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Away form holds key for Tottenham's top-four hopes

Away form holds key for Tottenham's top-four hopes

Stamford Bridge

Tottenham’s Premier League top-four hopes will hinge on their performances on the road as the run-in of the 2019/20 campaign approaches. Spurs have found life in recent weeks to defeat Norwich City and then seized the huge scalp of Manchester City on home soil. Jose Mourinho’s men battled their way through to the fifth round of the FA Cup by producing a comeback win over Southampton.

Spurs have accomplished this without the presence of Harry Kane as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury. The forward will not return until the end of April at the earliest, which will hamper the club’s bid to secure Champions League football for next season. In their football odds on the English Premier League for a top-four finish, Spurs are backed just behind Leicester and Chelsea, who are currently ahead of them in the table in third and fourth spot respectively. There's value in backing Spurs to overhaul at least the Blues for fourth place, and it could turn out to be a fruitful punt come the end of the campaign.

Tottenham's win over City proved that at long last they may have turned a corner, displaying resilience at the back to keep only their third clean sheet under Mourinho’s tenure. Spurs were then forced to come from behind to defeat Southampton in the FA Cup to keep their hopes of silverware alive this term. It has not been pretty since the Portuguese’s arrival, but there are signs emerging that he is starting to have a positive effect.

However, challenges will come thick and fast after the winter break. Tottenham’s form on the road this term has been underwhelming to say the least, winning only twice in 12 league matches. Their current away points tally ranks them 14th in the Premier League. One of those two victories came over West Ham in Mourinho’s first game in charge, where they almost allowed the Hammers to rally late in the contest after leading 3-0. The other was against Wolves courtesy of a stoppage-time winner from Jan Vertonghen at Molineux.

There have been five defeats in the 12 matches, which included an abysmal performance against Brighton. The 3-0 defeat at the Amex Stadium was one of the final nails in the coffin of Mauricio Pochettino as his side seemed disinterested, and were taken apart by 20-year-old Aaron Connolly. Immediately on the agenda after the winter break is a challenge against Aston Villa at Villa Park. On paper, Spurs should be looking at three points with Dean Smith’s men struggling just outside of the relegation zone, while notably being crushed 6-1 by Manchester City in one of their recent home outings.

If Tottenham are to reach the top four they have to swat aside teams of the ilk of Villa to continue their momentum. It will be a vital game because next on the Premier League fixture list is Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in a contest that could define the rest of the season. The Blues have lost home matches against Bournemouth and Southampton, while they allowed Arsenal to come from behind twice to claim a point in their clash in January. Frank Lampard enjoyed a 2-0 win over his former manager at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Portuguese will be keen to repay the favour on his old stomping ground. A victory there could provide a surge that may allow Spurs to oust their London rivals from fourth spot in the table to secure Champions League football for another term.

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