Arsenal needs a favor from Tottenham in the title race. Current form suggests it won't happen

Four straight losses. The team's worst run of results for 20 years. Two clean sheets since the end of October.

Those looking at Tottenham to provide a late twist in the Premier League title race are, given the current evidence, going to be disappointed.

Manchester City's May 14 trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, for its next-to-last game of the season, appeared to many the last possible stumbling block for the champions in their bid to reel in Arsenal and secure an unprecedented fourth straight title.

After all, not only have Spurs plenty to play for — they're still just about fighting for Champions League qualification — but they haven't lost, or even conceded a goal, against City in their four league meetings at Tottenham's new stadium since it opened in 2019.

Arsenal, though, is surely losing hope of a favor from its north London neighbor.

Similarly, Tottenham fans might be starting to lose hope that Ange Postecoglou is the man to bring a winning culture to the club without a trophy since 2008.

It all started so well for the first-ever Australian to coach in the Premier League.

Tottenham was top of the league in early November, unbeaten and playing the kind of attacking football its supporters always crave. No manager had ever taken 26 points from his first 10 games in the Premier League before Postecoglou came along with a high defensive line and an aggressive, front-foot style.

Postecoglou, it seemed, was the perfect antidote to Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte, pragmatic and defense-first coaches whose spells in charge of Tottenham promised so much but ended so sourly.

Fast-forward six months and it feels like the season cannot end soon enough for Spurs, who are limping to the finish line, and Postecoglou, who is beginning to understand the size of the task he took on almost a year ago.

"We need change. Change has to happen," Postecoglou said ahead of Tottenham's 4-2 loss at Liverpool on Sunday. It was a fourth defeat in a row, something that hasn't happened since those grim final days of Jacques Santini at Spurs in late 2004.

Over the past month there has been a 4-0 loss at Newcastle, a 3-2 home loss to Arsenal when Tottenham was three goals behind at halftime, a 2-0 loss at Chelsea and then the defeat at Anfield that saw a lethargic-looking Spurs fall 4-0 down after 59 minutes.

And this is the team Arsenal hopes can halt the City juggernaut next week?

Tottenham should still seal fifth place, and qualification for the Europa League, because either side of the visit of City are matches against Burnley and already-relegated Sheffield United — the bottom two teams in the league.

Spurs are seven points behind fourth-place Aston Villa and four ahead of sixth-place Newcastle.

It raises the question of whether the first season under Postecoglou has been a success.

Spurs fans likely would have taken a fifth-place finish after seeing England captain and record scorer Harry Kane leave for Bayern Munich last August. With Hugo Lloris and Eric Dier also departing during the season, a huge amount of experience was lost and it's in these tough final weeks of the season where that lack of senior leaders in the squad has been exposed.

It also seems that, as a whole, the fan base is still behind Postecoglou and his refreshing outlook, even if his insistence on sticking to his attacking principles can come across as naive as it is bold.

"I believe what I believe down to my core. I'll stand on the highest ground, die a noble death, believing in what I believe," he said.

"Maybe the Premier League is a step too far. Who knows? Maybe, maybe — but I will still be on that hill, wounded, my dying breath saying, 'I believe, I do believe.'"

Whether Postecoglou will bring more balance to his managerial philosophy next year remains to be seen.

For the moment, Arsenal will just be praying that Tottenham — the team it wants to see lose any normal week of the season — can pull off an improbable victory over City to change the course of the title race ahead of the final round on May 19.

Source: Associated Press

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