With five games left to go in the 2021/22 Premier League season, Tottenham Hotspur are still in the race for a top-four finish, albeit currently behind arch-rivals Arsenal.
Just two weeks ago, many Spurs fans would have been very confident about their chances of Champions League football next season.
They were three points clear in fourth, they were coming off the back of four straight wins, the goals were flying in, Arsenal were losing every game they played, and the Gunners had tough fixtures to come.
Fast forward to the present day and Spurs have picked up just one point from games against Brighton and Brentford, while Arsenal managed to come through Chelsea away and Man United at home with a maximum six points.
The one bonus is that, in my opinion, Arsenal dumped Man United out of the top four race by beating them at The Emirates.
It would have been better for Spurs if United had managed at least a draw, but at least the top four race now only involves two horses.
Spurs and Arsenal both have five games left, with the Gunners sitting on 60 points and 12 goal difference, while the Lilywhites have 58 points and 18 goal difference.
In terms of fixtures left to play, it looks like this:
Tottenham’s final five games:
- Leicester (H) – May 1
- Liverpool (A) – May 7
- Arsenal (H) – May 12
- Burnley (H) – May 15
- Norwich (A) – May 22
Arsenal’s final five games:
- West Ham (A) – May 1
- Leeds United (H) – May 8
- Tottenham (A) – May 12
- Newcastle (A) – May 16
- Everton (H) – May 22
While Spurs once had the easier run-in, they are now approaching a difficult run of games whereas Arsenal have navigated a safe path through their toughest matches.
However, we are talking on paper, and the two North London clubs have rarely paid attention to that paper all season.
In my opinion, Spurs will have to win four out of their remaining five games to book a place in the top four, at the very least.
Of course, one of those wins will have to come in the North London Derby. Anything short of a win at home there and it will be Europa League next season.
In terms of where each team may slip up, it is hard to predict but I will have a go anyway.
To be honest, I expect Spurs and Arsenal to both beat Leicester and West Ham pretty comfortably at the weekend. Both sides have huge European semi-finals and will likely be resting key stars and extremely distracted with that.
Liverpool away is where I expect Spurs to have the toughest time in the run-in, for obvious reasons. It also doesn’t help that it comes in the same week that Arsenal play Leeds United at home, a game they will be heavy favourites to win.
Unfortunately, I would expect Arsenal to have a four or five-point lead after that round of fixtures, leading us nicely into the derby. Of course, my money has to be on Spurs here; anything short of a win and we may as well not speak about the top-four race.
That would bring the points difference down to just one or two, if my predictions are correct. With Spurs facing Burnley at home and Norwich away, they would be expecting to get all six points and a decent number of goals.
Hopefully, this will put all the pressure on Arsenal to not drop a single point.
Newcastle away, I believe, is Tottenham’s best chance of the Gunners slipping up in their final five matches. Everton on the final day of the season may also be a battle if the Toffees need a win to remain in the Premier League.
If you asked me today, I would have to say that Arsenal are my favourites for a top-four finish. However, I would point out that no one expected Spurs to be in a top-four fight at all this season – they are ahead of schedule under Antonio Conte.
And there is still the very real chance that, if Arsenal slip up and Tottenham rediscover their form, Champions League football could be back in N17 next season.
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