Ange Postecoglou, Tottenham Hotspur, Spurs fixtures against big six, news, scores, results, ladder

Get excited. That’s the message from Ange Postecoglou to Tottenham fans after his team battered Aston Villa 4-0, cutting the gap to their top-four rivals to just two points.

“Get excited, why not?” Postecoglou told Sky Sports after the game.

“The supporters, if they don’t get excited by a performance and result like that, in what was a significant game … you’ve got to enjoy that.”

Spurs still have a game in hand on their rivals – with the Australian’s side having 11 matches to play this season.

While the top three teams – Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City – are 11 or 10 points in front of fifth-placed Tottenham, the major aim for the remainder of the season is to finish fourth and thereby guarantee Champions League qualification for next season.

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Postecoglou, in his trademark humorous fashion, said this week that qualifying for the showpiece continental competition would not be “a Willy Wonka golden ticket” for his club.

“What’s more important is that come the end of this year, we’ve got a team that’s going to challenge the following year and keep growing.

“Mate, it’s not a Willy Wonka golden ticket, you know? It just gets you a year in the Champions League. But if you don’t build on that or grow from that, it is meaningless. Because we’re not in it for participation. We’re in it to win things.”

Qualifying for the Champions League delivers a huge financial boost, but also makes signing players easier, given the competition is a significant drawcard for players.

As Postecoglou develops his team with the clear aim of winning the Premier League next season, Champions League qualification is clearly an important step.

Spurs’ big win over Villa was one of Postecoglou’s finest this season.Source: Getty Images


Next year, the competition will expand from 32 to 36 teams in a new-look format. Expansion means additional qualification places – so the Premier League could have five spots, not four. Two leagues will be given an extra place each, decided by the performance of teams from that league in this year’s competitions (Champions League, Europa League, Conference League).

Currently, Italy and Germany have a higher coefficient than England, so those two nations will gain an extra place. But with those three competitions in the knockout stages, things could go down to the wire depending on which teams go deep into the knockouts.

For Spurs, it means that finishing in fifth might just be enough to book their place in the lucrative competition next year.

But they’ll be desperate to finish the season strongly and secure qualification by finishing fourth, and thereby avoiding any nervous wait over the results of their Premier League rivals in Europe.

Had Villa beaten Spurs this week, Unai Emery’s side would have gone eight points clear of Tottenham in the race for fourth. Now, Postecoglou is in the driving seat: if Spurs win the game they have in hand, they’ll be above Aston Villa on the ladder.

Postecoglou said: “Everyone was billing this as a do-or-die for us. I assume we’re not dead yet. It means we’re one game closer, just 11 games to go.”

The win saw Postecoglou equal a club-record run of scoring in 27 straight league games from the start of a season, just the second time they had done so club history (after 1950-51, 73 years ago).

After a tense first half, a crucial Postecoglou halftime talk turned the tide and sparked the big win.

Postecoglou said: “I got a sense towards the back end of the first half that they were beginning to already tire a little bit. That was the message at halftime – just persevere, stay calm, play our football, maintain our intensity, which was going to be important.

“And we did, we got off to a flyer and then the quality of our football was excellent to see out the game.”

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With 11 matches remaining, Spurs’ Champions League fate is in their hands. But while they might be a bit too far behind the title-chasing trio to dream of pulling off a Premier League title upset this season, Spurs will play a massive part in deciding which rival ends up lifting the trophy.

That’s because in three consecutive weeks from late April, they face Manchester City, Arsenal, and then Liverpool – the first two of those blockbusters being played at home.

Spurs’ record against that trio this season is impressive.

They drew with Arsenal 2-2 in September at the Emirates, twice fighting back from a goal down to earn a point.

The very next game, they beat Liverpool 2-1 in a rollercoaster clash where the Reds had two players sent off. It is the only time the Reds have been beaten at Anfield this campaign.

And when Spurs travelled to the Etihad in December, they drew 3-3 with City after being down 2-1 and 3-2, scoring a last-gasp Dejan Kulusevski equaliser.

If Spurs can pull off an upset victory – or two or three – against the title-chasing trio, Ange Postecoglou may just make the decisive blow in the battle for the title.

Here’s how the recent record looks:

On recent form, Spurs are most likely to take points off the reigning champions and are least likely to beat their North London rivals – something Spurs fans won’t be happy to hear!

But when you look at the bigger picture, there are strong signs for Spurs as Postecoglou attempts to develop his team into a potential title-winning side.

Tottenham have drastically improved their performance against their ‘big six’ rivals this season (that trio of clubs as well as Chelsea and Manchester United).

Last season, they managed just eight points from 10 games against ‘big six’ opposition.

This time out, they’ve already got nine points from just six games, with two wins, three draws and just one loss so far (a 4-1 defeat to Chelsea where Spurs were reduced to nine players).

Spurs’ ability to perform against top opposition marks a crucial improvement under Postecoglou and is a major reason why they are in the hunt for a top four finish.

Last season, Spurs finished the 38-game season with 60 points. This year, they have 53 points from 27 games – and are on track to blow past last season’s points tally.

Pedro Porro of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates against Villa.Source: Getty Images

Besides the three back-to-back-to-back clashes against City, the Gunners and the Reds, Spurs have one more ‘big six’ clash to go (a rescheduled match against Chelsea).

Remarkably, Aston Villa also have the same four opponents still to play – and their record against big six teams this season is on par with Spurs.

Villa have wins over Chelsea, Spurs, City, and Arsenal this year. They have also lost to Man Utd twice and been beaten by Spurs and Liverpool.

That’s four wins and four losses – or 1.5 points per game, the same as Spurs.

So when it comes down to Spurs’ top four hopes and Champions League aspirations, the ‘big six’ battles still to play will be crucial.

They might just decide where Spurs end up this season – and decide who wins the title as well.

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