"Win four in four" was the motto for Tottenham Hotspur back on the morning of April 29. Spurs fell just one game short of that goal, and they will now need some help from Bayern Munich to be given Champions League football.
What a start: The Spurs team of last fall made a brief appearance at White Hart Lane on Sunday, jumping ahead of Fulham less than two minutes into play. Emmanuel Adebayor began a give-and-go sequence in the left portion of the Fulham penalty area, one that concluded with a beautiful through ball from Rafael Van der Vaart. Adebayor got past a weak defensive effort before slotting home the opening goal, and Spurs were off and running.
The hosts didn't even slow down after Yossi Benayoun put Arsenal up over West Brom just a couple of minutes following the Adebayor goal. West Brom gave Spurs true hope with two responses before the 15-minute mark, but André Santos then buried an equalizer for the Gunners a half-hour into that contest. Tottenham seemed to slow down in their match following the Santos goal, and Fulham were the more aggressive side leading up to halftime. Spurs went into the dressing room up 1-0 at the break and with third place in hand.
Heroic performance: Ageless goalkeeper Brad Friedel had himself one more memorable match of the season. Friedel made several sprawling saves in both halves, and a duo of stops made by the veteran 'keper in the final ten minutes of play preserved Tottenham's lead and crushed any hopes of a rally held by the visitors. He never wavered even after Arsenal found a third and game-winning goal in the second half of their match. Friedel was, when acquired last season, hoped to be the consistent goalkeeper the Spurs team of 2010-11 would have loved featuring in important games. He was that and more throughout this campaign.
Lesson learned: Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp was criticized by fans and analysts for the way he handled his squad in the team's disappointing 1-1 result against Aston Villa. He used just one substitute in that contest, waited until one minute from time to do so, and then subbed on what many called the "wrong player." Redknapp made the right move on Sunday, subbing Jermain Defoe on for Rafael Van der Vaart right at the hour mark. Defoe didn't wait for long to make an impact, as a deflected shot from Aaron Lennon caused the ball to land right into the path of Defoe. The substitute pounced on the ball and tapped home the second and final goal of the contest just three minutes after taking the pitch, and fourth place was guaranteed for Spurs.
What it means: Arsenal finish the season in third place and with Champions League football guaranteed to them. The Gunners end things on 70 points. Spurs complete the season on 69 points. Newcastle finish fifth on 65 points.
Overall: Spurs now need Bayern Munich to defeat Chelsea on May 19, or else Tottenham will once again be relegated to Europa League and "Spursdays Thursdays." For 19 teams, the Premier League season concluded on Survival Sunday. Spurs supporters, however, have one more nervous week ahead of them.
It's never easy.