After FA Cup disappointment, top four now Tottenham’s goal

The sense of disappointment at Wembley on Saturday was palpable, but Tottenham Hotspur’s season is not yet fully finished.

Although a frustrating 2-1 defeat to Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-finals means Spurs will conclude another campaign without silverware, there is still much to play for.

Tottenham’s expectations have been lifted under Mauricio Pochettino, such has been the progress that the team has made over four seasons under the Argentine’s stewardship.

There has certainly been progression in every campaign, with Spurs overcoming obstacles to tick another box.

While silverware may remain elusive, plenty of achievements have been completed.

Tottenham have broken Arsenal’s dominance over them, ended a supposed Wembley hoodoo, beaten some of Europe’s best teams and look set to finish as London’s highest-placed team this season.

As such, Tottenham will be a popular selection in next season’s Premier League outright market – but only if they end 2017-18 in the right fashion.

Spurs can still realistically finish third in the Premier League, ensuring Champions League football next term.

To do this, Tottenham will have to leapfrog Liverpool, who are three points ahead of them but have played a game more.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have the distraction of Champions League semi-finals and as such their domestic form could well falter – as was seen on Saturday when the Reds threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at bottom club West Bromwich Albion.

With added fixtures to play also, Liverpool’s players will be fatigued after a long, hard campaign and the opportunity is there for Spurs to move past them.

While Tottenham should rightly be looking ahead of them in a bid to overtake Liverpool, it is also natural that Chelsea’s place in fifth will be in the spotlight too.

After Spurs suffered setbacks in their race to win the Premier League in 2015-16, the team became dejected and subsequently finished the campaign poorly.

This allowed Arsenal to finish higher than Tottenham, leapfrogging Pochettino’s men on the final day of the season to take the runners-up berth.

A similar collapse, allowing Chelsea to take the last Champions League qualification place and leaving Spurs fifth in the Premier League this term, would completely deflate the players and fans.

Although Tottenham have a five-point cushion above Antonio Conte’s men with only four games to play, the race may not be over just yet.

Despite losing 3-1 to Spurs at Stamford Bridge recently, Chelsea have been better in recent weeks and with a late flurry could yet bring the race right down to the wire.

Tottenham finishing fourth would ensure an automatic place in the Champions League group stages for next season, with UEFA abandoning England’s final team having to go through the play-offs.

This will mean avoiding two extra fixtures and the potential banana skin of pulling a difficult opponent at an early stage of the season.

Pochettino was visibly disappointed after the FA Cup exit and his players will feel the same, but Spurs really need to lift it and finish their campaign well.

Tottenham’s remaining games are home clashes against Leicester City, Watford and Newcastle United, while the North London side must also go to West Brom.

On paper, there is no reason why Spurs cannot get a maximum 12 points from these games and push Liverpool for third place.

Winning Tottenham’s final four games of the campaign would end the season on a high note and help persuade the supporters and players that the club can make the next step in 2018-19.