31 March 2014

St. Totteringham's Day: Could it come as early as 15 April?

We've been leaving it awfully late in recent years, but this year could see us celebrating a St. Totteringham's Day as early as 12 April, but this would require a bit of good from from us and continued poor form for Spuds. We looked yesterday at our magic number with Everton, the number of points we win and points Everton drop in order to ensure that we finish above them. That number stands at 18 but could drop to as low as 12 if we in on Sunday. With Spuds, we don't get another crack at them. I suppose the gods in their mercy have decided that three NLDs in one season is enough for the "North London is White" crowd to endure. Our magic number here is 11—a number we could erase with a win on Sunday, combined with Spuds' losing at home to Sunderland on Monday and again away to West Brom on 12 April, and us winning at home against West Ham 15 April. For all four results to happen may be too much to wish for; then again, that's what wishing is for, innit?

After all, we go into Goodison Park to face a stern test, what with Everton on a roll, playing at home, and sizing up their chances to overtake us. It might then be too much to suggest that we can go in and get the win. Everton need the win to keep alive their hopes of climbing to fourth. A draw might leave them too much ground to cover and too little time to cover it. We can count on them to take the fight to us; however, we'll have to set that aside for now and take a look at what's happening on Tottenham's side before returning to look at how to plan for a St. Totteringham's Day that's starting to feel like it's just around the corner.

For one, they are reeling after their latest demolition, this one a 4-0 loss at Anfield, and must be looking forward to hosting Sunderland, who haven't won in their last seven outings. Then again, they're no walk in the park, even when they travel, as attested to by narrow 2-1 losses at Anfield and at Old Trafford among other results. Adding a bit of tension to the atmosphere is the fact that Sunderland currently sit 19th, in the relegation-zone, but have two games in hand over 18th-place Cardiff. They're four points behind 17th-place West Brom but have a game in hand over the Baggies. They'll be looking to nick points wherever they can, and they've actually been a bit better on the road (3W, 4D, 8L, -11GD) than at home (3W, 3D, 9L, -9GD). Their away record would put them 13th in the Prem; their home record would put them dead-last. Given Tottenham's own less-than-stellar home-form (8W, 3D, 5L, -2GD), this becomes an intriguing match-up, to say the least.

From there, Tottenham travel to the Hawthorns to face stubborn West Brom (whom we've drawn with twice, by the way). The Baggies came to White Hart Lane and claimed a draw back in late December and should be looking to improve on that this time around. They've been in somewhat better form than the Black Cats have been—a bit better than Tottenham, in fact—and can boast of having recently held both Liverpool and Man City to 1-1 draws at the Hawthorns. To have shackled the Prem's two highest-scoring sides like that bodes well for their run-in even in if their overall home-form (3W, 8D, 5L, -3GD) is hardly the stuff legends are made of. As alluded to above, West Brom are just four points above the drop-zone and will be determined to nick points wherever they can in order to stave off relegation.

Assuming for now that these three matches—us away vs. Everton, Tottenham at home vs. Sunderland and then away vs. West Brom—go our way, we could very well celebrate a St. Totteringham's Day by 15 April if we then go on to beat West Ham. Whereas Everton, Tottenham, Sunderland, and West Brom are all fretful of their positions, albeit for very different reasons, West Ham are firmly and comfortably ensconced mid-table: 11th place, almost smack-dab in the middle, in fact. No chance of European adventures next year, even if they win their remaining matches. Almost no chance of relegation. As such, they might be looking ahead to the end of the season, not that they'll put it in cruise control just yet.

There's a lot there to digest, of course, and a fair few variables to keep track of, but in a season that looked to be unraveling, it's well-worth remembering that we still have not only a top-four finish to defend if not improve on, but also progress in the FA Cup and St. Totteringham's Day as well. In the last two years, we've had to wait until the final match of the season to know that there'd be a St. Totteringham's Day at all, much less know far enough ahead of time to get cakes made and what-not. 15 April may not match the earliest-ever celebration (9 March 2008 for those curious), but it can never come too early, now, can it?