Liverpool thought they were Champions League contenders last year, but they weren't. Is Tottenham looking at the same fate?
Last season, Liverpool gave Kenny Dalglish millions on pounds to spend. Some will write of that spending, and the prior January's spending to who was sold and the money they generated, but the reality was that Dalglish was given millions and told to return Liverpool to the Champions League.
Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Craig Bellamy didn't turn Liverpool around. The team just got worse, slumping to eighth in the league, 17 points out of fourth and behind Merseyside rivals Everton. It was a complete disaster at Anfield and Dalglish paid for it with his job.
Liverpool are no longer contenders for a top four spot. They weren't last year and won't be this season, as they linger in the bottom half of the table. The battle has been ceded to Arsenal and even Everton and West Brom if their current form keeps up. Maybe even Tottenham.
Yes, maybe Tottenham. Last year's fourth place finishers have struggled and are down to seventh in the table. They are just five points off the pace for fourth so they are very much in the race now and it would be foolish to exclude them from the discussion. Spurs are right there in the battle for the Champions League, but they won't be if their current form continues.
While Spurs did impress in a 3-1 win over West Ham on Sunday, their form leading up to it was unimpressive, and that is being kind. They were losing matches they should have won and even when they did manage results they didn't play particularly well. Tottenham also managed to blow leads with regularity and home form exhibited nothing of the dominance that we had come to expect from Spurs at White Hart Lane. Sound familiar?
Spurs spent heavily in the summer, bringing Hugo Lloris, Moussa Dembele, Jan Vertonghen, Clint Dempsey and Gylfi Sigurdsson in, while also making Emmanuel Adebayor's move permanent, but it hasn't shown in the results yet. It hasn't shown in their quality of play either, at least not consistently. With their form at home slipping and their late match struggles, it isn't hard to draw parallels between Liverpool and Spurs.
Of course, Spurs are nowhere near where Liverpool are, or were. Panic is not setting in at White Hart Lane, nor should it. With the battle always figuring to be tight for fourth and being just five points out in November, panic would be foolish, but there is no doubt that Tottenham need to get better. Liverpool's fall is a worst case scenario, a very worst case, but there are some similarities, even if only to be considered for amusement's sake.
On Wednesday, the two clubs will meet in North London. It may mar the return of Dembele to the starting lineup and Sandro appears to be fit after a scare over the weekend so aside from the long-term injuries to Scott Parker, Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou-Ekotto, all appears to be well in Spursland. This assuming their form picks up. But Tottenham will have at least one thing to pick them up regardless -- they aren't Liverpool. They are still a contender.