Is Tottenham's title challenge about to face its biggest obstacle?

Europa League football returns for Tottenham this week...

Tottenham Hotspur's form in recent weeks has been sensational. And the absence of Europa League football during their most recent period has been no coincidence.

Indeed, it's clear Mauricio Pochettino's men fare better when they aren't traveling across Europe on a Thursday night and then playing on a Sunday afternoon.

And the competition's return this week couldn't be less timely in terms of Tottenham's title challenge. Just two points off the top of the Premier League table, the north London side are in contention for the biggest domestic prize of all.

Their title surge, though, now faces a big obstacle if they intend to also challenge for the Europa League. A look at their league form during the group stages gives a few indications...

  WonDrawnLostPoints per GameMatches
Tottenham 6 8 2 1.63 16

Compare this to Tottenham's form since mid-December, after their 2-1 defeat to Newcastle United (which came directly after a Europa League match)...

  WonDrawnLostPoints per GameMatches
Tottenham 8 1 1 2.5 10

It's a no contest. Obviously, the numbers are a little simplistic. There are other factors - such as Spurs generally hitting better form more recently, while some weeks before mid-December may have yielded more draws without European midweek action anyway.

But the overall point is clear. Over the last couple of months, Tottenham have had more time to train, rest and get organised.

Without continental travel, the north London side have developed into a domestic force. Only Southampton have out-performed them over the last six games - and only by virtue of one point.

The Europa League's return will make things markedly more difficult. The question is: will Tottenham get knocked out against Fiorentina (for the second year in a row), benefiting their hunt for two trophies on home soil, or do they have the squad to cope on all three fronts?

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