Spurs away record key to Champions League qualification
PERHAPS the most disappointing aspect of Sunday's capitulation at Turf Moor was that it took the shine off an excellent campaign on the road. In Burnley Spurs were soft, complacent and folded like a pack of cards...
By Ben Pearce
PERHAPS the most disappointing aspect of Sunday's capitulation at Turf Moor was that it took the shine off an excellent campaign on the road.
In Burnley Spurs were soft, complacent and folded like a pack of cards - faults which have been noticeably missing away from White Hart Lane for the vast majority of the season.
In fact, Tottenham have recorded their best away record for 14 years, winning more games and picking up more points than they have mustered since 1995/96.
Spurs have won seven of their 19 league matches away from home, drawing five and losing seven to rack up 26 points from a possible 57.
That is a massive 10 points more than last season, nine more than 2007/08 and two more than 2005/06, when they were painfully pipped to fourth spot by Arsenal on the final day.
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Spurs' new-found durability under Harry Redknapp has been a key factor in the top-four finish, with the Lilywhites proving their mettle in a number of telling games.
Last season, Tottenham lost their league clashes at Stoke, Bolton, Wigan and Blackburn. This time Spurs won three or those four fixtures, and drew the other - twice coming from behind to hold the Trotters at the Reebok Stadium.
That is the difference between the Europa League and the Champions League. These are arguably the most challenging trips in the top flight, and Spurs were the only team in the league to beat both Stoke and Blackburn away.
There is still work to be done. While the capitulation at Burnley can easily be dismissed as an end-of-season blip, the same cannot be said of the limp 1-0 defeat at Wolves in February, or the recent 3-1 mauling at Sunderland.
Meanwhile, Spurs' other four defeats away from N17 came at predictable venues.
Despite all their success and progression, yet another season has passed without Tottenham winning a league match away at Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal or Liverpool - a run which now extends to 67 matches.
Indeed, Spurs have arguably taken a step backwards in that respect. Having drawn at Chelsea and Arsenal last season, Redknapp's Lilywhites lost all five of their trips to Stamford Bridge, Anfield, the Emirates and Old Trafford this season - they also lost at United in the Carling Cup.
There is no reason why this should be the case. Aston Villa won at Anfield and Old Trafford this season, to finish with the fourth-best away record in the top flight. The Villans won nine away games in the league, two more than Spurs, and banked an extra six points.
But who cares. In the end that is only half the story. Tottenham finished well ahead of Villa, as well as their other rivals.
Next season they will hope to be even stronger on the road, and Heurelho Gomes is likely to have one suggestion. The poor Brazilian goalkeeper recently faced seven penalties in the space of four away matches - one at Stoke, one at Wembley, three at Sunderland and two at Old Trafford.