his support of Mourinho, former England No.1 Robinson would still like to see the Spurs manager play to his squad’s strength – the midfield and attack, which were at its most potent earlier in the season when they destroyed Manchester United 6-1 on their on patch.
“Spurs’ main strength is in the middle and the final third, so I do think they play too defensive at times,” he said.
“We saw them go to Old Trafford and play to their strengths and score six goals past a good Manchester United team. So when they do play offensively they are a better team.”
Tottenham are a best price of 17/2 to win at the Etihad this Saturday with Manchester City expected to make it 11 league wins on the trot.