Off the heels of yet another postponement for our beloved Tottenham Hotspur, the Premier League must now adjust their schedule to account for our three games in hand (not including the away fixture at Leicester, which is now being played this Wednesday, 1/19… at least at the time of posting). While there are many things to consider when tweaking an already tight schedule, today I want to offer my take on how the Premier League could fix this pickle in which they find themselves.
Tottenham’s Current Calendar
As you can see, there already looks to be the chance of fixture congestion on the horizon should we make a fun deep into the FA Cup, which is a problem I would not mind the club to have. The blessing in disguise this year has come in the form of our much maligned exit from the Conference League. As much as I believe this should have been a trophy we could have definitely won, the lighter fixture load will allow us to go full bore on the Premier League and FA Cup matches on our schedule. Even our neighbors from Woolwich agreed that was a positive for us. Then, they went and got Sunday’s North London Derby postponed because of a bunch of poor management decisions… Sorry, back the to the point at hand…
We are now faced with three games that must be rescheduled: away to Burnley, away to Brighton, home to Arsenal. While there is an issue with future FA Cup fixtures, I will be addressing those shortly as I believe those are a simpler fix. In this post we will look at two scenarios to solve this predicament: one where we make it to the FA Cup Final and one where we fail to make the FA Cup final.
Scenario 1: Spurs are on their way to Wembley…
My first step in this process is to leave May virtually untouched. The club would benefit from having a whole week off before they travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool on May 7th. This could also be a massive game for Spurs when it comes to Champions League qualification. Liverpool currently sit second in the table on 45 points while Spurs are currently 6th on 33 points; however, Spurs have three games in hand on Liverpool. If May is left undeterred, this match could be pivotal in the race for top four for both clubs (and man it feels good to say this with sincerity). I would also leave May alone (at least for now) in case we were to make it to the FA Cup Final on May 14th. I am not putting the cart before the horse on this one. This is not saying that we will be in the FA Cup Final (although I do believe this is a trophy we should be chasing since it is our only real chance at silverware), but this date should be bubble wrapped for now. Another reason for leaving may alone, we currently have a match scheduled 48 hours after the FA Cup Final at home against Burnley (another team enduring similar fixture issues). Should we make it to the FA Cup Final, I would expect this match to be moved to Wednesday (5/17) or Thursday (5/18). That just leave the final day away to Norwich.
In this scenario I would also leave the month of March alone. This month will also be congested with Spurs playing in the FA Cup 5th round and FA Cup quarterfinals as well as the international break at the end of the month. I would expect the March 19th match at home to West Ham to be moved to Tuesday (3/15) and Wednesday (3/16) of that week, which would only leave one midweek match slot open (3/7-3/11). That open midweek leads into an away visit to Old Trafford. Spurs will want to be at full strength to take on Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, and company. This leaves February and April to fit these matches into.
February really only has one opening, but Spurs will have to take it. That means there will be a midweek North London Derby as Spurs would see their match rescheduled with Woolwich on Wednesday, February 23rd (or Thursday the 24th should the Leeds United match be shifted to that Sunday the 27th). While it is a quick turnaround after a tough trip to the Etihad, but it is a premium option for the club as March already to seems full.
This leaves the final two remaining matches to take place during the month of April. Yes, we will have to deal with the April 16th match with Brighton being adjusted (again) due to the FA Cup semifinal, but this month of April has a lot of space for matches to be penciled in. The two dates I see are April 6th and April 27th. In all honesty, you could flip flop these away fixtures to Burnley and Brighton. It does not really have a huge impact on either team’s fixture schedule. In the graphic above, I did place the Burnley match on the 6th and the Brighton match on the 27th, but as I said, they can be flip-flopped. I would avoid the midweek of April 11-15th so the club can focus on the FA Cup semifinals. This would then allow the league match scheduled for April 16th to be adjusted to the midweek of April 20th or 21st. While that does give Spurs five matches in a fifteen day span, this is the best fit for Spurs at this moment.
I have now solved Spurs fixture issues should we make it to the FA Cup Final. Now let’s look at the fix should we bow out of the FA Cup…
Scenario 2: Spurs bow out of the FA Cup and make a run at top four..
In all honesty, it would look like this scenario has many roads and what/ifs, but it is actually a little easier to follow. The key word for this scenario is “when.” When do Spurs go out of the FA Cup? Let’s dive in.
Worst case scenario: Spurs lose to Brighton in the 4th Round of the FA Cup. If this was to happen, I would suggest that Spurs look to reschedule the away match to Burnley on March 2nd. This is the midweek earmarked for the 5th Round of the FA Cup. Obviously, Brighton would still be in the FA Cup, but the Clarets would be available after their third round exit at the hands of Huddersfield Town. Perfect time.
That leaves home to Arsenal and away to Brighton. This really is dependent on Brighton’s run in the FA Cup. March 9th would be a solid potential date to look at, but I believe April would be a prime slot to fulfill this date. April 6th, 20th, and 27th all stand out to me as the best options for this date. Pick one, and let’s take on the Seagulls on the south coast, and then there was one…
Woolwich cancelled on us this past weekend. You heard Matt and myself discuss our feelings on this during the most recent episode (at the time of posting) of Tottenham Podspur, which can find here. As a result, we need to move this date on our fixture list. Since we are no longer playing in the FA Cup and Woolwich are still lost in the Forest of Nottingham, Spurs host Arsenal on FA Cup weekend. With the majority of the league idle on this date, this is the perfect time for us to make-up this game. This would force our penultimate match of the season at home to Burnley shift to that following midweek, but I think we can all deal with this as Burnley’s fate may already be sealed.
Should Spurs lose in the FA Cup quarterfinals or semifinals, the scenarios I have laid out should still remain vital options. The only real difference is that Spurs would not have the ability to face Burnley or Brighton on March 2nd; however, we could combat this by playing one of these matches on February 23rd like I suggested in scenario one.
So there you have it, here is what it would look like for a math teacher from Bowling Green, KY was allowed to fix the fixture fiasco facing Tottenham Hotspur. Will the Premier League go with it? No… probably not. It is a solution that would work, though. Knowing the “love” that the league has for our beloved Spurs, we will be clogged in a mess of midweek fixtures that force Antonio Conte to have to get really creative with his team selections. You know … because … Spurs.
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