Following Spurs 1-0 defeat to Arsenal in the North London derby on Sunday, Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen claims he does not want to look at the Premier League table anymore, asserting his belief the fight for the top four is over now for the North Londoners, along with their objective of Champions League football next term.
The stakes were indeed high this weekend as the Gunners visited White Hart Lane – Spurs remain in 5th place in the table, but are now 7 points behind Manchester City who have no less than three games in hand but does that necessarily mean Spurs’ objectives are over for this season?
There is no doubt defeat to their rivals was a big blow and tough to take but, personally, I think Vertonghen is jumping the gun with his resignation – Arsenal still have yet to face Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton (as well as Newcastle) in their last 9 games of the season with Liverpool still to face City, Chelsea, Newcastle and Spurs yet and I suspect it’ll be between the Gunners, Liverpool and Spurs for that fourth place.
At present, both of the former are still technically involved in the title race but by the end of this month either one or both of them could be in jeopardy of falling out of the top four – there is still a lot for Spurs to play for and, whilst it looks all the more difficult after Sunday’s defeat, it is by no means outside the realms of possibility and I think Vertonghen’s comments are a bit too soon.
“I do not want to look at the table any more because the gap (on the top four) is very big,” stated the Belgian.
“All four sides at the top are stronger than they were last year and we have stayed at the same level. If you see last season, then we did not improve.”
There are still 24 points up for grabs for Spurs and, who knows, if they can take as many of those as possible they can, at the very least, keep the pressure on the two Reds’ sides as we head towards the end of the season – between now and May, Arsenal and Liverpool could very easily drop 9 points with the fixtures they face. The one thing Tottenham must have is belief.
It sounds as if Vertonghen has given up on the top four for this season – evidenced by his comments on next year:
“I think we do have the players to achieve Champions League (qualification) and I hope we can achieve it next year.”
I believe Jan Vertonghen may just be talking from his disappointed perspective following the North London derby defeat but I think (and hope) in the cold light of day, he’ll look at the table once more and remember there are still 8 games left for Spurs to at least try to take maximum points.
Without the belief and the courage to give it their best shot, it’ll be near-impossible. He may not want to look at the table but he must look in the mirror and find the confidence and desire to try, for the sake of fans and the badge, if nothing else. The fans and the manager do not want to hear that one of the team’s strongest leaders have given up.