COMMENTARY | Tottenham Hotspur don't deserve Champions League after Saturday. Depending on what happens during Sunday's Premier League fixtures, Spurs may not have a say in what European competition they earn; or are stuck with.
What's most frustrating about Tottenham's 2-2 draw at Wigan from the Spurs point of view is that the visitors, a side that's fighting to finish in the top-four of the league table, were thoroughly out-everything'd by a club that would be going down if the season ended today. Wigan gifted Spurs two goals, one in the first ten minutes of play and one at the death, but they were also the better side in the 80 minutes that separated those two tallies. Tottenham can now do nothing but watch and hope that both Chelsea and Arsenal stumble in their Sunday games.
It literally can never be easy for this team.
Six days after Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas got everything right when it mattered most, positioning his team for a thrilling rally against Manchester City, AVB chose a rather interesting lineup that also happened to not at all be up for what was a very winnable game on paper. Kyle Naughton is just not able to handle the job of left back, and that Villas-Boas continues to press that particular issue has taken a turn from curious to infuriating. As much as I appreciate all that Scott Parker did for Spurs a season ago, it's very clear that the Achilles injury that kept him out for most of the first half of this campaign has eliminated the player of old, perhaps for good.
Then there's Aaron Lennon, who began the match on the bench because of a nagging knee injury. The speedy winger looked perfectly fine during his shift of roughly 20 minutes, leaving me to ask the inevitable question: Why didn't Villas-Boas bring Lennon on earlier? Tottenham had zero width in the opening 74 minutes of the game, and a Parker-for-Lennon exchange was so obviously the right move that the Spurs supporters in attendance were singing the player's name 20 minutes before he appeared.
Most unsettling about the manager's performance is that his players looked utterly flat. The header from Emmerson Boyce that leveled the match two minutes after a comedic error allowed Gareth Bale to open the scoring seemed to devastate Spurs, who still had everything to play for with 80+ minutes left on the clock. They appeared to have no energy after the break, leaving me to wonder what Villas-Boas said to his side during halftime. In all, it was a disappointing afternoon for Spurs, who have some soul-searching to do before they host Southampton on May 4.
It is, of course, unfair to place all of the blame on Villas-Boas. He wasn't responsible for Jan Vertonghen giving the previously mentioned Boyce far too much space inside the box on the set piece that cost Tottenham a goal (although Villas-Boas making sure he had a marker on the far post may have prevented the equalizer). AVB also didn't squander glorious scoring opportunities at the end of both halves.
Maybe, when all is said and done, we'll be able to look back at this game and talk about the vital point Spurs earned, a point that proved to be the difference in Tottenham earning Champions League over Arsenal or Chelsea. For at least a 24-hour period in April, however, the draw certainly feels like a loss. Is it time for a "Same Old Spurs" appearance in such a piece?
Not yet, but that time does not seem far off at the moment.
Zac has been covering Tottenham Hotspur, Major League Soccer, RBNY, the USMNT and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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