To watch them in the north London derby at Wembley, grateful for a late penalty save from Hugo Lloris to rescue a point for them against their greatest rivals, was to see a team playing not so much against Arsenal but against fear.
Fear is everywhere at Spurs now that spring is here. Fear that Mauricio Pochettino, their manager, will leave for Real Madrid or Manchester United at the end of the season. Fear that Harry Kane will follow him out of the club if they do not end their 11-year trophy drought soon.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Tottenham (3-4-2-1): Lloris 6.5; Sanchez 4, Alderweireld 5, Vertonghen 6; Trippier 5, Sissoko 6, Wanyama 5 (Lamela 59, 5), Rose 6; Eriksen 7, Son 6 (Llorente 79); Kane 6
Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Aurier, Lucas Moura, Davies, Skipp
Goalscorers: Kane pen 74
Booked: Lamela, Rose, Llorente
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno 7; Mustafi 7, Sokratis 6, Koscielny 6, Monreal 6; Guendouzi 6(Torreira 46, 5), Xhaka 5; Mkhitaryan 7, Ramsey 7 (Ozil 72), Iwobi 7; Lacazette 6.5 (Aubameyang 55, 6)
Subs not used: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Suarez, Kolasinac
Goalscorers: Ramsey 16
Booked: Mkhitaryan, Xhaka
Sent off: Torreira
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Fear that a side that was involved in the title race with Liverpool and Manchester City until last weekend will now not even finish in the top four. Fear that they will be overhauled by Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United. Fear that victory for Arsenal at Wembley would have closed the gap between the two teams to one point.
Fear of the mockery. Fear of the chants that tell them it’s happening again. Fear of being called ‘bottlers’. Fear of people saying ‘it’s gone all Spursy’. All the jokes and the jibes seemed to be sitting on their shoulders at Wembley as they spent most of the match trying to get on level terms with Unai Emery’s side.
The fear is in the players and in their actions. Poor Kieran Trippier, a titan for England at the World Cup last summer, looks so drained of confidence he can barely play a simple pass. He overhit one cross so fiercely that it went out on the full for a throw-in. Much of the team’s breathtaking fluency has gone.ADVERTISEMENT
Where once they looked forward, now they are looking over their shoulders. Their wobble is fully-fledged now, despite this draw. Put it this way: it is a good job they are taking a three goal lead to Dortmund this week.
Behind to an early goal from Aaron Ramsey, caused by yet another defensive mistake, Spurs may at least have recovered some of their self-belief by forcing their way back into the game and winning a late penalty that Harry Kane converted with aplomb.
But they still had to rely on Lloris to save Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s penalty. And they still had to rely on the fact that Jan Vertonghen was allowed to encroach in the area and then prevent Aubameyang converting Alex Iwobi’s cross in the aftermath of the saved penalty. They got a point but they are nowhere near getting their momentum back yet.