The expectations were high for Tottenham this season, having spent about £100m on bringing the likes of Vlad Chiriches, Etienne Capoue, Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado, but the departure of Gareth Bale was simply too much for Villas-Boas to recover from, and he subsequently lost his job in December.
A number of names were linked with the post, including Mauricio Pochettino and Michael Laudrup, but Spurs handed the job to former player Tim Sherwood, and the turnaround has been so staggering that they could still finish above Arsenal – who were top of the league when former Chelsea boss Villas-Boas got the chop.
With twelve games left, it will take a lot to finish above their North London rivals, but there is certainly a chance that they can claw back the six point gap.
March will almost certainly be the month that shapes the fate or both sides. Arsenal will have to balance FA Cup and Champions League commitments alongside league fixtures away at Chelsea and at home to Manchester City, whilst Spurs also have to travel to Stamford Bridge and to Liverpool in a tough run of fixtures.
But the key to finishing above Arsenal would be to beat the Gunners at White Hart Lane on March 16th. Arsenal will have played the second leg of their Champions League tie against Bayern Munich just days before, and Spurs must capitalise on this in order to leapfrog Arsene Wenger's side and secure Champions League qualification.
Arsena's inability to win the big games this season could present Spurs with a perfect opportunity to shock their rivals and finish above them, especially with Sherwood leading a complete turnaround. Led by a rejuvenated Emmanuel Adebayor and the talented youngster Nabil Bentaleb, Sherwood has led Spurs to key results over the likes of Everton and Newcastle United, and their end of the season could be a prime time to pick up points.
Home games against Sunderland, Fulham and Aston Villa as well as away games at West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City and West Ham are all winnable on paper, and Sherwood should be looking to pick up a large number of points in those games. It may have seemed incredibly unlikely when Villas-Boas was sacked, but if Spurs can keep up their current form, they have a legitimate shot of overtaking their fierce rivals.
image: © wonker