Spurs star admits Tottenham are fighting fatigue
Ledley King admits Tottenham are fighting fatigue in the climax of their campaign – and the captain says the players’ sizeable Premier League wages cannot protect them against tiredness.
Having roared into third place and built up a 10-point lead over Arsenal in February, Spurs have slumped badly in the last seven weeks, winning just one of their last eight league games.
That echoes last season’s alarming dip in form at the same stage of the season, as Harry Redknapp’s side took just nine points from a possible 30 between February and May and missed out on Champions League qualification.
King concedes that Spurs are currently battling their own weary bodies as well as their opponents – and he is urging the club’s senior players to lead by example in the final games.
“Obviously it has been a long season. There are some tired legs but we have to keep going, keep pushing until the end of the season,” said the skipper.
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“It’s definitely tough. I think a lot of people might say ‘with the amount of money they get, they should just get on and do it’, but at the same time we love playing football, we love being footballers and it can be tough.
“Every Premier League game is hard and I think there have been a couple of injuries on Monday - a couple of little niggles. That’s the intensity of the Premier League and the toughness of it, but you just have to get on with it.
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“It’s up to the senior lads to lift the spirits of the rest of the lads and keep them there. There aren’t many games now until the end of the season and we just have to give it a big push until then.
“We will have to look at a few things and have a few words and try to move on. I think the earlier we speak together about it, the better it will be.
“The only thing that needs to be said is that we need to stick together this time. We need to keep going until the end of the season and we need to keep working hard for each other.
“There is not a crisis in any way, we have top players. We have lost the game [against Norwich] but we have another big one at the weekend that we have to get up for.”
Tottenham’s costly demise last season was characterised by poor results against the Premier League’s basement boys, with a defeat at Blackpool being followed by draws against Wolves, West Ham, Wigan, West Brom and then Blackpool again at the Lane.
Spurs seemed to have put such issues behind them in the first half of this campaign as they swept ruthlessly into third place.
However, the recent 1-1 draw with Stoke at White Hart Lane has now been followed by Monday’s 2-1 home defeat against Norwich, highlighting the alarming similarities with last season’s collapse.
Spurs will finish their league campaign against QPR, Blackburn, Bolton, Aston Villa and Fulham, and King is aware that - once again - Tottenham’s season will be defined by their ability to overcome the ‘lesser sides’.
“It’s going to be tough, they’re going to set their stall out to be difficult to beat,” he said. “We’ve had it before where teams have got behind the ball and tried to hit us on the break and maybe nick a game 1-0.
“At times we’ve found that hard to play against so it’s something we’re going to have to look at on the training pitch – how to break these teams down.
“It’s going to be like this all the way to the end of the season. There are a lot of teams playing for different reasons, fighting for the points and I think the games will be really difficult to predict until the end.
“Monday was a disappointment but we don’t have time to dwell on it. We have a big game coming up on Sunday so we are really going to have to take our attentions to that game and pick ourselves up for that.”
Of course, King is referring to the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea, who will play at least eight games in three different competitions during the final month.
Sunday’s Wembley showdown is followed by the Blues’ two-legged Champions League semi-final with Barcelona, and then difficult Premier League clashes with Arsenal, QPR, Newcastle, Liverpool and Blackburn.
King is hoping that such a hectic schedule might work to Spurs’ advantage in the fight for the top four - but he does not believe it will be a factor at Wembley this weekend.
“From our point of view we’re hoping that, with the intensity of the two games against Barcelona, they might slip up in the league - but that’s only hoping,” he said.
“Chelsea are a top side and they’re used to playing big games week in and week out. We just have to take care of ourselves.
“This is a separate game in the FA Cup. Whoever is going to play for them this weekend, they are going to have a strong side and you just can’t predict it.
“Chelsea are a top side, they have top players so whoever comes in they are going to be good, so we’re not looking at the fact that they have that game [against Barcelona next Tuesday], we’re just look at the game ourselves.
“I think we have a decent record against them in the last few years. They’re always a tough team to play against but it’s a game we have always enjoyed. It’s going to be a tight game, another tough game.
“I should be alright to play, we’ll have to see. We’ll see how it feels over the next couple of days. I’m hopeful.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs