Are Tottenham really in the Premier League title race? We’ll know soon enough
A big few weeks loom for Pochettino and co
We’re entering the business end of the season now, and for Tottenham Hotspur this phase of the campaign represents a sliding doors moment.
They’re just five points off the top of the Premier League table, and they’ve got one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Our traders make Spurs 16/1 for European glory, with 20s available on Mauricio Pochettino’s men winning the Premier League.
They continue to be dismissed whenever a debate of the Premier League title fight crops up. Many regard this season’s contest to be a strictly two-horse race between Liverpool and Manchester City.
But over the next couple of weeks we will find out if that is an accurate assumption, or if this title duel becomes a three-way standoff. Here’s why…
Burnley have their dander up
With four league wins on the spin, Spurs are flying right now. And that’s been achieved without Harry Kane or Dele Alli.
But next up is Burnley and a trip to Turf Moor, and the Clarets have rediscovered their old selves after a difficult first half of the season.
Sean Dyche’s men lost five of their opening seven home games this season. Each of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea enjoyed comfortable victories.
It’s all change now though. The Lancashire outfit have lost just one of their last five on home soil, and overall they’re enjoying a seven-game unbeaten run.
Spurs lost at Turf Moor in 2010 and could only draw in 2015 too. This isn’t a good time to be playing the Clarets.
Then it’s off to West London…
Five days later, Spurs hop across the capital to Chelsea. The Blues have been inconsistent under Maurizio Sarri, but this fixture has taken on a real edge in recent years.
Chelsea are always a force at Stamford Bridge, and would enjoy nothing more than a galvanizing victory over one of their local rivals.
Spurs have a dismal record in West London too, winning once since 1990, and despite their recent struggles, Chelsea can beat anyone on their day.
The other half of North London awaits…
And if two difficult away games weren’t enough, five days after playing Chelsea Pochettino’s men then host Arsenal in the second North London derby of the season.
Kane and Alli should be back by then, but just like with the Blues, Unai Emery’s Gunners will be particularly up for this one.
After a bright first half of the season, Arsenal have fallen away in recent weeks. But they were excellent in showing all of their potential when beating Spurs 4-2 at the Emirates in December.
The Gunners have three winnable home games ahead of their trip to Wembley too, which could see them hit form at the wrong time for Poch’s side.
It’s make or break time
It’s a difficult trio of games, one which will test the strength in depth of Tottenham’s squad. But it’s a run which will also reveal whether Spurs are true title contenders this season.
Granted, trips to Anfield and the Etihad still loom, but if Pochettino’s side can come through the next three games with nine points, then surely they must be regarded as potential champions. Watch this space.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing