With Arsenal on their tail, are Spurs due to implode again?
Draw against Everton means Tottenham are only two points ahead of Gunners, who have a game in hand
DEJA VU anyone? Twelve months after Tottenham suffered an end-of-season slump that cost them a place in the Champions League, the Lilywhites are once again in danger of blowing up in the home straight of the race for fourth spot.
Since beating Arsenal 2-1 on 3 March, a win that took them seven points clear of their north London rivals, Tottenham have taken just four points from their last four Premier League encounters. The latest slip-up was Sunday's 2-2 draw at home to Everton, a result that, combined with Arsenal's 2-1 win away at West Bromwich Albion, means the Gunners are just two points behind Spurs with a game in hand.
Arsenal's goal difference is vastly superior – 27 to Tottenham's 15 – so it's little wonder that Spurs fans are having flashbacks to this time last year, when their team blew a 13-point advantage as Arsenal came strong at the end.
The Gunners haven't lost since that defeat to Spurs and manager Arsene Wenger was in bullish mood after the win at West Brom. "Can we finish fourth? Yes, I believe we will do it," the Frenchman declared. "This was three big points. We have 22 points out of the last 27 but we know our target is to continue to do that until the end of the season."
Last season it was Harry Redknapp who oversaw Tottenham's traumatic end to the season, a failure that contributed to his subsequent sacking. Now it's Andre Villas-Boas doing his best to rally his boys and the former Chelsea boss acknowledged the club is in for a tense few weeks.
"It looks like it will go down to the wire at the end of the season for these Champions League spots," he said, after watching Gylfi Sigurdsson score an equaliser three minutes from time. "It's part of the game. Everything shifts very, very quickly in the Premier League but we have been in this position before and you have to deal with the pressure."
Villas-Boas singled out the Chelsea game as a possible decisive encounter, a fixture that has yet to be rearranged after the original date of 14 April was postponed because of the Blues' FA Cup commitments.
Chelsea's 2-1 win at home to Sunderland on Sunday – thanks to an own goal from the Black Cats' Matt Kilgallon and an effort from Branislav Ivanovic – leap-frogged them into third over Tottenham, though the clubs are level on 58 points.
With Arsenal just two behind, Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez believes the tussle for the third and fourth Champions League spots will be decided at the death. "Tottenham and Arsenal are pushing, and Everton, so we have to carry on until the end," said Benitez. "We can't say it will be done because they will be pushing too."
Everton lie in sixth, four points behind Arsenal, and the two sides meet at the Emirates on Tuesday week in a clash the Gunners will hope ends the Toffees' Champions League dreams.
"Even achieving a Europa League spot is going to be hard this year, so for us to just try to hang in there is what we want to do," said Everton manager David Moyes after Sunday's draw with Spurs. "I think the players, who have played so well this year, deserve to achieve that and that's why I am telling them to keep going."