Sky Sports pundit and former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher believes that the enforced three-month break has boosted Tottenham Hotspur’s chances of finishing the Premier League campaign in the top-four.
Jose Mourinho’s side are currently eighth in the league table, seven points off the Champions League places, but will fancy their chances of landing one of the four spots for next season’s elite European competition given the current shape of their squad.
Injuries to key players in midfield and attack stripped Tottenham to the bare bones prior to the break, but Moussa Sissoko, Tanguy Ndombele, Harry Kane, Steven Bergwijn and Son Heung-min are all back and raring to go.
With Manchester City currently banned from next season’s Champions League, a fifth-place finish will be enough to secure a place in the competition if the ban is upheld, and only four points separate Spurs from the team currently occupying the spot – Manchester United.
Both teams clash when Premier League action resume in a fortnight, and Carragher reckons Mourinho is confident of finishing the campaign on an impressive note.
“It is the closest race for Champions League places in years, complicated by the fact the final position will be determined by the Court of Arbitration for Sport,” he wrote in his Telegraph column.
“I can tell in the shift in tone from Mourinho’s most recent interviews he knows Spurs’ chances are enhanced by the combination of City’s legal fight and the temporary pause in fixtures.
“Three months ago, Spurs looked like a club needing to regroup and start afresh. Mourinho thought he was going to reassemble his players this summer with 38 games to lead the club back into Europe’s premier competition. Now he must believe he can still do it in the next nine.”
Tottenham face West Ham United, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Newcastle United, Arsenal, Bournemouth and Everton in their other eight fixtures, and it will be interesting to see if Mourinho can guide his men to a top-four/five finish.