They don’t come much more chill than Tottenham’s Clint Dempsey but even the American has picked up on the rising tension at White Hart Lane as his side try to win the Europa League and qualify for next season’s Champions League.
“That’s the way it’s kind of been the last few games at home,” Dempsey said. “It’s been tense. I’ve felt like that’s how the atmosphere has been.” The mood is anything but surprising as Spurs supporters are desperate to avoid a repeat of last year’s end of the season collapse.
When asked whether the tension has affected his teammates’ performances, Dempsey held his cards tight. “I don’t know if it has been affecting performances. It’s been noticeable, in the last three home games. There are a few teams right there in the fight for the Champions League and it makes it more interesting for people to watch.”
Despite the nerves Dempsey insists that it’s “good stress” to have because it concerns competition for Europe, which is exactly what the former Fulham man wanted when he announced his desire to leave Craven Cottage last summer. With six league matches to play – plus Spurs’ ongoing run in the Europa League – Deuce knows that it comes down to focus and courage. “It’s going to come to the end and, hopefully, we have enough character to get the job done. You’ve got to keep going and do everything you can to help the team.”
At 4th in the table and just two points ahead of rival Arsenal (who have a game in hand), Tottenham are at risk of losing their Champions League spot if Arsene Wenger’s side manages to win out their remaining fixtures. Winning the final seven games of a season is never easy but apart from a home match against Manchester United, the Gunners face a favorable schedule with match-ups against Norwich (H), Everton (H), Fulham (A), QPR (A), Wigan (H) and Newcastle (A).
Easing Arsenal’s burden is no longer having to deal with the rigors of Europe, something Spurs are finding quite difficult as the season wears on. This week Andre Villas-Boas’ men head to Basel for the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final looking to exact revenge after last week’s 2-2 draw in North London. Fortunately for Spurs they won’t be hampered by another quick turn-around in the league this week as their match at Chelsea has been postponed due to the Blues’ involvement in the FA Cup. In addition to their future date at Stamford Bridge, Tottenham’s final league schedule is slightly less forgiving with match-ups against City (H), Wigan (A), Southampton (H), Stoke (A) and Sunderland (H).
The showdown for a Top 4 finish and berth in next year’s Champions League is not for the faint of heart. “The race for a top-four finish will be a fight all the way until the end,” Dempsey said. But if anyone enjoys a good scrap, it’s Nacogdoches’ finest.