Premier League Weekend Review: What’s gone wrong with stuttering Spurs?

There must be times when Tottenham fans feel like borrowing the theme tune from West Ham just down the road. You know the one, about bubbles that fade and die.

Another season is coming to a close under another manager, and another year that was at various times full of promise is stuttering to disappointment. Just when it seemed that Mauricio Pochettino was a step forward, here we are with the same old Spurs.

The 3-0 defeat at Stoke made it five points from six games for Tottenham. Two months ago they were in the Europa League knockout stages, ready for a Capital One Cup final, and threatening to break into the top four of the Premier League.

Now they are limping towards the end of the campaign and not even certain to qualify for European competition at all next season (which may or may not be considered a bad thing). You can’t even blame this one on dodgy lasagne!

The dismal flop at the Britannia Stadium was the club’s 55th match of the season. Only Liverpool have played more games this campaign, so maybe it is no surprise that they too have faded in the final weeks.

It makes you wonder whether a trip to North London this weekend could yet be the get-out-of-jail card for Hull, still needing at least one win to have chance of survival. Steve Bruce’s side might have flopped in front of their own fans against Burnley, but with the pressure off could be worth backing at [5.2] to win at White Hart Lane.

In the three seasons since Harry Redknapp left, Tottenham have always faltered in the second half of the season. Fourth in November last year, they ended up sixth, and the year before went from third on new year’s day to fifth by the finish.

Over such a long season this time there must also be question marks about whether Pochettino’s style of play, demanding high levels of energy to press teams far up the pitch, is suited to such a demanding campaign.

When the Argentinian first made his management name in Spain at Espanyol, his only full season saw the club tail off towards the end with just three wins in their last 11 games, and there were complaints that the players had run out of energy.

And there was a similar pattern at Southampton last season, when all the early excitement which saw the Saints reach third place in November ended up with them down to ninth by May.

The EA Sports stats show that only Burnley have collectively run more miles than Tottenham in Premier League games this season. They are still doing the distances now, but the signs are that Pochettino’s players are running on empty.

Spurs remain odds-on at [1.4] to finish in the top six but there’s value in laying that. They look quite capable of failing to get another point while Southampton, just behind them, need to make up just one point because of their vastly superior goal difference.

Pochettino has some major transfer decisions to make in the summer, not least to find a way of strengthening a defence that has conceded 53 goals, the most of any club from 14th place upwards. Harry Kane’s impact has hidden a lot of problems, but what happened at Stoke proved that they have not gone away.