Cast your mind back three weeks: Tottenham Hotspur comfortably saw off bitter rivals Arsenal, taking them to the top of the Premier League. Harry Kane and Heung-min Son were once again the superstars, and Jose Mourinho was back at the top of his game. The Lilywhites were flying.
Fast forward to the present day, and the picture looks very different now. Four games without victory, four drab performances, and four places dropped. The Mourinho masterclasses are starting to look like flukes, and the Spurs title shouts are beginning to seem very reactionary.
Sunday’s draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers really summed up Spurs’ recent form. After taking an early lead through some pretty poor goalkeeping, Tottenham adopted a defensive strategy, showing little attacking threat, hoping to hold on for 90 minutes, before eventually succumbing to a Romain Saiss header in the 86th minute. And it could have been even worse if Fabio Silva hadn’t squandered a glorious chance in injury time.
Mourinho’s biggest critics were out in full force post-match. Why play so negatively? Given the attacking talent in his squad, why not be a bit more adventurous? Wolves lost their biggest attacking threat to injury. What is Jose so afraid of?
Ultimately, it’s a risk that looks great when it works, but terrible when it backfires. Mourinho was hailed as a genius after counter-attacking his way to victory against Manchester City. And, on another day, they’d have held out against and taken three points from Molineux.
But, after four underwhelming results, the former Real Madrid boss is being called a dinosaur again. They’ve dropped points in games when they really shouldn’t have, failed to keep a clean sheet, and even star man Harry Kane is yet to register a goal or an assist in his last three outings.
It was a real missed opportunity against Wolves. Chelsea had lost, Liverpool had dropped points at home to West Bromwich Albion, and Leicester City and Manchester United had both drawn. A win would’ve taken Tottenham up to third place, four points off the top. Alas, they drew, leaving them in fifth.
It’s not quite game over for Mourinho’s men, but they’ll need to turn it around soon if they’re to be considered serious title contenders.
They end 2020 with a home game against Fulham, who currently sit in the relegation zone. After that, they begin the new year by welcoming Leeds United to North London. Both sides are notoriously weak at the back.
Following the Leeds game is a trip to Aston Villa. While Dean Smith’s men have been in fine form this season, they still don’t have the quality in their side that Spurs possess. After this game is a visit to Bramall Lane to face struggling Sheffield United.
These are four very winnable games for Tottenham. While it would be naive to expect a walkover, Spurs should be aiming for 12 points. On top of this, fans will be hoping for a more positive approach, especially against sides who would likely be satisfied with a draw against the Lilywhites.
Who comes after these four games? None other than league leaders Liverpool. If they can go into this game within six points of the Reds, then Spurs will have a great chance to put themselves back in contention for the Premier League trophy.
If they don’t, however, then it may well be the end of the line for Mourinho’s title hopes.