Bale through the middle, Riley on top
There's hardly much left of the season and yet everything we face feels like it possesses more magnitude than what proceeded it. But what proceeded should not be discounted as failure or dismissed or forgotten about if the reminder of the season limps to the finish line. We deserve to be this position, competing at the top of the league. We're one of the best sides in the country. There are regrets but then there's always regrets.
They'll be two schools of thought with what transpires here on in.
The first is - we've exceeded our original pre-season expectations. With a managerial change, a coaching overhaul, key players leaving and hard hitting injuries we've kept up the chase. The second is, with perhaps more bravery in the transfer market we'd have been better equipped to hold onto our lofty position rather than (hopefully) momentarily lose it, therefore it's another wasted opportunity.
Others might point to the start of the season and reference how slow out of the blocks this new look Spurs side was. It's very easy to pick and choose where it went wrong but it's equally viable to suggest it hasn't gone wrong at all. This is us at our full capacity with what we currently have at our disposal. It's a perfect illustration that we need more if we wish to be stronger when the seasons conclusion is within touching distance. Personally, 3rd place would be done and dusted now had Sandro not got injured.
The game against City is a must win if we still harbour any desire (and chance) of claiming third spot. However, it's also the very last game we can get away with dropping points in. Although for the sake of momentum and belief and applying pressure to those around us, it's defeatist to rationalise another draw or loss at this heart wrenching stage.
Win, lose or draw - we'll probably need Rachel Riley's assistance in calculating all the permutations. Arsenal are in stunning form (point accumulation wise, they're not always convincing but they're on a solid run - and every side they face will roll over for them as it's standard and they are all contractually obliged to do so). Chelsea are prepared with depth in squad and although faced with a congested fixture list, it might prove to be more of a blessing than a hindrance.
The advantage is with both of these teams rather than us, even if it's 'back in our hands' with the game in hand. Both sides are seasoned Champions League participants. Psychologically they know how to handle it. Tottenham might well be mentally strong to remain competitive until the final day of the season. Plenty of our players are talking the talk. If I'm honest, I'm positively buzzing. A combination of nerves and excitement, probably akin to how I would feel if Miss Riley (she's single in my fantasy) sat up next to me in bed and uttered one word; "...again?"
There is nothing to lose and everything to win. If we're simply not at the standard required we'll now soon enough. But we can't go out with a whimper. Everyone, in every remaining game, has to truly believe in all those famous old quotes and the ethos of this famous old club. Otherwise your time is better spent watching episodes of Countdown on freeze-frame.
Adebayor, Holtby, Sigurdsson, Dawson...and anyone else I've left out that has rang out the battle cries this week. What you said, what you shared with us is what I expect by default. I don't care for sound-bites. On the pitch lads because that's the only place it counts.
I do love some stats. They count for nothing much most of the time. City are still chasing an impossible dream but have pride to play for and to be honest don't need to play that well to be able to conjure up some magic (so many match winning players in their side). I can't really guess or hope of any particular type of City performance that would help us. I can only pray we muster up something that deserves to keep our little dream going for another week or two.
Those stats (via @SpursStatMan and @OptaJoe):
Tottenham need 13 points from their remaining 6 games to achieve their best ever points return in the Premier League.
Spurs have won 19 PL games against Man City, they’ve not won more PL games vs. any other side.
Spurs vs. Man City at White Hart Lane - Played 15, Won 10, Lost 2, Drawn 3.
4 - Spurs have lost their last four Premier League encounters with Manc City - this after losing just three of their previous 27. Reversal.
Lennon could be fit. Gareth Bale might be fit. Rachel Riley is fit. Ricky Villa unavailable. We're going to need pace and urgency and complete control of possession when we have it in the middle. There has to be a forceful balance through the side but equally so, we have to take our chances, we have to be clinical. Can we set the tempo? Can we take three points in a game where most would suggest it's unlikely?
I'll say yes to that. Not going to default to self-pity before a ball has been kicked.