5 reasons why Spurs fans should still have hope

Posted by Dan Fitch

If my last column was a sign of a man accepting his fate, this one is where he desperately clutches at some straws, so that he can go into Sunday with a small iota of hope in his heart.

Here are my five reasons for Tottenham fans to be cheerful, as we go into battle with Arsenal, fate and lady luck once again.

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Tottenham always beat Sunderland at home

The first part of the equation that needs to click into place is for Spurs to actually win their game against Sunderland. You'll all be pleased to know that the omens are looking good on this score.

Firstly, Sunderland are safe, have nothing to play for and are also missing key players. Stephane Sessengon and Craig Gardner are suspended, while Lee Cattermole and Steven Fletcher are injured.

Sunderland are also a team that Tottenham traditionally do well against at home. In the last 11 matches at White Hart Lane between the sides, Spurs have won nine. As a betting man, those are odds I'll take all day.

Arsenal don't win many at St James' Park.

Conversely Arsenal have a poor record away at Newcastle. They drew 0-0 last season and famously blew a 4-0 lead to eventually scrape a 4-4 draw the season before.

In the Premier League era, Arsenal have only won at St James' Park five times in some 18 visits.

Of course the circumstances make this look like a nailed-on Arsenal win. Newcastle are safe and Arsenal have to win the game, so logic says they will. However, if this was a normal round of fixtures in mid-season, no one would think that there was anything unusual in the idea of Arsenal dropping two points on the road to a team like Newcastle.

The pressure is on Arsenal

Having got themselves into the driving seat, Arsenal know that Champions League qualification is theirs to lose. That puts a certain amount of pressure on them. Grab and early goal and they'll be home and dry, but the longer Newcastle can hold out, the more likely that doubts will set in.

If this current Arsenal side were good at winning one-off games where potential oblivion was at stake, then they wouldn't have gone so many years without winning so much as a League Cup.

Spurs have the easy job. They know that their fate is not in their own hands and can just get on with winning their game, safe in the knowledge that everyone expects them to finish fifth anyway. They've got nothing to lose, but Arsenal have everything at stake.

Steve Harper is not likely to do a Martin Fulop

Last season Tottenham missed out on third place after Arsenal won away at West Brom. As if that wasn't painful enough, any Spurs fan watching the highlights later that evening would have been appalled to see the Baggies' 'goalkeeper' Martin Fulop gift all three goals to Arsenal.

Immediately the conspiracy theorists were at work. Fulop had taken a pay-off, or as a former Tottenham player, was gaining revenge for being released. With Newcastle suffering injuries to Tim Krul and Rob Elliot, those conspiracy theorists are once again turning their attention away from the grassy knoll and towards the Arsenal.

Luckily the third-choice Newcastle keeper is the experienced Steve Harper. While not a spectacular keeper, he is at least dependable. Harper is Newcastle's longest-ever serving player and is leaving the club at the end of the season. I can think of few circumstances where he'd be more determined to keep a clean sheet.

Spurs are due some luck

When I was thinking of what to write today I considered a list of all the occasions when luck intervened to help Spurs out. Then I realised that I couldn't think of any.

Yet if it's examples of bad luck you're after, then I scarcely know where to start. I still have Vietnam-style flashbacks to the moment when news first started to filter through that the entire Tottenham team had food poisoning on the final day of the season, when (you guessed it) Spurs were battling it out with Arsenal for fourth place.

Or last season, when Tottenham actually managed to finish fourth, only for Chelsea to somehow conspire to win the Champions League. Spurs are always the punchline to the joke. When is it going to be someone else's turn in the stocks?

Like Arsenal, for example. I would love nothing better than to be laughing it up in the Park Lane, having seen that the Gooners have scored a calamitous last-minute own goal to give Newcastle an undeserved draw.

Will it happen? Unless Tottenham have somehow angered the football gods or been on the receiving end of a gypsy curse, then the law of averages surely dictates that it must at some stage.

Here's hoping...

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