'Spurs are sweating over top-four finish'

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Tottenham fell to a late defeat at West Bromwich Albion courtesy of Jake Livermore’s stoppage-time winner, leaving Mauricio Pochettino’s sweating over their place in the top four.

5th May 2018

Spurs were dominant in the first-half but only tested Ben Foster a couple of times. Harry Kane came closest, latching onto Kieran Trippier’s fine through ball and firing at the head of Foster, who stood up well.

Toby Alderweireld’s was forced to clear a Jay Rodriguez shot off the line just before half-time. West Brom didn’t create much after the break as the visitors took control of the contest again. 

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But Tottenham couldn’t find a way through the Baggies’ determined back line, and the hosts soon began to threaten with set pieces. Their final corner was bundled in by Livermore and Spurs were left ruing their luck.

Alderweireld and Rose return with mixed results

In what he called a response to recent performances, Pochettino reverted from the 4-2-3-1 formation he has preferred this season to the 3-4-3 he so often used in the previous campaign.

The returning Alderweireld was solid on the right of the back three. The Belgian may be needed again in midweek after his countryman Jan Vertonghen hurt his ankle. Alderweireld will likely partner Davinson Sanchez against Newcastle.

Danny Rose saw more of the ball than Trippier on the other side but was less effective, running into blind alleys and failing to produce any useful deliveries. He has certainly lost some of his dynamism following a lengthy lay-off with a knee injury.

With both Alderweireld and Rose expected to depart this summer, admittedly I thought we may have already seen the last of them. I still think they’ll leave, but it’s good to know Pochettino is willing to use them when appropriate.

Spurs have made a mistake with Kane

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Kane has been rushed back from the ankle injury he suffered in March. Either that or he has rushed himself back. 

The striker came close to scoring – he always does – but his touch was wayward and he didn’t look fit, which has been the case ever since his return.

Arguably our two best away performances of the season came without Kane. He wasn’t on the pitch for any of the four goals at Bournemouth (the game in which he limped off) or the three goals at Chelsea (the game in which he returned from the bench). 

Now, of course, I’m not debating Kane’s place in the side; when fit he’s our best player. But he is clearly far from 100%, and Tottenham should have kept him away from the starting line-up for two or three more games after Chelsea.

Champions League or bust

At the time of writing, Liverpool and Chelsea are yet to meet on Sunday. Depending on the result at Stamford Bridge, Spurs may need either one or four points from their final two matches – Newcastle and Leicester at Wembley – to secure Champions League qualification.

Having been10 points clear of Chelsea not long ago, we shouldn’t really be in this situation. I’ll be breathing a huge sigh of relief on the final day if we retain fourth place.

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