Can Tottenham Handle the Pressure?
It’s make or break for the North London outfit. Will their season be shaped by the next two weeks?
It’s not very often that late February/early March can be considered a season-defining period for a club, but for Tottenham it’s exactly that.
In the next 17 days they have to prepare for six games, including a League Cup Final against Chelsea on the 1st March, which could potentially decide whether 2014/15 is a good year or a just another mediocre season.
There have been many positives for Spurs fans so far this season. They’ve witnessed the emergence of wonderkid Harry Kane, recently named January Player of the Month after scoring five goals in as many games – including a brace against Chelsea. Not to mention a huge 2-1 derby win against their most bitter rivals Arsenal – another double scored by the 21-year-old. They’re now sixth in the table and just three points off a top four spot. Not bad after a slow start to the season.
But will they still be cheering in mid-March?
Tonight they take on Fiorentina in the last 32 of the Europa League. A good result in the first leg is a must, especially as they travel to the away leg in Florence just three days prior to the showpiece at Wembley.
Mauricio Pochettino will have some tough choices to make in the coming weeks regarding his team selections and will surely want a full squad to pick from for the final, so you can’t imagine the likes of Harry Kane, Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris travelling next week if it can be avoided.
Win both legs, and they’ve passed their first test, complete with a Europa League quarter-final to look forward to.
Wedged in-between the reverse fixture, it’s a good ol’ fashioned London derby against bitter rivals West Ham. Bragging rights are on the line, and it’ll be a tough encounter against a Hammers side who are having a pretty good season by their standards.
Sam Allardyce’s men have won three of their last five encounters against Spurs, including the last two at White Hart Lane, and they’ll like nothing more than to be able to dent their rivals’ chances of finishing in the top four.
However, a win for the Lillywhites will only increase their belief that they can bag themselves an all-important Champions League spot.
It was 2008, the first League Cup Final to be played at the new Wembley Stadium, Tottenham defeated Chelsea 2–1, after extra time, winning their first trophy for nine years.
Fast forward seven years and the Blues have won a Premier League Title (2009/10), two FA Cups (2009/10, 2011/12), a UEFA Champions League (2011/12) and a UEFA Europa League (2012/13), while Spurs still only have the DVD of that win.
A victory for Tottenham on March 1st would set them up for a thrilling final furlong in their season. They’ll have defeated very good opposition, they’ll have overcome fixture congestion. But most of all they’ll have the knowledge that they can win silverware. This will not only fuel their belief that they can go on and win the Europa League but also that they can do the one thing they have never failed to achieve: finish above Arsenal in the league.
It’ll be a tense time for Spurs fans over the next fortnight and some, but if there’s ever been a more important February/March for a club, we’ve yet to see it. Can they show the character and resolve to pass the tests in front of them?