Tottenham face the unfortunate prospect of winning their final 13 games, finishing with a record points haul, and still failing to win the Premier League title.
Spurs downed Arsenal 2-0 in the north London derby on Sunday, but it was a victory stained by Chelsea’s earlier win over Everton at Goodison Park.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side only have four games to overturn a four-point deficit, with their rivals facing a far kinder run-in, so is there any hope of it going the distance?
SPURS’ MISSION (ALMOST) IMPOSSIBLE
First things first: Tottenham must win their remaining four games to have a sniff of the title. And it’s a tough ask, given just one of those fixtures is at White Hart Lane.
West Ham (a)
Manchester United (h)
Leicester City (a)
Hull City (a)
They can slice the gap to just one point if they beat West Ham on Friday night – with Chelsea playing 72 hours later – which should heap more pressure on Antonio Conte’s charges. And strangely, it might be the easiest game of the lot. The Hammers aren’t going down with 39 points, despite Slaven Bilic’s insistence they’re not safe, and have stuttered at home all season.
On paper, eternally unbeaten Manchester United represent the biggest threat. But will they really go for it, just three days after a Europa League semi-final decider? They may have an uncanny ability of grinding out draws, but Spurs are rampant at home and it’s hard to see them failing to score on their White Hart Lane send-off.
Then there’s Leicester City, pushing for a top-half finish and hugely impressive in front of their own fans, and Hull City, engulfed in a relegation scrap and likely needing a result on the final day. It’s a huge ask for Spurs – but four wins is not unfathomable.
“We have reduced the gap to Chelsea again. And now we have to be focused because we have on Friday a very important game against West Ham. We will have the chance to play before. It will be a tough game and a difficult game and if we are able to win we will see what happens. It could be (important). The race for the title is down to four points and we will see what will happen.”
BUT IT’S CHELSEA’S TO LOSE…
A quick scan of Chelsea’s fixture list says everything you need to know: only a massive bottle job can cost them the title.
West Bromwich Albion (a)
West Brom have downed tools since securing their Premier League status – a true indicator of any Tony Pulis side – Watford are incapable of winning away from home and Sunderland are, well, Sunderland.
Tottenham fans can at least be encouraged by Middlesbrough’s past two outings: they have beaten Manchester City at the weekend, and the relegation-haunted northerners have drawn at the Emirates and the Etihad in 2016-17. But it’s a bleak picture when your best hope is a side ranked 19th in the table.
Chelsea can afford to drop points in one of the above fixtures; in reality, it’s hard to see anyone stopping their title procession.